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Scientists move shark from Malibu to Monterey for exhibit

August 28, 2008 |  9:39 am

Ms_White_goes_to_monterey For the fourth time in four years, a young great white shark is going on display in the Monterey Bay Aquarium, part of an ongoing research project that attracts millions of visitors even as it draws sharp criticism of the aquarium. Captured off the coast of Malibu on Aug. 16, the  new shark is a young female,  4 feet long and 55 pounds. Researchers moved her on Wednesday, and she now swims in the aquarium's Outer Bay exhibit.

The aquarium's trawler and floating shark pen have been fixtures in Paradise Cove in Malibu for each of the last four summers. This year, researchers tagged and released five great white sharks. Four others were brought to the pen, three of which were subsequently released. The fourth, now in the exhibit, is expected to stay in Monterey for several months. Upon release, her movements will be tracked until her GPS unit loses power or falls off.

Catch_and_release Controversy has dogged the shark project since its inception, with animal rights activists saying keeping such a nomadic creature in captivity is cruel. In 2005, the white shark on display attacked and killed two soupfin sharks in the exhibit. Another shark, who damaged its snout on the exhibit's walls, earned the aquarium some bad press.

But scientists for the aquarium say the project's benefits far outweigh its risks. With shark populations in decline worldwide, and with the great white being demonized in films and television shows, information gathered about the sharks' movements and behavior is the creatures' best defense.

Information on how to see the shark is here. And as always, comments are open. Be opinionated, but be nice.

— Veronique de Turenne

Photos: Randy Wilder / Monterey Bay Aquarium