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Great white saga continues

June 26, 2008 |  9:42 pm

Finally, some shark news that does not involve attacks on swimmers, surfers or kayakers — and does not even involve the word attack!

Rather, we offer a status report on a juvenile great white (pictured below) that was released from the Monterey Bay Aquarium in early February wearing special tags enabling scientists at Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station to track its movements.

Great_white_5002 Upon its release, the shark beat it south like a bird late for its winter migration, and found warmth in the Sea of Cortez. It's presently milling about north of Santa Rosalia along the Baja California coast.

The accompanying map shows the shark venturing inland, but Ken Peterson, a spokesman for the aquarium, says that was a "low-accuracy reading" and that "all signs point to the shark being in the water and doing well."

This is good news for shark lovers and fans of an underdog — aren't all sharks underdogs in this age of overfishing? — who has so far been able to avoid invisible gill nets and baited hooks.

The latest news? The archival tag popped off June 17 and was recovered Tuesday due west of Mulege in the middle of the gulf. Scientists "should have details in the near future on the details of the shark's travels"  [depth profile, preferred water temperatures, more accurate route of its journey], Peterson adds.

The second tag, which reveals the shark's position, should last about two more months, then the tag's battery will die and the predator — which was 5 feet 10 and weighed 140 pounds upon its release, after 162 days in captivity — will no longer be under scrutiny.

But Tuesday was a big day in the Southland as well. Hopkins scientists placed another white shark, caught incidentally by a commercial fisherman, in a holding pen off Malibu. That shark, which is 4 feet 9, soon may become the fourth white shark to inhabit the aquarium's 1-million-gallon Outer Bay exhibit.

"Our staff is observing and will decide down the road whether to tag and release him or whether he's a candidate to bring to Monterey," Peterson said.

Check back for updates.

—Pete Thomas

Source: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Photo of the great white before its release by Randy Wilder / Monterey Bay Aquarium