MONTERY, California -- The young white shark returned to the wild on Sunday by the Monterey Bay Aquarium was caught and released in the Santa Barbara Channel early Thursday (Sept. 11) by a commercial fisherman working.
The “very lively” shark was caught by the tail in a fishing net set about 22 miles from the point where she had been released on Sunday afternoon, according to Jon Hoech, director of husbandry for the aquarium.
She was on exhibit for 11 days before she was released, and was carrying the tracking tag affixed to her when she was returned to the wild.
“From the description the fisherman gave us, she’s in excellent condition,” Hoech said. “That’s great news. At the same time, the fact that she was caught is a reminder that young white sharks face very real threats in the ocean.”
The fisherman had deployed his net to catch thresher sharks and found the young white shark in his gear when he checked it shortly before 7 a.m. Thursday.
After putting the shark in the bait well of his boat, he called a member of the aquarium’s white shark conservation research “rapid response team.” He was then instructed to check the shark’s physical condition and release her immediately.
“He checked her body and eyes for any injuries, and set her free,” Hoech said. “His description was that she was ‘very lively, a very hot fish.’ He also said that from the appearance of her belly, it looked as if she had recently fed.”
During her stay at the aquarium, the 4 ½-foot-long, 55 ½ pound shark fed only one time. While she was swimming well in the million-gallon Outer Bay exhibit, the aquarium’s animal care staff decided it was best to return her to the ocean.
“Decisions on release are always governed by our concern for the health and well-being of the animals under our care,” Hoech said. “The fact that she’s doing well reaffirms that we made the right decision.”
Like three other white sharks that spent between four and six months at the aquarium before their release, she carries a tracking tag that will document her movements in the wild. For 148 days, the pop-up tag will collect information on where she travels, and the depths and water temperatures she favors. It is scheduled to pop free around late January and deliver those data via satellite.
Monterey Bay Aquarium remains the only aquarium in the world ever to exhibit the ocean’s top predator for more than 16 days.
The aquarium will begin an eighth field season of white shark conservation research next summer. Because the Outer Bay exhibit will be closed for remodeling and renovations in fall 2009, there will be no attempts to bring a young shark back to Monterey until 2011.
Information about the aquarium’s white shark project and shark conservation initiatives, and an archived webcast interview with white shark experts, is available online at www.montereybayaquarium.org/whiteshark/.
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