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Just In Time For The Holidays, Monterey Bay Aquarium Puts Newly Netted Great White Shark On Display

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MONTEREY, California -- For the sixth time, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has a young great white shark on exhibit. He was brought to Monterey from Malibu last night (Wednesday, August 31), just 13 days after he was collected by aquarium staff in waters off southern California near Marina del Rey.

The young shark, a four-foot, seven-inch male weighing 43.2 pounds, was brought north in a 3,200-gallon mobile life support transport vehicle. He was collected August 18 by aquarium staff with the help of a commercial fishing crew using a purse seine net. He was quickly transferred to a more than 4-million-gallon ocean holding pen off Malibu, where he remained for almost two weeks. Aquarium staff observed him swimming comfortably and documented him feeding in the pen before he was brought to Monterey and placed in the million-gallon Open Sea exhibit at 7:01 p.m.

The public can watch the young great white shark on the aquarium's live HD Open Sea cam (

The Monterey Bay Aquarium remains the only institution in the world to exhibit a great white shark for more than 16 days, and has successfully returned to the wild each animal kept on exhibit.

As with the five other young great white sharks brought to the aquarium since 2004, the aquarium hopes this one will remain on exhibit for several months, as a way to change public attitudes and promote stronger protection for this magnificent and much-maligned ocean predator.

In 2004, the first female white shark exhibited in Monterey became "the most powerful emissary for ocean conservation in our history," according to aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard. The shark was part of the aquarium's Open Sea exhibit for 6 months and was seen by more than a million people between September 15, 2004 and March 30, 2005. In follow-up surveys, visitors reported coming away with a deeper understanding of the need to protect white sharks and their ocean homes as a result of seeing the shark on exhibit. Collectively, the five sharks exhibited at the aquarium have been seen by more than two million people.

Since 2002, the aquarium has allocated more than $1 million toward its studies of adult and juvenile great white sharks research unrelated to the effort to put a white shark on exhibit. Visit for detailed information about the aquarium's Project White Shark program.

Exhibiting this species has been the subject of a focused multi-year effort by the aquarium. This approach, developed in consultation with a panel of independent shark experts, is designed to minimize the stresses of collection, holding and transport.

Before bringing a white shark to Monterey, members of the aquarium's field team monitor its behavior to see if it has adjusted to swimming in an enclosed space. The team offers salmon, mackerel and other fish, and confirms that the shark is feeding consistently before bringing it to Monterey.

In the wild, great white sharks are in decline worldwide, in part because they're slow to reproduce and because of growing fishing pressure that is decimating all shark species. White sharks are protected in California and other U.S. coastal waters, as well as in South Africa, Australia, Mexico and other nations. Their fearsome reputation has made them a target of trophy hunters and the curio trade.

The aquarium encourages the public to get involved in shark conservation by using its "Seafood Watch" consumer pocket guide to selecting ocean-friendly seafood. The guide highlights "Best Choice" fisheries, including those that harm fewer animals including sharks.

Through its Center for the Future of the Oceans, the aquarium works with other institutions and public agencies to develop best strategies for shark conservation policy in California waters. It also supports creation of a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), including some fully protected marine reserves where fishing is prohibited, along the entire California coast.

The aquarium is open daily through Labor Day from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and on Saturdays and Sundays until 8 p.m. (through September 4). Starting September 6, regular aquarium hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. For more information and tickets, visit

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of, its staff or its advertisers.

Reader Comments

14 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

A lot of effort has been put into making this look like conservation. In the end it is exploitation and money making. Would you put a black man in a cage and say: we are raising awareness for slavery? A naked child and say: we are trying to prevent child pornography? Does this sound disgusting? It is!
   comment# 1   - Erwin Vermeulen · Veldhoven, the Netherlands · Sep 2, 2011 @ 12:55am

Education on sharks is very important and important for the survival of these amazing animals
   comment# 2   - Shark Cage Diving KZN · South Africa · Sep 2, 2011 @ 2:04am

After the few months that the great whites spend at Monterey, what happens to them? I find it ironic that great whites are in decline, and yet we sacrifice the few that remain to MBA?
   comment# 3   - Martha Brock · Atlanta, USA · Sep 2, 2011 @ 2:48am

Why do they need to repeatedly capture and traumatize these creatures? You do not need to be a scientist to know wildlife does not belong or do well living in tiny, confined spaces. If they were truly interested in education, they could run a documentary about sharks and have speakers educating and promoting conservation, not continuing to capture sharks and removing them from their natural habitat. The only thing that promotes is cruelty.
   comment# 4   - Susan Hartland · Sharpsburg, USA · Sep 2, 2011 @ 6:17am

Martha - If you read the article properly it states "The Monterey Bay Aquarium remains the only institution in the world to exhibit a great white shark for more than 16 days, and has SUCCESSFULLY RETURNED to the wild EACH animal kept on exhibit." Also, they purposefully capture (and then release) young GW sharks because they know that adult great whites will die at the aquarium. I am not a fan of aquariums, especially those that seem to exist only for profit, but Monterey Bay Aquarium is truly dedicated to conservation.
   comment# 5   - T · Seattle, WA · Sep 2, 2011 @ 7:58am
- Editor: They have captured and put on display a white shark for the last three years on the weekend before the Labor Day holiday. It is conservation or cash cow?

This is cruel and traumatizing for the animal. Taking animals from their natural home and putting them on display does not "educate" except to teach the happy onlookers, who are mostly there for the same reason they go to zoos--for entertainment, that it's perfectly ok to exploit animals to make money. If they wanted to educate with live animals they could take people out on boats more often to see animals in their real home. But that wouldn't make nearly the money that displays bring in. It doesn't make it OK that the sharks are released (which they only do because they know they will die in captivity). I completely agree with the editor that the Labor Day Holiday SHOW is a cash cow decision. It has nothing to do with conservation. I live in the community of the MBA and I would not set foot in it. If they really were in the education business, they would only have their research, films, animal robotics,trips and classes, NOT DISPLAYS of live animals who've been taken from their homes. The only exception to this is the otters and some birds who've been injured and not successfully rehabilitated.I applaud them for that work. But those represent an extremely small fraction of their "animal displays." It is their "live displays" that are the draw, that make them their money. Education? Any education that harms or exploits others is tainted and should stop. Erwin Vermeulen, your comments rock!
   comment# 6   - Teresa Wagner · Carmel, CA · Sep 2, 2011 @ 10:30am

Just some quotes from this 2008 article: "However, five great whites have died in the hands of the Monterey Bay Aquarium since 2004, when the facility began acquiring juveniles entangled in the nets of certain boats and, consequently, critics have suggested that the aquarium is doing less for wild great whites than it is for its own box office sales." "Commercial fishers who turn over great whites to science receive payment. According to one veteran commercial fisherman in the area, the Monterey Bay Aquarium offers fishers a stipend of $300 for a dead great white and $2,000 for a live specimen. "Sean Van Sommeran, an independent shark researcher and founder of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation, said he suspects that such a monetary reward system could motivate gillnetters to set their gear in places known to be frequented by juvenile great whites." Does this sound like a conservation effort?
   comment# 7   - erwin vermeulen · Nederland · Sep 2, 2011 @ 11:33am

How long will this shark be captured ??? (I understood it will be released into the oceans after 16 days). In my country we have orca Morgan in captivity and its UN-NATURAL to keep such amazing animals in aquarium. This causes way too much stress for them !
   comment# 8   - Wilma vd Elzen · Netherlands · Sep 2, 2011 @ 3:19pm

it just goes to show how un-educated a person is that made the first comment is.really ?? bringing slavery and child porn into a discussion about conversation of saving sharks and they are returning the animal to the wild after a limited time.
   comment# 9   - joe westli · los angeles,usa · Sep 3, 2011 @ 2:00am

Once again, 'money talks'!
   comment# 10   - LeRoy French · Hilton Head Island, USA · Sep 3, 2011 @ 8:35am

@ #9, Mr.Westli: You might want to check your sentences before you use words like 'un-educated'. I assume English is your mother tongue? The point of course is that there is no conservation in the displaying of sharks. I am comparing the suffering of humans to the suffering of animals, yes! Is it your point that you are superior to sharks and that therefor the comparison is invalid? That is how most suffering in the world comes about, animal and human. I could make a holocaust reference at this point, but I'm sure that wouldn't please you. As societies in a large part of the world have overcome discrimination on grounds of race, sex, sexual preference, we are now crossing another boundary that of specie. We are slowly realizing that animals are not there for our entertainment and that they can suffer just like us and we frown more and more on their use and abuse in zoos, circuses, marineparcs and aquariums, like the one under discussion here. Because people open their eyes the industry has to addapt their business strategy and now claims to be in conservation; Sea World is a good example, but the greenwashing proces is no diferent from that of for instance the oil or car industry. You only have to look at the article above, and that was my original point, to see that the Monterey Bay Aquarium is desperately trying to justify capturing and displaying a shark. They already know that they are in the wrong, but hey, it will brng in a lot of money during the labor day holiday.
   comment# 11   - erwin vermeulen · veldhoven, the netherlands · Sep 3, 2011 @ 1:31pm

What we've found, by surveying visitors who have seen great white sharks on exhibit, is that they are affected positively by the experience -- they are more concerned aboout the fate of sharks and more interested in knowing what they can do to make a difference. In the end, that's the only reason to place one on exhibit. Our conservation work includes tagging of 44 juvenile great white sharks with our research partners in southern California -- generating the first data ever collected and published to document the movements of young white sharks in southern California & Mexico. We also support and contribute to research that has documented the migrations of adult great white sharks as far west as Hawaii, the fact that California's great white sharks are genetically isolated from other great white populations, and helped generate the first population estimate for the Northern Pacific population -- also data new to science. Our intention with each shark brought to Monterey is that it will be released, and all five sharks before the current animal have been successfully returned to the wild after periods of 11 days to 6 1/2 months on exhibit. That is also our plan for the young male now on exhibit. Why do sharks arrive in August? That's when we begin our field season, and when they're most abundant in southern California. I welcome further comment & questions. -- Ken Peterson, Communications Director, Monterey Bay Aquairum
   comment# 12   - Ken Peterson · Monterey, USA · Sep 4, 2011 @ 5:41pm

This is what happens to Great White Sharks kept in a glass bowl. The damage done to this young white shark from bumping into the side of the aquarium at Monteray bay in 2005 is severve and is no doubt affecting its delicate sensory organs in its snout. I question the ability of this shark to survive the ordeal especially after being kept for an extended period of time. Of the five sharks released alive how many survive their transition back into the wild ? Did the aquarium monitor these creatures over the long term or just dump them back in the ocean sick and debiltated and then walk away with a fat bank balance. The simple fact remains sharks do not belong in aquariums especially not endangered pelagic species. By placing these creatures in captivity we only reinforce the view that these animals are there for our use whether for food or for entertainment. Public education on sharks should be aimed at creating a healthy respect and knowledge of a creature and its habitat. Respect does not mean offering a cash bounty for an individual to fishermen, forceably removing the animal from its habitat, locking in a cell which physically harms the individual and other individuals in the same tank, keeping it until it is too stressed and ill to survive and then dumping it back in the wild before it creates bad publicity by dying in your care. Monterey Bay = Guantanamo Bay for Sharks
   comment# 13   - Ben Potts · Sydney, Australia · Sep 4, 2011 @ 8:01pm

The simple fact is that the majority of Whale sharks held captive in aquariums become ill and die within a few short months. This is cruel and unusual punishment for such a magnificent animal, akin to keeping an eagle in a small cage. I will boycot your aquarium and ask all my friends to do the same. Please stop your exploitation of large marine creatures for profit. Thank you.
   comment# 14   - Andrew Gray · USA · Sep 6, 2011 @ 6:57am
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