Great White Shark Goes on Rare Exhibit

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(Image: Randy Wilder/Monterey Bay Aquarium)

A young male great white shark is now on exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, becoming the 6th over the years to have been captured and housed by the California aquarium.

Perhaps the most memorable out of the six so far was the one in 2005 that bit and killed two of its other shark tank mates. Clearly it's not easy to confine these large, toothy animals. They sometimes cannot adjust to life in a tank, no matter how spacious.

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And even if they don't consume their tank mates, they might still become dangerously aggressive toward them. For example, a 100-pound female great white was released in 2009 for that very reason. At the time, Randy Hamilton, vice president of husbandry for the aquarium commented, "I've always said that these animals will tell us when it's time to put them back to the ocean."

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. (Some of these didn't survive after being released, though. That 100-pounder last year unfortunately wound up dying in a fishing net.)

But this latest great white shark seems to be doing fine so far. The four-foot, seven-inch male weighing 43.2 pounds was collected via purse seine net by aquarium staff in waters off southern California near Marina del Rey a few weeks ago. He was first put in a four-million-gallon ocean holding pen off Malibu. The great white was then transferred to a 3,200-gallon mobile life support transport vehicle, which brought him north to Monterey this week.

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He's now in the million-gallon Open Sea exhibit.

Aquarium executive director Julie Packard says that a shark like this on exhibit becomes "the most powerful emissary for ocean conservation in our history."

So far, at least two million people have come over the years to see the great whites at the aquarium. Surveys suggest the visitors leave "with a deeper understanding of the need to protect white sharks and their ocean homes as a result of seeing the shark on exhibit," according to the aquarium's press release.

You can watch the young great white shark on the aquarium's live HD Open Sea cam (www.montereybayaquarium.org/efc/efc_opensea/open_sea_cam.aspx), and receive the latest news about this shark on Facebook (www.facebook.com/montereybayaquarium) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/MontereyAq).

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