The Science of Sustainability

Web Extra: Great White Sharks in Captivity

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The Monterey Bay Aquarium has the most successful track record of keeping live great white sharks in captivity. While they currently do not have a white shark on display, over the years they have held a handful of them in their enormous outer bay exhibit. In the process scientists have learned much about these animals and millions of visitors have gotten a chance to meet a live white shark up close and personal.

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Category: Biology, Television

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About the Author ()

Chris Bauer is a Freelance Media Producer with over 20 years experience working in broadcast television; producing sports, history, technology, science, environment and adventure related programming. He is a two-time winner of the international Society of Environmental Journalists Award for Outstanding Television Story and has received multiple Northern California Emmy Awards. Some of his Quest stories have been featured in the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival, Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, United Nations Association Film Festival, the BLUE Ocean Film Festival and the Environmental Film Festival in Washington DC. A 5th generation Bay Area resident and a graduate of St. Mary's College of California, his hobbies include canoeing, snowboarding, wood-working and trying to play the ukulele. He and his family live in Alameda, CA.
  • Chris Bauer

    STORY UPDATE: From News Release-

    The sixth great white shark ever exhibited at the Monterey Bay Aquarium is on his way back to the wild.

    The young male shark brought to Monterey on August 31 is being transported to ocean waters south of Point Conception today (October 25) by the aquarium’s animal care staff. He was moved out of the million-gallon Open Sea exhibit this morning and will be released offshore later today.

    The aquarium will provide updates on its Facebook page,; through its Twitter account,!MontereyAq, and on its Sea Notes blog,

    The decision to release the shark after 55 days on exhibit was based on recent changes in how the shark was navigating in the exhibit, said Jon Hoech, director of husbandry for the aquarium.

    “These decisions are always governed by our concern for the health and well-being of these animals under our care,” Hoech said. “It became clear that it was time to release him.”

    Like the five other great white sharks that spent from 11 days to six-and-a-half months at the aquarium before their release, the newest shark will carry a tracking tag that will document his movements in the wild. The pop-up tag will collect information on where he travels, the depths he dives to and the water temperatures he favors for the first 180 days he’s back in the wild. It is scheduled to pop free in late April and transmit those data via satellite.

    The Monterey Bay Aquarium remains the only aquarium in the world ever to exhibit the ocean’s top predator for more than 16 days.

    The young shark, a four-foot, seven-inch male weighing 43.2 pounds, was collected outside Marina del Rey on August 18 by aquarium staff. He was quickly transferred to a 4-million-gallon ocean holding pen off Malibu, where he remained for almost two weeks. Aquarium staff observed him swimming comfortably and documented several feedings in the pen before the shark was brought to Monterey.

    Exhibit of young great white sharks is one part of the aquarium’s Project White Shark, an effort by the aquarium and its research colleagues to learn more about white sharks in the wild as well as to bring white sharks to Monterey for exhibit. Since 2002, the aquarium and its partners have tagged and tracked 44 juvenile great white sharks off southern California.

    The aquarium has allocated more than $1 million toward its studies of adult and juvenile great white sharks in the wild – research unrelated to the effort to put a white shark on exhibit. Details about the research is available at