http://www.mbayaq.org/cr/whiteshark.asp

http://homepage.mac.com/mollet/Cc/Cc_captive.html

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - September 15, 2004

For information contact:

Broadcast media: Mimi Hahn (831) 648-4918; mhahn@mbayaq.org

Print & online media: Ken Peterson (831) 648-4922; kpeterson@mbayaq.org

MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM PUTS YOUNG WHITE SHARK IN MILLION-GALLON OUTER BAY EXHIBIT

The Monterey Bay Aquarium placed a small white shark on exhibit Tuesday evening (September 14), three weeks after she was caught inadvertently in a commercial fishing net in Southern California. The aquarium hopes to keep her on long-term exhibit – and, in the process, to change public attitudes and promote protection of this feared and much-maligned ocean predator.

The young shark, a 4-foot, 4-inch female weighing 62 pounds, was brought north Tuesday in a 3,000-gallon mobile life support transport vehicle. She had been held since August 20 in a 4-milliongallon ocean pen off Malibu and was feeding in the pen before she was brought to Monterey. She was caught in a commercial halibut gillnet by a crew fishing off Huntington Beach.

This morning (September 15) she was successfully navigating the million-gallon, multi-species Outer Bay exhibit, said aquarium veterinarian Dr. Mike Murray. Aquarium personnel are monitoring her behavior, offering food and evaluating whether she will remain on long-term exhibit, he said.

Exhibit of a white shark in Monterey is another benchmark in the aquarium’s three-year project to study young white sharks off Southern California and to determine whether it’s possible to keep one on long-term exhibit.

There are no other white sharks on display in the world today, and no aquarium has ever exhibited a white shark for more than 16 days. Of the 37-plus white sharks kept at aquariums over the years, most were unintentionally caught in commercial fishing gear and brought directly to aquariums.

“Visitor studies have established that the experience of seeing live animals in an aquarium can have a significant and lasting impact on people,” said Cynthia Vernon, the aquarium’s vice president of conservation programs. “If we succeed in the long-term exhibit of a white shark, we can raise awareness about the threats they face and mobilize public support for white shark conservation. It’s been true with other sharks we’ve exhibited over the years, and I believe it will be true with white sharks, too.”

“Given the way white sharks have been demonized in popular culture, a change in public attitude is critical if we want to assure their survival,” she added. “We have strong shark conservation messages to share with people. The appeal of live animals makes our visitors more receptive to hearing and acting on those messages.”

“We’ve had some significant accomplishments with this program, and bringing a white shark back to Monterey is a big step,” said Randy Hamilton, vice president of husbandry for the aquarium. “We’re hopeful that the slow and systematic approach we’ve taken can succeed where past attempts have not.”

But, he cautioned, “We still have to see how she does in the exhibit, and she has to feed. That’s the key.”

If the shark doesn’t thrive, Murray said, the aquarium’s goal is to return her to the wild if at all possible.

There is general agreement in the marine science community that past failures with white sharks were the result of the stress of capture, inability to encourage the sharks to feed, and inadequate exhibit design.

In the Monterey Bay Aquarium project, collecting white sharks has been the subject of a focused multi-year effort involving aquarium staff, scientists, a veterinarian and fishermen, said Dr. Randy Kochevar, the aquarium’s science communications manager. This approach, developed in consultation with an outside panel of shark experts, was designed to minimize the stresses of collection, holding and transport, he said.

The field project includes a research component in which young sharks are fitted with electronic data tags to reveal more about their habitat preferences in the wild. Those data will be shared with wildlife officials who can use them to inform management decisions involving young white sharks.

In 2002 and 2003, four young white sharks were tagged, and data from their tags recovered by scientists. This year, two more young sharks were tagged. Data from their tags will be recovered when the tags pop free early in 2005.

And in July 2003, a female shark similar in size to the one just brought to Monterey was held in the ocean pen for five days. That shark was observed feeding in prior to her release back to the wild—a rare documented instance of a white shark feeding in a captive situation.

“If this new shark feeds and does well in the exhibit, we’ll begin long-term feeding and growth studies so we can learn how quickly white sharks grow, and how efficiently they utilize the food they eat,” Kochevar said.

The Outer Bay exhibit was designed specifically to accommodate open ocean animals. It is home to Galapagos, scalloped hammerhead and soupfin sharks, as well as bluefin tuna weighing 250 pounds or more, yellowfin tuna, barracuda, sea turtles, ocean sunfish and other open ocean species.

While the white shark remains on exhibit, the public can see her daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and online via the aquarium’s streaming Outer Bay web cam from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily (Pacific time), at www.montereybayaquarium.org. (Specific link: http://www.mbayaq.org/efc/efc_hp/hp_obw_cam.asp).

White shark numbers 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 now a protected species in California and other U.S. coastal waters, as well as in South Africa, Australia, Mexico and other nations. Their fearsome reputation has also made them a target of trophy hunters and the curio trade.

In October, white sharks will be considered for additional protection by the 166 nations that are parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES).

“Our hope is that by exhibiting a white shark, we can help build public support for white shark conservation initiatives,” Vernon said.

The aquarium already presents strong shark conservation messages as part of its live exhibits, both in its permanent “Vanishing Wildlife” gallery and in the “Sharks: Myth and Mystery” special exhibition that opened in April 2004.

The aquarium encourages the public to get involved in shark conservation by using its “Seafood Watch” consumer pocket guide to sustainable seafood. The guide, and supporting materials aimed at restaurateurs and seafood retailers, highlight “best choice” fisheries, including those that have lower impact on non-target species – including sharks.

The mission of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the oceans. The aquarium celebrates its 20 th anniversary on October 20, 2004.

Posted 14 September 2004

The Monterey Bay Aquarium placed a young 4-foot-4-inch (132cm) female white shark in its million-gallon Outer Bay exhibit on Tuesday evening, September 14. On Wednesday morning about 11:15 a.m. she fed on 750g of wild-caught salmon filet. To our knowledge, this is the first documented instance of a white shark feeding in an aquarium setting. She is swimming and negotiating the exhibit well.

Exhibit of this animal is the latest step in the aquarium‚s three-year white shark project, which aims to improve understanding of the life history of young white sharks in the wild, to promote protection of this globally threatened species, and to determine systematically whether it's possible to keep a white shark on long-term public exhibit.

Full details and video of the Outer Bay exhibit on a streaming web cam can be found at the aquarium's web site, http://www.montereybayaquarium.org

Posted on behalf of Dr. Randy Kochevar, Science communications manager, Monterey Bay Aquarium, rkochevar@mbayaq.org

16 September 2004

Associated Press Newswires

(c) 2004. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

MONTEREY, Calif. (AP)

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has an unusual visitor that experts are hoping will be a permanent houseguest: a great white shark.

Notorious for their inability to thrive in captivity, no great whites are currently on display anywhere in the world and none has ever been keep on exhibit for more than 16 days.

Hours after it arrived from Malibu, the young shark lunched on salmon fillets -- the first time a great white has accepted food in an aquarium, according to aquarium workers.

Commercial halibut fishermen inadvertently snagged the young female fish in their nets off the coast of Huntington Beach three weeks ago. It had been kept in a 4 million-gallon pen off the Southern California coast until Tuesday, when it headed north by truck -- an unmarked, 3,000-gallon shark tank on wheels -- to its new home in Monterey.

The aquarium hopes to keep the shark on long-term exhibit in its 1 million-gallon Outer Bay tank, which contains 75 other large fish and turtles. The tank is a little larger than one Olympic-size swimming pool.

The shark is 4 feet, 4 inches long and weighs 62 pounds. It could grow to about 21 feet and weigh more than a ton.

Of the almost 40 great white sharks kept at aquariums over the years, most were unintentionally caught in commercial fishing gear and brought directly to aquariums. They either died or were freed when they wouldn't eat.

Nobody knows why they don't thrive in captivity, although many marine biologists speculate that the predators can't handle the stress of being captured and contained.

The last time the aquarium exhibited a great white was in 1984, when the young fish died after 10 days in captivity. But scientists believe they have learned painful lessons.

This time, they tried to lower the animal's stress level by allowing it to swim in a larger area for a few weeks before bringing it to the aquarium.

Wild Aid news

September 16, 2004

Penned predator

By BRIAN SEALS

MONTEREY

Coming face to face with a white shark is usually a horrifying adventure.

That experience for now will be safer, and more informative, at Monterey Bay Aquarium, which put its first white shark, commonly referred to as a great white shark, on display Tuesday night.

The aquarium hopes the shark‚s presence will help its researchers better understand the animals, as well as foster a greater appreciation among a public that often has skewed, pop-culture perceptions.

"These are incredible creatures," said Cynthia Vernon, the aquarium's vice president for conservation programs. "They are highly threatened and they need our help."

While getting the shark on display caps a three-year study of the feared and mysterious animals, the question now is how long the sea predator can stay on display.

No other white sharks are on display in the world at this time, aquarium officials said. And of the roughly 37 that have been held at aquariums, none have been exhibited for more than 16 days.

Aquarium scientists said they would be monitoring the shark‚s behavior and evaluating whether the animal could remain in the million-gallon Outer Bay exhibit for the long term.

The next few days will be critical.

"Nobody has written the book on keeping white sharks on display," said Randy Kochevar, science communication director for the aquarium.

A 24-hour surveillance camera keeps tabs on the exhibit and the animal will be closely tracked by staffers as well.

A checklist is maintained to observe the shark‚s behavior patterns, things like how rapidly it swims or how vigorously it swishes its tail, for example.

Already, the white shark has done something significant ˜ she feasted on 1.65 pounds of salmon while at the aquarium. Kochevar said an optimistic hope was the shark would feed in three to five days.

"She fed today," Kochevar said. "That‚s a huge hurdle. An animal, if it's really stressed, it won‚t eat."

Moreover, she was navigating about the exhibit tank without bumping into the walls, which is a good sign.

The 4-foot, 4-inch female shark was caught in a gillnet by a commercial crew fishing for halibut near Huntington Beach.

Since Aug. 20, the shark has been held in a 4-million-gallon ocean pen off the coast of Malibu. She was put in a 3,000 gallon tank and trucked up from Southern California, arriving in Monterey around 6 p.m. Tuesday, Kochevar said.

She is in an exhibit surrounded by the same animals she would see in the wild, including some fish she will consider dinner at some point in her growth.

But for now, the 62-pound shark is easily outweighed by a couple hundred pounds by the tuna she may one day want to feast upon.

"We find if we keep animals fed, they would rather eat that food than chase animals around the tank," Kochevar said.

If all goes well, perhaps unrealistically well, she would outgrow the exhibit. Aquarium staffers have handled that kind of situation before with other species, on one occasion airlifting an 800-pound sunfish out to see to live in nature.

But for now, scientists want to study the white shark, watching how much she eats and how much that food energizes her.

As part of the process of enlisting a white shark into its exhibits, aquarium scientists have tagged and studied white shark movements since 2002. Four were tagged in 2002-03 and two more were tagged this year.

The director of an area foundation that tags and tracks sharks each fall near Año Nuevo said the aquarium‚s accomplishment was worthy of congratulations, but hopes it does not start a white shark frenzy with other aquariums.

"We do have concerns other aquariums will follow suit," said Sean Van Sommeran, director of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation. "Our concern is that it will diminish the animal‚s life span."

Still, he said if any organization has the resources and expertise to successfully display the animal it is the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Aside from research, the hope is that visitors to the aquarium will become a type of sharks fan that has nothing to do with the San Jose hockey team.

White shark numbers are declining, aquarium officials said, and face pressures like being bycatch of commercial fishing crews as well as coveted ingredients for soup in Asian markets.

"This just gives us an incredible opportunity to talk about shark conservation" Vernon said.

She said ethical issues about keeping the wild animals were discussed.

"There are reasonable people out there who disagree with us, but we have found when you show people a wild animal ... it‚s an opportunity for them to bond with that animal," Vernon said. "We want people to see her and be awestruck by wonder."

Contact Brian Seals at bseals@santacruzsentinel.com.

Shark on display

The public can see the great white shark dailyfrom 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Monterey Bay Aquarium, 886 Cannery Row, Monterey.

The shark can be viewed online via the Outer Bay exhibit Web cam from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily at the aquarium‚s Web site, www.montereybayaquarium.org.

Posted on Wed, Sep. 22, 2004

Great white packs aquarium

By GEORGE B. SANCHEZ

Herald Staff Writer

Though it's not yet great in size, a recently captured white shark on exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium is nonetheless attracting bigger crowds and opening possibilities to new scientific discovery.

"The whole process is a learning one," said marine biologist Randy Kochevar. "Nobody has ever done this before."

The four-foot, four-inch long, 62 pound female white shark was unveiled to the public last Wednesday and has since brought in crowds of curious observers. Over the weekend, more than 17,000 visitors flocked to the 1 million-gallon Outer Bay exhibit, said Karen Jeffries, aquarium spokeswoman. The difference is nearly 6,000 more visitors than this time last year, she said.

The aquarium hopes to raise awareness about ocean conservation with the exhibit, Kochevar said, and study white shark growth.

"By measuring how much food we give her and record what she's eating, we can construct a growth curve," he said. "These are basic questions about the animal that are impossible to study on wild animals."

Over the last few decades, he said, there have been about three dozen attempts to capture and study a white shark. The record for white shark captivity was in 1981 at Sea World in San Diego, he said, when a white shark was held for 16 days before being released from captivity.

The shark was regularly eating 1 to 2 pound salmon fillets daily until Tuesday, Kochevar said, but one day of dieting is no cause for major concern because sharks in the wild regularly go a couple of days without eating, he said.

"Things are going extremely well," he said. "We'll certainly breathe easier once we get past the 16-day mark and we hope and expect to have an animal on display for months and years to come."

Shark watch: Day 8 The Herald is monitoring the progress of a great white shark at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. No shark has ever been held in captivity for more than 16 days.  Days surviving: 8  Last ate: Monday.

Posted: 01 October 2004

Great white hits milestone at 17 days in captivity

Associated Press

MONTEREY, Calif. (AP) -- Thought it was safe to go back in the water? Turns out, 16 days wasn't enough.

A young great white shark reached a milestone Friday as it began its 17th day on exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Notorious for their inability to thrive in captivity, no othergreat whites are currently on display anywhere in the world -- and none has ever been kept on exhibit for more than 16 days.

Commercial halibut fishermen inadvertently snagged the young female shark off the coast of Huntington Beach in late August. It had been kept in a 4 million-gallon pen off the Southern California coast until Sept. 14, when it headed north by truck -- an unmarked, 3,000-gallon shark tank on wheels -- to its new home.

The aquarium is keeping the shark on long-term exhibit in its 1 million-gallon Outer Bay tank, which contains 75 other large fish and turtles. The tank is a little larger than one Olympic-size swimming pool. More than 80,000 people have already seen the shark at its new home.

The shark is 4 feet, 4 inches long and weighs 62 pounds. It could grow to about 21 feet and weigh more than a ton.

Of the almost 40 great white sharks kept at aquariums over the years, most were unintentionally caught in commercial fishing gear and brought directly to aquariums. They either died or were freed when they wouldn't eat.

Nobody knows why they don't thrive in captivity, although many marine biologists speculate that the predators can't handle the stress of being captured and contained.