Great White Shark Dies in Captivity

Great White Shark

Terry Goss, Wikicommons - great white shark at Isla Guadalupe, Mexico, August 2006

Sad news out of Japan earlier this year. A great white shark died at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium after being kept in a tank there for only three days. The shark had been caught in a fixed net in Okinawa and taken to the aquarium. While the aquarium said that their visitors had been asking for a great white, the decision to put one on display may not have been a good one: no great white sharks have ever survived in captivity, as they often stop eating and become disoriented, typically crashing into tank walls, when put in a smaller environment. Was the aquarium right to put this shark into an exhibit? Of course people are both fascinated and frightened by the prospect of coming across a great white in the wild, but does that mean they should be put on display? It doesn’t seem as though it is a species that succeeds in captivity. Readers will learn in the upcoming The Great White Shark Scientist, by Sy Montgomery and Keith Ellenbogen, that great whites can live to be up to 70 years old in the wild. It seems too bad that this shark was not given that opportunity.

by Erica Zappy

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