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Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Fifth Great White Shark

Last Updated on July 20, 2023

(This article originally appeared in 2010 on the former Examiner.com website.)

Great white shark takes bait
A shark takes the bait off the coast of Mexico’s Isla Guadalupe.

There are few places in the world where you can see a great white shark, and fewer places still where you can see one safely from behind aquarium glass. So few, in fact, that there is currently only one such place in the world: the renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The aquarium’s fifth great white was spotted in the waters off Malibu in August, where she was put in a holding pen for two weeks before being transported up north to the aquarium. At the time of her transport, No. 5 was five feet three inches and a smidge under 80 pounds. She was then placed in the aquarium’s Outer Bay tank, where she will remain until she outgrows it, which is usually around the six-and-a-half-foot mark. At that size, the one-million-gallon tank will no longer be adequate or comfortable, and she will be tagged and released, as the first four were.

The Outer Bay tank’s new resident is just one reason to visit the aquarium this fall. According to Kevin Lewand, one of the aquarium’s collectors, late fall is usually the best time to come, as this is when the tank will have not only the white shark but most likely will also have a new sunfish, sea turtles, and pelagic rays. This is in addition to the new otter exhibit and the temporary “Secret Lives of Seahorses,” which is open through August 2012.

To date, the aquarium is the only institution in the world to maintain a white shark in captivity for more than 16 days, as well as to successfully return the animal to the wild after it has been on exhibit. Many of the white sharks returned to the wild are then tagged so that data on their lifestyle — depth, location, water temperature, etc. — can be sent back to researchers, who learn more about this endangered species with each shark they tag.

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