MONTEREY, Calif. – A second great white shark was released into the ocean after exceeding expectations for survival in captivity and delighting aquarium visitors and officials.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium said the shark spent 137 days in the Outer Bay exhibit living with sea turtles, tunas and other sharks before being released into the wild Tuesday.
It was the second great white shark to survive more than 16 days in captivity in 50 years of attempts by aquariums around the world. In 2004-05, the Monterey aquarium displayed a female great white shark for 198 days.
The most recently freed shark arrived at the aquarium, which seeks to educate visitors on ocean resources, measuring 5 feet, 8 inches and weighing 103 pounds. It was released measuring 6 feet, 5 inches and weighing 171 pounds.
The male shark was freed from a boat in Monterey Bay after being fit with an electronic data tag that will track its movements for the next three months. Monterey Bay is on California’s central coast, about 112 miles south of San Francisco.
Officials said the decision to release the shark came after scientists assessed its size and behavior. If the shark stayed any longer, they said, it could have been too cumbersome and too dangerous to move.
Since 2002, the aquarium has received 10 great white sharks. Five died, two were released from a holding pen and one escaped from the pen.
The two remaining ones that were put on display were crowd pleasers, attracting a higher-than-usual number of visitors. About 600,000 visitors saw the male shark released Tuesday.
"Many people (who visited) were inspired by seeing the animal," said Jon Hoech, the aquarium’s curator. "Their perception of sharks changed for the good."
Millions of sharks are killed annually for food or trophies or by accident by fishing gear. White sharks are considered threatened and are protected in many places, including California, Australia and South Africa, the aquarium says.
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