Great white exhibit opens in Monterey

August 28, 2008 7:14:16 PM PDT
The Monterey Bay Aquarium has an awesome new exhibit for the busy Labor Day weekend. A young great white shark spent its first full day on display.

A great white shark is the Monterey Bay Aquarium's newest star attraction. How close one gets seems to depend on which side of the glass you're on.

"It's the first time I've seen a great white in person and it's interesting how the other fish are keeping away," said Kansas tourist Andi Henderson.

The great white is one of the oceans most feared predators. This one, less than 1-year-old, is prompting a heartfelt description from one of her caretakers.

"She's a small little petite beautiful female. She's 4 and a half feet long roughly 55 pounds," said Jon Hoech from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Aquarium collectors netted the great white August 16th in Southern California's Santa Monica Bay. She was held in an ocean pen for 12 days before her behavior and feeding patterns indicted she was ready for transport.

The bubble curtain in the outer bay tank helps the sharks navigate and will be turned off as soon as she gets used to her new surroundings.

This is the fourth time in its history the Monterey Bay Aquarium has been able to put a great white on display. The three before this one have all successfully been released into the wild.

Those previous great white exhibits have ranged from 137 days to a record 198 days. Each animal was released with a satellite tag that records 150 days of data including location, depth and water temperature.

In all aquarium researchers have tagged and tracked 18 sharks in the wild.

"If you want to protect and study white sharks , you need to understand what they are doing at the various life stages to give you a compressive understanding to any type of protection program," said Monterey Bay Aquarium curator John O'Sullivan.

The outer bay exhibit will be renovated late next year, so it's possible this beautiful petite female will be the last great white on display until 2011.

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