Aquarium releases shark back into wild

February 5, 2008 8:21:51 PM PST
The Monterey Bay Aquarium released the white shark it has been exhibiting for the last five months back into the wild today.

The shark arrived at the aquarium on Aug. 28, 2007. It grew more than a foot and doubled its weight, from 4 feet 9 inches long with a weight of 67.5 pounds to 5 feet 10 inches long with a weight of 140 pounds, during its time in captivity, according to aquarium officials.

The male shark had recently begun leaping into the air above the Outer Bay exhibit where he was held, prompting his release.

"We were concerned that he was getting a little too frisky for his own good," aquarium vice president of husbandry Randy Hamilton said in a statement. "Since there was a risk of injury if he remains on exhibit, we took it as a signal that it was time to release him."

The shark was released into Monterey Bay equipped with two electronic tags. One of the tags will transmit real-time information about his movements for the next eight months. The second tag will collect additional information, including how deep he dives and the water temperature he prefers, before popping off in July.

"We've again learned some things about caring for white sharks and we expect he'll do well after release, just as our first two sharks did," Hamilton said.

The aquarium is the only facility in the world that has been able to keep white sharks, popularly known as great white sharks, alive in captivity for more than 16 days. The shark released today was on display for 152 days and was seen by more than 650,000 people, according to the aquarium.

Aquarium researchers will begin their seventh season of white shark field research this summer and will again attempt to capture one for exhibit at the aquarium.