Posted by shark bait on August 06, 2003 at 15:55:17:
In Reply to: Times reporting Sun they're letting it go, won't eat nt posted by ChrisM on August 03, 2003 at 16:00:04:
Great White Shark Released Back Into Ocean
Fish Was Found Recently Off Malibu
POSTED: 4:07 p.m. PDT August 4, 2003
MALIBU, Calif. -- A young white shark found off Malibu recently, was released back into the ocean Monday. Researchers form Monterey Bay Aquarium said the fish was released after it had begun to feed.
It marked the first time that a white shark had been confirmed feeding in a captive environment, the aquarium's Ken Peterson said.
The 5-foot, 77-pound female shark, which got caught up in a commercial gillnet off the Ventura County coast last Tuesday, was videotaped eating salmon fillets Sunday, said Randy Hamilton, vice president of husbandry for the aquarium.
"The fact that she was feeding is a very, very significant step," Hamilton said. "She was navigating the pen without problem, and she was eating. These are huge accomplishments."
The pen near Malibu was opened late Sunday afternoon, and the shark swam free either Sunday or sometime Monday, he said.
If the successes continue next year, the aquarium may put a white shark on display in its million-gallon Outer Bay exhibit, Hamilton said.
"We've been very methodical about the whole process so far. I think this demonstrates that we're on the right path," Hamilton said.
Because the shark was caught late in the aquarium's field season, it could not be held in the aquarium's 5-million-gallon pen, which was available only until Monday.
Researchers didn't have time to try putting the shark in a smaller ocean pen, closer in size to the Outer Bay exhibit, or simulate a transport back to Monterey, Hamilton said.
Aquarium officials said those are options they want to test before they consider bringing a white shark to its facility.
To learn more about the shark while it is in the wild, it was fitted with an electronic tracking tag, which will record its movements for the next 60 days.
The device will feed the data via satellite to scientists in the lab, as well as record water depth and temperature data and migrations up and down the coast, Hamilton said.
Although field work has been completed, a rapid response team that includes researchers from the aquarium and partners from the Southern California Marine Institute and the Shark Lab at Cal State Long Beach is mobilized to tag and release white sharks throughout the year.
They tagged one young white shark in 2002 and received data from it, Peterson said.
White sharks -- a top predator vital to the health of ocean ecosystems -- are a protected species in California.
They are found worldwide, though their numbers are in decline in part because they're slow to reproduce and also because of growing fishing pressure on all shark species, Peterson said.
Their fearsome reputation has also made them a target of trophy hunters and the curio trade.
Aquarium officials hope that displaying one will help to change that.
"Visitor studies have established that the experience of seeing live animals in an aquarium can have a significant and lasting impact on people," said Cynthia Vernon, the aquarium's vice president of conservation programs.
"If we succeed in exhibiting a white shark, we can raise awareness about the threats they face. It's been true with other sharks we've exhibited over the years, and I believe it will be true with white sharks, too."
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