There are several aquariums around the world that house whale sharks, the biggest fish in the sea. But not one has a great white shark on display. Aquariums have made dozens of attempts since the 1970s to display a captive great white shark. Most of those attempts ended with dead sharks.
By the 2000s, the only group still trying was the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which spent a decade planning its white shark programme. In 2004, it acquired a shark that became the first great white to survive in captivity for more than 16 days. In fact, it was on display for more than six months before being released back into the ocean.
In the following years, the Monterey Bay Aquarium hosted five more juvenile white sharks for temporary stays before ending the programme in 2011. It was an expensive effort and came under criticism due to injuries some of the sharks developed in the tank.
Responding to critics, Jon Hoech, the aquarium’s director of husbandry operations, said: “We believe strongly that putting people face to face with live animals like this is very significant in inspiring ocean conservation and connecting people to the ocean environment.
“We feel like white sharks face a significant threats out in the wild, and our ability to bring awareness to that is significant in terms of encouraging people to become ocean stewards.”
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