A young great white shark collected in the waters near Marina del Rey has become the sixth great white to go on exhibit at the million-gallon Open Sea exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, aquarium officials said Thursday.
The 4-foot-7-inch, 43.2-pound male shark was one of two young sharks spotted Aug. 18 just off the Marina del Rey breakwater, said Ken Peterson, a spokesman for the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It was collected by aquarium staff based out of Marina del Rey with the help of a commercial fishing crew using a purse seine net, Peterson said.
The shark was transferred to a 4-million-gallon ocean holding pen off Malibu and remained there for 13 days, said Angela Hains, another spokesperson for the aquarium. The shark was observed swimming comfortably and feeding from line bait, which are prerequisites for transfer to the aquarium's Open Sea exhibit, Hains said.
The shark was transferred to the aquarium in Northern California in a 3,200-gallon mobile life support transport vehicle and was placed in the Open Sea exhibit at 7:01 p.m. Wednesday. The young great white joins two hammerhead sharks in the Open Sea exhibit, Hains said.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is the only one in the world to exhibit a great white shark for more than 16 days and has successfully returned each previous great white shark to the wild. The aquarium's first great white shark in 2004 was a female that was part of the Open Sea exhibit for 6½ months and was seen by more than 1 million visitors from September 2004 to March 2005. The previous five great white sharks at the aquarium had stays ranging from 11 days to 169 days.
The shark will be tagged before its release to help researchers learn more about the traveling patterns of young sharks, Peterson said.
"They are more vulnerable because they are smaller and can get caught in fishing gear," Peterson said. "We really want to know where they are, where they are traveling and if they need extra protection."
A pop-up satellite tag with a battery, computer chip and sensing node are placed on some sharks for up to a year and it can record the water temperature, swimming depth and longitude and latitude, Peterson said. The tag is set for a fixed amount of time and then pops up to the ocean surface, where it transmits data to a satellite or can be collected for a full data download. Another type of tag, called an acoustic tag, is placed underneath the shark's skin with a 10-year battery and radio transmitter and tells researchers whenever the shark passes underwater receiver stations located off the Channel Islands, Catalina Island and Long Beach. Since 2002, 44 sharks have been tagged for research, Peterson said.
Great white sharks are in decline worldwide, in part because they're slow to reproduce, but also because of growing fishing pressure that is lowering the number of all shark species. White sharks are protected in California and other U.S. coastal waters, as well as in South Africa, Australia, Mexico and other countries.
The public can watch the young great white shark caught near Marina del Rey on the aquarium’s live HD Open Sea cam, and receive the latest news about this shark on Facebook and Twitter.