Sad News: Death of a Great White Shark

We’re saddened to announce that the young great white shark we released on October 25 off the coast of southern California has died. This is a very difficult day for all of us at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and for everyone who saw and cared about this animal. 

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Based on the shark’s behavior and overall condition prior to release, our white shark team had every confidence that he would do well back in the wild — as was the case with five other young great whites released from the aquarium.

Unfortunately, according to data from the tracking tag he carried, the shark died shortly after he was released.

"Our Husbandry team  is unrivaled in its knowledge of young great white sharks, and I’m so proud of the passion and dedication they demonstrate each day," said aquarium Managing Director Jim Hekkers. "This is a difficult time for all of us –- and especially for the team members who devoted so much attention and care to an animal that had such a powerful impact on the attitudes of our visitors toward conservation of ocean wildlife."

While this is a setback, in the weeks to come, our white shark team will review its procedures and protocols to see if  there are any changes we should consider so we can continue to do what we do best: give our animals exceptional care and, through our living exhibits, inspire visitors from around the world to care about –- and care for -– ocean wildlife.

Right now, while we are shocked and saddened by this loss of this shark, we remain fully committed to our white shark work.

Five other great white sharks have been successfully returned to the wild after spending periods between 11 days and six-and-a-half months at the aquarium. One other animal –- a small shark that fed only once during its 11 days on exhibit –- was also transported south to Goleta for release. Four other sharks were released in Monterey Bay.

Tracking data from all five sharks confirmed they survived their release, though one of the sharks died four months later in a fisherman’s net in Baja California.

Exhibit of young great white sharks is one element of Project White Shark, our work with research colleagues to learn more about white sharks in the wild as well as to inspire visitors to become advocates for shark conservation by bringing them face to face with sharks on exhibit.

Since 2002, we’ve tagged and tracked 47 juvenile great white sharks off southern California. Earlier this year, we were the lead sponsor of legislation enacted in California that outlaws the shark fin trade –- a major factor in the global decline of shark populations.

In the past decade, we’ve allocated nearly $2 million toward studies of adult and juvenile great white sharks in the wild –- research aimed at better understanding and protecting white shark populations.

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The Monterey Bay Aquarium, perched on the edge of a world-famous coastline, is your window to the wonders of the ocean. It’s located on historic Cannery Row in Monterey and is open daily except Christmas Day.

For more information about our animals and exhibits, and to view our live web cams, please visit www.montereybayaquarium.org.

Hours of operation vary by season. Daily schedules and tickets are available on our website or by calling
(831) 648-4800.