Showing posts tagged as "white shark"

New Future for Great White Sharks?
 Should great white sharks in the Northeastern Pacific be placed on the endangered species list? That’s the issue being considered by Californa and U.S. wildlife officials, who have received petitions calling for protection under state and federal Endangered Species acts.
The Aquarium is very supportive of this process, and we’re assisting in any way we can so the final decision is based on the best, most current science.
Much of what’s known about the lives of adult and juvenile great white sharks today – from migration patterns and population size, to the contaminant levels in their tissues – is the result of studies in which the Aquarium, along with a broad consortium of scientists from Stanford, UC Davis, CSU Long Beach and other institutions, has played a key role.
There’s more public concern about the future of great white sharks in part because we have, since 2004, introduced more than 3 million people to a half-dozen young sharks face-to-face in our Open Sea exhibit. Visitors tell us that the experience changed their attitudes and say they were inspired to help protect white sharks in the wild.
While the review process is under way, we’ve decided not to collect white sharks for exhibit. It’s our hope that any new policies protecting white sharks will allow for occasional exhibit of white sharks (before their return to the wild) and for a vigorous field research program. Both public engagement and research are essential to assure a future for white sharks.
Learn more about our white shark research program. 
 
 

New Future for Great White Sharks?

Should great white sharks in the Northeastern Pacific be placed on the endangered species list? That’s the issue being considered by Californa and U.S. wildlife officials, who have received petitions calling for protection under state and federal Endangered Species acts.

The Aquarium is very supportive of this process, and we’re assisting in any way we can so the final decision is based on the best, most current science.

Much of what’s known about the lives of adult and juvenile great white sharks today – from migration patterns and population size, to the contaminant levels in their tissues – is the result of studies in which the Aquarium, along with a broad consortium of scientists from Stanford, UC Davis, CSU Long Beach and other institutions, has played a key role.

There’s more public concern about the future of great white sharks in part because we have, since 2004, introduced more than 3 million people to a half-dozen young sharks face-to-face in our Open Sea exhibit. Visitors tell us that the experience changed their attitudes and say they were inspired to help protect white sharks in the wild.

While the review process is under way, we’ve decided not to collect white sharks for exhibit. It’s our hope that any new policies protecting white sharks will allow for occasional exhibit of white sharks (before their return to the wild) and for a vigorous field research program. Both public engagement and research are essential to assure a future for white sharks.

Learn more about our white shark research program.

 

 

Hey, what’s going on in this photo? Seems like great minds think alike, because many of you gave it this creative caption!
Learn more about white shark research at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Hey, what’s going on in this photo? Seems like great minds think alike, because many of you gave it this creative caption!

Learn more about white shark research at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

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.

Safe travels! The great white shark is released after 55 days on exhibit. Shown are Manny Ezcurra, associate curator of elasmobranchs; and Theresa Nietfeld, senior aquarist. (Chuck Winkler photo)

Safe travels! The great white shark is released after 55 days on exhibit. Shown are Manny Ezcurra, associate curator of elasmobranchs; and Theresa Nietfeld, senior aquarist. (Chuck Winkler photo)

The juvenile great white shark looks at home in the renovated Open Sea exhibit, where he swims alongside hammerhead sharks, dolphinfish and other animals.

Operation: Transport White Shark

An insider’s look at moving an apex predator from the ocean to the aquarium 

 
I wake ten minutes before my alarm goes off — and my body and mind instinctively know that I have an epic day in store. I skip my normal morning adrenaline run and drive to Malibu Pier, arriving at 7:45 a.m. sharp, knowing that the coming hours will peak my endorphins. Waiting to greet a great white shark is not an everyday occurrence, after all.

By 10:30 a.m. the land-based team is getting restless. We’ve heard that the floor of the ocean net pen, home to the white shark for the past several days, is being lifted by our boat crew and dive team. That means the white shark should be arriving soon, but there is still no “chicken in the coop.” I bite my nails as the minutes pass until finally, at 11:11 a.m., we get the call: “The shark is on board!”

Rushing to meet the shark

Whew! Everyone flies into action. The shark’s transport trough – the vehicle that will carry him down the pier, from boat to transport truck — is filled with salt water while the oxygen level is regularly monitored. The team walks briskly down the pier scanning the water for our boat, the Lucile, as two- to four-foot swells build on what had been a calm sea. All reports are that the swell will only grow in intensity for the next several days.

This is not welcome news.

Surfers enjoying the growing waves

When it’s two miles off shore, we spot the boat racing toward the pier. It’s essential that the crew time the operation when there’s a lull in the southern swells, so people and shark can safely get ashore. Fisherman and passersby gather to catch a glimpse of the action. On the far side of the pier dozens of surfers are hollering and inviting the waves to grow larger. Meanwhile the white shark team is muttering incantations to King Poseidon to pacify the great Pacific, even if only for a few moments, so they can get the shark on land.

The team times the swells

The team senses a lull. “Here we go,” yells Joe Welsh, our associated husbandry curator who’s at the helm of the Lucile. I can feel everyone’s heart rate increase. The adrenaline is flowing and transport team coordinator Scott Reid leans over the boat while Manny Ezcurra, our lead shark curator, hands him one end of the stretcher that’s holding the shark. Manny jumps onto the landing, and takes the other end. Water is flowing out of the stretcher as the two navigate their way up a flight of wooden stairs to the mobile trough, holding protectively onto their precious package. The young male great white shark is raised in the air, reminiscent of a baby being baptized, and gingerly lowered into the trough.

“Lid Angela! Help lift the lid!”

I do what I’m told, waiting for my next order.

“The button, the button -– go hit the button at the crosswalk!”Malibu pier

As the team rolls trough and shark down the long wooden pier, I sprint to where it meets the Pacific Coast Highway, my mind absent of everything except getting the young shark across the street safely and quickly. I hit the button, once, twice…impatiently, five more times… in hopes of getting a quicker response from the mechanically programmed light.

“Bobby!” I yell across the highway to our transport truck driver. “Hit the button!”

Bobby's white shark transporter tattoo

“I already did!” he hollers back.

As I look behind me, I see our veterinarian, Dr. Mike Murray, and a couple of white shark biologists sprinting to catch up with the shark. They reach us, out of breath. Waiting for a green light has never felt so infinite, but at last it comes. We look left, then right, before racing across the highway; dozens of cars and even more eyes looking at this motley group pushing a wooden box across America’s most scenic highway, in the heart of Malibu in the middle of summer. I’m curious what they think of it all.

I watch our team of aquarists, curators; truck driver and veterinarian merge as a well-oiled machine. As they reach the transport vehicle, two men grab the ends of the gurney and hoist the great white shark up the large stairs in a stretcher while another opens the lid on the 3,200-gallon mobile life support transport tank (also known as the finabago) that will hold the shark for the drive north up to Monterey. The sling is pushed down into the water and the four-foot, seven-inch male shark swims in smoothly and freely, ready to explore his temporary habitat.

Now it’s essential that Dr. Mike, the aquarium’s veterinarian, is confident that the shark’s swimming pattern is consistent and relaxed before the team is cleared to drives him north. As a smile creeps across the doc’s face I hear myself take a deep breath. I’ve been unconsciously holding my breath since we crossed the highway. Dr. Mike’s face tells me everything I need to know without having to look through the finabago’s window myself.

“You want a peek?” he asks. Coolly but quickly I walk to the window and lift the heavy white lid.
As the day’s adrenaline starts to leave my body I peer into a blue pool of clear water. In a moment, I’m eye-to-eye with the king of the ocean (well, at this size, maybe a prince).

“You are safe,” I whisper. “In a few months you’ll be released back into your wild habitat. Until then you’ll inspire tens of thousands of humans to protect you and your brethren.” He circles past me, his majestic, prehistoric and predatorial eye grazing past mine.

“Thank you,” I think deeply as I close the window and head toward the car.


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“Time to go home,” I hear from behind me.

The truck heads north, Bobby at the wheel, Manny and Dr. Mike aboard to monitor the shark during the six-and-a-half hour drive.

Time to go home.

Need a great white shark fix? Here’s a lovely image from our lower exhibit window. Did you know that while white sharks are top predators in the sea, they’re in grave danger of being depleted? Learn more on our website. 

Need a great white shark fix? Here’s a lovely image from our lower exhibit window. Did you know that while white sharks are top predators in the sea, they’re in grave danger of being depleted? Learn more on our website

It’s a wondrous thing to see a white shark up close—particularly with the family!

It’s a wondrous thing to see a white shark up close—particularly with the family!

Day 2 for the great white shark on exhibit—and a new photo! 

Day 2 for the great white shark on exhibit—and a new photo! 

Young Great White Shark Goes on Exhibit!

About me

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.