Why no aquarium has a great white shark

Why no aquarium has a great white shark


There are some shark species that seem to
do okay in aquariums. You’ll see a lot of nurse sharks, zebra sharks, some reef sharks
and sand tiger sharks. But not the great white. For decades, aquariums have tried to contain
the world’s largest predatory fish. Institutions like Marineland, SeaWorld and
the Steinhart Aquarium repeatedly took in white sharks during the 1970s, 80s and 90s, at times
drawing huge crowds. But they never lasted long. Some needed help swimming. None of them would eat. The longest one lasted was just 16 days. A 1984 report by the Steinhart Aquarium put it this way: “In most cases it could be said that all these
captive sharks were merely in the process of dying, with some taking longer than others.”
They had constructed an elaborate transport tank with a harness and IV fluids, but still
couldn’t keep the sharks alive. It wasn’t until 2004 that the Monterey Bay
Aquarium proved that it was possible to keep white sharks for at least six months. It took
a massive effort, and no one’s done it since. JON HOECH: Our approach was one of sort of
a systematic, logical sequence of things leading up to our success and it started with designing
a tank. The Monterey Bay Aquarium had a million gallon,
egg-shaped tank, 35 feet deep, designed for open-ocean animals like tuna and sharks. So
you need a big tank. You also need a small shark. Adult great whites reach 15 feet on average. The Monterey Bay Aquarium nabbed one in 2004
that was 4 feet, 4 inches, less than a year old. That made it easier to move and easier
to keep. JON HOECH: When they’re young they feed
on fish. And as they get older they transition to feeding more on mammals. And so we were targeting
the age bracket where we knew we were more able to feed their natural diet.
And once they collected the shark, they didn’t take it straight to the aquarium. Instead,
the Monterey Bay team set up a 4 million gallon pen right there in the ocean.
That way they could monitor the shark and see if it would feed before they moved it
into a transport tank to travel from southern California where the sharks were born up to the aquarium.
Sharks, like all fish, need to have water continually passing through their gills in
order to get oxygen. Most species can open and close their mouths
to pump the water through. But white sharks and a couple dozen other species don’t do
that. To breathe, they have to move forward through the water with their mouths open.
That’s why white sharks start to weaken as soon as they’re caught in a net. And
that’s why they needed a custom built transport tank with mobile life support.
JON HOECH: Everything from oxygen sensors and video cameras and lighting and filtration
systems that were needed for what turned out to roughly be 9 to 11 hour transport time. Aquarium attendance jumped 30 percent while the shark was on display. After 6 and a half months, they decided to release it because it had killed 2 other
sharks. Over the next 6 years, the aquarium displayed
5 more baby white sharks – some they paid fishermen to hand over, some they caught themselves.
Their stays ranged from just 11 days up to 5 months. The Monterey Bay Aquarium had succeeded
in doing what no one else could. But it did take a toll on the sharks. They
developed visible sores from bumping into the sides of the tank.
SEAN VAN SOMMERAN: We actually snuck in with photographers and took pictures of the sharks
as they were beginning to attrit and fail due to the constant scraping against the walls
basically. As we viewed it, it was a vase of flowers that would be kept for the visitors.
Historically, aquariums kept sharks that lived near the seabed or near reefs. That makes
sense – it’s easier to recreate those habitats in a tank. But in recent decades,
aquariums have wanted to bring in bigger, more pelagic sharks, those that spend time
roaming the open ocean. They’ve even been able to exhibit the largest
shark in the world, the whale shark, if they have a big enough tank.
But pelagic sharks are used to being able to swim long distances without obstructions,
changing directions only as they please. So the faster-moving sharks like the
white shark, mako shark, and blue shark, they have trouble with walls when they’re
put in a tank. That’s what was happening with the Monterey
Bay Aquarium’s sixth white shark in 2011. They decided to release it after 55 days and
its tracking tag revealed that the shark died shortly after being released. They’re not
 sure why. But since then, they haven’t tried bring in
another great white shark. JON HOECH: It’s just a very very very resource
intensive program and we felt like we had accomplished our goal of introducing the general
public to a live white shark. It took a huge, carefully planned system to
keep a white shark alive. And even then, the sharks didn’t quite fit there.
We can’t seem to stop trying though. Earlier this year, an 11.5-foot great white shark
was taken to an aquarium in Okinawa, Japan after getting caught in a fisherman’s net.
It was the only adult white shark ever to be put on display, and within 3 days it was dead. I wanted show you a great resource online
called the Biodiversity Heritage Library – it’s the product of a couple dozen
museums and libraries all agreeing to scan millions of pages from books related to biodiversity.
They’ve got a bunch of great albums on Flickr, including one that’s all about sharks.
Some of these go back to the 16th and 17th centuries, back when the naturalists used to call sharks “sea dogs” which is funny because as we now know sharks were roaming the oceans for about 300 million years before the first mammals showed up.

100 thoughts on “Why no aquarium has a great white shark

  1. people are killing the natura in the name of advancement and technology… stop doing it learn to lve with nature… Nature is our home not the technology…

  2. In my opinion dolphins are just as sentient as humans and they might try building civilizations underwater. So we should not keep healthy ones in captivity

  3. We can't hold on them for long means there is no way we can breed them before it can reach extinction, the only solution for this is take care of our ocean and impose large penalties on marine life poaching.

  4. Sharks have a role to play in the web of life. Living in captivity or being killed creates a web that is unbalanced and sick.

  5. I remember being 3 and seeing the great white shark, I still go to that aquarium to this day and am waiting for them to do it again

  6. Some people say Eve eating an apple caused troubles. I say it is 'man' having "dominion over the earth". It's been downhill ever since with humans sticking their noses where they don't belong.

  7. They’re not used to these tight spaces do used to swimming around freely and doing whatever they want without being enclosure in a space to be shown for human pleasure the reason why they weren’t in a aquarium in the first place is because they don’t belong there like other fish do sometimes so just leave them alone and stick with keeping other fish in the aquarium for human attractions

  8. Excuse me…Whale Shark Become a Shark now?? i thought it is the biggest fish. 3:38 My teacher is Wrong Or This Channel Is telling a lie

  9. how hard would it be to make an ocean equivalent to the wild animal park in san diego? something that is many miles of space, but sectioned off, with a tube for humans to walk through and just hope to see something. enough space for sharks to roam freely, but sectioned off so they can't leave. then it would just be a matter of maintaining the population to be large enough that the human patrons are likely to see a few and not feel like they wasted their admission fee. I know that there are people who own large plots of fenced off land with wildlife that they hunt and also feed and monitor the population levels. people who hunt deer in their literal backyard, and carefully maintain the population. why can't we do that for sharks? not to hunt but if anything to build up the population, and maybe even release them into the wild as needed, with admission fees supporting the whole operation? I think we could do that. maybe it's just a bit too ambitious. we would rather just put them in a bathtub and hope they survive.

  10. When i was little i remember my dad took our family to las Vegas and went to a aquarium and i saw a Great white shark but he sure did look unhappy but the shark was young though

  11. " Human, caught by sharks and now in an underwater oxygenated glass box, for all sea creatures to admire, but since the human refused to eat, the sharks decided to set it free and tag the human, but 1 month after being freed the human died of depression."

  12. Some sharks swim over a quarter of the earth's surface just to look for food. I imagine that a creature capable of traveling great distances will go mad in such a confined space suddenly trapped by an invisible barrier.

  13. You're basically suffocating the shark to death… Putting them in the largest tank we could, would be like giving us a straw to snorkel with…

  14. Good to know that the Monterey Bay Aquarium isn’t any better than SeaWorld or any of the other places it pretends to be better than, while preaching all about climate change and not eating seafood all over the place. Boooooo

  15. It's one thing to bring in sharks to help them heal from wounds caused by the largely un-restricted fishing in many parts of the world. But it's another thing to take a perfectly healthy shark and stick it in a tank. Just don't do it.

  16. Most zoos and aquariums are able to replicate the conditions needed to car for animals. The problem is when they don’t or can not.

  17. It’s peak, u know what how about I chuck my lil brother in some glass container about the size of my room which is quite small and make him live in that

  18. It's a tough call, because humans are selfish and self-serving by design. "Out of sight, out of mind" is an accurate truism. Zoos are cruel and hard for me to see. On the other hand, they definitely inspire conservation efforts, especially planting seeds into young minds. If we don't see the majesty of the wild, we can't comprehend how important it is to preserve it. But it really is a dichotomy created by our arrogance that we need to harm the few to the protect the many.

  19. to people saying "stop imprisoning living creatures for human entertainment":

    aquariums actually benefit most animals since the monitored environments aren't polluted like the natural environments of these creatures. the pollution that the human race has stressed upon the earth's sea won't be reveersed any time soon, so putting the creatures in aquariums protects them from the hazards of pollution in their natural habitat. not only that but their is a less risk of them going extinct because (1) they don't have to experience the threat on invasive species killing them off in their natural habitat and (2) humans can't over-hunt or over-fish. yes the aquariums do entertain humans but they also in turn benefit the animals. i completely agree that animals and living creatures deserve freedom and shouldn't be treated as slaves to entertain humans, but in this case, aquariums and conservation programs protect these creatures rather enslave while in turn giving humans the joy of observing the various life forms around us.

    AND YEA OF COURSE, if aquariums are harmful to creatures such as the great white then um I HIGHLY recommend KEEPING them in their natural habitat.

  20. Thank you for simplifying! I have viewed countless videos, none simplifies such as this one. So called big networks with bigger budget and many more reporters can not do the job. Thank you again.

  21. All that time and money spent on crafting a way to slightly procrastinate the death of a magnificent creature that deserves to remain in the wild.

  22. Let’s kidnap humans and keep them captive in a small tank. Probably won’t go so well right? Anyone who thinks this is right should jump into a huge whirlpool and drown themselves. Then while their friends and family feel sad and down, my feelings will skyrocket! Dark I know. But any animal kept captive and normalized is much darker.

  23. I am completely against aquariums and zoos. It's cruelty against animals, displacing them from their natural habitat to place them in confined spaces…. What for?

  24. Maybe we could concentrate on keeping them alive in the wild before we start trying for display dollars. I'm sure our garbage isn't helping. Personal thanks to you know who for dismantaling the EPA. Phew. Maybe we're the unwanted party guests.

  25. "Sea dogs" huh. That's funny. In turkish we actually call them "köpek balığı" which means "dog fish". It's almost like a shadow of the scientific history.

  26. 4:30 "they're not sure why" you damaged its respiratory system and weakened its mental state and forced to go against its natural instincts.

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