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.

Stephen Childs


  1. There should be no animal or mammals or fishes or any kinda animal in captivity. It's bludy disgusting .

  2. Orh they could just leave the alone, I don’t come to your house and take ur nan and put her In a cage. No didn’t think so

  3. Nobody NEEDS aquariums or zoos

    Why not just have animal breading stations that are well kept for when humans notice a species population starting to shrink?

  4. The obsession humans have with taking animals from its natural habitat. “We achieved our goal of exposing the public to sharks”. The shark died Bob. What an achievement.

  5. Bruh. The GA aquarium is making an entire exhibit just for sharks…including a great white

  6. Man it’s almost like putting them in captivity is harming them, most of the time fatally. Hmmmm, oh I know, let’s try again

  7. It saddens me to see that we as an intelligent species cannot see the forest for the trees. Just leave them alone. If you want to see a white shark, go to the ocean
    and see them where they live. Experience their world in their setting.

  8. Wow Great Whites evolved themselves so far ahead into the future that they are aquarium-proof!

  9. These sharks are minding their own business but humans still feel the need to send them to an early grave by putting them on display, smh.

  10. Hello everyone, on the topic of taking animals out of their habitat and putting them on display for our amusement or worse, keeping them for medical supplies please take my advice: do not visit a zoo in developing nations unless you want to be scarred for life. Vietnam, China (although not developing their record for animal cruelty is not great) don't do it!

  11. try keep people in a large confined area, oh wait that's schools and office buildings

  12. Aquariums are revolting establishments and the people that run them aren’t true marine conservationists…but the day they put a great white shark or even a blue whale (which I’ve actually heard almost happened once) in that environment, is the day we stuff them in with the poachers, trophy hunters and the seal clubbers…

  13. I can only imagine imagine if we're still around how appalled our ancestors will be that we trapped nature in cages and zoos for our entertainment.

  14. Is it me or I just wants to break the glass and then they learn their lesson to not keep animals in captivity

  15. why not cage the human animals that are bent on jailing these ocean animals, and see how long they will last. That would be a worth while study.

  16. They need space to swim and breathe properly. Metals disrupt their senses such as their lateral line. It creates an electrical charge they see as prey and they will run into walls with metal joints and viewing frames.

  17. Taking a shark/any animal/fish/ whatever you can think of, is like putting a human in
    a claustrophobic place where it is difficult to breath. 🤦🏻‍♀️

  18. If people are so curious to see white sharks and sea life – How about this: Instead of bringing the animals to us – YOU go to them. Go diving and your experience will be so much more than it could ever be in an aquarium and it does not hurt the animals you want to see.

    Wild animals are not supposed to live in a cage.

  19. They need to migrate, produce, make their runs around the world, so to speak!

  20. The most amazing thing is it must have still been profitable for them to have bothered. The general public will always take a spectacle over morality.

  21. We shouldn't have great whites in captivity it is not good for them

  22. Hey I'm feeling suicidal and the glass of the aquarium is breakable by the great white shark, let's try keep a shark.

  23. sharks are becoming endangered, please don't keep them captive for our amusement..

  24. what nobody here comments about is the interest of science into why they do not survive in an aquarium.
    they are not just caught for entertainment, but also for science! everybody is interested in WHY the great white does not survive in captivity, however nobody found an answer yet. and it will be hard to find that out without actually capturing a specimen (they are not endangered). if – for any weird reason – we will ever have to save the species by capturing a few great whites, then we would not know how to do that (something similar has been done for some other species already)

  25. There shouldn't be any aquarium with any fish. That's just slavery with extra steps!

  26. The whole concept of keeping animals in captivity is pretty cruel and barbaric. They belong in their natural habitat. If you want to see a wild animal you can watch documentaries or see them out in nature. Using animal cruelty under the guise of education and/or entertainment is wrong. I went to an aquarium once, and couldn't help but feel sorry for all the poor creatures. They don't deserve that. Sure it was neat to see the animals in person- but it's not worth it knowing the reality of how they're living.

  27. 5 montos? 198 days is 6 and half months. Just be honest and people with brains will believe you too.

  28. I feel bad for fish, but not sharks they must not swim in the sea while i do

  29. this is so incredibly sad. why must humans always take animals out of their natural habitats for our own gain and profit. just stop putting them in tanks and we can observe them from a distance in the wild

  30. Just simply let them stay where they belong to. U know that tank is not for them.

  31. Aliens: *Traps humans for entertainment *

    Humans: *shocked pickachu face*

  32. I saw a baby great white at the Monterey bay aquarium when I was a kid until they put it back in the ocean because it was eating all the fish

  33. Great white sharks are one of the lucky ones I guess for not being able to sty in captivity

  34. When i was around 4 i used to always go to the monterey bay aquarium, i had always been obsessed with fish and the ocean. Seeing the great white shark was so school back then, i never knew all the work that went in to it

  35. Anyone seen Jaws 3? Remember the gigantic underwater tunnel system they made so people can see the real ocean?
    Why haven’t we done that and stop taking these animals out of their habitats?

  36. It goes 2 show how diseganged most people are from their own nature. Murder for amusmement.

  37. I fully agree about not keeping a Great White in capitivity, but stop with all the bleeding heart BS. We all have to go sometime, plus those sharks wouldn’t think twice about taking your legs off or killing you or me if it wanted too. Everything science did in this video was about education, not entertainment.

  38. all these institutions should be ashamed for giving so many attempts to force anciently wild animals to conform to our newfound humanly desire to view them.

  39. Zoos and aquariums should be banned, it is sick how humans capture other animals and interfere with nature all to make some money

  40. How about we leave Mother Nature flourishing as it is, rather than disrupting it and destroying the cycle like we’ve been doing since the dawn of our existence?

  41. Not true. We had a great white shark in the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I proved you wrong.

  42. How about we leave them alone and let them live happy in the ocean

  43. F the public. Just take pics in their natural habitat. STOP KILLING INNOCENT SHARKS! STOP!!

  44. I never ever go to zoo’s ,aquaria or the circus. And i never will. Not even if i get kids. Just makes me sad

  45. We need to stop🛑 we need to stop visiting aquariums, circus and zoos’. No demand no supply.

  46. That's really sad and it's wrong to captivate animals, that's like captivating us and putting us on display. We shouldn't captivate Great whites any way they cant hunt they don't have enough room and its wrong on so many levels I could write a book about this. If you agree please thumb up this comment.

  47. Isn't there glass out there that are blacked out from one side and see-through from another? I mean, if the objects visible with a couple barnacles here and there to kind of give an indication to species within the tank that it's an obstruction in the way then maybe, just maybe the sharks wouldn't run into it? I don't know, just a guess.

  48. Wow big surprise that a wild animal that lives in a deep ocean can’t live in a tank… who would’ve known that smh

  49. Well aside from taking it out of its natural habitats, sharks and other fish that cant buccal pump sleep and rest in strong currents where they use less energy to oxygenate themselves. So, essentially your fatiguing the shark, the larger the shark the more energy it expends to oxygenate itself in a closed environment with no current. Therefore, death occurs quickly. Imagine having to run to breath, then put urself in a box.

  50. We should just stop going to zoos and aquariums because it encourages people to do things like these for money. We should just go to the ones that help the Animals like places that breed endangered Animals so that they dont go extinct.

  51. افضل شي انكم تُترجمو ان عربي و اتابع اخباركم و محتواكم اتمنى ان لا تضعو فيديو بدون ترجمه 😊👍

  52. Moral of the story leave them alone. There is absolutely no need for us to shove them into tanks so a bunch of over weight tourists with kids can watch them swim.

  53. People that want to see Great Whites and any other marine animal of the open ocean (Pelagic) can go into their domain in a safe & more controlled circumstance with professionals with minimal impact on the living creatures and environment l.
    Can afford it?? TOO BAD. I want to go to the ISS (space) but I don’t have the money (like Richard Branson) nor the qualifications of an astronaut. That’s life. Merely “wanting” something is not a reason to do something at the expense of others or the world we live in.

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