Great White Shark Exhibit At Monterey Bay Aquarium Put On Hiatus

Aquarium cites push to list Carcharodon carcharias as a federally endangered species as reason for suspending the collection of these animals for its exhibit.

Written by
Juvenile great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) .Photo by John Virata
John Virata

The Monterey Bay Aquarium announced that it will suspend showing juvenile great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) at its aquarium due in part to a push to get the wildly misunderstood apex predator listed as a federally protected endangered species. In August 2012, Oceana, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Shark Stewards filed a petition with the U.S. federal government to list the great white shark population off the California coast as an endangered species. The animal is currently protected under the California Endangered Species Act.

The aquarium is known to take in juvenile great whites that were captured in fishing nets off the coast of California and keeping them for various durations in its 1 million gallon Open Sea Exhibit. Aquarium staff observe their behaviors and in the event they see the animal in distress or behaving erratically, the aquarium moves to release the animal. The shortest duration a great white stayed in the exhibit is 11 days with the the longest duration at more than 200 days.

Want to Learn More?

Aussies to Pre-Emptively Hunt and Kill Great White Sharks That Pose Threat to Swimmers 

Great White Shark Now Protected off California Coast

Juvenile White Shark Released From Monterey Bay Aquarium Has Died

Endangered Species Protections Sought for Great White Sharks Off U.S. West Coast

Five of the six releases were successful. A four foot 10-inch 52 pound juvenile that was captured in a purse seine net off the Southern California coast in 2011 died shortly after being released from 55 days in captivity. At the time, Dr. Mike Murray, the aquarium’s veterinarian, said that the shark’s death was distressing and puzzling, as they had no reservations about whether the shark would do well after it was released.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is conducting a status review on the species and is expected to complete the review in March 2014. Anyone who wishes to comment or submit data to the department may do so at

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Marine Region
Attn: White Shark Status Report
4665 Lampson Avenue, Suite C
Los Alamitos, CA 90720

Article Categories:
Fish · Lifestyle