Home » World News » Real reason great white sharks aren’t kept in aquariums according to experts
Real reason great white sharks aren’t kept in aquariums according to experts
June 26, 2023
If you've ever visited an aquarium hoping to catch a glimpse of a great white shark, you'll have gone home disappointed.
The enormous marine animals are practically impossible to keep in captivity, and no one has managed the feat for long.
That's not to say nobody has tried – displaying great whites was a trend that surged in popularity in the 1970s, with California's Monterey Bay Aquarium keeping a young shark for six months in 2004, reports MailOnline.
READ MORE: Shark bites fisherman and drags him off boat as pals scramble to save him
The enormous tank was specifically designed for animals that thrive in the open ocean and had 3.78million litres of water for the animals to swim in, filling a 10.6m-deep tank.
At the time, Monterey Bay’s director of husbandry operations Jon Hoech said the sharks were being kept in the interest of marine conservation.
"We believe strongly that putting people face to face with live animals like this is very significant in inspiring ocean conservation and connecting people to the ocean environment," he said.
"We feel like white sharks face significant threats out in the wild and our ability to bring awareness to that is significant in terms of encouraging people to become ocean stewards."
But after six months, the aquarium released the shark back into the wild after it killed two of the other sharks it shared a tank with.
Terrifying 32st bull shark clamps down gaping jaws just inches from fearless diver
SeaWorld no longer has any great white sharks in captivity, but the San Diego branch of aquatic theme parks used to keep more than 12 great whites on display.
However one of them was released back into the wild after just 10 days because it refused to eat in captivity.
Similarly, in 2016, a Japanese aquarium housed an 11.5ft male great white in its "The Sea of Dangerous Sharks" exhibit.
But the creature lasted just three days before tragically dying as it didn't eat once during its time in the tank.
It seems great whites simply don't thrive in captivity as zoos are unable to truly replicate their habitat.
The sharks can grow to 15ft and, in the wild, are accustomed to covering vast distances to feed, with some travelling 50 miles in just one day.
Without this intense level of activity, the sharks begin to struggle to breathe and become weak.
Great whites are also more injury-prone in captivity as their desire to move can see them ram into the walls of their cages, while the lack of movement can also see them refuse food.
Because of this, keeping great whites captive is now considered inhumane.
But even without these considerations, the price of maintaining a great white enclosure is so high most aquariums wouldn't consider it cost-effective.
With the animals requiring vast spaces to swim around in and specific resources, many zoos simply can't justify splashing the cash to keep the beasts happy.
For the latest breaking news and stories from across the globe from the Daily Star, sign up for our newsletter by clicking here.