MBA Shark Death Confirmed
BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN
The Monterey Bay Aquarium announced last week that Great White Shark No. 6, collected by MBA staff on Aug. 18 near Malibu, has died.
The four-foot, eight-inch male weighed 43.2 pounds when he was captured. He was the smallest and, some researchers speculate, possibly the youngest of the six white sharks that have been captured and exhibited at the aquarium.
"On Aug. 31 we brought him to the Aquarium and placed him in the million-gallon Open Sea exhibit, where he remained for 55 days," a press release states.
The shark was released on Oct. 25, off the coast of Santa Barbara by the aquarium's animal care staff.
"Based on the shark's behavior and condition prior to release, the Aquarium's white shark team had every confidence that he would do well back in the wild, and that the release would be a success," the announcement states.
"He appeared to be doing well before the release team lost sight of him as he swam away. However, according to data from an electronic tracking tag, he died soon afterward."
The decision to release the shark after 55 days on exhibit was "based on changes in how well [the shark] was navigating in the exhibit, said aquarium staff veterinarian Mike Murray, who added that the changes "over time, could have caused abrasions that might become a source of infection."
"While we determined it was best not to keep him on exhibit any longer, we had no reservations about whether the shark would do well in the wild," Murray said. "That's why his death is both distressing and puzzling."
The aquarium's white shark team has announced that it will review its procedures and protocols "to see if any changes are warranted, based on the experience with this shark."
Malibu residents should expect to see a return of the MBA shark pen next year.
"We remain committed to our white shark work, and an 11th field season of Project White Shark, including tagging and tracking sharks in the wild—and potentially bringing a young shark to Monterey—will resume in the summer of 2012," the press release concludes.