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Great White Shark Reaches Milestone In Monterey

They are one of the most feared and mysterious animals in the ocean. Today, the Monterey Bay Aquarium became the home of the longest surviving great white shark in captivity, and with that milestone comes an opportunity to study one of nature's most ferocious predators.

She's only 4 feet, 4 inches long, and weighs only 60 pounds, but it's this young Great White shark that's packing them into the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Dr. Randy Kochevar, Monterey Bay Aquarium: "So far she looks like she's doing really well on exhibit."

Her 17 days in captivity marks a record in Great White research.

Dr. Randy Kochevar, Monterey Bay Aquarium: "There have been about three dozen attempts over the last several decades to put a white shark on display by institutions around the world and nobody has been successful."

The years of trial and error made aquarium researchers take extra care with this four to six month old shark.

She was initially caught in a commercial fishing net on August 20th near Malibu. She spent the 25 days in a 400-million gallon pen, giving her a chance to recover from the trauma of being captured, and to get used to navigating a more confined space.

On September 15th she was brought to the aquarium and put on display where the aquarium says another first was marked -- a Great White was fed in captivity.

Not everyone is happy with the shark being displayed.

Sean van Sommeran, Pelagic Shark Foundation: "Certain animals, in our opinion, are not suited for long term captive display."

The Pelagic Shark Foundation studies sharks around the world. They study sharks in the wild, like these Great whites tagged and tracked in Southern California.

Sean van Sommeran, Pelagic Shark Foundation: "We do have concerns about it in terms of diminishing the animals overall lifespan. It's an animal that lives for decades."

Sharks kept in aquariums often live only a fraction of their life expectancy. The Monterey Bay Aquarium says it's worth the risk.

Dr. Randy Kochevar, Monterey Bay Aquarium: "We'll be able to learn about growth, about energetics, feeding, that we can't learn in the wild. But really the reason we have her on display here is that we want to raise public awareness about the plight of sharks."

In the past, when sharks have shown signs of stress, aquariums will tag the animal and then release them back into the wild.

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Last Updated: Oct 1, 2004

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