The Real Reason Why Aquariums Never Have Great White Sharks

Weird | By Holly Patrick | July 14, 2019

The ocean is home to many very strange creatures, many of which we still have yet to discover, and even those we have discovered can be shrouded in the mysteries of the deep. Luckily we have aquariums to help us learn about these interesting creatures, and to be able to see them up close and personal.

That being said, even the aquarium doesn't have every creature there is to see. In fact, it is missing one of the most iconic sea creatures there are. As far as iconic ocean animals go, there are few who are bigger both in name and stature than the great white shark, the king of the seas.

That is right. There are no great white sharks in aquariums. Think about it. Have you ever seen a great white in an aquarium? The answer is no, and there is a good reason for that, but it might not be the reason that you think. Read on to find out why this incredible underwater creature eludes aquariums.

They are Hard to Keep Alive

You might think that the reason why you won't find a great white shark in an aquarium is obviously due to the danger in catching one. They are incredibly powerful and dangerous animals after all, but you'd be wrong. Firstly, they aren't all that dangerous, despite what Jaws might have told you. In fact, the reason they aren't in any aquariums is quite the opposite. In the past, aquariums have attempted to feature great white, however, no great white lasted more than 16 days before dying. More recently, that record has been higher. In 2004, a great white stayed alive for 198 days, but not without a lot of help.

The shark that survived had to be held in a massive enclosure and even then the shark was only 4 feet, compared to the 15 feet that they typically grow to.

The Sharks Size Was Crucial to Keeping it Alive

The sharks size was crucial for its survival because it was still on a fish-only diet. Once the sharks begin to necessitate a mammalian diet, it gets very hard to keep them alive. Since sharks are so massive and thrive in an open environment, this shark was kept in a giant egg-shaped tank filled with four million gallons of water. That specific shark stayed at the aquarium for six months before it began killing other sharks and the aquarium decided to let it go.

After that, the aquarium tried the same experiment with several other baby great whites, but none of them lasted as long as the other shark. That is because sharks need to constantly move to absorb oxygen through their gills. They can cover a large distance in a very short amount of time, so even the biggest tank can feel small to a great white shark.

Let Them Be Free

Great whites will often bruise and cut themselves from smashing into the walls of the enclosure. In 2011, the aquarium decided that they'd had enough and wouldn't be housing great whites anymore. John Hoech of the Monterey Bay Aquariums said, "It's 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."

Japan tried to put a great whtie in captivity in 2016, however, it died after three days. The shark came into their possession after getting caught in a fisherman's net. Unfortunately this majestic creature died just so that humans could stare at it through glass. At least you can still put yourself in a cage and drop yourself into the ocean if you want a real up close and personal look at a shark.



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