A great white shark that has been
held in captivity in California far longer than any other member
of its species has killed two smaller tankmates, heightening
critics' calls for the animal's release.
One of the soupfin sharks at the
Monterey Bay Aquarium died Feb. 23 after an attack by the great
white. The second soupfin died Tuesday from injuries received in
an attack a day earlier, said Randy Kochevar, a marine biologist
at the aquarium.
The year-old shark has been at
the aquarium for nearly six months; no other great white has
stayed alive for more than 16 days in captivity. The female
shark came to the aquarium Sept. 15 after a halibut fisherman
accidentally netted it off the Orange County coast.
Aquarium officials believe the
88-pound, 5-foot-3-inch shark attacked the smaller, slower
animals only as a reflex when it bumped the other sharks, not in
a predatory rage.
The animal hasn't attacked
anything else in the tank, including a variety of tuna,
California barracuda, black sea turtles and scalloped hammerhead
sharks. Two other soupfin sharks have been removed from the
great white's tank, Kochevar said.
Even so, some naturalists say
great whites can't adjust to aquarium life.
"They really have huge travel
migration routes. This type of animal typically travels 50 miles
in a day," said Sean Van Sommeran,
executive director of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation in
Van Sommeran said the
million-gallon tank where the shark lives "is really just a
bucket. ... His nose is raw from repeated contact with the
"This animal is injured and
becoming agitated," he said.
Kochevar countered that the
animal is under constant medical supervision and is healthy, and
eventually will be released.
He said the aquarium has had
700,000 visitors come see the shark display, and researchers are
gathering data on its biology and behavior they say will help in
conservation efforts for sharks in the wild.
"We are doing something here that
nobody else has done. ... And we have found that the very best
way to inspire people and educate people is to put them
face-to-face with the real thing," Kochevar said.