Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

The White Shark Project at the Monterey Bay Aquarium: The first three years

John O'Sullivan
 Monterey Bay Aquarium

Wednesday, November 3, 2004
Pacific Forum – 3:00 p.m.

This project had two goals: to better understand the biology of these threatened ocean predators through electronic tagging (science component); and to systematically determine whether it’s possible to keep and display a young white shark (husbandry component). Our science team consisted of staff from Stanford University (through our collaboration in the Tuna Research and Conservation Center), Monterey Bay Aquarium, California State University, Long Beach Shark Lab and Southern California Marine Institute. Through their support we learned more about the lives of juvenile white sharks in the wild. We utilized pop-up satellite archival tags to observe sharks geographic movements and diurnal temperature and depth preferences. In the first two years, project participants tagged and tracked four juvenile white sharks for periods up to 63 days, collecting a total of 184 days of biological data. The data collected by our research team directly supported the husbandry goal by revealing natural behaviors of "wild," "penned," and "post-penned" (released) animals and habitat preferences. The presence of a juvenile white shark in the aquarium’s Outer Bay Waters exhibit is the result of the successful integration and partnership of our research and husbandry efforts. Continued tagging efforts and the ongoing display of this species will contribute significantly to both scientific and public understanding and protection of white sharks—an ecologically important and increasingly threatened species.

Next: Sequences and sensors in the seas