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Why Great White Sharks Can't Be Found in Aquariums

Have you ever noticed that even at the most top-notch aquariums, there are never any great white sharks available for viewing?


Have you ever noticed that even at the most top-notch aquariums, there are never any great white sharks available for viewing? It's certainly not for lack of public demand (people love their sharks).

There's actually a major reason great whites can't be found in captivity — skip ahead to the video at the bottom of the article to discover the answer.

Basically, when aquariums did try to capture great whites and hold them in tanks, many of the sharks refused to eat and died, according to the New York Times.

The cost of catching, transporting and housing these sharks was astronomical when the shark wouldn't make it longer than a few days. It wasn't deemed worth it anymore.

Now great white sharks swim free because the few who were caught refused to adapt to life behind glass.

Of course, it's not like sharks in the wild are free from danger — between commercial finning and fishing and environmental threats, they're still up against a lot.

But, it is fascinating that you won't find any behind the walls of a manmade tank.

Several aquariums have tried over the years, and all have eventually failed.

Prior to 2004, the longest a great white shark had ever survived in captivity was at SeaWorld San Diego for just 16 days, per the Los Angeles Times.

Then came Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. According to Mercury News, that facility was able to house six juvenile great white sharks from 2004 to 2011, before the sharks were released back into the wild.

Still, the longest time the aquarium clocked was 198 days before the shark's behavior forced them to release her back into the wild. According to LiveScience, "She attacked two of the soupfin sharks that shared her tank. Each died as a result of their injuries."

After that, the aquarium moved to have her released.

The facility would go on to capture another five sharks who survived 137, 152, 11, 70 and 55 days in captivity. The final shark the aquarium caught and released in 2011 died shortly after its return to the sea, and Monterey Bay officially ended its great white shark captivity research in 2013, according to the facility's blog.

But the end of one program didn't stop other places from trying to capture and house great white sharks. In 2016, Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Japan tried their hand at it.

According to the Telegraph, that shark died just three days later because it refused to eat.

It's worth remembering the words of a 1984 Steinhart Aquarium report, as reported by Express: "In most cases it could be said that all these captive sharks were merely in the process of dying, with some taking longer than others."

As this video on the subject puts simply, great white sharks aren't meant for captivity.

Glass tanks can't offer the space, variety and diet that a great white shark needs to survive for the 70 years they can in the wild.

So, maybe it's time the aquariums just stop trying.

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