Released White Shark Was Recaptured on Her Way Back to Malibu Waters
• Young Female Was Inadvertently Caught in Net But She Appears to Be Healthy and Eating
BY ANNE SOBLE
BY ANNE SOBLE
The young white shark from Malibu returned to the wild 10 days ago by the Monterey Bay Aquarium was homeward bound when she was caught and released last Thursday by a commercial fisherman working his nets.
Described as “very lively,” the shark was caught by the tail in a net about 22 miles southeast from the point where she had been released the previous Sunday, according to Jon Hoech, the director of husbandry for the aquarium.
The shark appeared to be heading back to waters off Malibu that are hospitable to young whites, and where she was originally caught and kept in the MBA ocean holding pen off Point Dume.
The small female was on exhibit at the aquarium over the Labor Day weekend, but she was released after 11 days because she had eaten only once during that time period.
Hoech said, “From the description the fisherman gave us, she’s in excellent condition. That’s great news. At the same time, the fact that she was caught is a reminder that young white sharks face very real threats in the ocean.”
The fisherman told MBA he had deployed his net to catch thresher sharks and found the young white in his gear when he checked it shortly before 7 a.m. last Thursday.
After putting the apparently unharmed shark in the bait well of his boat, the man called aquarium animal care staff and was told to check the young white’s physical condition and release her immediately.
Hoech said, “The fisherman checked her body and eyes for any injuries, and set her free,” adding that “his description was that she was very lively, a very hot fish. The fisherman also said that from the appearance of the shark’s belly, it looked as if she had recently fed.”
During her brief stay at the aquarium, the 4 1/2-foot-long, 55 1/2-pound white shark was not eating. She was said to be swimming well in the million-gallon Outer Bay exhibit, but the MBA animal care staff “decided it was best to return her to the ocean.”
“Decisions on release are always governed by our concern for the health and well-being of the animals under our care,” Hoech said. “The fact that she’s doing well reaffirms that we made the right decision.”
Like the three other whites that spent between four and six months at the aquarium before being set free, the young female shark was fitted with a tracking device that documents her movements in the wild. That tag is still intact.
The pop-off tag will collect information for 148 days on where the shark travels, and the depths and water temperatures she favors. It is set to pop free in late January and deliver its data via satellite.
The aquarium will begin an eighth field season of white shark conservation research next summer. Because the Outer Bay exhibit will be closed for remodeling and renovations in fall 2009, there will be no attempts to bring a young white shark back to Monterey for exhibit until 2011.