Image: Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
Footage of the recently deceased great white prior to its death
Those who frequent public aquariums have likely encountered a number of shark species in captivity, with a major exception: Carcharodon carcharias, the great white. Because great white sharks must swim continually to keep their oxygen level and body temperature stable, keeping the species healthy in captivity hasn't historically been a viable option. The longest an aquarium kept a great white captive was a 200-day experimental stint at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, prior to a planned release back into the wild. That shark died before it could be released.
Another such unfortunate incident took place at an aquarium in southwestern Japan on Friday. A great white that was supposedly accidentally caught was secured by the aquarium, which tried to keep it at the facility. After only three days, the shark died. Its condition quickly deteriorated as soon as it was placed in an enclosure. The poor creature refused to eat and sank to the bottom of the tank before dying.
Critics of the aquarium's attempt to keep the shark on display are clear, saying that facilities trying to increase visitors and profits with such unrealistic stunts should be condemned. George Burgess, a specialist from the Florida Museum of Natural History, told the New York Times,
"It's purely 'climb the mountain' stuff: in the world of aquaria, where you bring in your clientele, the visitors, based on your attractions, it's an attraction you would have that nobody else would have."
See a video of the shark in question above, and read more on this story at the New York Times.