Wednesday, October 06, 2004

A four-foot-four mini-Jaws

Babble on.



One of the new sites on the sidebar, Target Centermass (I have to consciously keep myself from typing 'Centremass') put me on to the story of a young Great White Shark that has just set a record for survival in captivity at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. (Armor and sharks turn out to be a natural fit. It's like peanut butter and chocolate: you don't realize they go together until you try it.)

This year, we received a 4-foot-4-inch white shark on August 20 after she was caught inadvertently in a commercial fishing net. She was tagged and held in the ocean pen until September 14. Because the shark remained in good health, she was transported to Monterey and placed in the Outer Bay exhibit to determine if she would thrive in the million-gallon exhibit.

She will remain in the exhibit as long as she shows signs that she is doing well. If staff aquarists and our veterinarian determine that she will not survive in the multi-species exhibit, she will be released if there is a strong likelihood that she would survive a return to the wild.


I'm not one of these people who need to see every animal on the planet put on exhibit for the masses - especially an animal that normally dies in the first two weeks away from the ocean. There's a tangible melancholy to an apex predator in a cage, no matter how big that cage may be. There's also an undeniable thrill in seeing one first-hand and up close. And that thrill has proven to benefit wildlife conservation and research, which is one of the reasons why my family has memberships at the Toronto Zoo and why we make sure to visit fairly often. (Boo loves the Lake Malawi Cichlid tank, and you should have seen him...OK now I'm officially off topic).

But once you get past the emotions, it makes sense to study animals and to know how to preserve them in captivity if necessary. And so we have a Great White in a tank, being observed, measured, catalogued, and analysed for our enlightenment. I trust this newfound understanding will also be used to the benefit of the world's Great White population at some point.

One way or another, though, I'm pulling for this particular shark. She's a fighter.

Babble off.

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