Death of an Ambassador
Sad news: a great white shark ambassador — one of 5 white sharks exhibited by and successfully released from the Monterey Bay Aquarium — was caught in a fishing net and died.
A young great white shark that was released from the Monterey Bay Aquarium has died in a fishing net off the coast of Baja California.
The aquarium says in a statement Tuesday that the shark, which was fitted with electronic tracking tags, was on exhibit for 69 days before her release and traveled about 500 miles south. She was caught in a fishing net in early March.
The aquarium’s Randy Hamilton says the death underscores the threats the young sharks face in the wild.
The sharks are legally protected in California and Mexico but are sometimes accidentally caught by commercial fishermen. The aquarium said this shark was the only one of the five white sharks exhibited known to have died following its release.
(from the San Francisco Chronicle)
Following her release in November 2009, the shark was monitored by scientists involved with Monterey Bay Aquarium’s White Shark Project. This project promotes study, awareness and conservation of these magnificent animals.
I can imagine some readers wondering why great white sharks are in need of conservation. Here is what the Aquarium has to say about white sharks:
Despite popular perceptions of sharks as invincible, shark populations around the world are declining because of overfishing, habitat destruction and other human activities. Of the 350 or so species of sharks, 79 are imperiled, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. White sharks are top predators in the sea but, they’re in grave danger of being depleted.
(from Monterey Bay Aquarium)
I encourage you to check out the beautiful (and informative!) Conservation Research section on Aquarium’s site. You will find several pages dedicated to education about white shark research and the other conservation programs going on at the Aquarium. The pictures alone are worth the click!