White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) in Captivity

Date Aquarium TL (m) Sex Days in captivity Reference
1955 Marineland of the Pacific 1.4   <1 Ellis & McCosker 1991
Cc_images/aqws.jpg March 1961 Waikiki Aquarium Honolulu, formerly Marineland Honolulu;
Thanks to Ollie Lloyd for photo emailed in May 2009.
4   2 Ellis & McCosker 1991
Dec. 1962 Marineland of Florida 2.4 M 1.5 Ellis & McCosker 1991
1968 Durban Aquarium small M <<1 Ellis & McCosker 1991
May 1968 Manly Marineland Sydney
Despite initial rough handling by an angler it began feeding actively after about 3 days. Amazing as it may seem to us today, this animal was intentionally culled after it began to show an unnerving interest in the diving staff (Pete Mohan pers. comm.)
2.3 (1.6?) M 10 (4?)
was feeding!

Ian Gordon ELASMO-L postin;
Malcolm et al. 2001

1969 Sea World San Diego. While fishing for blue shark, Dave Powell and Bill Erwin brought in a 6 ft white shark on a hand line. 1.88 M 8 Powell (2001)
1974 Ocean World, Manly (Sydney) 1.3   1, died Malcolm et al. 2001
1976-80 Sea World San Diego     none survived trip
to So. CA
Ellis & McCosker 1991
1976 Sea World, Gold Coast, Australia 3.0   3, died Malcolm et al. 2001
Oct. 1978 Durban Aquarium 2.1 M 1
net caught
Ellis & McCosker 1991
12 Aug. 1980 Steinhart Aquarium San Francisco 2.3 F
Ellis & McCosker 1991

Marineland of the Pacific
During the late 1970s, Don Zumwalt, then curator at Marineland of the Pacific, had a juvenile white shark, about 2 m, in captivity for about 3 or 4 days. The animal had been injured by a boat hook and was eventually released just off the Marineland pier.

~2   3-4
Ralph S. Collier
2002 pers. comm.
1981 Marineland of the Pacific 1.47   <7 Ellis & McCosker 1991
03 Aug. 1981 Sea World San Diego.
"Of the approximately 30 individuals placed in captivity, the longevity record is 16 days (Sea World, San Diego, August 1981)" according to Hewitt (1984).
36 kg
released Aug. 19
Ellis & McCosker 1991
John O'Sullivan pers. comm.
to 1983 Steinhart Aquarium.
"We have handled five small white shark in the last few years, the latest being in August 1983".
5 small ones     Hewitt (1984)
1983 Ocean World Manly (Sydney) (former Manly Marineland) 2.0 F 1, died Malcolm et al. 2001
July 1984 Steinhart Aquarium.
After 16 days of fishing, one was caught in monfilament halibut gillnet two miles off the beach and towed into Ventura harbor. Then 16 hour transport to San Francsico due to mechanical breakdown of transporter. Shark improved during first 36 hours at the Aquarium but was followed by gradual decline in overall vitality during the next 40 hours.
1.5   4 Hewitt (1984)
1984 Ocean World Manly (Sydney) (former Manly Marineland) 2.0 F 1, died Malcolm et al. 2001
10 Sep 1984
Monterey Bay Aquarium 1.54 M 11 Ellis & McCosker 1991
1994? Sea World San Diego.
Two juvenile 30 kg females developed hyperglycemia. One shark was euthanized after 10 days, the other one was released after 10 days

1.55 est.
30 kg
F 10, one was released Reidarson and McBain (1994)
1994 Ocean World Manly (Sydney) (former Manly Marineland) 2.1 M
Ian Gordon ELASMO-L posting
13 Oct 1997
National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium (NMMBA) with 5 embryos of litter of 8 and private Shark Musuem in Taiwan with 3 embryos of same litter. For more details.
Difficult to say if these early- to mid-term embryos could have been kept alive. One would have had to simulate the uterus of the mother, a “soupy” liquid with nutritive egg cases containing nutritive eggs which probably spill out easily. I don’t know if egg-yolk from chicken eggs would have been sufficient.Click here for link to video showing sandtiger uteerus and probably staged events.
0.5-0.6   1, all died Victor Lin pers. comm.
1998 Underwater World Mooloolaba, Australia 1.6 F 2, released Malcolm et al. 2001
30 May 2000
On May 30, 2000 a 4 1/2 foot female white shark was inadvertently caught in a gill net and taken to San Pedro, CA. It was held in bait tank with running seawater aboard the fishing boat for a minimum of 5 hours. It was transferred to a 20 foot diameter x 6 foot deep tank with running seawater. It started swimming continuously on its own within an hour of being put into the tank. It continued to regain swimming strength and abrasions appeared to be healing by the end of 3 days in captivity. A whole freshly killed mackerel was suspended with monofilament line 2 feet below the surface at 24 hours. The food was missing the following morning. A shark tooth was discovered on the bottom directly below where the mackerel had been. There is the possibility that a seabird may have taken the mackerel but the tank was 90% covered with a tarp. The mackerel was 2 feet under the tarp. The shark was released after 3 1/3 days. It was released offshore of LA Harbor with a pop-up archival satellite tag attached to it. The shark tag was recovered one month later in another fisherman's net. It was the same area where the shark was caught the first time and approximately 18 miles from where the shark was released. The shark apparently freed himself from the net but left the pop-up tag behind tangled in the net. The tag was found to contain a complete set of environmental data that clearly demonstrated that the shark had survived its capture and release. Text by C. Winkler. 1.37 F 3.3 Chuck Winkler

29 July 2003
OXNARD, Calif. -A young great white shark held in an ocean pen off the Southern California coast will be released this week instead of being sent to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a spokesman said Saturday. It was caught by commercial fishermen in waters 60 feet deep a couple of miles off the coast between Oxnard and Ventura. Started to feed on Sunday 03 Aug. 2003. 1.54
~34 kg
released, was feeding!
San Jose Mercury and Monterey Herald
14 Sep 2004
Monterey Bay Aquarium
On Tuesday, September 14, aquarium biologists brought a young white shark back to Monterey and placed her on public exhibit it in the million-gallon Outer Bay exhibit. Fed on salmon filet the first day at MBA after transport from ocean pen in Southern California where it had been kept for 3 1/2 weeks after accidental capture in a commercial halibat gillnet on 20 Aug 2004. My estimte of age at capture is 1-3 months, thus birth date between May 20 - July 20, 2004. Monterey Herald Update Oct. 24, 2004. Photo taken 6 months later on about 10 Mar 2005. Length and mass estimates made prior to release were considerable underestimates. She gained about 44 cm over-the-curve TL and 45.3 kg in 6.5 months. Length measurements taken were over-the-curve.

~1.41 from ~1.5 TL OTC;
1.35 FL OTC;
28 kg;
(on 14 Sep 2004)

(6.5 mo)
Released on 31 Mar 2005; ~1.84 from TL OTC= 1.94 m, M = 73.4 kg.
Pop-up tag link
31 Aug 2006
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Second Young White Shark on Exhibit
Our million-gallon Outer Bay exhibit is once again home to a young white shark˜a male, 5-foot, 8-inches long and weighing 104 pounds. We brought him to Monterey on Thursday, August 31, 14 days after our husbandry collectors caught the shark off Southern California. He had been held since August 17 in a 4-million-gallon ocean pen off Malibu and was observed feeding in the pen several times before he was brought to Monterey. Was released after 137 days in captivity at MBA. Thanks to photo to Filipe Pereira.

~1.64 from 1.74 TL OTC;
47 kg;
(on 31 Aug 2006)

Second Young White Shark on Exhibit

28 Aug 2007

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Third Young White Shark on Exhibit
Like our first shark in 2004, he was caught accidentally in commercial fishing gear. Like our second shark in 2006, he's a young male: just 4-feet, 9-inches long and weighing 67 1⁄2 pounds. As with both of the other young white sharks, he was kept in an ocean holding pen off Malibu in Southern California until we observed him feeding and navigating well in the confines of the pen.

In January 2008 he was seen leaping into the air above the Outer Bay exhibit with the risk of injury and was therefore released on 5 Feb 200 after 152 days on exhibit. The shark had grown to 5'10" (1.76 m) and 140 lbs (63.6 kg). It was tagged and released into Monterey Bay off a boat just after sunrise. The shark was fitted with two electronic tags: one that will provide scientists with near real-time data about his travels for about eight months, and another that will collect detailed information on his movements for the next five months. (The shark traveled to the southern tip of Baja California in 40 days, then swam halfway up the Sea of Cortez before its tracking tag popped free in June. The battery on a second device failed and stopped reporting later that month.)

1.43 TL;
30.6 kg;
(on 28Aug 2007)

Third Young White Shark on Exhibit
1 July 2008
Kabasakal & Ozgur-Gedikoglu (2008): Fishermen tried to keep both great white sharks alive and display them in a 25 m3 marine aquarium in a restaurant. However, both sharks survived only for 12 hours and 27 hours, respectively. After the death of both specimens, they were preserved in ice and transported to the Istanbul Fish Market for delivery to the Ichthyological Research Society (IRS) in Turkey. 1.255 M 12 h See on right
4 July 2008
Kabasakal & Ozgur-Gedikoglu (2008): Fishermen tried to keep both great white sharks alive and display them in a m3 marine aquarium in a restaurant. However, both sharks survived only for 12 hours and 27 hours, respectively. After the death of both specimens, they were preserved in ice and transported to the Istanbul Fish Market for delivery to the Ichthyological Research Society (IRS) in Turkey. 1.45 M 27 hr See on right

27 Aug 2008

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Fourth Young White Shark on Exhibit
Female was trapped in net off Malibu on 16 August 2008 and transported to MBA 11 days later on 27 August 2008. Shark was released in the Santa Barbara Channel on 7 Sep 2008 because she fed only once (on 31 Aug) during her 11 day stay at the Aquarium. It was tagged with a tag that will pop up in 148 days and transmit the collected data via satellite.

1.37 TL;
25.2 kg;
(on 27Aug 2008)

F 11
Fourth Young White Shark on Exhibit

26 Aug 2009

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Fifth Young White Shark on Exhibit
Female was czught by a commercial fishing crew using a purse seine net off Malibu on 12 August 2009 and transferred to a 4 million gallon ocean holding pen off Malibu, where it stayed for nearly two weeks. She was transferred to MBA on 26 Aug 2009.
She was released on 4 Nov 2009 because she was starting to bite tank mates. TL at release was 1.66 m and mass was 45.4 kg.

1.57 TL;
36.2 kg;
(on 26Aug 2009)

70 Fifth Young White Shark on Exhibit
31 Aug 2011

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Sixth Young White Shark on Exhibit. Male was caught on Aug 18 using purse seine. Was kept in holding pen off Malibu CA until transport to MBA on Aug 31 2011. Was released on Oct 25, 2011 becasue of navigation problems in the exhibiy. The pop-up tag would collect information on where it travels, the depths it dives, and the water temperatures it favors for the first 180 days it's back in the wild. It was scheduled to pop free in late April and transmit data via satellite. However, it popped up on Oct 29. 2011 and was recovered the next day.

1.33 TL;
19.6 kg;
(on 18Aug 2011)

M   55
Sixth Young White Shark on Exhibit

Cc picture
05 Jan 2016

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, Japan
An adult male was caught in a set net and brought to the aquarium in good condition. Feeding was attempted. A YouTube video shows the shark swimming in the exhibit. Unfortuantly the shark stopped swimming and was moved to a holding tank but could not be revived. Additional photos 01, 04 and 03 with the last one showing white shark swiming above tiger shark of about the same size.
Preserved specimen to be displayed in National Museum of Nature and Science of Japan in July 2016 (Victor Lin pers. comm.)


M  2
Keiichi Sato, pers. comm.
Photo/Date Aquarium TL (m) Sex Days in captivity Reference

Hewitt, J. C. 1984. The great white shark in captivity: A history and prognosis. AAZPA Annual Proceedings 1984: 317-324.
Reidarson, T. H. and McBain J. 1994. Hyperglycemia in two great white sharks. IAAAM Newsletter 25 (4).
Powell, D. C. 2001. A fascination for fish. Adventures of an underwater pioneer. University of California Berkely CA//Monterey Bay Aquarium series in marine conservation. pp 339.
Malcolm, H., Bruce B.D., and Stevens J.D. 2001. A review of the biology and status of white shark in Australian water. CSIRO Marine Research, Hobart, 81 pp.

Created September 1998, revised January 2016. Back to previous page
Please send comments or corrections to henry@elasmollet.org