A great white shark has reportedly passed away in a Japanese aquarium barely three days after being taken into captivity.
Great white sharks, which can grow to be massive creatures, need a lot of swimming space because they use swimming in order to get the oxygen that they need, and to regulate their body temperature efficiently. Unfortunately, in the aquarium environment, the great white shark didn’t have the swimming space it needed, so it didn’t last very long.
Keeping great white sharks in captivity is incredibly difficult because of these needs.
This particular great white shark was a male and measured in at about 11.5 feet long, which isn’t particularly big for its species, but the fact that the shark was found lifeless at the bottom of the tank after its health started to decline shows that the tank simply wasn’t large enough for the shark’s needs.
"The cause of death is clear: captivity. The shark never had to die like this,” said Jason Baker, PETA's vice president of international campaigns.
As you can imagine, many are outraged by what appeared to be a “cruel and wrong” choice on behalf of the aquarium, but those employed by the aquarium say they had been pressured to put a shark on exhibit and that the aquarium was only trying to please the crowds; in addition, no local laws had been violated.
“We are going to announce termination of the Great White Shark exhibition. We had displayed the shark in "the Sea of dangerous sharks" tank from January 5th, 2016 but, the shark's condition took a sudden turn for the worse and we confirmed its death January 8th,” the Okinawa Churaumi aquarium said in an announcement via its own Web site.
NPR reports that the Monterey Bay Aquarium near San Francisco is the only aquarium known to have kept a great white shark in captivity for more than a “couple of weeks.” It is indeed a difficult task, and keeping them alive means giving them the roaming space they need.