Why Great White Sharks Don’t Live In Aquariums

If you’ve ever been to a large aquarium, you probably marvel at all of the sea life they house.

However, one particular marine animal is missing from the mix, and that animal is the great white shark.

Interestingly, aquariums have always had a difficult time keeping great white sharks alive in captivity. According to Quartz, California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium is perhaps the aquarium capable of keeping one ally the longest, but that was a juvenile shark and it only stuck around for six months.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

This may make you wonder why great white sharks are not long-lived in captivity. It seems that it isn’t because they aren’t strong, it’s because they are nomadic. According to PBS, since they travel long distances and moving about helps them to breathe, they tend to bump into the glass walls of the aquarium and sometimes succumb to their own injuries.

When the great white shark realizes it is in captivity and slows down or stops moving, it then struggles with breathing problems. Eventually, the shark will weaken and die.

Photo: flickr/Elias Levy

Another issue is that they don’t play well with others. Great white sharks are predators, of that fact we are well aware. If they are in a tank with other fish, they will end up preying on this fish and that is why they had to release the shark from the Monterey Bay aquarium back into the wild again.

The director of Monterey Bay at the time, Jon Hoech, said that keeping great whites and in captivity “inspired ocean conservation,” according to The Inertia.


He said: “We believe strongly that putting people face to face with live animals like this is very significant in inspiring ocean conservation and connecting people to the ocean environment.”

Then again, they had to give up their program because people were noticing that the sharks were injuring themselves by bumping into the walls.

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