How Come No Aquarium Has A Great White Shark?

The great white shark, perhaps the most feared predator in the ocean and certainly one of its most important, is notorious for faring poorly in captivity.

The first great white shark to be held in captivity was at Marineland of the Pacific in 1955, for less than a day. The first great white to be held for a significant amount of time (16 days) was at SeaWorld in 1981.

In 2004, the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California exhibited a female great white for just 198 days, getting her to feed in captivity for the first time.

She eventually attacked two other sharks that were held in the tank with her, and was released back into the wild shortly after. Others have been held in tanks, but most are released or have died in captivity.

There are several factors that make great whites terrible candidates for captivity, chief among them being the migratory species’ propensity to travel great distances.

Scientists have found that tagged sharks sometimes end up on the other side of the world—in 2014, one even swam clear across the Atlantic Ocean.

They also need a large volume of water and must keep moving in order to keep water flowing over their gills so they can breathe, qualities that amount to a logistical nightmare for aquariums.