Captive Great white shark returned to Pacific

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A juvenile Great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) displayed at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, California since August has been successfully released back into the ocean.

The 1.4m/55" male shark had been on display in the aquarium's one million gallon 'Open Ocean' exhibit for 55 days but experts at the popular attraction took the decision to release it back into the wild after they noticed changes in the way the shark was "navigating the exhibit".

The shark was transported two miles offshore of the Goleta pier, north of Santa Barbara by the aquarium's animal care staff where it was released, but not before two tracking tags were attached to it to record its movements back in the wild.

The first tag will document the predator's travels including depth and temperature before releasing itself on the water's surface after 180 days where it will transmit the valuable data via satellite.

The second tag is an acoustic one with a five-year lifespan and will report every time the shark swims past one in a growing network of coastal monitoring buoys in southern California and Baja California. It's hoped this data will provide insight into any changes in the shark's travels as it matures.

Manny Ezcurra, the aquarium's associate curator of elasmobranches said, "The transport and release went very well. The shark swam off looking strong, and very relaxed as he swam. He circled the boat a couple of times and then we lost sight of him."

The shark is the sixth specimen to be temporarily housed by the aquarium, all of which were tagged before being released back into the wild. The addition of these two tags brings the total number placed on Great whites by the aquarium and its partners to 46 tracking and 8 acoustic since 2002 and the information that they collect may prove vital in helping wildlife agencies to protect young sharks in the waters where they spend their early life.

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