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04 October 2023

Captured great white shark dies in aquarium

An adult great white shark swims inside a tank at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Japan earlier this week. (Pic: Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium @ Japan Real Time)


A great white shark which was captured and exhibited in a Japanese aquarium, one of only a few such sharks to ever be displayed in this way, has died just after three days, the facility said Saturday.

The shark, about 3.5 metres (11'5'') in length, was trapped in a fisherman's net and taken to an aquarium on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa on Tuesday.

It was exhibited in the Sea of Dangerous Sharks section at Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, but died on Friday, according to the facility.

The aquarium, popular for its giant tanks where it exhibits whale sharks, said it is investigating what caused the death of the fish -- of the same species as that featured in Hollywood buster ‘Jaws’.

"It is very difficult to keep great white sharks," said Keiichi Sato, an expert in cartilage fish, of the Okinawa Churashima Foundation.

Two aquariums in the United States, including Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, have had the species in captive for short periods in the past, he said.

"It is rare that the kind of shark is spotted in the coastal waters of Okinawa in the first place, and even if they get caught in fishermen's net they usually die immediately because they must keep moving at high speed," Sato told AFP.

"We have almost no knowledge about (the great white's) nature, so although it died we would like to share what we learnt from this experience with researchers of the world," he added.