http://www.ktvu.com/news/2376328/detail.html Monterey Bay Aquarium Captures White Shark POSTED: 3:00 p.m. PDT August 1, 2003 The Monterey Bay Aquarium is holding a young 5-foot-long white shark in an ocean pen off Southern California, aquarium officials announced Friday. The holding of the shark was just one step in a multi-year effort to study sharks in the wild and determine if it would be possible to display one in a public aquarium. The female shark has been fitted with an electronic tracking tag and will soon be released unless there are strong indications that she could successfully be displayed in the aquarium, according to John O'Sullivan, head of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's white shark project team, who says she appears to be healthy since her capture on Tuesday off the Ventura County coastline. "She was very responsive and appeared to be in very good shape," O'Sullivan said. On Thursday, she was swimming well in the 5 million gallon pen and feeding on the mackerel offered to her. O'Sullivan said those are two critical benchmarks before the aquarium could consider bringing her into an exhibit. "At this point, we could release her and it would have been a very successful season," O'Sullivan noted. "If she continues to swim well in the pen, if she takes food, we might consider bringing her to the aquarium." O'Sullivan and his team plan to observe the shark in the pen a little while longer before making their decision. If they decide to bring her north to Monterey, she would be housed in the million-gallon Outer Bay Exhibit, along with giant bluefin tuna and other open-ocean species. Before she was placed in the pen, scientists outfitted the shark with an electronic tag that will record information about her movements for 60 days if they decide to return her to the wild. The tag is programmed to detach and transmit the stored data via satellite to scientists in the lab and records depth and water temperature data, as well as her migrations up and down the coast. Based on body length, O'Sullivan says the shark is likely about a year old and weighs about 77 pounds. She is a protected species in California -- a top predator vital to the health of ocean ecosystems. Aquarium officials were confident that if she does arrive at the aquarium, her influence on the public will be positive. "Visitor studies have established that the experience of seeing live animals in an aquarium can have a significant and lasting effect on people," noted Cynthia Vernon, the aquarium's vice president of conservation programs. "If we succeed in exhibiting a white shark, we can raise awareness about the threats they face. It's been true with other sharks we've exhibited over the years, and I believe it will be true with white sharks, too." "Given the way white sharks have been demonized in popular culture, a change in public attitude is critical if we want to ensure their survival. We have strong shark conservation messages to deliver. The appeal of live animals makes our visitors more receptive to hearing -- and acting -- on the conservation messages." As part of its multi-year research project, the aquarium hopes to tag and release a number of young white sharks each year to take blood and tissue samples and to tag and release thresher and mako sharks caught during the summer field operations.