Sea World on Friday released a great white shark back into the ocean after its capture 10 days ago drew heavy protests from animal activists.
The 5-foot-long young female shark, estimated to be 100 pounds, had not eaten since it was caught with a hook and line July 27 in the ocean off San Diego and put on display, said the marine park’s curator, Jim Antrim.
That fact prompted the decision to let the shark go, he said.
“It was still looking strong and healthy. We decided the best course was to put it back in the ocean now and fit it with a radio transmitter and monitor its movements,” Antrim said.
Last month, animal rights groups protested when a great white shark captured and put on display at Sea World had to be euthanized after it failed to eat and its health steadily deteriorated.
The groups protested even more when the second shark was captured after the first one died.
No white shark has ever survived more than 16 days in captivity. More than a dozen have died in captivity at Sea World and other California aquariums in the last 15 years.
“We’re happy they decided to do the right thing,” Linda Kelson of San Diego Animal Advocates said late Friday.
“I think public opinion was definitely on our side on this one.”
Sea World says it captured the two fearsome-looking creatures to increase scientific knowledge about them.
White sharks must swim continuously so that water moves through their gills, bringing them oxygen. But it’s not clear why the sharks refuse to eat in captivity, Antrim said.
Blood samples taken from the shark before it was released into the ocean Friday and tissue samples taken from the shark that died earlier will aid researchers, Antrim said.