White shark near the boat

White Sharks – Biology, Behaviour and Physiology (part I)

This post follows on from my review of Global Perspectives on the Biology and Life History of the White Shark. That book (a collection of scientific papers) is divided into three sections, and I’m going to highlight papers that I found particularly interesting in each of the sections. My notes here are mostly nuggets of information that grabbed me when I read the papers, and in some cases aren’t even related to the author’s main point. If the paper sounds interesting to you, I suggest you track it down to read in full. Hopefully these bits and pieces are interesting, too!

In this section there were quite a few papers that interested me, so I’ll be doing three separate posts about them. Here’s the first one:

What we can learn from keeping white sharks in captivity

Captive Feeding and Growth of Young-of-the-Year White Sharks, Carcharodon carcharias, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium – Ezcurra, Lowe, Mollet, Ferry & O’Sullivan

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has successfully exhibited five juvenile white sharks between 2004 and 2009 (and possibly more, subsequently). “Young of the year” means that the sharks were born in the past year. Captivity periods ranged from 11 days to 198 days, and the sharks were released after their captivity. The aquarium is situated near an area where fishermen frequently bring in small white sharks, and which is surmised to be a pupping ground for these creatures. These sharks weighed 25-27 kilograms on capture, and were 137-164 centimetres long. The sharks were offered food daily. Initially (they shared the exhibit with other sharks, tuna and dorado) they struggled to compete for food, but after a month were the most aggressive fish in the tank and actively chased the other fish away from their rations. The estimated annual growth rate for white sharks in captivity was estimated to be about 65 centimetres per year, but there is reason to believe that this is about twice as fast as they grow in the wild, where they have to expend more energy looking for food, can swim faster and for longer distances, and have to evade larger predators, which also consumes energy.


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Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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