The Reason You Don’t See A Great White Shark In An Aquarium

Have you ever pondered the absence of great white sharks in aquariums and wondered why, despite the containment of orcas, these impressive predators aren’t showcased?

Certainly, the size isn’t the issue, as we do confine orcas – so what sets great whites apart?

This isn’t to suggest that zoos haven’t persistently endeavored to enclose great whites within their aquatic confines. In truth, each time a great white has been put on display, it has attracted massive crowds, breaking attendance records.

Regrettably, a major drawback emerges as a recurring theme: most of these sharks succumb within mere days or weeks, rendering them one of the most challenging species to maintain in captivity. But the question remains: why?

Consider the recent example of the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Japan, which attempted to house a great white shark last year. Tragically, the shark died in mere three days.

Vox, in their recent video exploration of the subject, sheds light on this puzzling matter.

Past endeavors to display great white sharks for public view have yielded similarly disheartening outcomes. The initial documented effort was undertaken by Marineland of the Pacific, an oceanarium and tourist attraction in California, during the mid-1950s. Sadly, the shark survived less than a day. SeaWorld, during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, also made several attempts to house great white sharks, all of which resulted in the death of the sharks or their eventual release back into the wild within a couple of weeks.

As elucidated in the video, great whites, in contrast to many other shark species that can thrive in aquariums, are not accustomed to lingering in a confined area. They prefer the expanse of open waters, enabling them to embark on lengthy swims whenever they please.

When a great white is removed from its natural environment and confined to a tank – even if it’s a sizable one – it repeatedly collides with the enclosure’s glass walls. This constant scraping and bumping cause damage to their noses and sides, ultimately leading to injury or extreme stress, which often proves fatal.