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Sharks In Captivity

Keeping a shark in captivity is one of the many shark debates today. While captive sharks can give much information to marine biologists there are still ever present flaws. Questions remain such as are the displayed behaviors the same as if the shark were in the open ocean?

Still, in the name of science, we capture and cage wild sharks. We put them on display in public aquariums and introduce them to a new way of life, an ocean with glass walls. Some would argue that there are many species who do well in captivity. Species for example like the Leopard Shark. I, myself have not only viewed Leopards in captivity, but I also got the opportunity to "touch" one of these sharks, along with a California Hornshark.

I admit, the excitement of being able to touch one of these magnificent creatures over shadowed all logic and I indeed took part. It wasn't until afterwards I began to wonder about the significance this had on the sharks? What kind of stress are they under from being constantly on display and handled? What kind of disease, illness or damage could be caused/passed along to the sharks from these human encounters?

Touching a California Horn Shark

Touching a California Horn Shark

Ocean World - Crescent City, California

Touching a Leopard Shark

Touching a Leopard Shark

Ocean World - Crescent City, California

I will never forget the feel, the smooth skin the rough denticles (when lightly brushing my hand from tail towards head) and the absolute muscular feel overall. I may never have the opportunity to meet a shark in their own territory, so I do cherish this memory. Yet I still caution the idea of keeping these beautiful creatures in captivity for this purpose.

The one elusive shark species that aquariums around the world wish to display is Carcharodon carcharias... the Great White.

World wide through the years there had been unsuccessful attempts to capture and display a Great White shark. It was a race to be the first. Then came Sandy...

Continue to the next page to read Sandy's story.


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