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  • Jaejeong & Jaeah Kim

Why you never have, and never will see a Great White

(a great white shark in its natural habitat)

Have you ever been to an aquarium? If so, picture all the different species of sharks you’ve seen at any aquarium. Sand tiger sharks, nurse sharks, horn sharks, zebra sharks, whitetip reef sharks, whitespotted bamboo sharks, the list goes on and on. Now, let me guess one species of sharks you’ve never ever seen in your life. Great white sharks. You want to know how I knew– it’s because great white sharks are never kept in captivity.

There are a few reasons as to why no manmade facility has ever been able to successfully house a great white shark for an extended period of time– I will list the most significant ones down below.

The first issue is the great white shark’s diet. Great white sharks are an archetypal apex predator, and they only feed on live prey in the wild. It would be difficult for an aquarium facility to provide massive amounts of live prey to the great white shark due to the cost, and also the fact that the grisly scene would terrify visitors. It is also important to note that great white sharks cannot be kept in the same tank as any other animal, as the shark will devour all other animals in a matter of hours.

Now let’s say that an aquarium somehow managed to find a way to feed a great white shark boatloads of live prey daily. Great, next they’ll need a 1000 x 1000 km tank. Great white sharks travel astronomical distances in the wild, due to their big size and the fact that they need to constantly be swimming in order to be able to breathe. A tank any smaller than 1000km^2 would cause the shark extreme stress and possibly death. Oh and the tank can’t be made of glass– glass disrupts great white shark’s incredibly sharp electroreception.

Okay let’s assume that somehow an aquarium found a way to feed a great white shark live prey daily, and found a 1,000 x 1,000 km non-glass tank. Would they be able to keep a great white shark. Nope. Great white sharks have been observed to get depressed and extremely stressed upon realization that they are captive, and this depression/stress often leads to numerous health complications. Additionally, a depressed/stressed great white shark is much more aggressive than a wild great white shark, as if they weren't already aggressive enough.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the point of this article was to explain to you the reasons why you’ll never see a live great white shark in your life. Bye!


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