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Monterey Bay Aquarium's Great White Shark Dies A Week After Release

First Posted: 11/05/11 09:36 PM ET Updated: 11/06/11 10:37 AM ET

Monterey Bay Aquarium in California announced this past week that a young great white shark that was released a week earlier has died.

The shark, which was just under five feet long and weighed 52 pounds, was released with a tracking tag on October 25 near Santa Barbara, according to a press release.

Jon Hoech, the aquarium's director of husbandry, said, "This is a very difficult day for all of us, and for everyone who saw and cared about this animal. Based on the shark's behavior and condition prior to release, we had every confidence that he'd do well back in the wild. Unfortunately, that's not how things turned out. We're surprised and saddened by the outcome."

The young great white was caught on August 18 off the coast of Marina del Rey, near Los Angeles. The shark spent 55 days in Monterey as part of the aquarium's "Open Sea" exhibit on ocean animal migrations, reported the Los Angeles Times.

Monterey Bay Aquarium veterinarian Dr. Mike Murray said in a press release, "we had no reservations about whether the shark would do well in the wild."

Since 2004, Monterey Bay Aquarium has exhibited five other great whites, from a few days to several months, all of which survived their release. TODAY reports the aquarium's first great white stayed for six and a half months and was seen by over a million visitors.

The aquarium said their shark research team "will review all of its procedures and protocols" before resuming their shark tagging and tracking program next summer.

Last week, a 27-year-old surfer was bitten in the neck and arm by a shark in waters near Monterey, but has survived. Although the cause of death of the young shark is not known, human attacks on sharks are much more common than shark attacks on swimmers.

Up to 70 million sharks are killed each year by fishermen, according to University of Florida's International Shark Attack File.

In October, California's State Water Resources Control Board granted the Monterey Bay Aquarium an exemption from "a state ban on dumping wastewater in a marine protected zone."

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Filed by James Gerken  |