A shark-killing shark recently released into the ocean is on the move and will soon have its complete travel tale told, researchers said today.
The great white shark was released from the Monterey Bay Aquarium on March 31 after killing two sharks at the facility.
An electronic tag attached to the great white since its release popped free as planned over the weekend, floated to the surface, and began transmitting data back to researchers via satellite.
Already some information can be gleaned.
The tag surfaced about 25 miles offshore near Santa Barbara, about 200 miles south of the shark's release point. The first signals arrived Saturday.
More detail will emerge as the data is analyzed in coming weeks. Scientists are eager to learn how deep the shark dove, what depths it preferred, and what the water temperatures were at those depths.
"It's very good news that the tag came free on schedule," said Randy Hamilton, vice president of husbandry for the aquarium. "We'll have to wait a while longer to learn exactly where she's been, but from all indications she's doing fine back in the wild."
She did not do so fine when confined. The great white attacked two soupfin sharks that shared her tank. Each died as a result of the injuries.
The young shark spent a record 198 days at the aquarium -- besting the previous record for a great white in captivity of 16 days. She came to the aquarium after being caught by a fisherman.
In the aquarium she grew from 5 feet to 6-foot-4 and added 100 pounds to her initial weight of 62.
"We had no idea it could grow so quickly," said Chris Lowe of the SharkLab at California State University, Long Beach.
Officials plan to bring another great white to the aquarium, which at a million gallons is bigger than most. Still, it's a challenging environment for great whites.
"They're a large shark with a large range, and are programmed to swim," Lowe told LiveScience. "They have trouble adapting to captivity and small spaces."
Meanwhile, researchers working with the aquarium plan to expand their study of sharks in the wild through similar tagging efforts and DNA sampling. Six other sharks have been tagged in the program. Other nations use similar tags to track great whites.
Still, the habits of these tempermental giants remain largely mysterious.
Great whites can reach 21 feet (6.5 meters) in length. Their reputation as man-eaters is undeserved, scientists say. Most attacks occur when the sharks confuse humans with their preferred prey, including sea lions and seals.
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