Killer Aquarium Shark Released Back to the Ocean

A killer great white shark was released back into the wild Thursday -- under supervision.

Scientists have fitted the shark with an electronic data tag to monitor her movements for the next month or longer.

The shark was accidentally caught by a halibut fisherman last September and was brought to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to be studied and placed on public exhibit. Her 198-day stay in the aquarium marked the longest time a great white has ever survived captivity - no other shark had lived past 16 days.

Back in February she attacked two of the soupfin sharks that shared her tank. Each died as a result of their injuries. Plans to release her back into the waters south of Monterey Bay were put into motion shortly after the attacks.

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Life in the Sanctuaries

Meanwhile, the shark had grown to 6-feet-4-inches and 162 pounds - a size at which biologists were worried they would have a difficult time handling her safely out of the water if they waited any longer.

Marine biologists at the aquarium learned a great deal about caring for a great white in captivity, aquarium officials said. Now, with the help of the electronic tag, they hope to learn about her habitat preferences in the wild.

Tagging the shark will add to data gathered during an ongoing study on the behavior of great white sharks. Scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium started the study in 2002 and have so far placed tracking tags on about half a dozen sharks.

They hope to use the findings from this study to help manage and conserve the global population of great white sharks. Many great whites are illegally killed for use in fancy foods. The World Wildlife Fun considers them to be among the top 10 "most wanted" species in the international market.

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Shark Attacks on Humans

Just a dozen shark attacks occurred in Florida in 2004, compared to 30 in 2003, 29 in 2002, 34 in 2001, and 37 in 2000. The deadly series of four hurricanes in the 2004 summer meant fewer people were in the water, but sharks are known to head for deep water when a hurricane approaches.

Globally, there were 61 unprovoked shark attacks in 2004, according to The International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History. Seven people died. There were also 15 provoked attacks (typically a diver bit after grabbing a shark or a fisherman bit while removing a shark from a net) and 12 cases of sharks biting boats. The global total was down slightly from recent years but still part of an upward trend overall.

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