IMAGE: SHARK RELEASED TO SEA
Randy Wilder  /  Monterey Bay Aquarium via Reuters
A male great white shark is released into the ocean Tuesday off California.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 1/17/2007 11:16:16 AM ET 2007-01-17T16:16:16

A California aquarium is tracking a great white shark after it was released into the ocean Tuesday — only the second of the predators to be released back to the wild after surviving months of captivity.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium said the shark measured 6 feet, 5 inches and weighed 171 pounds  on its release, compared with 5 feet, 8 inches and 103 pounds when it was captured in Southern California's Santa Monica Bay and put into the aquarium on Aug. 31, 2006.

Aquarium experts felt the time was right to release the male shark.

It had shown no interest in consuming other animals in the exhibit, the aquarium said, feeding only on salmon, black cod and albacore offered by aquarium staff members.

And in recent weeks it began to develop abrasions on its snout — another factor for the release.

“The health and well-being of animals in our care is our paramount concern,” said aquarium scientist Randy Hamilton.

Since 2002, the aquarium has received 10 great white sharks, nine of them from commercial fishermen. Five died, two were released from a holding pen and one escaped from the pen.

Video: In the wild The remaining two were put on display in the aquarium, which seeks to educate visitors on ocean resources, including the estimated loss of up to 100 million sharks killed annually for food or trophies or by accident by fishing gear.

The aquarium said it had implanted an electronic tag on the male shark. The tag will track his movements and will come loose after 90 days, floating to the surface where a satellite will be able to collect the tracking data.

In 2004-05, the aquarium displayed a female great white shark for 198 days and released it after it had grown to 6 feet, 4.5 inches and 162 pounds.

The female shark was the first great white shark to survive more than 16 days in captivity in 50 years of attempts by aquariums around the world.

According to data from her tag after her release, she swam more than 200 miles south from Monterey, more than 100 west from the California coast and dove more than 800 feet deep.

Great white sharks can grow up to 22 feet in length and weigh up to two tons.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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