Captive Feeding and Growth of Young-of-the-Year White Sharks, Carcharodon carcharias, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Juan M. Ezcurra, Christopher G. Lowe, Henry F. Mollet, Lara A. Ferry, John B. O’Sullivan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

18 Scopus citations


The Monterey Bay Aquarium developed a program with the support of colleagues from Stanford University, California State University Long Beach, and the Southern California Marine Institute to display young-of-the-year (YOY) White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias), culminating in the display of five White Sharks in the 3.8-million-L Outer Bay exhibit between 2004 and 2009. The Outer Bay exhibit displays a variety of pelagic fishes, including Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus albacares), Dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus), and Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks (Sphyrna lewini) and is maintained at 20°C. Four of the White Sharks fed consistently while on display (70-198 d), eating mostly King Salmon (Onchorhynchus tshawytscha), Pacific Mackerel (Scomber japonica), and Sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) at a mean (±SE) daily ration of 747 ± 46 g or 1.62 ± 0.15% body mass d-1 (% BM d-1). One shark did not feed regularly and was released after 11 d. Daily ration peaked between 3.1 and 3.5% BM d-1, which is among the highest reported for any shark species. The captive White Sharks grew in mass at a rate of 71.6 ± 8.2 kg yrs.-1, yielding a mean gross conversion efficiency of 27.1 ± 3.8%. They grew at a mean rate of 64.9 ± 8.5 cm yrs.-1, approximately twice the growth rate estimated from a von Bertalanffy growth function for White Sharks (Cailliet et al., 1985). A simplified bioenergetics model was used to determine parameter estimates for consumption, growth, and metabolism. This model assumed that 27% of energy intake was lost to waste, and it suggested that a mean 26.8 ± 2.9% of energy intake was invested into somatic growth, and 46.2 ± 2.9% of energy was consumed by metabolism. YOY White Sharks showed high growth capacity at optimal conditions in captivity; however, the energetic demands of White Sharks in the wild remain unknown.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGlobal Perspectives on the Biology and Life History of the White Shark
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781439848418
ISBN (Print)9781466550711
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)


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