Taiwan aquarium abandons captive whale shark in the sea - Strands twice25/07/2013 09:49:56 Aquarium must not be allowed to acquire a new whale shark
July 2013. Taiwan's National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium 'released' a whale shark into the wild that it had held in captivity for 8 years. The Whale shark was released with no preparation for life in the oceans, and was not tagged to enable scientists to track the animal in an effort to help it survive.
The animal had been kept in a small tank where it spent its life swimming slowly in one direction around the tank. The shark was released into the sea much too close to the shore; on release the shark continued to swim in a similar pattern to its pre-release and shortly afterwards stranded on the shoreline, not once, but twice. The shark was eventually re-floated on the first occasion thanks to efforts of the coast guard, local fishermen and conservation workers, but it is not known what happened to the animal after that. The aquarium cliamed that the animal was last seen swimming out to sea, but those who had helped rescue the animal stated that it was already badly injured, and was last seen being towed on the end of a rope out to sea by a boat - They believe it had no chance of surviving, if it wasn't already dead.
Not a release, but an abandoning
The aquarium at one stage had three whale sharks in captivity. One died 2007 and it appears that another was released with no thought of any scientific follow up or wellbeing, as the shark had no rehabilitation and was not tagged. The only remaining whale shark had grown to some 6 metres long, patently way too big for its tank where it was forced to swim in small circles, with its tail suffering damage as it continually hit the walls of the enclosure.
The sharks were kept in a tank just 33 metres long, 22 metres wide and about 8 to 12 metres in deep. Whale sharks live for up to 100 years in the wild, but data from an aquarium in Japan showed that whale sharks kept in captivity lived for an average of just 16 months.
New captive whale shark?