The world's only captive great white shark has died in the Japanese Okinawa Churaumi aquarium on 8 January, after barely surviving three days, according to aquarium officials. Being kept in "captivity" is said to have caused its death, according to campaigners.
The male great white shark had been put on display for the public in a tank, after being accidentally caught in a net in southwestern Japan on 5 January. Investigations are ongoing at the Okinawa Churaumi aquarium to determine the cause of the 3.5 metre shark's sudden death.
"We are going to announce termination of Great White Shark exhibition," read a statement posted on the Okinawa Churaumi aquarium website. "We had displayed the shark in 'the Sea of dangerous sharks' tank from January 5th, 2016, but the shark's condition took a sudden turn worse and we confirmed its death January 8th."
The shark had reportedly sunk to the bottom of the tank after refusing to eat food since its capture. Chances of a great white shark surviving in captivity are often quite bleak, since the shark needs to swim constantly to allow for an adequate body temperature and get sufficient oxygen.
"The cause of death is clear: captivity. The shark never had to die like this," said Jason Baker, vice president of international campaigns at the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), reported Sky News. Baker further said the shark's captivity was "cruel and wrong".
Meanwhile, the aquarium maintains that its efforts positively contribute towards science and education and that it adheres to international laws in relation to the safeguarding of marine life. "Many visitors had asked us to exhibit the great white shark," said Okinawa Churaumi aquarium researcher Keiichi Sato.
The great white shark was accompanied by several other sharks in the tank before it fell weak and collapsed. Authorities at the aquarium reportedly tried to give the ailing shark oxygen in a separate tank, however their efforts were unsuccessful.