Don’t Keep Great White Sharks in Captivity


Target: Tamayo Marukawa, Minister of the Environment of Japan

Goal: Ban keeping great white sharks in captivity.

On January 5, 2016 a great white shark was brought into the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium after accidentally getting caught in a net off the coast of Japan. Within three days, the shark died due to failing to eat and the distress of being kept in captivity. Great white sharks have an extremely high mortality rate when kept in aquariums and amusement parks, and seeing as these animals have a conservation status of vulnerable, the delicate marine ecosystem cannot afford to have them kept in captivity which will inevitably kill them.

There is a long history of unsuccessful attempts to hold great whites in captivity. In 1981, Sea World San Francisco held a great white shark for 16 days before releasing it back into the wild because it was refusing to eat. Great white sharks exclusively consume live prey unless on the verge of starvation. They also swim hundreds of kilometers in a single day, a distance that an aquarium cannot provide. Furthermore, they tend to get depressed and even more aggressive in captivity. Scientists theorize it is because the harsh artificial environment and glass enclosure affects the sharp electrosensitivity of these creatures.

It is clear that these animals cannot be held in captivity. The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium kept the only great white shark in captivity on the planet, and for the days that aquarium staff witnessed the shark show distress and fail to eat, they should have decided to release it back to the wild for the sake of its health. While great whites are classified as a vulnerable species we cannot allow them to be kept in aquariums or amusement parks, even for scientific reasons.

By signing the petition below you will help urge the Minister of Environment of Japan to prohibit aquariums and amusement parks from keeping great white sharks in order to prevent more unnecessary deaths of these vulnerable animals.


Dear Minister Marukawa,

Great white sharks have a long history of high mortality rates in captivity. On January 5, 2016, a great white shark was accidentally caught in a net off the coast of Japan and brought to Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. After only three days, during which the shark failed to eat, the great white died.

Scientists are unsure about the reasons why great white sharks have such a high mortality rate in captivity, but it is universally agreed that aquariums and amusement parks do not provide conditions in which great whites can survive. For the entire time that this shark was at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, it was the only great white in captivity on Earth.

I am urging you to prohibit aquariums and amusement parks from keeping great white sharks in captivity. Please take actions to enforce policies that keep these vulnerable animals from becoming endangered.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Brocken Inaglory

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  1. Heather Brophy says:


  2. TAMAYO MARUKAMA, Minister of the Environment of JAPAN: Just put the White Shark back in the OCEAN where he belongs and go play golf or something.
    Don’t Keep Great White Sharks in Captivity.

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