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Trapped shark moves to aquarium

Date Posted: 2007-09-01

A whale shark that wiggled her way into Yomitan Village fishing net has been transferred to a permanent home with the Churaumi Aquarium.
The 5.2 meter long female shark wound up in nets belonging to the Toya Fishermen’s Association in late June. The two-ton shark was kept in a fish pond while a transfer could be arranged to the Churaumi Aquarium in Motobu.
It wasn’t a simple transfer, moving the giant shark 60 kilometers to Motobu. More than 30 people became involved in the process, including 12 aquarium staff members and a team of local divers aiding the Yomitan Village Fishermen’s Association. The process began at the holding pen two kilometers away from Toya Fishing Port, where fishermen and divers handcrafted a set of nets to guide the shark into a giant container submerged nearby.
Lured by shrimp set inside the container as bait, the shark debated for several hours before giving in to temptation and swimming inside. The container was then transported to Motobu and the Churaumi Fish Pond.
The aquarium already has three male whale sharks, and the staff is excited about being able to breed the sharks in captivity. “It’s the very first time to have breeding with human help,” said one specialist, “so we’ll need to study how to make the breeding work well.”
The new acquisition will stay in the fish pond for several weeks, and then be moved inside Churaumi where visitors will see her in action.
The Yomitan Village fishing port once before snagged a whale shark in its nets. The fish last year was turned over to the aquarium, but it died six months into captivity. The current female whale shark is the only female in captivity anywhere in Japan.

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