Great White Sharks and captivity.

……..It is sadly human nature to try and confine our wildlife, whether marine or land. Maybe this is driven by a deep desire to feel powerful or maybe it’s the human races’ ability at cruelty that drives it; whatever it is, it is a very real fact. Some of us will remember when bears, lions, tigers and even elephants were a regular in circus’ the world over, so why would we stop there? If we could confine and subdue the King of the animal kingdom, why not do the same with the Apex predator of the oceans?

Shark cartoon of shark in cage outside water

Shark Cage Dive

While thousands of folks looking for the next adrenaline fix will sign up to enjoy an awesome Great White Shark Cage Dive or Combination Breaching and Cage Dive Trip, not all people have the same level of courage, and though they really want to see a Great White Shark, are not keen on the whole “we need a bigger boat” option. It is these folks who will then venture to marine water worlds and aquariums in the hope of seeing this majestic creature, and will usually be disappointed. As Great White Sharks cannot survive in captivity.

Though true to human nature, biologists and scientists have attempted to engineer various breeding methods, in the hope of introducing Great Whites to captivity, and all have failed dismally! The longest a Great White survived in captivity was 44 days, only to have died a week after its release, before that, 16 days and then the shark was released as the shark refused to eat. Then there is the case of the female shark that survived 198 days and was then released, and is said to still be alive, but this is not the norm. As there are numerous other instances of sharks lasting a number of days, only to die within hours of their release back into the wild, as they refused to eat in captivity.

Breaching Great White

Great Whites do not survive in captivity

Are there legitimate scientific reasons why Great Whites do not survive captivity? No, is the simple answer, there certainly is a fair amount of speculation around it. From the fact that an open water fish cannot be contained, due to their massive migratory patterns, and there just are no man-made tanks big enough to allow for the distances they travel to the creatures suffering depression in captivity. This is clear to see in their refusal to eat. It could also be that as the nose on a shark contains its most effective senses, every time it bumps against the glass walls of the man-made tanks, it becomes increasingly more cautious and, dare I say, scared and I would venture to say, aggressive! Great White Sharks are predatory sharks, and will not take food from humans, so they will devour everything in a tank that it shares with other animals, and it could become a very expensive and exhausting exercise to keep re-stocking these tanks. Some have put the death of captive Great Whites down to the incorrect balance in the water used in tanks. This could be, but I am not so sure that argument holds water, wink, wink, nudge, nudge know what I mean? As there have been marine and sea world parks that have a constant flow of natural sea water into their tanks, and still this has not changed the fact that Great Whites do not work in captivity.

So, what does this tell us? Well, most importantly it tells us; not to mess with nature! And secondly, it tells us that folks who are wanting to experience this magnificent beauty, need to do so in their natural environment. Seal Island just off Simons Town in False Bay, Cape Town, is undoubtedly the breaching capitol of the world and though there are other areas in the Cape that can boast Great White activity, none are able to stake claim to that truth!


Smiling Great White


Cape Town – The Shark Cage Diving Mecca

Cape Town, despite being one of the most beautiful cities in the world, still able to offer uninhabited Nature Reserves where one can still see wild animals and interact with baboons and ostriches; though we recommend that you do not, is the Great White Shark Cage Diving mecca, as the species is still quite active in the various areas, and the prices offered to do the tours are very reasonable!

And for those who want to experience this magnificent beast without braving the cold waters and steel cage, it is possible to remain aboard the boat, and still experience the awesomeness of the Great White Shark, as they are surface feeders and will pop their head out of the water; whether it’s to say “hi” or to have a quick look around, is unknown. But whatever it is we try to do, let’s try doing it without causing pain and anguish to nature and its inhabitance!

Great White Shark - face out of water

Until we meet again, Keep that toothy grin!

By Nadine Bentley