Shark Released From Aquarium Into The Wild

March 19, 2012

“Osbourne,” a 7-year-old Galapagos shark, has been released into the wild after spending the past 6 years at the Bermuda Aquarium, the Department of Conservation Service said today [Mar.19].

The Department said the  6½ foot long shark was released back into the wild for “health reasons”. For the last six years the Galapagos Shark has been a star attraction in the Northrock Tank at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo, along with a Black Grouper.

About a year ago Osbourne started developing a rubbed rostrum (nose) in the tank due to competition from the grouper. Aquarium staff tried to reduce the aggression between the two through various training methods but were unsuccessful and as such plans were made to return the shark to the wild this summer.

However, two weeks ago the hostility between the grouper and shark escalated and the shark’s condition deteriorated.

As a result Principal Curator, Dr. Ian Walker, made the decision to move up the release of the shark for his well being. Dr. Walker said: “The decision to relocate the shark was not made lightly as sharks need to constantly have water flowing over their gills and can go into shock from stress relatively easily.”

With assistance from Dr Neil Burnie and Mr. Choy Aming from the Bermuda Shark Project, Aquarium staff and volunteers moved the shark onto a fast boat using a specially made sling and placed it in a shark transport box.

Once on the boat the shark was monitored carefully and had water pumped over it gills while it rested upside down in a relaxed state known as tonic immobility.

After arriving seven miles of North Shore at Northrock, the shark was released over the side of the boat and aquarist Steve Davis and Dr. Burnie monitored its progress from the water as it swam away.

Dr Walker said: “The whole process went very smoothly. Osbourne was released with a satellite telemetry tag, donated by the Atlantic Conservation Partnership, which will provide us with very useful information on his swimming patterns and to some extent his wellbeing. We wish him well.”

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Category: All, Environment, News

Comments (52)

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  1. J Starling says:

    Good luck Ozzie!

  2. WAS THAT SMART? Who's idea was that! says:

    Do you really think releasing a shark seven miles off of north shore at Northrock just before summer starts and thousands of children take to the water is a bright idea. I would say NO! That shark should have been taken straight down to St. David’s and turned into shark hash!Not realeased 7 miles off north shore! Even if you didn’t want to kill this shark i still think 7 miles is FAR too close to shore for this shark to be released. If someone gets bitten or even worse killed whose fault would it be the sharks our the idiot that let it go 7 miles off north shore!

    • Chart says:

      Um, you think there are no sharks within 7 miles of shore? LOL!

    • smh says:

      They have an electronic tag on it, dummy.

    • J Starling says:

      Um, there’s tonnes of sharks in our waters, including this species (which was caught in our waters and has been released in as close to it’s place of capture). I don’t think we’ve had a shark attack in our waters for decades, if at all.

      • Paul says:

        ^ This. Ask anyone who’s been diving around Bermuda’s reefs for a few years whether there are sharks about, and they’ll answer you in the affirmative.

    • Can't Take It Anymore says:

      You are a joker for real.

    • Midnite says:

      @Was That Smart

      Please tell me you’re kidding and not really ignorant enough to believe the nonsense your spouting. I’m pretty sure Ozzie isn’t the only shark within a 7 mile radius around Bermuda, and when was the last time you heard of anyone getting attacked by one in Bermy?

    • St. Davids says:

      You do realize that Bermuda’s waters are filled with various types of shark species??? Please do some more research before making such a daft comment.

      • I like says:

        I LOVE your response St. Davids!!!! Some people ought to think before speaking.

    • Um Um Like says:

      One is more likely to die in an auto accident in Bermuda than be attacked by a shark. That said, in the unlikely event this shark does attack someone, I hope it’s you!

      Not sure if you realized it, but Bermuda is in the Atlantic Ocean…home to many sharks. Idiot!

      • WTTFFF??????? says:

        Hahhaaa i hope the samee thingg dopeyy

    • Hmmm! says:

      What are yo talking about? We’ve caught sharks off the rocks on south shore and released them … I’ve also seen a shark in Hamilton.

    • WTH???? says:




  3. Pastor Syl says:

    I am so glad we are finally going to be monitoring those Japanese trawlers. Last I heard, they were catching and killing sharks just to cut off their fins. They also refused to sign the world-wide moratorium on whale hunting, so our humpbacks have been in jeopardy. Finally, something to applaud the government on…at least when it all comes to pass. Hopefully in the very near future!

  4. Brilliant says:

    Out of curiousity, any reason why the shark was released and not the grouper? Or is it just because he’s dying?

    • J Starling says:

      Various, but in general sharks don’t do well in captivity due to their very nature, in terms of their need for a large glide path and sensitivity to electromagnetism. While the tank it was in is certainly big, it’s not really big enough to handle a large shark like this one (Nurse sharks, which are also in the tank, can work in it due to their ability to rest on the bottom – most other sharks cannot generally do that). Groupers however are quite able to be accomodated in a tank like this one (indeed, the one in question has been there much longer than the shark, probably about ten years now). The grouper itself is THE dominant fish in the tank, where there is a very well-established pecking order.

  5. Scared! says:

    OMG should I be scared? Cause I am!

    • J Starling says:

      No. There are thousands of sharks in our waters, including within our reefs. This shark was originally caught in our waters, and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of others like it. They’re out there, and have been (probably were lots more in the past), and yet I don’t remember ever hearing of anyone being attacked. The chances of seeing one really are quite rare, as they’re generally quite scared of us.

  6. Confused says:

    Why not move the Grouper since it was apparently the aggressor?

    • Confused says:

      ok never mind, I misread the article…but I still feel that both could have remained at the facility in seperate tanks…perhaps there just wasnt enough space/additional tanks? Havent really been to the aquarium in awhile.

    • Chart says:

      The grouper’s the Shop Steward. Furbert’s got his back.

      • 32n64w says:

        LOL. maybe he’s destined for the BIU banquet table :-)

  7. Bobby says:

    Grouper 1 – Shark Nil.

  8. Joonya says:

    Wait for PLP to flip flop on it, then Neil and Choy will be going back out to collect him. Hahaha

    • Chart says:

      Bloody expat sharks. Coming here stealing our jobs and taking our wimmin.

    • 32n64w says:

      A known member of the combined opposition. It was only a matter of time before he was forced off the island for tank term limits.

    • Over My Dead Body says:

      Go to Neil and choys shark talk tonight!

  9. I wasn’t bothering him, honest. His 6 year Term Limit was up! He had to go! Check with Col. Burch he’ll tell you de truth. But they was supposed to take him out 200 miles out, not 7!

  10. Padded Rooms Galore says:

    Here we go again ladies and gentlemen! 7 miles is waayyyy to far away from Bermuda! Couldn’t we have dumped him a bit closer to shore?? Wait wait did someone just say something about turning our poor Ozzie into shark hash?? Where is PETA when you need them…Sharks have been around long before we arrived on the scene as a terrestrial species, and will probably be around after we pound one another to nuclear extinction, too. Why do sapiens have this pedagogical desire to kill what they fear and don’t understand, huh?

  11. Freedom says:

    Great release the rest and let the tourists go diving or snorkling if they really NEED to see a shark, in the age of tv and internet, i don’t think any captivity is necessary.

    • pepper says:

      Free at last..I am so glad sharky was released he can now enjoy what was taken away from him.

  12. Familiar says:

    Good luck to Osbourne.

    And to those who’ve left comments already, nice mix of humour and information.

  13. TheFuture says:

    Shoulda saved gas in this economy and dropped him in Harrington sound. Let de currint take im out bye.

  14. Shark Bait says:

    6 years in captivity? The poor guy never had to hunt for food. He won’t last a week.

    • TheFuture says:

      In fact, he barely lasted in captivity vs. a fish he shoulda been eating for breakfast.

      • 'Round de Bend says:

        Groupers are some of the strongest fish so the fact that the shark didn’t eat him doesn’t surprise me. As for him surviving, he will because he was dropped off at NORTHROCK from the NORTHROCK tank. The tank was built to resemble Northrock.

  15. JAWS says:

    What is the www info so I can check out my cuz satellite telemetry tag?

    • Over My Dead Body says:

      Cha! Even jaws has Internet? Now that’s the 21st centry. Should be easy to find Nemo too.

  16. Neil Burnie says:

    Osbourne was released at a site where I have swum with a school of over 80 of his species in the past……. The North Rock PROTECTED area seemed the perfect starting off point for what I suspect will be a wide roaming new life for him. Osbourne’s ability to feed on some of his fellow exhibits(!) suggests that he WILL be able to fend for himself in the wild, but the information we will receive from his Wildlife Computers mini PSAT tag will let us know for sure as it is set to deploy to the surface in 6 months time.

  17. Neil Burnie says:

    And if anyone above wishes to see the video of his release, together with some “Eye Opening” interaction with much larger Tiger Sharks , then check out The Bermuda Shark Project Talk at BUEI this evening at 7:30pm.Tickets are available at the Bermuda Book store and there will be a limited number available at the door , so come early!

    • all clogged up says:

      Kool …. thanks for the tips NB. I’m sure several readers were concerned about Osbourne’s natural survival instincts being dumbed down while in the tank. Now that you’ve mentioned that his natural feeding habits were occassionally displayed over the last few years, he should adapt to fend for himself in the wild without much worry.

    • Gvt Mechanic says:

      Thanks for the info! I hope we get regular updates on Ozzy, he was a firm favorite with my kids.

  18. Pastor Syl says:

    I will miss Ozzie at the Aquarium. He clearly was not the shark I used to see years ago, but I have spent long moments watching whatever shark was in the exhibit – I could study it while feeling perfectly safe. I wouldn’t have wanted to run into Ozzie or his brothers while swimming – my panicked response would have identified me as prey immediately. My hat’s off to those in the Shark Project. You are far braver than I will ever be! Thanks, Mr. Burnie, for the info about tonight’s videos.

  19. Dive Instructor says:

    So did he get any classes how to catch a fish, before you released him?
    I doubt he knows how, after 6 years being locked up in the glass box …

  20. Pastor Syl says:

    Went to the Shark Project presentation and was really impressed! Great job, Messrs. Aming and Burnie. Ozzie sure looked like he was alive, well and thriving when he was released at North Rock – just zoomed away!

    Looking forward to periodic updates.

  21. Louise says:

    The U.S. Navy found that the color most easily seen from the air for larifefts, was also the color most easily seen by sharks, so it got the nickname of Yum Yum Yellow . I think that is when larifefts started appearing in orange. So I would think a dark orange would be a good choice.Sharks in the surf are very rare. When near they are very visible from the air, and West Coast beaches get a lot of fly overs.