25 May 2010
Winners declared in Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge
Four sharks satellite-tagged for conservation research during catch-and-release shark tournament series
For Immediate Release: 5-23-10
The Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge wrapped up Sunday at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium with the presentation of a $10,000 grand prize check to team Pole Dancer.
The tournament was the brainchild of organizers Brooks and Sean Paxton. Nicknamed "The Shark Brothers," the Paxtons have long been supporters of shark conservation. "This tournament has been a belief and a passion for a lot of people," Sean Paxton said. "We're really excited to launch the next generation shark release tournament by combining sport, science and conservation - and doing it effectively and collaboratively."
Throughout the two-day event, live video from the water was beamed periodically into Mote Aquarium's Immersion Cinema. In the theater, shark scientist Jayne Gardiner explained what was happening. On Saturday, dozens of spectators watched as Dr. Robert Hueter, director of Mote's renowned Center for Shark Research, Senior Scientist Jack Morris and Adjunct Scientist John Tyminski attached a satellite tag to the dorsal fin of a 7-foot, six-inch great hammerhead. After the great fish was measured and determined to be a female, she was released.
"In the 30 years I've been a shark researcher, the landscape has changed for sharks," Hueter said. "We used to attend kill tournaments and use them as an opportunity to gather scientific samples. But today, so many species are depleted that I've been concerned about kill tournaments for a long time. I really welcomed the opportunity to work with the organizers of the Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge on a new model that would involve releasing sharks during a fishing tournament."
(L to R) Jack Morris, Bob Hueter and John Tyminski tag a great hammerhead
For shark tournaments, the Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge bucks the tradition of having shark carcasses on a dock for spectators to marvel at. Instead, spectators can follow the tagged fish over the next few months as they transmit their movements back to Mote. To see the sharks' movements, go to http://www.wildlifetracking.org/index.shtml?project_id=483
Wendy Benchley, widow of Jaws author Peter Benchley, was at Mote for the tournament. "It's a much more exhilarating feeling to have a live animal to tag and release ... so I have to say bravo to everyone who has made this tournament happen," she said. "I think this is the wave of the future."
In addition to Mote, the Paxtons and event co-chair Capt. Robert Moore, the Ultimate Shark Challenge was endorsed by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, the Humane Society of the United States, Shark Free Marinas and Fishpond USA fishing products.
"I'm proud and honored on behalf of the Humane Society of the United States and our 11 million members to endorse the Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge," said John Grandy, HSUS vice president.
Steve Stock, president of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, was also thrilled with the event's success. "There's no need to kill sharks in today's world," he said. "We're conservationists, not preservationists and we need to act more responsibly on the water by supporting catch and release shark fishing events like this."
(L-R) Robert Moore, Sean Paxton, Zac Gerzeny, Dr. Robert Hueter, Wayne Nichols, Brooks Paxton
Congratulations to all teams that fished in the Grand Championship Finale!
- First place: Team Pole Dancer
- Second place: Team Redzone
- Third Place: Team Peter's Restaurant
- Fourth place: Team Chubby'z
- Fifth place: Team Liquid Assets
Shark conservation facts:
- Many shark species are imperiled worldwide. According to the World Conservation Union, about one-fifth of the 547 species of sharks and rays evaluated are considered threatened with extinction.
- Threshers, tigers, makos and blue sharks are all targeted in shark tournaments, along with hammerhead and bull sharks.
- There is still insufficient information available to evaluate the conservation status of about 100 shark species, many of which are also caught in tournaments.
- Anglers can be important collaborators in shark conservation efforts. Mote scientists have tagged more than 20,000 sharks over the past 20 years along Florida's Gulf Coast, with most tag returns by sport fishermen. Tagging allows Mote scientists to study shark abundance, movements and population dynamics, providing data for better management of shark populations.
About Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation
Founded by marine biologist and artist Guy Harvey, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation is an organization of philanthropists, conservationists, scientists and educators focused on developing sensible strategies for promoting the conservation of our oceans and nurturing the next generation of marine scientists and guardians of our seas. www.guyharveyoceanfoundation.org
About Mote Marine Laboratory:
Founded in 1955, Mote Marine Laboratory is an independent nonprofit marine research organization. Mote is dedicated to advancing the science of the sea through the study of marine and estuarine ecosystems, through our public Mote Aquarium and through an education division that provides unique programs for all ages. Throughout 2010, Mote is celebrating its 55th Anniversary with special events highlighting its groundbreaking ocean research and outreach. Learn more at www.mote.org/55.
About The HSUS:
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty - On the Web at humanesociety.org.
About Shark-Free Marinas:
The Shark-Free Marina Initiative supports shark conservation at sport fishing and resort marinas by prohibiting the landing of any shark at the participating marina. Registered marinas will encourage sport shark-fishermen to exercise catch-and-release techniques. The acceptance of catch-and-release fishing techniques represents an incremental step in protecting valuable marine resources as well as providing valuable data for research organizations. SFMI also works with the community through it's Regional Ambassador program. For more information visit www.sharkfreemarinas.com.