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Another Great Year for the Second Annual Shark’s Eye Tournament

Lindsay Andarakis

A satellite-tagged tiger shark caught by team Free Nicky and named "Big Kahuna" by students at the Montauk School. (Photo: Ryan Schosberg)

The second annual satellite shark tag-and-release tournament in Montauk, led by the Concerned Citizens of Montauk, was hosted by the Montauk Marine Basin and resulted in another exceptional weekend of very competitive fishing, advanced science and, community participation.

Teams that competed in the tournament successfully caught, tagged, and let go 53 sharks, among which were 24 makos, 27 blues, and 2 tiger sharks. In third place, with 20 points was team Last Mango II, with 11 sharks, eight blue and three mako. Second place was team Free Nicky with 38 points, 11 sharks, two blue, seven mako, and two tigers. The first place winners of the tournament was team Nasty Ness with 38 points and 14 sharks, six blue and eight mako.

"I've only seen a handful of tiger sharks caught in nearly 50 years here off Montauk. They surprised everyone the first day of the tournament Saturday," said the tournament organizer and host, Carl Darenberg of the Montauk Marine Basin. High-speed chase boats transported scientists to competing boats to tag and keep track of the sharks that had been caught. Spirits on deck were high, and back at the Montauk Marine Basin there was a companion festival hosted by the Shark Brothers. Special guests kept the crowd informed with catch-by-catch updates, and other interesting and entertaining information about sharks.

Six satellite tags were used by OCEARCH this year, and one of them was funded by Austin Marxe. A mako shark, caught by the team, Free Nicky, received that satellite tag which was named for Austin Marxe's granddaughter, Isabella. Four more sharks were caught and tagged by the same team. They included a tiger shark, named Jaimie, another tiger shark named Big Kahuna, named by students at the Montauk School District, a mako shark named Chris Nic and a blue shark, named Bonac, by students at the Amagansett School District.

The sixth and final satellite tag was placed on a mako shark that was skillfully reeled in by Wendy Benchley, the wife of JAWS author, Peter Benchley. Peter Benchley was on board one of the chase boats later in the day on the second day of the tournament. Benchley attended in complete support of the all-release event. "This is the way of the future for shark fishing and it was exhilarating to catch my first shark on rod and reel," said Benchley. She named the shark that was tagged, Cate Ells, for her granddaughters.

Satellite operations were headed for the second time by Dr. Greg Skomal and his team from the Massachusetts Shark Research Program. NOAA Fisheries' Dr. Nancy Kohler supervised conventional tagging operations.

World renowned marine artist and conservationist, Guy Harvey, and The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, one of the organizers of the event, supported the tournament and festival again this year with 10,000.00 towards the prize purse and signed, limited edition Guy Harvey prints for the lucky winners. "There is no other fishing tournament like Shark's Eye," said Guy Harvey. "This tournament combines the thrill of shark fishing, practical conservation measures, meaningful fisheries research and community involvement into a single event. It is truly the future of shark fishing tournaments."

The location of the satellite-tagged sharks will be availalble for people to view at OCEARCH's website here, www.ocearch.org

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