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Groundbreaking Catch And Release Shark Fishing Tournament Comes To Montauk

Andrew Nachemson

Captured shark being tagged with GPS tracker before release. (Photo: The Guy Harvey Research Institute)

The Montauk Marine Basin is hosting a satellite tag and release shark fishing tournament on July 27 and 28. The two-day festival for sport, science, and conservation is the first of its kind in Montauk, and on the entire east coast. Rather than killing the sharks they catch, participating fishers simply tag them with a GPS and release them. The sharks are photographed before being released, as different species are awarded a different amount of points for the competition. 25 boats will be allowed entrance into the tournament on a first come first serve basis, with teams consisting of 4 anglers and one observer per vessel. The observer will be supplied by the tournament administration at random.

With tens of millions of sharks killed every year, both for food and for sport, the tournament hopes to bring attention to the plight of sharks while simultaneously using the tracking devices to improve scientific knowledge about the still mysterious creatures. "Each time the dorsal fin breaks the surface," said Montauk Marine Basin owner, Carl Darenberg, "there is a ping which will be picked up via satellite. The best part is that school kids will be able to follow the sharks' journey across the ocean. They'll get a shark's eye perspective."

Tagged shark released back into the water. (Photo: The Guy Harvey Research Institute)

The event is partially sponsored by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF) which is supplying the $10,000 cash prize to the top team. "It is a tremendous experience to catch any large fish, especially sharks," said GHOF president Steve Stock. "And by releasing them alive, we are ensuring that future generations can experience the thrill of hooking a giant shark. The added component of tracking these fish makes the 'Shark's Eye' tournament even more valuable." Artist April Gornik, whose work has been featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has also donated an original painting to be awarded to the winner.

The event is expected to attract some of the foremost research scientists in the county who will be joined by country and folk music stars Colton James and Caroline Doctorow. The artists will perform at the outdoor stage at Gosman's seafood dock on Saturday night. Other forms of entertainment include the Shark Brothers, Brooks and Sean Paxton, who will conduct informational forums. There will also be educational booths at the tournament, housing representatives from the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, OCEARCH, and the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation.

Perhaps most significant will be the presence of Scott Curatolo Wagemen, a scientist associated with Cornell University and shark attack survivor. Despite his own unfortunate experience, Wagement is dedicated to the cause of shark preservation and is expected to speak on the matter during the tournament.

All profits from the two-day event will go to the Montauk Boatmen (MBI), the Montauk School, the Montauk Chamber of Commerce and the Concerned Citizens of Montauk (CCOM).

More information about the tournament can be found at www.sharkseyetournament.com

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