The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF) worked with two major fishing tournaments in Grand Cayman this April, the Kirk Slam Dolphin Tournament and the Cayman Islands International Fishing Tournament, to provide support for an ongoing research project to study oceanic whitetip sharks in the Caribbean.
Although these two events target dolphinfish, billfish, wahoo, tuna and marlin, oceanic whitetip sharks are often hooked incidentally. When this happened, tournament anglers radioed a team of researchers already stationed in the fishing grounds, for them to take the shark and attach a satellite tag. Teams that assisted with the research were rewarded with $1,000 for their efforts, including the boats Runaround 3, Down the Hatch, and Bloodline.
GHOF researchers were thrilled to deploy five Smart Position or Temperature (SPOT) tags during the two events, the largest measuring 7.5’ and weighing an estimated 200 lbs. “One of the biggest obstacles to our research is access to animals,” says Guy Harvey. “To have the cooperation of these tournaments, when there are so many lines in the water, greatly increases our chances of catching this increasingly rare species of shark.”
Once the most abundant large predator on the planet, oceanic whitetip shark populations have been reduced 98% in the past 30 years. The GHOF and Guy Harvey Research Institute are tagging these sharks to better understand their migration patterns to assist in proper management decisions.The GHOF would like to thank all of their volunteers, Mark Tilley, Pete Foster-Smith, tournament organizers, Kirk Freeport, Cayman Islands Angling Club, Barcadere Marina, George Town Yacht Club and GHOF Student Ambassador Cameron Walters, who successfully caught and tagged the first shark.