Friday, August 2, 2013

April Princess Beamer

Not a new Woody Allen film or some European royalty but April Princess Beamer are the names given to 3 sharks tagged recently off the eastern tip of Long Island.

Last year, the fish would have been hanging lifeless from a hook in the summer sunset.  People would gawk and take photos of the dead animal but everyone would glimpse its magnificence.  Then it would be thrown away.  Sound like a waste or even a bit sad?

It sounded exactly that to two Montauk, NY residents, April Gornik and Rav Freidel, who this year worked with the gracious and forward-thinking marina owner, Carl Darenburg, to make a slight but significant change to his annual Shark's Eye tournament

The result was the first ever catch and release shark tournament in Montauk, called the shark fishing capitol of the US by many.

"I really enjoyed watching them swim away," said a longtime shark fisherman and Montauk native.

“It’s about getting sustainable fisheries,” Rav Friedel said in the New York Times.  Rav watches out for sharks and Montauk's natural gems through Concerned Citizens of Montauk.

 The message is clear - sharks are in jeopardy worldwide as millions are killed for shark fin soup but we can still enjoy the thrill of catching them in a sustainable way.

Over two days, boats caught and released 31 makos and 30 blue sharks.  The three that were tagged (there were only a handful of satellite tags as they are expensive) can be tracked in real time by anyone for free on OCEARCH.

Right now Princess and Beamer are swimming off the continental shelf about sixty miles from the southern New Jersey coast.  Check them out.

As a nice backdrop to the tournament, supporting organizations provided information and presentations in a large yellow tent at the marina while the boats were out to sea.

Peconic Baykeeper taught people how runoff pollution impacts water quality and what can be done about it.  Nancy Kohler of the National Marine Fisheries Service was the go-to shark guru for any shark questions.

The Shark Brothers, Sean and Brooks Paxton, emceed the festivities under the tent and provided lively updates on shark's caught and tagged.  After the tournament, Carl decided to require circle hooks that are easy on the sharks in all his shark tournaments going forward.

Measured in smiles and not one shark carcass hanging on the dock, the tournament was a huge success.     

See CBS News video coverage of the tournament.

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