Many people don’t realize the abundance of large sharks that can be found within casting distance of the beach. Many species frequent the shallows in search of food – stingrays, for example, are a common food source for many sharks and tend to cruise the surf. Schools of larger baitfish like mullet, menhaden, and herring also can get pushed up along the beach, where sharks can easily target them. Weather you realize it or not, you’ve probably been swimming or wading near some pretty big sharks.
Elliot catches the sharks from shore, safely tags them in under two minutes for scientific research purposes and then releases them back into the ocean.
Elliot is participating in the National Marine Fisheries Service Apex Predator Tagging Program, which is a federally funded tagging program that is managed by NOAA and as been going on for over 60 years. It relies on recreational and commercial fishermen tagging, measuring, and submitting data on the sharks they catch to a database of over 600,000 tagged specimens in the North Atlantic. The data gained on migrations, reproductive habits, and growth patterns is highly beneficial to learning more about these amazing creatures and may lead to better regulations and habitat protection. Additionally, when your tagged sharks are recaptured NOAA sends you a map of where they have traveled and how much they’ve grown, which can be a rewarding and educational experience in itself.