Wednesday, May 27, 2009

9-ft. Bull Shark Caught St. Petersburg Pier

Another reason for the Shark Free Marinas Initiative:

ST. PETERSBURG — The Pier Aquarium's shark exhibits were open to visitors Wednesday morning, but the real show was right outside.

Two young men were showing off a 9-foot female bull shark they caught hours before at the Pier. The carcass was in the back of a small pickup truck, blood dripping onto the pavement. A small crowd snapped digital photos.

"It was either him or us," 19-year-old Joshua Lipert of St. Petersburg told an onlooker. "Look who lost."

His fishing buddy agreed. "It was a dogfight," said Robert Korkoske, 16, who helped reel in the shark.Using a 100-pound Dacron fishing line and sea rays for bait, the young men fought the animal for two hours from the northeastern end of the pier before landing it about 6:15 a.m., they said.

They dragged it to a small beach on the western end.

A trophy kill, they called it.

"We like to cut the jaws out, hang them on the wall as a souvenir," said Korkoske, who said the pair have caught several sharks before.Though the shark had not been put on ice and was outdoors for hours after the kill, Lipert said he would offer the meat to relatives. Taking it to a taxidermist was too expensive, he said.

Butch Ringelspaugh, curator of exhibits for the Pier Aquarium, estimated the shark weighed 350 to 500 pounds.He wasn't surprised to find a shark that size swimming around the Pier. "This is bull shark territory out here," Ringelspaugh said.

Still, he noted the irony that the museum educates the public about the importance of protecting sharks. While bull sharks are not endangered, state law limits the catch to one a day. They are among the most dangerous sharks in the world, Ringelspaugh said.

The curator would have preferred it if Ringelspaugh had released the shark, which he estimated was 15 to 25 years old. At that age, a healthy female could be pregnant, Ringelspaugh said.

"The thing is, it takes a long time for them to reach sexual maturity, and by the time they do, very few of their young will make it to adulthood," he said. "Sharks as a whole are definitely down in numbers. Over 100 million sharks a year are killed by humans."

Brent Winner, an associate research scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife commission, dropped by and took a blood sample to study for mercury. He turned down an offer to take the whole shark, but later offered his opinion on killing it: "It's his right to kill that fish. But you would hope that someone doesn't kill for trophy alone."

Based on weight, age, and the plumpness of its belly, Winner believed the shark was pregnant with six or eight pups.

Help find a solution

SFMI concedes that this particular Bull shark was caught from a pier, yet principle of a Shark-Free Marinas remains the same. The St Petersberg Pier is adjacent to the City of St. Petersburg Municipal Marina.

To help Shark-Free Marinas be heard please print the “Invitation to Register“, found in our Support Tools section, and post it with a personal cover letter to:

Marina Manager
St. Petersburg Municipal Marina
300 2nd Ave. S.E.
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Or email to:

Please remember they are a business and we will not condone slander of any kind. Instead let the manager know why your business is important and why they have an obligation to monitor their patrons activities. As this is a municiple marina community concerns will be taken to council for a decision, so be polite and be heard.

Altering tourney to no-kill sure to kill off shark event

This morning an Op Ed appeared in the FT.Myers News-Press about a recent pressured decision to change a local sport kill shark tournament to a catch and release event. Here was the authors final summation:

So chalk this one up to the anti-fishing animal rights activists and fraidycat tourism boosters. It's not a victory for conservation. It's a loss for sport fishing.

We would like to refute this summation, as the author misses some big points. The folks who did the pressuring missed some big points as well, media follow up.

It is one thing to get a tournament to go catch and release but you have to explain your position to your region with the media. Failure to do this allows Op Eds like this one to grab the conversation and misdirect the intent of the change. Fair warning.

This mornings Op Ed misses the point that shark tournaments are now going "shark free" all over the USA and beyond with some creative and regional efforts. For example "catch, tag and release" events are growing in popularity in Montauk while some tournaments will soon feature "golden tags" on sharks worth $10,000 each. Catching the largest shark is always a game of chance. Typically these are the regions breeding aged sharks and more often filled with pups destroying future generations.

The desire to switch to catch and release is not a "shark hugger" phenomenon it's an evolution. From the first days of the Marlin Movement to today's no sport take was a journey that at first, a few brave fishermen and like minded conservationists brought about to save fish stocks.

Marlin Tournaments are big money draws and regional boosters. Sharks can be too.

Moving away from one tourism and fishing paradigm to another does not mean a we have seen with the Marlin folks in fact, it means a win.

Goblin girl on... something that made her sick!

I work for the government, at the Swedish Board of Fisheries. That means that I usually have to defend the fishermen and the fishing industry, but I also have certain freedom to work for the better of the environment - which sometimes means going against the fishing interest. I know that many of my "shark hugging" friends have problems with even seeing a dead shark, but I still believe that a sustainable fishery is ok. The problem is that very few - if any - fisheries on sharks are sustainable.

When I did my masters thesis on spiny dogfish at the university I even had to kill the sharks myself! It was a tough journey to make from when I was six, nearly crying my eyes out when my guppies died, not daring to even touch them if they jumped out of the aquarium, to bludgeoning my beloved sharks to death and then gut them. But you learned to do it and it was a comfort for me that the bodies went to consumption. And they had gone the same way even if I hadn't done my study.

So what makes me sick? Well, you saw earlier this week that the fate of the mantas made me really sad. Is it something that really makes me sick, it's pure waste! If you have the stomach for it, watch the video below. Then remember that this happens to a 100 million sharks every year. And still many of those sharks are taken care of in different ways. Sometimes only the fins - which is a great waste! -, sometimes the whole body. This basking shark got caught in a trawl off Iceland and the fishermen just wants to get rid of it. They mutilate it, but doesn't kill it. Such a big animal can take a month to die, lying on the sea floor, starving to death. That makes me SICK!