New Tagging Research Reveals Remarkable Mako Shark Round-Trip Journey in High Resolution

October 30, 2012

DAVIE, FL— OCTOBER 29, 2012— A satellite reporting tagging device known as a SPOT tag, attached to a shortfin mako shark dubbed “Carol” in New Zealand five months ago, is providing scientists with remarkable and previously unknown details of the timing and long-distance migratory movements of this species.

The Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI) at Nova Southeastern University is collaborating with the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) on the tagging experiment with Carol the shortfin mako shark.

The SPOT tag is revealing that Carol is spending a lot of time at the ocean’s surface, reporting her location to the satellite several times daily.

“The unexpectedly frequent daily detections are providing us with a really high resolution view of the migration of this animal,” said GHRI Director Dr. Mahmood Shivji. “We’ve found that Carol has traveled over 5,700 miles in five months, averaging 60 miles per day during some parts of her migration—and this is just a juvenile shark!”

CLICK HERE to see an interactive map of Carol’s travels.

“Conventional identification tags tell us little about the timing of mako shark movements, the route that they take or distance traveled,” said Dr. Malcolm Francis, who is leading the NIWA effort on this study.  “The SPOT tag, revealing Carol’s detailed travels from New Zealand to Fiji and back, shows theses sharks have an amazing internal navigation system that keeps them on course over long journeys.”

Given the high fishing pressure on makos for their fins and meat, this species is showing declining population trends in parts of its range, which has resulted in the species being listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Based on the amazing results from this initial trial, the GHRI and NIWA are expanding their mako migration study off New Zealand starting in January 2013, according to Dr. Shivji.  The GHRI and Dr. Guy Harvey are also working with Captain Anthony Mendillo of Keen M International to compare the migratory patterns of mako sharks in the Atlantic by tagging them off the coast of Isla Mujeres, Mexico.

Advertisements

An Open Letter from Guy Harvey

August 3, 2012

Fellow anglers, divers and boaters,

It has come to my attention that that there is some concern, particularly among anglers in the northeast US, about my allegiance to the sport fishing community. Please know that first and foremost I am a life-long angler who loves nothing more than spending a day on the water in pursuit of big fish. It’s my passion and my profession, and I live it practically every day of the year. I am also a dedicated conservationist – I believe that we must fish responsibly and ensure the health of fish stocks throughout the world.

In an effort to broaden the message of responsible fishing, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF) has supported, collaborated and partnered with many organizations over the past four years, including the Shark Free Marina Initiative (SFMI). Sharks are in serious trouble in the US and around the world. However, I am not advocating for a ban on all shark fishing. My position has always been for all anglers to take a responsible, conservation-minded approach to sharks – before you legally harvest a shark, simply consider what you are doing and why you are doing it.

The shark free/friendly concept was initiated to educate and make people aware of the severe pressures being put upon sharks populations around the globe. In the past several years, we have seen many shark tournaments – particularly in Florida – go to an all-release format, which makes for responsible fishing since most of the species of sharks caught in tournaments are traditionally not good table fare.

In contrast, the iconic mako shark is considered fair game in the northeast US, as are tunas and swordfish above federal size limits. Catch and release shark tournaments in this area with high minimum qualifying weights are well organized and have shark conservation measures at heart, as do the partial release billfish tournaments in the mid-Atlantic, which I have proudly supported for over two decades.

In addition, in the US and around the world there are areas of local abundance of species where anglers can legally harvest these species in a sustainable way, even though elsewhere in the world that species may be considered rare or overexploited. This practice is fine with me. I am all about sustainability in sport fishing and commercial fishing, as well as in spearfishing and diving. However, there are many anglers who are not concerned about sustainability and that is cause for concern.

Much of the recent criticism directed my way has stemmed from the role of the Humane Society of the US (HSUS) within the SFMI organization, and alleged ties to PETA and the PEW Environment Group (PEG). I have difficulty in accommodating the role of the HSUS in the sport fishing arena. Other than encouraging catch and release where possible, I see no reason for this organization to exert any influence in sport fishing. I have an even stronger opinion of PETA, which is just too extreme to even get my attention.

As for Pew, I am not aligned with them personally, nor have I supported them during my 20-year tenure as a board member of the IGFA. The one instance in which I worked alongside PEG was in a successful effort to prevent the archipelago of the Bahamas – which was home to the last bastion of sharks in the western Atlantic – from being scoured of sharks by impending commercial interests. The GHOF’s collaborative effort with PEG and the Bahamas National Trust worked, and it prevented the wholesale slaughter of species by people who don’t give a damn.

I also support shark interactive programs and have patronized many such programs in different countries. These interactions with otherwise shy, elusive creatures are inspiring, educational and very entertaining – all without killing a single animal. In addition, the socio-economic value of these interactive sites is immense to the host countries. Only days ago, I returned from a shoot in Isla Mujeres, Mexico where for 60 days each summer thousands of whale sharks gather to feed on plankton blooms and fish spawn. This interaction pumps millions of dollars into the Mexican economy each summer. If this phenomenon occurred in the Orient, then I am certain the harpoon boats would be racing the snorkelers to the sites every day.

Another issue I have difficulty accepting is proposed MPAs based on nothing other than whims of people who want to get rid of sport fishing. These proposed areas, which are closed to sport fishing, typically do not go through a scientific analysis to tell us all about the inventory of species or the estimated biomass from which a regulated harvest could be managed. However, specific time and area closures for certain species at certain times of year do work well. It is ludicrous to allow any harvest of any animal when it is reproducing, so closure of reef fish (snapper and grouper) spawning aggregations during their respective spawning times is a good management practice, as we have seen in the Bahamas and Cayman Islands.

There are many issues facing recreational anglers and many of us have conflicting opinions on how to apply solutions that best benefit the fisheries. Not everyone is going to agree with me on every issue. However, please don’t underestimate my dedication and commitment to the sport fishing community – along with AFTCO, I put back approximately 10 percent of all royalties generated by my art into fishery research and educational programs around the world.

I want to remind my fan base – as well as all of the naysayers – that I love fishing and I love to cook and eat the fish that I catch. I do fish responsibly – I release all billfish and undersized wahoo, tuna or dolphin that I catch. But, a nice bull dolphin, yellowfin or blackfin is going in the cooler! Swordfish are also fair game – in the tournaments we have in Cayman the small ones are released and the big ones are taken. In fact, we just landed a 600 pound plus swordfish on July 22 in Mexico. Not a scrap was wasted!

Tight lines and good luck.

Guy Harvey PhD.


Fish of a Lifetime!

July 29, 2012

On July 22nd, Guy’s 22-year old daughter Jessica caught a 600+ lb. swordfish while on a Guy Harvey Expedition off Isla Mujeres, Mexico. After returning home to Grand Cayman, Guy filed this first-hand account of the catch:

I was on my third shoot this year with the Guy Harvey Expeditions team to film a documentary about the marine life off the Yucatan Peninsula. The expedition team, which included award-winning producer George Schellenger and Capt. Anthony Mendillo of “Keen M Sportfishing”, was based out of Isla Mujeres in the province of Quintana Roo, Mexico – a prime location to reach the big animals that congregate off the coast of this tiny island where the Gulf of Mexico meets the western Caribbean Sea.

The GHE team had been to Isla Mujeres twice this year – first in January to fish and dive with sailfish aggregations, and then again in March to study the mako population in the region. On each trip, the team utilized Pop up Archival Tags (PATs) to track the fish – 12 sails, 3 makos – in an effort to document their migratory paths after they leave the Yucatan.

For our third trip, we returned in July for whale shark season along with the thousands of snorkelers who flock to the region to swim with the docile monster fish who come to the area to gorge on fish eggs and plankton just a few miles offshore. The whale sharks gather in the area for about 60 days each year – sometimes numbering just a dozen or so, though at times as many as five hundred spread over a square mile of ocean. The socio economic benefit of these marine interactions is enormous. Close encounters with otherwise rarely seen oceanic nomads brings a lot of money to the region – it is a highly sustainable activity which is well regulated by Mexican authorities.

My daughter Jessica, who has just graduated from Edinburgh University in Scotland with honors in Zoology, joined the team for this expedition and was thrilled to be spending so much time in the water photographing whale sharks. There were so many that often two or three of the thirty foot long animals would fill the frame.

After filming the whale sharks for three consecutive days, we decided to do some swordfishing on the last day of the expedition. Capt. Anthony took us out on the 48 foot Cabo “Chachalaca” so we could hit a few spots offshore where he deep drops Florida-style for swordfish in 1,400 to 1,800 feet of water. We were not fishing IGFA rules – we were using 100# braided nylon line with a 200# topshot 100 feet long to the leader. We weren’t looking for a record – we just wanted to catch one on rod and reel!

Dropping the squid bait, with light and heavy weight a hundred feet from the hook, Capt. Anthony kept the boat moving into the current at 3 knots while 1,500 feet below the bait was actually moving north at 1 knot in a 4 knot current.

Just after 10:00AM on the first drift, Jessica got a bite and the rod tip began bouncing as the line starting flying off the reel.  Capt. Anthony spun the boat around and began to chase after the fish. He already had a big smile on his face – he knew from 15 years of swordfishing that this was a good sized fish! Jessica worked hard on the fish and after an hour it came to the surface with a single massive jump, leaving all on board speechless. Mate Ruben yelled, “500 plus!!!”, and Capt. Anthony nodded in agreement.

We got close to the big swordfish, which was swimming just beneath the surface. Mate Gallo grabbed at the leader for a technical catch. However, the swordfish was still fresh and it spurted away with great sweeps of its tail and line dumped off the reel. Jessica shrieked in exasperation as she watched all of her hard work melt off the spool in a few seconds as the great fish sounded. Capt. Anthony yelled words of encouragement from the bridge, “Jessica, take your time, this is the fish of a lifetime.”

Jessica kept heavy pressure on the fish and cruised past the 2 hour mark when again the leader came up on the rod as the great fish was swimming just below the surface. As before, Gallo had the leader to hand but the swordfish turned on the after burner and paddled off into the deep as if the fight was just beginning. Tired and sore at this point, Jessica redoubled her efforts while Capt. Anthony instructed her to put on more drag while keeping pressure on the reel with her gloved left hand. After nearly an hour, the added pressure worked and Jessica finally got the swordfish to the surface.

The crew went to work quickly, securing the fish as we marveled at its size. It took six men to slide the 14 foot long fish into the boat, and the bill protruded through the cabin doorway into the salon when they closed the transom door. Jessica gulped some water and Capt. Anthony popped the cork on a bottle of champagne as the celebration started.

Back at the dock, the giant fish was swum across to the public beach by willing hands where an expectant crowd helped to pull the fish up on the wooden gantry. Hundreds of locals gathered to take photos with the fish. After 30 minutes the fish was taken down, measurements were made and then Capt. Anthony and crew cleaned the fish. The crew weighed the meat, backbone, head and fins, which totaled 590 pounds. With the loss of blood, body fluids and scraps, it was estimated that the 14 foot swordfish was easily in the 620 pound range! The meat was shared amongst crew, family and friends – not a scrap was wasted (local fisherman even carried off the fins, head and backbone to make fish soup).

Once back home, I contacted the IGFA to ask about other large swordfish catches by lady anglers. The last catch of a swordfish over 600 pounds was a 772 pound fish caught by Mrs. Lou Marron in 1954 in Chile. So, apart from being an Isla Mujeres record, Jessica’s catch is probably a record swordfish for the Caribbean coast of Mexico on rod and reel.

Congratulations to Capt. Anthony Mendillo, his crew and to Jessica for catching the fish of a lifetime!

Guy Harvey PhD.


Jessica Harvey Catches Mammoth 600-Plus Pound Swordfish Off Isla Mujeres, Mexico

July 23, 2012

Guy congratulates his daughter Jessica on her 600+ lb. swordfish catch, a new record for Isla Mujeres and the largest swordfish caught anywhere on conventional rod & reel by a female angler in 30 years.

ISLA MUJERES, MEXICO—July 22, 2012—Jessica Harvey, the 22-year-old daughter of marine icon Guy Harvey, showed that saltwater fishing skills is a family trait when she fought and landed a massive 600-plus pound swordfish—the largest caught on rod & reel by a female angler in the last 30 years and one of the largest ever on record.

The Guy Harvey Expeditions team was in Isla Mujeres to film the renowned whale shark aggregations as part of a new documentary.

Ms. Harvey, an IGFA Jr. World Record holder, took a break from filming to do a little fishing, according to her father.

Under the guidance of Capt. Anthony Mendillo and the crew of Keen M Sportfishing, Ms. Harvey using a conventional rod and reel hooked into the swordfish in 1,550 feet of water some 15 miles offshore. She battled the fish for nearly three hours.

The entire adventure was captured on film by award-winning filmmaker George Schellenger and Greg Jacoski of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.


Massive Mako Surprises Diver and Blue Marlin During Guy Harvey Expedition in the Bahamas

July 18, 2012

You never know who will show up on a Guy Harvey Expedition! In this video, a massive 10 ft. long, 600 lb. mako breaks the underwater silence when it rockets past the camera as it stalks a blue marlin!