Look to the future: Release sharks today


Every once in a while a good fishing story comes along.

“I think I’ve got a good one for you,” writes Charlie Donilon, skipper of Snappa, a charter-fishing boat out of Point Judith, R.I.  “We were out fishing for sharks yesterday in the Mud Hole area when a huge mako shark decided to take one of our baits. Within 15 minutes of the hookup, a 350- to 400-pound mako shark jumped 15 feet  out of the water performing a spectacular spinning cartwheel. Upon landing in the water it once again displayed another jump equal to the first.  As the battle between the shark and angler approached 50 minutes I asked the angler Bob Ferrell who is a local Rhode Islander if he wanted to take the shark or tag it for research. Bob said that if I didn’t mind he would like to release the shark. After providing us with such a battle with two of the most unbelievable jumps one could ever imagine, there was no reason to kill such a magnificent animal. He said that if he wanted a mako steak he would buy a pound at the fish market rather than kill this one.  I fully agreed with him and tagged the shark for research.

“I have been shark fishing for over 40 years and have been an advocate for tagging and releasing sharks over this entire time. The total count of released sharks is now over 2,325. It’s not just by chance that over the last two years I have released 31 mako sharks without killing a single one. It’s something I work at from the moment a person calls to book a shark fishing trip right through until the first hookup. Informing  the public and making them aware of the current state of the shark population estimates that are down 90 percent from where they were 30 years ago. Trying to put into perspective that a 200-pound. mako shark is still immature and that it won’t reach reproductive age until it weighs 400 pounds.

“If I can take 31 groups who have paid a charter fee to catch and observe sharks and have all of them release the sharks for research why can’t other fisherman do the same?  It sickens me every time I see a small mako shark of 4 or 5 feet. killed for a few steaks or a picture. It may take giving up that picture of an angler standing next to his catch. It may take eating a burger rather  than a mako steak or not having a set of jaws hanging on your wall.  For anyone who truly cares about preserving the ocean and the fish it holds, you are going to have to give back a little. In doing so you may be giving your kids or their kids an opportunity at viewing  one of Nature’s most beautiful creations.

“I’m quite sure that the shark we released will eventually be caught again and will not be so lucky to be released a second time. But maybe it will have produced a litter of mako sharks at least once to preserve the species for future generations. I tip my hat to Bob Ferrell and his charter group for releasing this trophy fish.”

1 thought on “Look to the future: Release sharks today

  1. On our portion of the Gulf Coast, sharks are so full of mercury the Texas Department of Health has stated adult men past child bearing age are the only ones that can eat sharks. Even then, only 8 ounces a month.

    I know Mako are good to eat, but most of our sharks take too much effort to eat and you might as well eat some flounder or redfish instead.

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