Researchers want anglers’ help tracking sharks

Published 5:46 pm Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Biologists who are tagging and releasing sharks to the Mississippi Sound are asking coast fishermen to keep an eye out for tagged specimens.

“We are tagging loads of sharks,” fisheries biologist Eric Hoffmayer with the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory said. “I know more people must be catching them.”

Biologists with the University of Southern Mississippi marine lab in Ocean Springs tag the sharks to track their migration patterns. Anglers who catch them are asked to call in the shark’s information.

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Since 2004, the team has tagged 1,000 sharks with only 10 being recaptured. All but one of the recaptured sharks were caught in the Mississippi Sound.

“One Atlantic sharpnose shark evidently decided to take a vacation over in Florida and was recaptured in Pensacola Bay, more than 110 miles away, two months after being tagged,” Hoffmayer said.

Hoffmayer said it is crucial for anglers to call in the tag information so biologists can gain a better understanding of the growth and movement patterns of coastal sharks within Mississippi coastal waters.

The project is funded by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration Program.

“By learning more about how they use this habitat, we’ll know more about how to protect them,” Hoffmayer said.