As it has done for more than a decade, the Bedford Institute of Oceanography sent a team of biologists to gather data during the Yarmouth Shark Scramble at the former Parker-Eakins wharf last weekend.
Measurements were recorded for every shark landed during the 2013 Yarmouth Shark Scramble.
CARLA ALLEN PHOTO
The event is an important one for the scientists as it provides them with a chance to teach fishermen how to properly handle and tag the sharks they catch and release (smaller ones are returned to the water), monitor water temperatures, examine stomach contents, record measurements and the gender of sharks.
Fisheries technician Warren Joyce has monitored many Shark Scrambles in the past. This year he attended the captains’ meeting last Wednesday to provide information to the participants.
He then handed the reins over to aquatic fisheries technician Anna MacDonnell and her team of four BIO employees, four students and volunteers. The biologists will be visiting five provincial shark fishing tournaments this summer.
Joyce says it provides a great experience for biology students to get hands-on experience working with sharks.
Some of the more interesting data from information gathered over the years are the tag returns from smaller blue sharks that are released by the recreational fishermen.
“We just had two tags returned this past year, one that had been out for 4 1/2 years and another that had travelled 3,100 kilometres,” said Joyce.
Steve Campana, head of BIO’s shark research lab says the shark derbies have negligible impact on the shark population.
“The catch of the derbies accounts for about three per cent of all the blue sharks killed in Canadian waters in a typical year,” he said.
Campana is heading a study in progress on the post-release mortality of blue sharks from the recreational shark fishery.
The biggest culprits in shark mortality are the longline fishery and countries that support the practice of finning.
In the past, scientific technicians and observers on longliners have reported that vessels accidentally catch very large numbers of blue sharks, with almost 100 per cent being thrown back to die.