The Discovery Channel’s Shark Week began July 11 and ran through July 18 this year. It originally premiered in July of 1988, and is a week-long series of feature television programs dedicated to sharks. Shark Week is held annually, normally running in July or August. It was created to help the average person have a greater understanding of sharks as more than killing machines.
In the past there were shows like “10 deadliest sharks”, “Into the shark bite”, and “How sharks hunt”. Viewers of Shark Week may learn some interesting facts about sharks like, “Do you know that you’re more likely to get bitten by another person than by a shark?’
Seeing that shark week was just broadcast I thought it only natural to see how many shark fishing contests are in my database. A quick search reveals that there are less than 12 shark fishing contests in America in 2021. Ten years ago there were almost 36. In the past, shark tournaments seemed to be all about bringing back to dock the biggest shark and displaying it for all to see. Nowadays shark tournaments are fewer due to conservation efforts and those that do continue are likely to be catch and release to aid research into shark behavior and migration.
Shark tournaments are typically held in June off the eastern seaboard. This is when sharks are most active and prevalent. The South Jersey Shark Tournament, held this year in June has stated “this exciting event takes place when the bite has been historically at its best in our productive waters off of Cape May.” The event attracts over 200 boats and 1000 participants. Another long running event is the Jersey Coast Shark Anglers Mako Fever Tournament which was held this year June 19 – 27.
The shark tournament that captured my attention is Sharkathon. This is a surf-fishing, catch and release tournament held at Padre Island National Seashore, Port Aransas, Texas. This year’s tournament dates are set for October 8 -10. Since 2004, participants have risen from 50 to a self-imposed capacity of 950, and prizes have increased from $2,500.00 to more than $80,000 in cash and prizes. Sharkathon serves as a fund-raising entity for the several non-profit and educational organizations and aids the Texas A&M Corpus Christi’s shark tagging program.
Since 2010, shark week it has been the longest-running cable television programming event in history and is broadcast in over 72 countries. Although dwindling, shark fishing tournaments are still being held and have taken on a more conservational and educational approach to the species.