Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Volunteers, sponsors sought for tiger shark tagging project

Tigers in Bermuda and a nascent research program could use your help this week:

It costs $6,000 to sponsor a shark, but along with adopting the animal, they are also given the opportunity to meet their shark in its environment.

The more sponsors they are able to find, the more sharks they can tag, which means more information for the researchers.

Sponsors are offered regular updates on their sponsored shark, and are even invited to join Mr. Aming in tagging the animals.

"It's not every day you get to reach down and pet a tiger shark," said Mr. Aming. In order to tag the sharks, they are first caught with rod and reel, and brought close to the boat only when they are exhausted.

"You obviously don't want an 800 lb shark full of energy and right next to the boat," said Mr Aming. "These are dangerous sharks. They're not as bad as most people say, but they can kill you."

After the shark is brought alongside the boat, it is cinched to a specially designed stretcher and brought on-board the boat, where it is measured and tagged, before being released.

He said the tag costs $3,000 and tracking time costs $20 per shark, per day and while Mr. Aming has already found several sponsors, including Lindos Markets, he's still looking for more.

"Every scientific project always needs more funding," he said. "We've got a bunch of local sponsors. Some are friends, some are keen fishermen."

The tagging project started last year, with the team tagging three sharks in a test run of the equipment.

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