Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Shark Weekend in Punta Gorda

This weekend the quaint city of Punta Gorda, Florida will be invaded not by sharks, but by shark hunters. On Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 15 the second annual Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge will be held at Laishley Park Marina on the banks of the Peace River.

With $15,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs, there should be no shortage of experienced anglers in search of the big one. Thirteen teams of either two or three entrants are already registered. Organizers hope even more will be tempted to join in the search of the Gulf of Mexico and Charlotte Harbor Estuary for the notorious saltwater predators.

Twelve different species of sharks will be targeted by the competitors and each catch must be at least five feet long in order to be eligible for points. This is a catch and release tournament and part of what distinguishes it from others is an emphasis on conservation and scientific research. Each boat will have a trained observer on board to ensure the proper release of captured sharks. Furthermore, these observers will place satellite tags on various types of desired sharks, including tiger sharks, bull sharks, and hammerheads. These devices will enable researchers to follow the travel patterns of the sharks upon their release.

While the action is underway on the water, the Ultimate Shark Challenge also promises to provide excitement back on land. The weekend will see a festive atmosphere at Laishley Park in support of the fishing tournament. Here updates and highlights of the fishing competition will be broadcast for interested spectators on a LED screen. The event's numerous sponsors will showcase fun demonstrations and product giveaways. Fishing seminars will be offered for those not bold enough to enter this year's competition. Several attractions will be set up for visitors' amusement, including Mote Marine's popular mobile aquarium, which features a 1200 gallon fish tank and displays on sharks, sea turtles, and shells. Admission is free and live music, food, and refreshments will be available to liven the experience.

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