Tiburones de la Ciencia: Sharks for Science E-mail
Tuesday, 26 March 2013 21:43

Kayak fishing really is a worldwide phenomenon. Visit any place that is fishy, especially coastal regions near larger towns or cities, and you will find kayak- argentina, shark, kayak, sit on top, kayak fishing, fishing, big game fishing brethren. Argentina is no different, with a growing interest in the sport in addition to a few well- established groups. “Team Sit On Top” from Mar de Plata in the Buenos Aires Province of Argentina have been fishing together for over a decade. Sponsored in part by Sit On Top Kayaks, Fabian Castellano, Fabian Mateo, Leonardo Avalos and Miguel Vinciguerra recently upped the ante and began the pursuit of big game in their area, while at the same time assisting science and conservation efforts.

Ringed by the Sierra de Los Padres Mountains, Mar de Plata enjoys a temperate climate much like Northern California, USA. Deep offshore waters and the combination of two major currents-a warm Brazilian current from the north and cold nutrient-rich currents from the southern Malvinas Islands (Falklands)-create conditions for abundant and varied sea life. One unique spot in the area is Punta Restinga Mogotes Lighthouse. Offshore shoals create a protected area near the beach that hosts a yearly concentration of sharks arriving to feed and give birth. Shark species birthing in the area include Bacota (sand tiger or grey nurse shark), Escalandrun (ragged-tooth shark), dogfish, pointed, smoothhound, hammerhead, and Jack Brown sharks, among others.>

SOT member Fabian Castellan explains “In Argentina the shark release is mandatory, as they are endangered, and regulated by law. The best fishing in ​​this sector is near the three "shoals" or reefs that extend about 3000m from the beach, occasionally breaking the surface. The shoals are home to hundreds of fish among the rocks and this is where the big sharks feed. We fish 600 meters from the coast, and at a depth of 6-7 meters, on the northeast sector of the first sandbar, with sea ironing (no waves) and a gentle breeze.” Using heavy Penn and Omoto rods in the six to seven-foot range, paired with Penn 6.0 Senators running 80-pound monofilament, the team tags on 12/0 hooks with the barbs filed down and of course, steel leaders. “The method we use is to attach a float or balloon, allowing the wind to take the bait away. The rig keeps bait suspended at about 2 meters.” The kayaks stay anchored until they get a hit.

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"Mateos’ rod had an impressive hit and run that almost emptied his reel. He saw his balloon rocketing away, and quickly unhooked the anchor to start the great struggle. Immediately, the rest of the team lined up and disengaged their moorings to assist Mateos. The shark expends most of its energy in the first 20 minutes.” The team passes off the rod as their arms are exhausted. “Mateos and Leonardo Abalos each spent 15 minutes as the shark dragged us about 1500 meters offshore. I took the rod and master achievement after a struggle that took about 10 minutes. With great excitement and caution the approach came, as any fish can surprise you and cause a bite to the team or kayak. The critical moment is extraction of the hook nailed to the edge of the powerful jaw, accomplished with a special steel tool we designed to minimize the risk of a bite. We managed to extract the hook, film it, photograph it and return it to its habitat with the least possible damage." This shark was a female Bacota approximately 2.70 meters long, and calculated to weigh over 100 Kg.

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The Sit On Top boys have established an efficient (and fun) method of catch-and-release that has recently earned them official scientific “shark-tagger” status from the Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences, specifically the Ichthyology Division- Assessment and Conservation of Threatened Sharks. For more information and to follow the SOT Club, follow them on facebook.

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*After measuring, photos and other documentation, all sharks are released unharmed.
 
 
 

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