Shark Tag & Release

by Chris and Monique Fallows

Chris and Monique FallowsThe best place to insert a tag is at the base of the dorsal fin, pretty much in the middle of the fin. This is an area that has little sensitive tissue, vital vessels or nerves. It is also very important to place a tag at an angle leading away from the head towards the tail so that the tag is streamlined when swimming.

It is also not a good idea to tag very small sharks-say under 5kg as the drag of a spaghetti tag( b-tag as supplied by ORI) is a bit to much for the smaller sharks. The tag should also not be placed to deeply and only needs the steel head to penetrate the skin and sit underneath it. A good way to prevent the tag going to deep it to put a rubber stopper or champagne cork about 4-5cm from the tip of the tagging pole or applicator to stop any further penetration.

Sharks that are brought on board to be tagged should have something like a towel or t-shirt placed over their heads to calm them down. strangely enough stroking their belly from just under the head to the pelvic fins also calms them down. It is very important not to gaff the sharks in their bodies and should you need to gaff a shark the best spot is actually in the lower jaw as far forward as possible. Also avoid throwing a shark back by it's tail as this can dislocate vertabrae which is obviously harmful.

Mako Shark

Once ashark is tagged measurement should be taken from head to the base of the tail (known as standard or precaudal length) this must be done in a straight line next to the shark and not over the curve of the body. A sex should also be taken and this is done by looking at the area around the pelvic fins. The males will have two appendages knows as claspers and the females lack this. The area that the shark was tagged in as well as the date must also be recorded. It is also worthwhile to note the condition of the animal when it is tagged (animals that have fought for a long time build up lactic acid which in some cases can kill them ,so try to get the shark alongside asap) and make a note whether it was tired or not.

The overall picture for sharks along our coast is very gloomy in deed and we need to try and make every effort to try and preserve them.