PUNTA GORDA, Fla. - The Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge Tournament and Festival returns to Southwest Florida by making its Punta Gorda, Fla., debut May 13 - 15, 2011, at Laishley Park. The tournament, hosted by Laishley Crab House (www.laishleycrabhouse.com), combines the allure of competitive big-game sport fishing with cutting-edge science, practical conservation principles and informative entertainment. It is quickly becoming an industry leader and model for the next generation of shark-release tournaments. Teams will be competing for $15,000 in cash and prizes as they fish Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf of Mexico.
The Ultimate Shark Challenge festival at Laishley Park on Saturday and Sunday will complement the competition by broadcasting highlights on digital displays. Event sponsors will conduct product demonstrations and giveaways and a wide variety of merchant vendors and unique attractions, such as Mote's Mobile Aquarium, will be on display, along with shark-centric exhibits, interactive demonstrations and delicious food and cold beverages.
Admission into this family-friendly festival is free.
Guy Harvey, world-renowned marine artist, conservationist and tournament partner, will make a personal appearance during the weekend to meet with fans and promote the tournament's shared mission.
"The Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge Tournament and Festival will be a uniquely exciting event for participants, spectators and everyone who cares about the future of our oceans," Harvey said.
Teams will have the option of entering a two-day elimination competition with either two or three anglers. A dozen shark species are eligible for points, but finding and catching them aren't the only challenges teams will face. To qualify, eligible sharks must meet a minimum total length of five feet.
Sharks will be measured in the water using a device custom-designed and provided by the USC before they are research tagged by the team and released back to the wild. In some cases, candidate specimens may be outfitted with a satellite tracking tag. An observer professionally trained and certified by USC staff and the Mote Center for Shark Research in species identification, tournament rules and proper tagging and release procedures will also be placed on board each team vessel.
Mote Marine Laboratory's Center for Shark Research staff is USC's chief science and research partner, and will oversee those aspects of the tournament, including all tagging operations. Hammerhead and bull sharks will be the focus of the satellite tagging efforts, but other species, such as tiger sharks, may be tagged. Tags are designed to transmit location and other valuable information about the shark's travels. Once satellite tags are deployed, the public will be able to follow these sharks' travels online.
Additional information about the 2011 Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge Tournament and Festival including team registration, sponsorship opportunities and festival vendor inquiries, can be found on the event's website www.UltimateSharkChallenge.com.