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Florida Shark Tournament Ends as 11 Killed, Over 300 Released; 765-pound Tiger Shark Biggest Catch

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DESTIN, Florida -- After four days of fishing, the Destin Deep Water Shark Tournament came to a low-key close Sunday.

A small crowd gathered behind Fisherman's Wharf restaurant to watch the last day of weigh-ins, but the biggest catch turned out to be Jonathan Barbee's 765-pound tiger shark, weighed in Thursday.

The 21-year-old Destin native was fishing from the Full Draw and trumped a 656-pound tiger shark weighed in an hour before.

All in all, 11 sharks were killed in the tournament and more than 300 released, including a nurse shark let back into the harbor from the docks near the close of the tournament, said weighmaster Bruce Cheves.

"All around, I believe it was a very successful tournament," Cheves said, adding the 11 sharks killed were hardly the massacre environmental protesters predicted.

No bull or mako shark species were caught in the event, which mainly drew on tiger and nurse populations.

The Destin History and Fishing Museum sponsored the event. Jean Melvin, the museum's director hailed the tournament as a triumph.

"It's better than I ever imagined," Melvin said. "It's like we never stopped. This is what Destin is all about."

This was the first tournament in 11 years. It was called off in 1995 amid environmental concerns. University of Florida researcher George Burgess was taking the opportunity to cut open sharks to gain insight into the health of the shark fishery — where every little bit helps, he said.

"This kind of thing is accumulated knowledge," he said. "A picture starts to take shape once you get enough of the specimens together."

Watching Burgess work were Hanne and Benny Christensen, Atlanta residents who own a second home in Destin.

"We read about this in the paper and thought we should see it," Hanne said.

While they've seen marlin tournaments before, this was the Christensens' first time at a shark contest, and they said they were enjoying themselves.

Not in sight were protesters who waved signs along U.S. Highway 98 earlier in the tournament. However, a plane trailing a banner calling for an end to "cruel" shark tournaments continued to circle the weigh-in site.

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of UnderwaterTimes.com, its staff or its advertisers.

Reader Comments

3 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

this is just sick when a shark kills a person its all out war against them but things like this still going on grown up leave them alone and they not bother use save the sharks
   comment# 1   - gary · belfast uk · Aug 28, 2010 @ 6:28am

Shoot and stomp them starlings. Run them buffalo off a cliff for their hides. Eat those dodo birds, shoot those tasmanian wolves (and red wolves), kill that last tiger, harpoon that last humpback whale, and catch that last bluefin tuna. Don't worry about it - they are just animals - they are infinite. The person who kills em' has the right to em' - if they go extinct, it is no loss to the rest of the world. No one else cares if future generations never see a whale, or tiger, or wolf - we've never seen a T-Rex either so who cares if today's animals go extinct? Who cares if our grandkids never go fishing and never even taste fish because there are none left? It is all about the individual killing as many of whatever he feels like killing with any technology he has available - whether fishfinder, sonar, .308, or dynamite. Kill everything, eat your seed-corn, and who cares about future generations. Yeah - people really are this stupid.
   comment# 2   - Jim · Charleston, SC · Dec 31, 2011 @ 4:17am

Jimbo, I hardly think killing 11 sharks per year is going to decimate the population. Besides, all the shrieking and wailing about endangered species is being done by people whose livelihoods, in point of fact, depend on maintaining the "endangered" status of said species. Think about that for a minute.
   comment# 3   - J · X, X · Jan 20, 2012 @ 11:11pm
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