Captain Joel’s Fishin’ Holes Aug. 2, 2018

Published on: August 1, 2018

Tampa Bay sharks

By JOEL BRANDENBURG

Last week we celebrated sharks and stayed glued to the TV during shark week. Ana Banana Fishing Company has been filmed by the “Discovery Channel” a couple times doing shark research for shark week. The reason “Discovery Channel” contacted us to film shark footage is because during the summertime Tampa Bay is the shark capital of the world. Known for having the largest population of sharks — and the largest variety of sharks — on earth. 

There aren’t many shark attacks in Tampa Bay considering the huge number of sharks colliding with our large population of tourists. I think it’s because sharks are here for two things: Feeding and breeding. Sharks have no reason to mistake a human for anything they feed on in Tampa Bay. In late spring and early summer threadfin herring flow into the bay from the Gulf of Mexico.  Spanish mackerel, kingfish, tarpon, ladyfish, blue runners, bluefish, jack crevalle and many other predators chase the large pods of threadfins into our waters. Tampa Bay is more shallow and more confined than the gulf, and these predatory fish can easily corral the bait fish. When these game fish feed on the pods of threadfins they cause a lot of carnage. With blood and fish pieces, this carnage is like a shark calling card — and the hunters become the hunted. Sharks come in as the cleanup crew and will feed on anything from a 1-inch piece of threadfin to a 6-foot tarpon depending on the size of shark. 

Ana Banana Fishing Company likes to harvest blacktips, nurse, bonnet head, spinner and Atlantic sharp-nose sharks. They release tiger, hammerhead, bull, lemon and sawfish sharks.

Holly from APS LLC with her tournament-winning hammerhead on the Ana Banana Fishing Company boat.

We are also the manatee capital of the world, and we don’t see shark attacks on manatees either. Sharks come into the bay looking for love and looking to feed on fish only, unlike other areas of the world where sharks feed on seals and mistake surfers for seals. Nothing they feed on here can be mistaken for humans. Most of the shark attacks I’ve heard of over the years are either spear fishermen getting hit by a shark while the shark is attempting to steal the bag of fish connected to the fisherman or anglers handling sharks improperly while trying to remove their hooks. I do remember a shark attack back in 2000 in Boca Ciega Bay in St. Petersburg that was a fatal shark attack. Apparently the man was swimming off his dock in the Intercoastal Waterway and surprised a big bull shark. The shark took one bite and killed the fellow instantly. Other than that, the few attacks were not fatalities. 

 We’ve talked about shark attacks on humans; let’s talk about human attacks on sharks. There are places in the world where humans are putting a dent in the shark population unlawfully, but Tampa Bay is not one of those places. The Florida Wildlife Commission has very strict rules on size and bag limits for shark harvesting. Different sharks have different size limits, but the bag limit is the same: Two sharks per day, per boat for human consumption. Some sharks taste delicious. In fact if you go into a fish market almost anywhere in the world, shark meat is on the top shelf selling for the most per pound. Neither Ana Banana Fishing Company, nor any of our affiliates, have ever killed a shark that we didn’t intend to eat. We like to harvest blacktips, nurse sharks, bonnet heads, spinner sharks and Atlantic sharp-nose sharks. We release tiger sharks, hammerheads, bull sharks, lemon sharks and sawfish sharks. 

Over the years we’ve had people object to us killing any shark, even harvesting them for human consumption. We’ve worked with many marine biologists hiring us for shark research for skin and fin samples,  whole shark studies, fluid dynamics studies and tagging programs to determine length, weight, sex, condition and breeding patterns. One hundred percent of these marine biologists have told us that the shark population in Tampa Bay and surrounding gulf waters are flourishing, plus these same marine biologists work closely with FWC and the Environmental Protection Agency to determine shark harvesting limits, and they have determined that it is legal to harvest two sharks per day, per boat for human consumption. 

For the people who disagree with killing sharks, we recommend you do your own research, and if you still feel that sharks should not be harvested, then talk to our lawmakers and change the law, but don’t negatively criticize law-abiding anglers and captains.

 For a charter with Captain Joel Brandenburg of Ana Banana Fishing Company, visit www.anabananafishing.com, or call 813-267-4401.

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