2014 Shark's Eye - Working With the Best and the Brightest

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Brooks and I will be headed back to Montauk, NY this week to produce and host the 2nd Annual Shark's Eye All-Release Tournament & Festival for the second year. It's going off this July 11-13th, presented by LandShark Lager, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and Dan's Papers. Our event production team will be rounded out, once again, with Zach "Hammer" Miller, who was also on board for the inaugural event last year. Among his many skills, Zach is also a fellow shark-release fishing specialist, making him the obvious choice for this kind of operation.

Montauk - affectionately known as, The End, due to its point on the map at the farthest eastern end of Long Island. Montauk, derives its name from the Montauketts, an Algonquian-speaking tribe who lived in the area. Since then, Montauk has become a major tourist destination and has six state parks.

It is particularly famous for its fishing, claiming to have more world saltwater fishing records than any other port in the world. Located 20 miles (32 km) off the Connecticut coast, it is home to the largest commercial and recreational fishing fleet in New York state. It is also the birthplace of recreational shark fishing and the epicenter of recreational shark tournaments. It was also home port for more than a half-century to the sport's founding father, none other than the real-life Capt. Quint, Frank "the Monster Man" Mundus. Montauk is steeped in legend. You can feel it when you're there...at the end. It's become a special place for Brooks and I, both personally and professionally, over the last decade that we've been spending time there. Now that Zach's been there, he's got the same problem we do.

L-R: Brooks Paxton, Capt. Rick Freda, Frank Mundus and Sean Paxton on board the Cricket II off Montauk in 2007 during production and filming of the Monster Man's last overnight shark-release fishing and tagging expedition.

Fishing. Shark tournaments. It's why we're going this time, but not to fish or compete. Between Zach and us, there's been plenty of that over the years. This is work. Important work. We'll have our hands full, collaborating with a long list of dedicated people making it possible for anglers to take part in a revolution in the evolution of recreational shark fishing, and more specifically, shark tournaments. We'll also be working hard to put on a companion public festival that connects people directly with what this event is all about.

A lot of people ask us what it means - that we're producing and hosting the tournament and festival? A loaded question. In a nutshell, and again, in coordination with a long list of others on the ground in NY, and around the world, we're responsible for logistics and event management for both the tournament and companion festival, media, PR and field production onsite, as well as hosting Shark's Eye Live! over the weekend during festival hours. Again, there is a large and dedicated, collective "We" to be recognized when you see that word used here. So for those that have been asking, here's a little behind-the-scenes tour of the event, what it means, why it's important, who's involved and what competing anglers and the general public can expect.


Circle hook and heavy tackle working as advertised with a mako caught and released in the 2013 Shark's Eye Tournament.

L-R: Sean Paxton, Dr. Nancy Kohler, Dr. Greg Skomal, Brooks Paxton Zach "Hammer" Miller.

This side of the event is unique with a format we designed to be highly competitive and challenging, while also maintaining a high priority for the post-release welfare of all sharks caught and released; essentially the same format we engineered for the Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge. Mandatory protocols include the use of non-stainless steel, inline circle hooks to aid in the avoidance of internal hook sets, heavy tackle to reduce time on the line and other safe handling practices. With no dead sharks to weight back at the dock, observers are also trained and placed on each team vessel to document all shark releases, confirm species ID and other details. There are six SPOT tags (satellite position only tags) allocated this year for select species, provided by OCEARCH, with one being provisioned by Austin Marxe.

Dr. Greg Skomal and team attach satellite tag to a Mako shark while tournament, NBC and CBS news cameras roll on the action.

Sat-tagging operations are headed again this year by Dr. Greg Skomal of the Massachusettes Shark Research Program. He and his team will be split with tags on two high-speed chase boats positioned strategically throughout the tournament boundaries and dispatched in real-time via VHF radio and satellite phone communications between offshore and onshore personnel at the event host facility, the Montauk Marine Basin. Anglers will be trained to place conventional tags in sharks. This aspect is headed by Dr. Nancy Kohler of the NOAA Apex Predators Program. Points are awarded based on species. All sat-tagged sharks can be tracked on the OCEARCH website by anyone in the world with an internet connection. Sharks will be named by school students and the anglers. Results from the 2013 event are compelling on a number of fronts and we look forward to more of the same this year. When you get right down to it, though, it's about the anglers involved that have decided to step up and into the future. Take away their involvement and we've got not much more than a big party so a BIG tip of the hat and round of applause and appreciation, we extend to those that launched this event last year and that will be competing this year. We wish you all good luck and hot fishing.

The inaugural 2013 Shark's Eye Winner's Ceremony marked a significant point on a timeline for the evolution of recreational shark fishing and tournaments in Montauk and beyond.

Once the starting gun fires at 6am on Saturday and Sunday and the teams and chase boats head offshore, Brooks, Zach and I will be working closely with Carl Darenberg, Capt. Mike Potts, and Capt. Rick Freda in coordination with Greg Jacoski and David Wilkinson from the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation to make it all happen in a way that also ties the action offshore to the weekend festival onshore at the Montauk Marine Basin.


While this is a tournament, unique and pioneering in many ways, we also believe for it to make positive and lasting impacts, we must also involve the public, and do so in ways that entertain, engage, educate and ultimately inspire. That's why we also put on a companion shark-themed festival that is free to the public all weekend long.

This combination provides a valuable opportunity to tie what's going on out there during competition directly to attending festival crowds and the world through traditional and online media channels. The tournament is exciting, but when combined with the science and research, it becomes compelling because the science and research going on in the Shark's Eye represents not only the cutting-edge in available technology, but a dramatic evolution of how science has traditionally been distributed in the past, which has been mostly to and within the scientific community. No more in cases like this. It's one of the key reasons we’re seeing such a groundswell of involvement and support from the public in more recent years when it comes to our sharks.

Scene from Discovery Channel Shark Week, "How JAWS Changed the World". The Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge hosted by the Shark Brothers and Special Guests.

So while competition heats up on the North Atlantic, there will be plenty of fun and excitement for the entire family on shore at the tournament and festival host location. The companion, shark-themed festival is free to the public from 2-6pm on Saturday and Sunday. It features event sponsors, vendors, live musical performances by Brian Neale during festival hours and Deep C Revival Saturday night till 10pm for the Dock Party. There are also unique attractions, interactive demonstrations and lots of delicious food and beverages, all on the waterfront, during the entire weekend.

Every hour during festival times 2-6 pm on Saturday and Sunday, Brooks and I also look forward to presenting

Shark's Eye LIVE! Hosted by the Shark Brothers & Special Guests

During this interactive multimedia show, Brooks and I will take audiences inside the tournament to discover how it’s helping to lead a revolution in the evolution of shark-release fishing. Catch-by-catch live updates from the competition offshore, hands-on satellite tagging demonstrations, and special guests including tournament anglers, representatives from the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Wendy Benchley, Dr. Greg Skomal, Zach "Hammer" Miller, Dr. Nancy Kohler, and other noted personalities will join us to engage and entertain audience throughout the weekend. This show and the entire event is rated “E” for everyone so bring the entire family and all your friends. We look forward to meeting there.

The Shark Brothers, Brooks and Sean Paxton (righ) with tournament founders, L-R: Rav Freidel, Carl Darenberg and April Gornick. 

We'd like to sincerely acknowledge our fellow Event Committee Members for the tireless efforts it took to make this happen. Rav Freidel with the Concerned Citizens of Montauk and Artist, April Gornick, (this was all a wild idea they first shared with us back in 2010). And to Carl Darenberg - Owner of the the host location, the Montauk Marine Basin, Jackie Lowey - Sponsor Relations Manager, Laura Mastandrea - Festival Director, Capt. Mike Potts - Tournament Communications Director,  Capt. Rick Freda - Chase Boat Logistics Manager and Zach "Hammer" Miller - Competition and Event Coordinator. And last, but certainly not least - to all our many sponsors and supporters, we all THANK YOU for your generous and vital support. Without it, none of this would be even remotely possible.

On behalf of Brooks, Zach and myself, we're proud to be playing a role in this event and to be collaborating with all the Very Important People (VIP's) who are making a difference for our ocean's Very Important Predators (those other VIP's).

Keep it Wild, -sp-

For More Information About the Event, It's Supporters and all Those Involved:

Press Release #3 - See what Jimmy Buffett has to say about the Shark's Eye. Yeah, that Jimmy Buffett.