According to a report on the Australian saltwater boating and angling website, bluewatermag.com.au, the shortfin mako shark is the most common species of shark tagged by anglers in the South Pacific.
“But one unknown has always been the level of post-release survival of sharks tagged and released by recreational anglers,” the report states.
The answer to this question may be provided within the next three years by a new study being undertaken by The Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania.
Doctoral student Rob French hopes to tag 30 sport-caught makos with pop-up satellite tags. The plan is to tag 10 sharks each off Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales, with the assistance of local anglers. The tags are specifically designed to determine whether or not sharks died after release, according to bluewatermag.com.au. The tags do so by constantly recording depth, so that when the tags release and transmit data, it can be determined if the shark had died or had been swimming normally since release.
According to the report, the study will focus on variables affecting survival, such as the gear used (circle hooks versus J-hooks, for example), line class and fight time.
It has always been my impression that, unless gut- or gill-hooked, sport-caught mako sharks off the California coast have a very high post-release survival rate – close to 100 percent when caught with circle hooks. While I wish the sampling in the South Pacific were to be larger, I believe it will confirm this assumption, but only time will tell.