Sharks are sort of a way of life 'round these parts. So it only makes sense that we start betting on them like people do horses at Gulf Stream. Except instead of going home angry and broke and cursing your horse's jockey, you're doing some good and helping some scientists learn more about sharks along the way.
Nova Southeastern University, the Guy Harvey Research Institute, and the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation are putting on a shark race next month, and they're inviting you to place your bets.
The Great Shark Race, which starts in April, breaks down into two divisions -- the Mako Shark Division and the Oceanic Whitetip Division -- and is monitored via satellite.
Businesses or people can sponsor a shark by purchasing a satellite tracking tag and then follow the race via Nova's tracking website. The entry fee is a bit steep -- $5,000 -- but the winner gets a Florida Keys fishing vacation and bragging rights for having the fastest shark in all the land!
The real winner, though, are the sharks themselves. Scientists at Nova and Guy Harvey will be able to monitor the sharks through the purchased tags to help them with research and movement patterns.
"We began this event a few years ago and the big focus was on tiger sharks, and have since moved on to makos and oceanic whitetips," Antonio Fins, executive director at the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, tells New Times. "But some studies have shown that the oceanic whitetip population could be down 98 percent. This race is a way to get people involved and tag more sharks, which will provide invaluable in data for us."
The data Nova and Guy Harvey are looking to get will give them more in-depth information on the sharks' movement patterns to better manage and conserve them.
"We want to have some fun but even more importantly use the race to bring added awareness to the plight of these magnificent animals," said Mahmood Shivji, PhD, professor at NSU's Oceanographic Center and the director of GHRI. "It's vital that we learn the migratory patterns and other aspects of these animals' lives so we can ensure they survive and thrive for years to come."
The Great Shark Race will kick off on April 2, when makos will be tagged with monitors. The second leg of the race will get going in June, when they'll tag the whitetip sharks.
Sponsors will receive a custom Great Shark Race certificate with the name of their shark and limited-edition art signed by Guy Harvey.
From that point on, the researchers, the public, and those who sponsored a shark will be able to keep track of each shark's progress online.
The shark in each division that ends up traveling the farthest in the next six months will be declared the winner. The winners will be given a free trip to the Islander Resort in Islamorada. You can visit here if you're interested in getting in on the shark racing action.