Scientific samples are collected during the Yarmouth Shark Scramble. Kathy Johnson photo

Another successful Yarmouth Shark Scramble is in the books.

This year marked the 21st annual event for the popular recreational fishing tournament. A total of 15 vessels carrying 116 participants competed in the scramble that ran from Aug. 14 to 17. The maximum 45 blue sharks were landed with a combined weight of 10,724 pounds. Only three blue sharks with a minimum length of eight feet can be landed per boat. Fishing is done by rod and reel.

Only eight pounds separated the first and third place prize winning catches. 

In first place for the largest shark caught was Matthew Fry aboard the Knot Too Shore with a 321-pound catch. In second place was Timmy VanTassel aboard Sea Fever with 315 pounds and in third was Nick Porter aboard the Fallen Angel with a 313 pound-catch.

The winner of the grand prize of a four-wheeler 450 CAN-AM donated by Cobequid Mountain Sports and the Yarmouth Shark Scramble was Nathan Farsted, aboard Risky Business 2012.

The Up and Coming Young Sharker Award in memory of Mason Grant was presented to 13-year-old Wedgeport youth Deanne Doucette, aboard the vessel Acadian Star, who reeled in a 264-pounder.

More than $21,000 in prizes were awarded during the Scramble.

Blue sharks are also tagged and released during the event, with early estimates pegged at more than 100. On the wharf during the weigh-in, data and samples were collected by Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Science, the Oceanographic Environmental Research Society and the Dalhousie University facility of agriculture before the blue sharks were sent to a processor.

“We’ve been attending the tournaments since their inception to collect information on the sharks that are landed,” said Warren Joyce, aquatic fisheries technician at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO).

“What we’re currently looking for and very interested in is the tagging of these undersized animals less than eight feet” noting every vessel that participated in the scramble had a tagging kit aboard.

On the wharf, Joyce said DFO science collects basic information such as the length, weight and sex of the animals landed for statistical purposes. 

“It helps to provide us with information on the blue shark population in total. The number of sharks they take is rather small, but it does feed into the stock assessment we have on these animals.”

Joyce said the Oceanographic Environmental Research Society is looking at the impact of different pollutants on animals in the ocean such as heavy metals, mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium and took samples from the liver, heart, kidney, muscle and gonads. “It’s important information for them to collect that they wouldn’t normally have access to,” he said.

As well, the Dalhousie University facility of agriculture was there to collect information on the stomach contents of the animals and were mainly looking for what kind of antibiotic resistant bacteria might be present in the digestive track, said Joyce.

All-in-all, the blue shark stock appears to be in good shape, said Joyce.

Meanwhile, the Yarmouth Shark Scramble Committee would like to “thank all the sponsors for their generous support for this year’s event, without their continuous support this event would not be possible. We would like to also thank all the committee members and volunteers that helped during the event, their hard work and dedication was greatly appreciated. Thanks to all the participants who took part in the event, we hope you all had a great time and will return and bring more friends into the event next year. Finally, we would like to thank all the spectators that turned out on the waterfront and we hope that you all enjoyed the festivities and will return next year and bring more family and friends, you too help to make this a great event.”