Florida Anglers are Top Tarpon DNA Collectors
| March 11, 2013
Four Florida anglers were recently recognized for their tarpon DNA-collecting prowess during the annual Florida Guides Association meeting in Tampa.

The four collected tarpon DNA samples as part of the ongoing Tarpon Genetic Recapture Study, a partnership between Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Mote Marine Laboratory, in conjunction with anglers statewide. The Study uses DNA fingerprinting techniques as a way to track individual tarpon through capture events so that fishery managers can assess and better understand tarpon stocks and movement patterns.

Through the program, which has been in place since 2005, volunteer tarpon anglers have submitted more than 16,500 of the nearly 18,000 samples inventoried in the study's database. In 2012, anglers submitted 4,726 samples - exceeding the project's annual goal of 4,000.

Recipients of The 2012 Florida Guides Association/FWC "Spirit of Tarpon DNA Sampling Challenge" awards were:
Grand Champion - John Mallory, of Merritt Island (975 DNA samples)
Gulf Coast Champion - Capt. Robert McCue, of Ellenton (216 samples)
Florida Keys Champion - Capt. Paul D'Antoni, of Key West (118 samples)
Atlantic Coast Champion - Capt. Carl Ball, of Fort Lauderdale (94 samples)

The winners received framed certificates signed by Capt. Pat Kelly, president of the Florida Guides Association, and Kenneth W. Wright, chairman of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, along with a tackle bag of goodies donated by O'Keefs Reef, Castalia Outdoor Products, DOA Lures, StickIt Anchor Pins, High Roller Lures, Guideline EyeGear and TackleWebs.

Interestingly, one recreational angler also turned the awards around. Martin Gutfreund, of Bradenton, came up with the idea of giving a trophy thanking the Genetic Recapture Study staff and volunteers for their efforts to help protect and conserve tarpon. His handwritten note that accompanied the trophy he mailed to FWC's St. Petersburg office stated: "Tarpon Genetics Team: You all came in first place in 2012 for the great work you did on the tarpon project."

"I think the work the team is doing is just spectacular and, for tarpon fishermen, this is something to really get behind," Gutfreund said.

Mote and FWC thank the hundreds of anglers who contribute to the success of this valuable research each year. And we thank Martin for the pat on the back, too!

 

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