Shark Catch and Release

Welcome to Florida Sea Grant's new Shark Catch and Release section!

This section is an excellent resource for anglers interested in learning more about sharks and shark fishing in Florida.

Please explore these new pages and media to learn more about shark biology and ecology, local shark science, best handling practices and recommended guidelines for catch-and-release fishing.

The videos on this page were funded by Florida Sea Grant and produced by former Florida Sea Grant Scholar, Austin Gallagher, a research biologist and Ph.D. student at the University of Miami.

Why shark catch & release?

Today many species of sharks are threatened due to overfishing. Sharks are slow-growing, give birth to relatively few young, and take many years to reach maturity. These factors make sharks vulnerable to overfishing, with recovery being difficult for some species.

Large apex predators such as hammerheads and sandbar sharks have declined by up to 90 percent in recent decades. Other species have decreased, but are slowly showing signs of stabilization.

Due to their position at the top of many food chains, sharks are ecologically important. In addition, shark species are economically important as a resource, particularly to recreational fishermen. These creatures fascinate us, and experiencing sharks in their natural habitat can be an incredibly exciting and memorable experience.

How did sharks become threatened?

Conservation of a top predator

Sharks are one of the oldest groups of animals on our planet. There are more than 500 different species of these ancient fish. They come in various shapes and sizes. Sharks can be found in all types of ecosystems and water temperatures globally. Almost all sharks are predatory, meaning they hunt and consume other prey species. Many sharks are also top, or apex, predators in their respective habitats.

Today, sharks are a primary focus of conservation and research efforts worldwide, and Florida boasts a handful of groups dedicated to studying them. Florida is also recognized as a leader in shark fisheries management.

Responsible Angling

Catch-and-release fishing by recreational anglers plays a major part in conservation and allows these fishermen to still experience the thrill of catching a shark.

However, the sustainability of catch-and-release fishing relies upon the assumption that the released fishes will survive with minimal impacts to animal function or health. Research has shown that post-release survival rates in many species can be very high when the proper gear is used and fish are handled properly.

Additional Resources