Wanna tag a shark? Contest gives winner a chance to cozy up to a great white

·3 min read

How close would you like to get to a great white shark? For some of us, the answer might be measured in miles. But others might want to cozy up to the apex predators, as long as things didn't get out of hand. And for those bolder types, the Ocearch Meet a Shark Sweepstakes might be worth looking into.

The contest runs through Sept. 30, and the winner and a guest will have the opportunity to become citizen scientists and join an upcoming Ocearch research expedition for five days. According to a press release, "the lucky winner will be able to watch some of the world's top shark researchers at work and have the opportunity to meet and tag a white shark."

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In October 2016, Ocearch co-captain Brett McBride kept an eye on "George" as the platform was lowered back into the water to release the male great white shark off Nantucket.
In October 2016, Ocearch co-captain Brett McBride kept an eye on "George" as the platform was lowered back into the water to release the male great white shark off Nantucket.

Ocearch offers 'memorable' experience

Ocearch, a nonprofit ocean research organization, has tagged sharks off Cape Cod and in other parts of the U.S. and around the world. In 2016, Ocearch scientists captured a great white shark named George off Nantucket. It was the first time the group was able to tag a mature male great white in the North Atlantic.

But it sounds like the contest winner will be traveling to an off-Cape destination. Reached by phone, Ocearch spokesperson Paige Finney said the organization would work with the winner to determine which research expedition they would join. The first opportunity would likely be in early spring 2023 off the coast of Georgia and the Carolinas.

Finney also cautioned that the winner's journey won't be a pleasure cruise on a fancy yacht.

"It will be a memorable experience," she said. "But it's not glamorous, it's a working vessel."

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Nonprofit has tagged sharks off Cape Cod

And that work seems pretty gnarly. According to previous Cape Cod Times coverage, an Ocearch tagging experience might go down something like this: a shark will be caught using baited circle hooks that are hard for the shark to swallow and relatively easy to dislodge. The hooks are attached to buoys which will slow the shark down and tire it out.

Then, personnel in smaller sportfishing boats detach the line from the buoys and lead the shark onto a platform aboard the Ocearch research vessel. A hydraulic lift raises the shark out of the water for about 15 minutes. Researchers use the time and unusual access to gather biological samples and make exact physical measurements, like length and weight. Tracking devices are attached to the shark and it is released.

Finney said the contest winner will be able to participate in the process.

"You feel a whole new respect for the animal when you're up that close," she said.

More information about the contest is available at ocearch.org/contest. While the sweepstakes is being run as a fundraiser for Ocearch, a donation isn't required to enter.

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This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Contest gives winner the chance to tag a great white shark