Great Shark Race: You Can Now Bet On Shark Racing In Florida

The race will be separated into two divisions, segregated by the species of shark involved.

Research institutions in Florida are staging a “Great Shark Race” in the coming months, and they are inviting individuals and businesses to sponsor the predators in one of the most unique conservation efforts to ever be proposed in the Sunshine State.

Nova Southeastern University, the Guy Harvey Research Institute, and the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation are set to conduct the Great Shark Race beginning in April, using satellite tags to track the animals. The race will be separated into two divisions, based on the species of shark involved. Both a Mako Shark Division and the Oceanic Whitetip Division are scheduled, and either individuals or businesses can sponsor a shark, though the entry fee is $5,000. The money will be used to purchase a tracking tag for the sharks, with the winner taking home not only bragging rights, but also a Florida Keys fishing vacation.

According to Antonio Fins, executive director at the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, the race will benefit the animals themselves over the long term, as the satellite tags will remain on the sharks and allow researchers to document their movements.

“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, 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 Great Shark Race is set to kick off on April 2, when the Mako sharks will receive their tags. In June, the whitetip sharks will be tagged, and the winner in each division will be the shark that travels the farthest in six months. Both researchers and the public will be able to follow the progress of each shark online through Nova’s tracking site, and sponsors will receive a limited edition artwork signed by Guy Harvey, in addition to a certificate highlighting their shark.

Though the number of fatal shark attacks decreased worldwide last year, Florida led the United States in shark-related incidents. Of the 52 attacks reported over 2014 in the country, 28 took place in Florida.

Anyone interested in entering Florida’s Great Shark Race can do so at its official website.

[Image via Twitter/ @AmarisCastillo]