A Merritt Island angler caught and DNA sampled 975 tarpon in 2012. He was participating in the FGA/FWC Spirit of Tarpon DNA Sampling Challenge, a joint promotion of the Florida Guides Association and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The Tarpon DNA Sampling Challenge recognizes the spirit of tarpon in the fight and the spirit of anglers willing to volunteer their time to help improve tarpon fisheries science through DNA collection methods. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) has been using DNA fingerprinting of tarpon for several years now.
Genetic samples are collected by recreational anglers and returned to FWRI for processing. These samples are used to determine recapture rates, health, migration, and movements of individual fish. These factors are evaluated overtime on recaptured fish. The biologists at the FWRI, in partnership with Mote Marine Laboratory, use the data to assess the success of tarpon stocks and the connectivity of, or relationship between, tarpon and different bodies of Florida waters.
Merritt Island angler Jon Mallory used his skills as a fly fisherman to outwit 975 juvenile tarpon. He conducted a DNA sample on each one and delivered them to FWRI for scientific study. His closest competitors from around the state include an angler from Ellington with 216 samples, an angler from the Keys with 118, and an angler from Ft. Lauderdale with 94 samples.
The Florida Guides Association will present awards to challenge winners in four categories; a Grand Champion, a West Coast Champion, an East Coast Champion and a Keys Champion. All award winners will be announced at the annual meeting of the Florida Guides Association in Tampa on March 3, 2013.
For more information visit the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SpiritOfTarponDnaChallenge
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