Shark fans: Get ready for a third year of catch-and-release action during the 2012 Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge (USC) – a conservation-focused tournament and festival on May 4-6 in Punta Gorda.

Teams of two to three anglers will vie for more than $10,000 by fishing for a dozen different shark species, tagging the sharks for research and releasing them. Some sharks will be fitted with satellite-linked tracking tags by scientists from Mote Marine Laboratory’s Center for Shark Research, the chief science partner of the USC. Tracking allows scientists to learn where sharks go and which habitats are important in their life cycles, for the benefit of shark populations.

Anglers can apply to join the tournament until 4 p.m. on May 4. Information and an entry form is available at:http://ultimatesharkchallenge.com/team-entry-form/

Visitors on shore can watch the tournament action via live streaming broadcast and enjoy free festivities, including a kickoff party and outdoor movie night presented by Laishley Crab House on May 4, followed by a festival on May 5 and 6, all based at Laishley Crab House and Laishley Park Marina in Punta Gorda.

The festival will feature many marine-focused sponsors and vendors, educational exhibits such as Mote’s Mobile Aquarium and the Ultimate Shark Challenge Interactive Learning Experience, fishing seminars, fun activities for all ages, plenty of delicious food and beverages and a free concert on the night of Saturday, May 5.

The third annual USC is bringing the catch-and-release excitement to a whole new audience – the tournament will host a Discovery Channel crew for a shark documentary expected to air later this year.

The USC was developed by Creators and Directors Sean and Brooks Paxton in partnership with the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, which provides major support to the event, and Mote Marine Laboratory. A portion of proceeds from this year’s USC will support the Wounded Warrior Project.

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