July 24, 2010 Featured Article Read More →

Gordon’s Guide to the SSTP Tagging Card

gordon goldie


The purpose of this article is to try and explain why each piece of info requested on the Tagging Card ( available here in pdf ) is important to the Scottish Shark Tagging Programme.


  • Tagger’s name – We reward anglers who have tagged 10, 50 and 100 fish with our bronze, silver and gold baseball hats. A small thank you for the voluntary effort put in, but feedback is that they are appreciated by those who have received them. See the current award winners here.
  • Tagger’s email – If you record a recapture, we will send you any details we may have of its past. If you tag a fish for the first time and it is recaptured later on – you will receive an update from us.

  • Location – Not everyone has GPS, but a good description will tell us where the fish was caught.

  • Date – helps us to know how long the fish has been at large and how long it has taken to travel between capture points.

  • Latitude / Longitude – locations of fish captures can be plotted on a nautical chart and used for further analysis. This information is NOT made publically available.

  • Depth – may give an indication of the location of fish at different times of the year / breeding / mating cycle, eg: thornbacks move into shallow water to breed at certain times of the year.

  • Time Start / End / Rods in water – this helps establish a catch rate. If for example three rods were fished for eight hours and tagged four fish, this gives a capture rate of one fish per six rod hours – this will help to compare catch rates year upon year in the future.

  • Comments – I usually add in tide times, weather conditions and water temperature which is shown on my fish finder, but anything else that you feel may have relevance can be included here.

  • Tag No.Vital.  Without this, the info could relate to any fish. When tagging, I write the number of my next tag in before the fish is landed, this may be tempting fate, but saves trying to read a small tag number when a large fish is writhing about on the deck or the shore.

  • Species and Sex – Species speaks for itself; sex can help with movement patterns during mating.

  • Length / girth or width / weight – very important – we are trying to develop size to weight ratio charts which will help minimise handling. The more information gathered, the more accurate the charts. It is useful if in the comments box (or fish condition) to put if the fish was weighted or estimated.

  • Bait used – helps research students to understand diet patterns of shark types.

  • Time Caught – This can be compared to tide times to see if a pattern can be established. IE – at XXX location, spurdog may tend to feed two hours after high water. Trends and patterns like this can only be established from the information recorded on the tag returns

  • Fish condition – I have tagged fish that have had wounds, lice, leeches, fin damage etc. If the fish condition is accurately recorded and the fish is later recaptured, we can establish if fish heal themselves to any extent; if parasites become more of a problem or can be shaken off; or if new damage appears to the fish etc. and how long it took for that change to take place. Photographs definitely do help understand the issues.

  • Pictures – This is not on the card and we appreciate this isn’t always easy and can be time consuming, but as long as it will cause no harm to the fish ( see the various codes of best practice ), photos can really help substantiate sex, species, condition, size and provide a useful backup to each record. These can even be put on our facebook page with the tag number as a title!

I know anglers are concerned that if they give precise locations on the cards that they will be made public, this is NOT the case. The data entered into the SSTP database is only accessible to a few people, each of whom is under obligation not to disclose exact locations of marks to anyone.

Any location information that is used in SSACN members and public reports will be very un-precise and will not be sufficient to identify a particular mark.

Eg: – Individual catch sites within the Firth of Lorn will be released as being within the Firth of Lorn area as opposed to their exact locations. Figure A shows how that data would be presented for scientific data analysis; Figure B – the same data as presented to the general public.


Finally, thank you for all your tagging effort up to date, the SSTP is a very successful tagging programme and without your input would not be in place today.

I hope this guide will help you understand why we ask for each piece of information and would be grateful if you could take a little extra time and fill in as much information as possible.

Thank you.


Posted in: Shark Bites, Tutorials
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