Elliot Sudal - Viral Video Fame Used For Conservation


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Podcast Synopsis

Elliot began his true fishing experience in Alaska at the age of 18 unloading fishing boats and going fishing in his spare time. Later on, Elliot moved to Nantucket as a boating guide, and not making enough money, he lived in his car for a few weeks. Three weeks into being in Nantucket, Elliot was fishing off the beach, and ended up catching a brown shark, pulling it by the tail up onto the beach. After a video of him catching, handling and releasing a shark on Nantucket went viral on social media and then to conventional TV, Elliot found himself on over 80 TV shows and other interviews. 

NOAA then reached out to Elliot, allowing him to tag the sharks he has caught for research purposes. In just one summer, Elliot caught close to 20 sharks and has caught over 120 sharks in total. Since then, he has used his attention for good with purposes of scientific research and conservation. 

Still not making quite enough money to live in Nantucket, Elliot started charging $200 for a shark-fishing experience, and acquired around 30 trips that year. He then spent a year in the Carribean catching anything from sharks to blue marlins. On this trip, he was told that National Geographic was creating a survival show out on the water, and Elliot was the first to sign up.

The show, The Raft, is about two people living on a raft for eight days. Of course to add more dramatic flare, Elliot was paired with another Captain who had the opposite personality as he did. The goal of the show is to be on this raft 30 miles offshore of Puerto Rico and find land that they can swim out to. Elliot experienced hypothermia, lost 15 pounds, and ate a bunch of raw fish.

The Raft was picked up on National Geographic and Elliot was hired to be in the cameraman’s boat, where he would fish and change out camera cards on the raft. Elliot later went on the show Swamp People, which involves fishing for bull sharks in the bayou area, while encountering alligators.

Later on, Elliot was featured on Shark Week, where he had experienced 11 hours of trying to reel in a 15 foot shark from the beach. When fighting with the shark for a few hours and following it’s lead, Elliot ended up walking by Vice President Mike Pence’s vacation home in Sanibel Island. Pence and his family were interested in Elliot trying to catch the shark, and even called his security on the gunboat to find out what type of shark it could be. Still unable to tell, but joined by news teams and quite a crowd, Elliot reeled in a 15 foot sawfish a few hours later.

Today, Elliot is fishing full time and creating video content for social media and YouTube documenting his tagging activities. Currently, Elliot has been collecting blood samples and doing fin clippings for Beneath the Waves, an organization devoted to learning about underwater creatures. With these samples, researchers are able to analyze the shark’s diet, stress levels, reproduction, and if there are any toxins in the body. This is especially relevant with the red algae growth in the ocean, and this data can help determine the internal impacts the sharks are experiencing.

You can follow Elliot on Instagram @acksharks to catch up on all of Elliot’s research and day-to-day activities. Through some crazy experiences and opportunities, Elliot is working his dream job and loves every second of it.

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See you on the water,

-Tom Rowland