In the summer of this year, Maggie Shannon went out on a boat with a team of fishermen that participate in the Monster Shark Tournament in order to document their efforts to catch a shark. The tournament, which was held in Shannon’s hometown on Martha’s Vineyard for many years before moving to Newport, Rhode Island, two years ago, is a gory but fascinating event. Shannon’s two series Swamp Yankee and Teeth of the Sea show her obviously vested interest in not only the sport of shark hunting but the animal itself and its unfortunate reputation in America today.

From the artist’s statement: The event does seem like a bloody affair, but it’s hard to view the Monster Shark Tournament purely as a ‘massacre.’ Seeing a marine biologist hack a shark’s head off from [its] gills down is brutal, but there is also something terrifyingly beautiful about it. Looking at these fish up close shows not only their strength but also their fragility. And especially after meeting the family that has organized the tournament for the last 28 years, I felt even stronger that the event was something more than just a spectacle. Remembering the tie-dyed, Birkenstock-ed protesters of Martha’s Vineyard fighting with the tournament staff make it difficult to document the event as an impartial bystander, but my nostalgia and awe at the beauty of the 400+ pound creatures make it hard to look away. By bringing these apex predators up from the deep, the fishermen are showing us something out of our own world, and that moment should be treasured, if carefully critiqued.

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