Boca students featured in tarpon film

PHOTO PROVIDEDBrooks Paxton, Lew Hastings and Sean Paxton will be filming part of the documentary, "Rich History...Priceless Future: the Tarpon of Boca Grande Pass" at the Island School in Boca Grande.

Brooks Paxton, Lew Hastings and Sean Paxton will be filming part of the documentary, “Rich History…Priceless Future: the Tarpon of Boca Grande Pass” at the Island School in Boca Grande.

Students at the Island School in Boca Grande are in for a surprise today when the Shark Brothers film a segment of a documentary highlighting the area’s rich natural history.

Sean and Brooks Paxton, aka The Shark Brothers, will make an educational presentation, “Wild by Nature,” to be filmed as part of their hour-long documentary, “Rich History … Priceless Future: the Tarpon of Boca Grande Pass” airing on Fox Sports in May.

The Paxtons, who are North Port residents, got their nickname from their conservation work with sharks and the marine environment. They also own a production company, Think Out Loud Productions, collaborating on various projects with National Geographic, the Discovery Channel and others.

School Principal Jean Thompson said discussions have been in the works for eight months with Lew Hastings, executive director of the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce, on the filming.

“Lew Hastings has been working with the Paxton brothers on the tarpon in Boca Grande,” Thompson said. “We’ve had several discussions over the past eight months in general about kids being involved in the Boca Grande community.”

Hastings met the Paxton brothers two years ago when they organized, participated in and filmed the catch-and-release Ultimate Shark Challenge tournaments. The tarpon documentary was inspired by the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament in May.

“The documentary is education driven,” said Sean. “We’ve been involved with the Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge. It is an ongoing process. It mushroomed into a bigger story.”

Conservation, education and sportsmanship are central themes to the mission of the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament & Festival and the Boca Grande Chamber, Hastings said.

The Island School will help demonstrate educational initiatives.

“We’ve got another six weeks of production,” Sean said. “We’re over half way. We shot extensively last year.”

Hastings said the film will explain the importance of conservation as it relates to tarpon.

“We want to tell them what an important place this particular environment (Boca Grande) is and what role their stewardship plays in the future,” he said. “It was 31 years ago when the first World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament (first) took place. Many people learn the more you promote responsible angling and better catch-and-release practices, you greatly improve post-release welfare of the tarpon. If you ask guides who have been in the area for years, they will tell you that there’s significant difference in the tarpon in the area (now compared to then).”

A special assembly at the school will be for kindergarteners through fifth graders and their parents.

“We’re located in the middle of one of the most important estuaries,” Hastings said. “We hope to continue this educational program to other schools.”

The presentation will emphasize catch-and-release programs for the fishing industry for conservation.

“It’s about getting out there and being responsible about it,” Sean said. “Conservation is important, but so is sustainability.”

The Island School is located at 135 First St. W. in Boca Grande.

View the film trailer at


About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News,, and Tampa Tribune.
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