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Lucky you! You’re going on a Shark Tagging Trip. Here’s what you need to know:

The Basics of Shark Research

Sets of ten drumlines are deployed in strategic locations at the study site. A drumline is a stationary, self-contained fishing unit comprised of a baited circle hook on monofilament fishing line attached via swivel to heavy weight, which is attached to a set of floats signaling its location. The swivel allows for hooked fish to swim freely around the weight in large circles, passing water through its gills and reducing stress.

After the drumlines are deployed, they are allowed to soak for at least one hour, during which all personnel are briefed on duties to be performed when a shark is caught. Sites are revisited in the same order as deployment, and if there is a shark on the line, it is safely brought aboard for sampling and tagging.

Sharks are brought onto a partially submerged platform on the back of the boat, where a water pump is placed in its mouth for continued breathing.

The shark is restrained while staff takes various length measurements. A small fin clip from the dorsal fin is taken for ecotoxicology analysis. In addition, a biopsy of muscle tissue is extracted for mercury content and other toxicology tests. A tag is inserted into the shark’s dorsal fin rays for identification. Information such as the shark’s sex, sexual maturity, species, etc. is recorded for each individual caught. Environmental conditions are also recorded at each drumline site. The shark is released back into the water within three-five minutes, and its release condition recorded.

To help secure large sharks on the platform, investigators occasionally enter the water during sampling. They also may remain in the water during the shark’s release to monitor and record its condition. All in-water related activities are dependent on clear water conditions. Only snorkeling equipment is permitted when in the water.

** For a more visual and interactive version, please explore the Virtual Expedition. **

A Typical Shark Tagging Trip



  • Complete the forms and waivers packet for each participant and give them to SRC staff when you arrive. Diver’s Paradise waivers HERE. Field School waivers HERE.

  • Groups are charged a $500 non-refundable downpayment to secure a trip date, and billed for the remainder once a final head count is received. Make checks payable to the University of Miami (“Shark Research & Conservation Program; in the memo line) and mail to:

    Neil Hammerschlag
    University of Miami – Shark Research & Conservation Program
    4600 Rickenbacker Cswy
    Miami, FL 33149

  • Email Lab Manager Stephen Cain contact information for the group including:

    1. Group headcount (adults and students)
    2. Cell Phone Numbers for Chaperones

    * Please note there is a maximum of 20 total participants (including chaperones)

  • Consider adopting a shark that you can satellite tag while on the boat. You could name it after your school, group, family member, etc


  • SRC has a strict no photo/video policy. This measure is in place to ensure the safety of participants onboard. If a student or participant is focused on taking a photo, he or she is not focused on everything else around. Attentiveness is key onboard.
  • Good news! SRC now provides professional photography free of charge for each trip. A trip photographer will be documenting the day’s activities and participants. She/he will be available to take portraits and other specific photos upon request as well.
  • The photos will be distributed to you in two forms: (1) an online album of highlights from the day posted on the SRC Facebook Page and (2) a full set of high resolution photographs from the day in a convenient zip file. These links will be emailed to you and/or your group leader within a week of your trip. If you have any questions about this policy or specific trip photos, please contact Dr. Neil Hammerschlag.


  • Enthusiasm!
  • Closed-toed shoes that can get wet
  • If special dietary needs, bring snacks & lunch
  • NO BANANAS PLEASE (they’re bad luck on boats)
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Sun/Rain Protection, when applicable
  • Sea sick pills (Bonine often induces the least drowsiness)
  • Optional — Swimsuit & Snorkel Gear (for the occasional opportunity to get in the water)
  • Optional — SRC Clothing & Accessories (all proceeds go to fund shark conservation) – Shop for Sharks



  • ‘Like’ SRC on Facebook. We encourage all trip participants to ‘tag’ themselves in photos, comment on their most memorable moments from the trip, and stay in touch.
  • Share your experience with others! Create a shark conservation presentation for one of your classes. Write about the most interesting and surprising things you’ve learned. Wear SRC apparel to spark conversation. Start a fundraising movement at your school to adopt a shark.