July 15th, 2010 (All photos taken and credited to: Terry Gibson)
The day after my birthday, a mere 27years old, still young and spunky at 5:00 am, I was ready to drive to the keys and do some shark tagging! Normally, I wake up around 4:30 am and drive down myself; a very lonely drive and you begin to talk to yourself, probably not healthy:) However, today I had the pleasure of riding down with Terry Gibson, an experienced fisherman, esteemed writer, and ocean conservationist, a great mix if you ask me! Terry is working with the greatest names in the conservation and fishing world, namely, Florida Sportsman, PEW, Ocean Conservancy, and Outdoor Life Magazine. Terry decided to join us because Outdoor Life Magazine wanted him to get the scoop on what the RJ Dunlap Program has been up too and a photo gallery to go along with it! Throughout the day, Terry asked some important questions on the program and took some amazing pictures. It was important for Terry to come out and see that there are anglers working directly with scientists, achieving similar goals and maximizing brainpower, otherwise known as collaborative efforts. This example of course would be Dr. Neil Hammerschlag and Captain Curt Slonim, who with out each other would never achieve the same results.
Cooperative research between fisherman and scientists is essential to collecting data on the economic and social impact of fisheries, restoring habitats, helping reduce by-catch through group innovations, and improve recreational fishing data through angler action programs. For the RJ Dunlap Program, the combined efforts of angler and scientist have helped collect data on large coastal sharks in the State of Florida that is essential to their enhanced protection and improved fisheries management. This working relationship between angler and scientist should be replicated across global fisheries and research facilities and could be if the Coastal Jobs Creation Act goes through. Check out the link and find out how you can support giving fish a break but allowing fisherman to keep working and help rebuild depleted fish stocks.
On to the trip! The day started out normal, getting gear on the boat, chatting away to everyone I hadn’t seen in awhile, due to an overwhelming amount of schoolwork! Captain Curt looked at me and said, “Brendal, we need more of your hair”. You may be asking yourself, why would anyone want my hair? Long story short, Captain Curt and Dr. Hammerschlag believe that my hair is good luck for catching Great Hammerheads. Since I started my internship with the RJ Dunlap over a year ago, almost every trip and I do mean almost every, we have caught one or more Great Hammerheads. So, Captain Curt proceeded to cut a piece of my hair without me knowing and let’s just say he has never cut hair before. I went to the bathroom to take a look at his handy work, and well I had a nice chunk missing and looked like a devil child. I suppose it gives me character. By the way, I have received a new shark tattoo, so I can literally wear my heart on my sleeve, a great hammerhead of course!
I was not upset in the least though, because I do what I can for the program, even if it means losing a big section of my hair:) Guess what, it worked! We did catch a hammerhead that day and named her Sandy. She got a satellite tag and swam away in great condition. Also that day we caught, two lemon sharks, a blacktip, and a nurse shark. A good variety of apex predators can put a smile on everyone’s face.
In addition to Terry being on the boat, we had another group of kids from Miami Science IMPACT program. Let me tell you something about these kids, they rock! I mean they are so excited to be out there, learning about sharks, let alone see and tag one! My passion is this, giving kids an opportunity to be apart of field work and letting them see that just a few people can change the world, or at least help save sharks. They had a great time and they put in a lot of effort and got the job done, thank you so much guys!
This may be one of the last blogs I personally write for the program, at least for awhile since at the end of August I will be leaving for one year to complete a Master’s Degree in Marine Resource Management from Dalhousie University, in Nova Scotia. However, I will still continue to maintain the blog site for all other sharky interns.. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with these people; everyone involved really shows their dedication to science and conservation. GO TEAM GO! Can’t wait to come back one day soon.
All my sharky love,
Brendal Davis (Shark Program Intern)