The Best Shark Trip Ever!

The Best shark Trip Ever!  4/18/2010

Well, where do I start, how about the beginning of the day which did not look very promising. On the way down to the keys, Dominique Lazarre, Cameron Rhoads, and I were caught in such an immense downpour: not a good sign. We plowed through the torrential rain to Captain Curt’s house where we looked up the weather for the day and played with his adorable baby, Sawyer. Apparently, weather was supposed to get better in a few hours so the trip was still on! Joined by Leann and her students from Palmer Trinity High School, we set off and as if by a larger being, the clouds dissolved and the sun came out to start off an excellent day of Sharking. After the first ten drumlines were in the water, we sat down to our gourmet lunch of sandwiches and chips, while the boat was turned around to pick up the first drumline. No luck. We re-baited the hook and toss it out again. As drumline number two is hauled in, a 205 cm Lemon shark comes to the surface. The Shark was tagged as usual and released in good condition. With two more shark-less hooks, the moral on board starts to fade. Drum line number five was a different story.

A 205 cm Lemon Shark tagged and released. (Please click to enlarge)

Even as Adam pulled in the weight, we could all tell there was a big fish on the hook. Once the weight was pulled in, Curt was handed the line. Curt speculated that a sawfish could be on the other end. Dominique (who has been on countless trip but has never seen a sawfish) told him to stop getting her hopes up. Dominique’s dreams were answered as a 410 cm sawfish emerges from the murky depths wielding its massive saw like a knight holding a sword.  The fish cannot be brought onto the boat or handled because it is a protected and an endangered species, so we quickly and carefully removed all the fishing and released it again in perfect health. We also notified all the appropriate authorities of this amazing and rare catch.  This awesome encounter with such a magnificent fish brought up the moral of all on board and we eagerly anticipated bringing up the next drum line.

A 410 cm Sawfish got caught in our gear. The shark team quickly released the animal in amazing condition. (Please click to enlarge)

As if the sawfish wasn’t enough, a great hammerhead was on the next line! The hammerhead was a little tired so Curt kept the shark in the water and we put the boat in gear so we could get some water over the sharks gills. This trick seemed to work and the shark seemed to feel better. Curt still didn’t feel comfortable giving the hammerhead the usual treatment, so just the total length was taken and then the shark was released. Immediately after the hammerhead, we hooked a 243 cm nurse shark. Due to the size, we left the shark in the water and only took the total length and put in a spaghetti tag. On the very next line we had a black tip. Not only was this our fourth shark in a row, but the shark was a recapture! That is awesome news as we don’t often get recaptures. We took new measurement, samples, and also put a new roto tag in as the old one had been ripped out somehow. After this incredible run, we hit a dry spot until the fourth line in the second set where we pulled in a beautiful spinner shark. Three lines later we pull in yet another species, this time a black nose. After seven sharks and seven different species, we think that our luck couldn’t get any better but again, we were surprised. On our second to last line, a hefty 211 cm male bull shark comes to the surface. The shark (named by the Palmer Trinity kids as “Pee Tee”) was just big enough for one of our state-of-the-art mini satellite tags. Curt and Dom worked lightning fast to get the tag onto the Pee Tee so we could get it him back into the water as quickly as possible.

Pee Tee the 211 cm Bull Shark is getting his new satellite tag. (Please click to enlarge)

Between all of the amazing sharks that we caught, our fish traps were also packed! We had an astonishing 71 pinfish in one fish trap alone! We also brought up a couple of sand perch, two mangrove snappers and one baby cobia. On the ride back to shore, we all couldn’t believe our luck.  Eight sharks, eight species, one recap and one satellite tag! What started out being a lousy, cold, rainy day turned out to be one of the most active and diverse days of sharking this year. Good job team!

Captain Curt and Palmer Trinity with a Blacknose Shark. (Please click to enlarge)

By: Josh Levy (Shark Program Intern)

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