by Jessica Wingar, RJD Intern
What an interesting day out on the water. When I woke up that morning, I could feel that it was going to be a great day. As I was walking to my car, I checked the weather forecast; it said that there was little wind. I became very excited because that meant that we could possibly go to the reef, a deeper site, because the water would not be too rough. I drove with Kyra to the Keys, and we couldn’t stop talking about all of the possibilities of this trip.
We arrived at Captain Curt’s house at 7:30am and began loading all of the equipment that we would need for the day onto the boat. We loaded yoyos, ten drumlines, a ventilation pump, and many other items. Once everything was loaded, we asked Curt where we were going today and found out that we were going to a new reef site called 62 Line. This switch to a deep site, meant that we had to undo the extension lines and roll them all up again; our lines were over 130ft long!
Around 8:30am students from Island Christian School arrived along with their chaperones and a Citizen Science participant. Fiona and Kyra did a briefing before we set off; we all introduced ourselves, and got to know one another. Everyone on the boat was really excited.
We put out the first set of ten drumlines, and let them soak. Some of us went swimming to cool off because it was such a hot day. Fiona and Pat then gave the briefing about how the participants were to help if and when we did catch a shark.
We were pulling up the first line of the second set on drumlines, when we caught a beautiful 11.5ft long Great Hammerhead. It was the largest hammerhead that I have ever seen, and I was thrilled. Immediately, the RJD team sprung into action because Hammerheads are very prone to stress. We got a fin clip, for one of the ongoing genetics projects, total length, and we managed to spaghetti tag it. She swam away beautifully and circled the boat a few times, so we could all admire her.
During the second set of drumlines we also got a lovely Nurse shark, who wiggled her way right from under us in the middle of the work up. We also caught a Goliath Grouper during this set of drumlines. As these fish are protected, we cut it loose immediately and it swam away in good health.
It was a great day of shark tagging, and we hope that everyone had a wonderful time. During these trips I am constantly reminded how lucky I am to see these animals, that are dwindling in numbers, up close. I can’t wait to see what we catch on my next trip!