Shark Tagging with Grand Classroom Ohio

By Rachel Skubel, SRC Intern

There was a special feeling among the shark research crew before setting off today – a pregnant fog had rolled over Miami, giving way to a magnificent sunrise as we drove in to the marina. It was the Ides of March, and on this iteration the ocean was so still and glassy it looked like a calm lake. Fortunately for our purposes, these conditions were perfect for heading some miles offshore of Miami into the Atlantic, enhancing our chances of sampling large pelagic species like great hammerhead sharks. Accompanying us was a group of highschool students from Ohio, so we were excited to share the wonders of our subtropical marine environment with these northerners.

Immediately after setting our first round of ten lines, we headed back to line #1 because it was on the move – was something dragging it? Yes! Our first shark of the day was a beautiful great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini), a special and valuable source of blood and morphological samples for our labs’ projects. We had the fortune of witnessing a vibrant sailfish breach next to the boat as we maneuvered this animal in – it appeared that all sorts of oceanic predators were abundant through this fishing site.

A dusky shark (Carcharhinus obscurus). The pump provides the animal with highly oxygenated water throughout the quick workup.

A dusky shark (Carcharhinus obscurus). The pump provides the animal with highly oxygenated water throughout the quick workup.

Shortly after releasing this shark, we came upon a massive bull shark – another amazing large coastal shark we are always excited to sample! We seemed to be in great luck with our choice of site. The best, however, was yet to come. The next time we had a fish on a line, we were all excited to see what seemed to be another great hammerhead shark – but why was the dorsal fin smaller? And the coloration seemed bronzy! Indeed, our hopes were confirmed when we pulled in a scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini) – one of only a few our lab has ever worked with! This was a truly rare opportunity for tissue samples and morphological measurements. As excited as we were with this species, we were soon to encounter a dusky shark – the fourth in SRC’s history!

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A great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran) is released after tissue samples and measurements are taken.

Along with these animals, we also sampled a second great hammerhead shark – which we satellite tagged, a nurse shark, and the first sandbar sharks of 2016. Truly, this was an immensely valuable day for our lab’s projects and we were happy to have shared it with a lucky group of highschool students. Stay tuned for this great hammerhead shark’s location on our live satellite-tracking page at http://sharkresearch.rsmas.miami.edu/education/virtual-learning/tracking-sharks!

Shark Tagging with Rho Rho Rho

by Nick Perni, RJD Intern
Saturday, April 20th, 2013

Saturday’s trip out of Islamorada was one to remember. Our guests were members of UM’s Marine science honor society Rho Rho Rho. Since their last trip yielded no sharks, the pressure was on to give our fellow classmates an up close encounter to the oceans top predator. On our way out to the reef Rho Rho Rho made sure to let us know just how disappointing it was to not catch a single shark on their previous trip.

When we arrived at the reef we set our drum lines and assured our guests that this would be a more successful trip than their last. After an hour of letting the drums soak we began to pick up our lines. In no time we were hauling up sharks. Our first was a scalloped hammerhead. The students clamored at the stern of the boat knowing too well that this could be their only chance of the day to see a shark. But the day was far from over.

Line after line came up with a shark and our guests were entirely engaged in the tagging and work-up process. By the end of the day we had caught eight sharks. Five were Hammerheads ranging from 9-13 ft (including 3 Scalloped and 2 Great Hammerheads), a new RJD record for Hammerheads caught on a single trip! The other three included two Sandbar sharks between 6 & 7 ft and one 7½ ft Bull shark. This was a spectacular trip for everyone aboard the

R/V Endsley, RJD was able to deploy two satellite tags and Rho Rho Rho finally got their lucky break. Upon our return to shore multiple interns agreed this was the best trip they had ever been on and I’m pretty sure our guests would agree.

Some say nothing is perfect. I beg to differ

Saturday, May 5th by Virginia Ansaladi, RJD lab manager

It’s that time in the semester again when you can’t even remember what the ocean looks like – or the sun for that matter. 5-Hour Energys are your best friend and all nighters are like that guy from high school who just realized you’re the only one he knows in the chemical oceanography class he’s having trouble with – you can’t avoid them no matter what you do. Needless to say, I was PUMPED about spending a day on the water to get away from it all. Little did I know what a truly amazing day it was going to be.

We RJD folk like to carpool to relieve that monotonous 2 hour drive down to Islamorada where we go fishing, so I was up by 5am collecting my things before heading out to pick up my fellow RJD buddies. Turns out it had been a long week for everyone so I had a couple bobbing heads on the way down that highlighted my own tiredness. Luckily, fellow intern, James Komisarjevsky, is a grade A copilot and supplied me with energizing fruity V8 deliciousness, because as soon as w got there it was go go go. We loaded the boat, collected forms from our participants, and we were off – with quite an eclectic group might I add.

We had members from Shark Whisperers charity, Shark Savers advocacy group, and shark lovers from the community at large out with us today. A really great group to have aboard – lots of questions, lots of interesting conversation, but most of all, lots of enthusiasm.

The conditions were perfect out for sampling one of our deeper sites (a chance we don’t get often), so we attached some extension lines to our drumlines and dropped our first ten 150 feet down into the blue. And what do you know? Not only was the weather cooperating, but so were the fish.

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