Weights & Numbered Floats, Pop Timers,
Yo-Yo's w/ 70' Mainlines and Leaders, Bait Crate, Drumline Repair Kit
40-pound weights are attached to at least 35' of rope, depending on the site depth. This is then tied to numbered floats and buoys, marking the position of each line and giving the crew an available line to reel the sharks in on.
These small devices are like stopwatches. When the shark pulls on the line, it pops the timer and begins to record how long the animal is hooked prior to coming onboard. This data can be used to create a context for the stress physiology research collected onboard.
The leader is a 10', 4-strand line made of 900-lb monofilament. This is attached via swivel to 60' of 700-lb monofilament. The mainline is attached to the pop timer, which is attached to the weight. Together, they serve as a stationary fishing unit, with an integrated ability of hooked animals to swim in large circles for continued breathing.
A small metal crate is attached to four of the ten buoys with extra pieces of bait to increase the sensory attraction to the line and baited hook.
Spare mainline, crimps, bolts, shackles, swivels, hooks and extra leader lines are brought to repair or replace lines in case of damage or total loss.
GPSi, Underwater GoPro's, YSI, iSTAT, Battery, Ventilation Pump,
Drill (w/ bits), Satellite Tags
The specific locations of each drumline site are saved on a GPS, which allows for an accurate repeated survey of the areas studied. It also assists in the collection of the deployed lines, as they can move when large sharks become hooked and pull on the lines. The GPS provides local barometric pressure readings too.
These miniature HD cameras are retrofitted with underwater housings to allow for video footage of the sharks in their natural environments. They are deployed in various setups including baited-underwater cameras (separate from the drumlines), pole-camera rigs to gather footage of the sharks immediately before and after coming onboard, and most recently on the drumlines themselves to capture the behavior of the sharks prior to taking the bait.
YSI is actually a company that manufactures measuring instruments for marine conditions. The specific model used during our expeditions gathers dissolved oxygen, salinity, and temperature measurements, which give baseline indications for the conditions in which the sharks are caught.
This little device is a portable diagnostic tool that is used to evaluate the health of the shark at the point of care in the field. It has been used widely in veterinary and human medicine, and is now used with sharks. About 1 mL of blood is inserted in the device, and 2 minutes later, raw data on relative levels of stress and health are available. This data can be used for generating trends amongst shark species to angling pressure.
A large marine battery is brought onboard to power the ventilation pump.
This is a somewhat homemade device that assists the sharks in breathing while out of the water. It pumps water from the surrounding environment into the shark's mouth, passing fresh oxygenated water over their gills. The tube itself has two holes on each side to push the water out through the gills, rather than down its throat. If you look closely, the tube has numerous scratches from the previous sharks that bit down on it.
Multiple electric drills are used during the satellite tagging process to quickly create holes in the shark's dorsal fin through which the surgical-quality screws and bolts are placed to secure the tag. Rubber washers are placed under the metal washers to prevent any irritation to the shark's skin. This process does not hurt the shark, as its fins are made of cartilage and do not have any nerves or blood supply.
The Dunlap Program uses Smart Position or Temperature Transmitting (SPOT) satellite tags to track the sharks in real-time. When the wet/dry sensor is exposed at the surface for 40 seconds, the device sends a signal to a satellite, which then can locate the shark within a few hundred meters. The managing system for the satellite then emails this data to the Dunlap Program, which subsequently updates the tracks on it's website.
Shark Slide, Orange Roto Tags, Leather Puncher, Roto Tag Applicator, Yellow Dart Tags (aka Spaghetti tags), Dart Tag Applicator, Biopsy Punches, Scissors, Ethanol, Antibiotic Ointment, Vials, Shark Labels
This homemade 'slide' is designed to decrease the stress sharks experience while coming on and off the boat. The shark is led onto the slide in the water, and then pulled aboard on the slide. For the release, the front end is carried to the back of the boat, and tilted downward, creating a waterslide of sorts for the shark to go down.
These small identification tags provide numbers that fisherman or authorities can report if the tagged fish is caught. If the Dunlap Program recaptures the same shark, the location and growth rate can serve as a vital baseline for understanding more about these elusive creatures.
Similar to the human ear-piercing guns, this device creates a small hole in the shark's dorsal fin through which the Roto tag is attached. It doesn't hurt the shark, because their fins are made of cartilage and do not contain nerves or abundant blood supply.
After the Leather Puncher creates the small hole in the dorsal fin, the applicator is used to clip the two sides of the Roto Tag into place.
These tags serve a similar purpose to the Roto tags, but are placed at the base of the dorsal fin in the hepaxial muscle, where a small patch of soft tissue is located. This tissue contains perpendicular bands of cartilage, which provide a surface on which to hook the tag barb. In case of Roto tag loss or damage, this dart tag can be a back up.
Just as the name suggests, this device is used to place the Dart Tag into the shark's hepaxial muscle. It is hollow to hold the tag inside, with its plastic barb-like extension protruding from the end. The applicator end is pushed about 2-3cm in, and then pulled out, allowing the tag to catch on the fin rays inside. Antibiotic cream is applied on the end of the dart to help ensure the shark's immune system does not reject the tag.
A small, medical-grade, plastic, hollow tube with a sharp metal tip is used to take a muscle tissue sample from the flank of the shark. This sample is used to test for toxins and identifying isotopic signatures indicating which species of prey the shark has consumed. The tissue analysis can also provide vital neurotoxin information, including linkages to Alzheimer's disease.
Sterilized scissors are used to take a small clipping from the trailing edge of the shark's dorsal fin. This is a part of the shark is made of cartilage and easily regenerates, but can also provide eco-toxicology and isotopic data.
A small jar of ethanol is carried aboard to sterilize all the equipment that penetrates the shark's skin. We take every precaution to protect the health of these sharks, even though they have an astoundingly resilient immune system.
After the biopsy is taken, the small opening in the shark's skin is covered in an antibiotic ointment. This provides an extra level of protection from any possible infections. Once again, sharks have an amazing immune system, and likely do not even need this extra ointment.
Small, sterile vials are brought onboard to hold each biopsy and fin clipping tissue sample. The vials are then labeled accordingly, and sent to the lab for processing.
Small pieces of paper are used as a back-up repetition for recorded data, and are put inside the vial with cartilage samples.
Underwater Baited Cam Set-up, Measuring Tape, Bolt Cutters, Pliers, Bait/Bait Cooler, Knives, Extra Buckets, First Aid Kit
This homemade setup is constructed with PVC pipes and zip-ties. At one end, a plastic container holds small lead weights to steady the setup on the ocean floor, and a GoPro underwater video camera to record fish and shark behavior. At the other end, a fish head is attached. This footage is analyzed in conjunction with the catch rate and specifications from the boat that day, giving a rough, initial trend of predator-prey behavior.
At least one measuring tape is brought aboard to measure the pre-caudal length, fork length, and total length of the shark.
Heavy-duty bolt cutters are used to cut off any extra length from satellite tag screws, as well as to cut the hook in half, allowing for easier removal from the shark's mouth.
With so many working parts aboard the expedition, pliers come in handy when setups, lines, and devices break down. They also are used to tighten zip-ties, which are used in many different objects like the baited-underwater camera set-up and shark sling. Finally, the pliers can be used to maneuver the hook out of the shark's mouth.
To keep the bait as fresh as possible, a large cooler is filled with ice and brought aboard. Captain Curt Slonim directly supplies RJD with fresh, high-quality, sustainably caught fish. This helps increase our chances of catching even the pickiest of eaters.
Although knives are generally useful tools to have aboard fishing expeditions, their primary use to for cutting the bait into appropriate-sized segments.
Buckets are another useful piece of gear all-around. They are used to hold ropes, lines, Yo-Yo's and other equipment. One is also specified for saltwater usage to rinse down the deck after baiting the hooks.
Even the most cautious of crews is bound to have a few scrapes and bruises after a day of handling large wild animals. The fist aid kit provides some basic care to ensure the continued health and safety of our crew.