May 17th, 2010
As usual, I was excited to venture out into the blue ocean and go shark fishing. I always think to myself on the way out that the ocean is so full of surprises, you really never know what you may find. Sometimes producing the most amazing creatures, other times, she seems quite empty. This was one of those weekends where the sharks were just not around. We did catch quite a few nurse sharks, which I fully understand are sharks, however, in terms of looking at the variety of apex predators, there were few to be found. It could be anything really, maybe the oil spill slowly making its way to the keys, I feel the sharks can sense this kind of thing. Or maybe it’s the fact that sharks are in decline worldwide and even if the keys are not heavily fished, other areas where sharks pup and then usually venture up north to our research area, we can see the decline. But, this is why we do what we do. We need to find out how many sharks are in the area versus what types of commercially important species are left, hopefully determining that our oceans in fact need sharks in so many ways, regulating the oceans, keeping them healthy, and providing a stable ecosystem for other predators. Research is the key to understanding just a small corner of our large oceans.
That morning we had the privilege of having South Broward High School come out with us. The school has been coming out with the program for awhile now and their passion for sharks is only getting stronger. It’s so cool to see these kids go from weary to wonder. We know most of the kids by name since it’s usually the same group. They already know what to do, so we just talk to them about their school year and worldly issues.
As we continued out to the site we were escorted by a pod of dolphins. These graceful animals are frequent visitors to the area and you know when we see dolphins abound, there are sharks around! I of course got super excited, grabbed the camera and started clicking away. YES, I admit, I love dolphins too! I am a trader.
Of course, in between setting the lines and picking them up, we like to have fun. We also like to put out the good shark vibes, which means getting everyone together, doing a little group hug and sticking our hands to our heads to mimic a hammerhead, lemon, or a bull shark.
Through out the day we caught a variety of sharks, better than the previous two days. Our total:
-Nurse – Male, TL – est 195
-Lemon – Female, PCL-165, FL-180, TL-220
-Blacktip – Female, PCL-123, FL-137, TL-166
-Blacktip – Female, PCL-107, FL-120, TL-145
-Blacknose – Female, PCL-81, FL-91, TL-110
Thank you again to all involved for a wonderful weekend of sharking. Thanks to Dr. Neil Hammerschalg for this program, allowing students to be directly involved with shark research and giving interns the opportunity to grow in the field.
Brendal Davis (Shark Program Intern)