June 29th, 2010
Despite a long drive and early morning wake up, everyone was ready and pumped for a day full of sharks! We had another excited group of high school students from the South Florida Urban Ministries that joined us. We all quickly loaded the boat, had a quick briefing, and departed Keys Marine Lab headed for our sites in Florida Bay. All the students got a chance to let out the bait and drumlines, send out the bait cages, and read the YSI for environmental conditions. Austin also set up and baited his new apparatus, attached with a camera in hopes of getting some footage of sharks feeding on the bait. After we had ten drumlines, three bait cages, and one camera apparatus in the water it was time to catch some rays, relax and eat some lunch while we waited the allotted hour and a half of soak time.
Round one of picking up the drumlines was off to a slow start. No matter who pulled up the bait or what shark vibes we put out, each line seemed to come up empty. It wasn’t until the 9th drumlines that we pulled up a strong male Nurse shark. It measured about 248 cm. The students were literally screaming with excitement and were highly encouraged to touch the shark after the proper tagging, measurements and samples were taken. The students seemed truly impressed with how beautiful these creatures were up close. Luckily drumline number ten also had a shark on. It was a female Bonnethead shark, although the students felt it more appropriately to be called a “shovelnose shark”. This shark was a little weaker then we would have liked, so the students made an extra effort to be quick and efficient at tagging and measuring. Definitely some great teamwork going on!
Round two of picking up drumlines brought us a female, 239 centimeter Nurse shark. The seventh drumline ended our trip with a gorgeous female Blacktip shark. It measured to about 163 centimeters. The excitement only intensified when we pulled up Austin’s camera apparatus. The bait was gone, the zip ties broken, and it looked to Curt that a shark was responsible. We also pulled up the bait cages and found a plethora of pin fish. The students eagerly jumped in and helped to count and release them all.
Overall, it was a great day out on the water! Many thanks to the students at South Florida Urban Ministries! They did a wonderful job and we hope that they can help us in our effort to conserve sharks and our ocean!
Don’t forget to track our sharks live, we have up to 15 sharks and 4 different species to follow now. Follow the link and explore…Track Our Sharks.
Katie Titley (shark intern)