November 6, 2010
The weekend continued as I set off down to the dock with more students. The crew on the previous trip was quite tired and slept most of the journey down to Islamorada. Word spread fast of success from the previous day, especially after satellite tagging a bull shark and welcoming the newest member of Palmer Trinity School’s Falcon family, Falco, whose movement can be tracked under the “Follow our Sharks” link on the Learning Resources page.
Today, everyone was awake and anxious to go fishing. The air temperature was slightly higher and the sun seemed a bit more radiant, yet the wind continued to blow. The day started somewhat slow, allowing for extra conversation about the data and its possible interpretations. Though in no time the counting of lemon sharks began.
We were collecting valuable data and samples, and allowing the students to interact with 5 lemon sharks. The largest female measured 200 cm; the largest male, 202 cm. Even with the decline of shark populations, we were able to catch a few mature and healthy bull sharks, allowing us to attach satellite tags to them. One was a male; the other, a female, 176 cm long that we named Fi, short for Fiona (one of the many hard working and ever involved interns).
With time in mind, we only set out 20 drumlines throughout the entire day. As the day drew to an end we were privileged to catch yet another species, a blacktip. This male measured 150cm, which allowed the students to see a comparatively smaller shark from the others throughout the day. The trip ended with a total of 8 sharks and 3 species.
Trips are always worth every minute when it comes to opening the eyes of our youth. Its impact is magnified, especially when I continue to hear on the ride back how much the students enjoyed this tremendous experience and their new outlook on sharks: their importance, their threatened status, and the research being done in order to learn more about them. To add to the students’ feedback, I feel humbled by the response and appreciation that the parents and guardians bestow on me. I returned to school with shark burn and new students inquiring as to when the next trip would be.
For a photographers point of view, please be sure to check out Andrea’s pictures and captions from this trip at:
Until next time,
(Seasoned researcher and educator)