May 16th, 2010
Tackling a Nurse Shark:
Sunday was a slow day again. We took off from Sea Base with a smaller than normal boat load, mostly interns along with a few of the Sea Base crew. Dr. Hammerschlag and Captain Curt rejoined us as we made our attempt to find and tag more sharks for the studies of the R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program.
In total we captured three nurse sharks and two blacktip sharks. For the first time in a long time, we actually decided to bring the smallest nurse shark (~170cm) on board the boat. Generally, nurse sharks are more difficult to handle when they are on board due to their tendency to spin and twist. But because it had been some time and because this shark was smaller, we tried it out. As per usual, the nurse shark was less than agreeable while we had it out of the water. But our team still managed to quickly collect all the relevant data and release this female shark quickly. In addition, the students really like to see sharks up close, of course, so since we had been catching sharks that we usually keep in the water, we wanted to give them the opportunity to feel the shark and take pictures.
When the day was over we worked up samples from some of the sharks that recently washed up in the local area. Unfortunately, this is not the way the program wants to collect samples of any kind, and for us the process was an arduous and a saddening one. But as a group of scientists and conservationists, we are determined to not let these sharks die and completely go to waste. Samples are going toward several studies conducted through and within the R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation program.
Despite the slowness, the shark team made the most of it as we always do. It’s an amazing opportunity to go out into the field and see a specie that most people will never see their whole lives.