Another hammerhead added to the family!

July 15th, 2010 (All photos taken and credited to: Terry Gibson)

The day after my birthday, a mere 27years old, still young and spunky at 5:00 am, I was ready to drive to the keys and do some shark tagging!  Normally, I wake up around 4:30 am and drive down myself; a very lonely drive and you begin to talk to yourself, probably not healthy:) However, today I had the pleasure of riding down with Terry Gibson, an experienced fisherman, esteemed writer, and ocean conservationist, a great mix if you ask me! Terry is working with the greatest names in the conservation and fishing world, namely, Florida Sportsman, PEW, Ocean Conservancy, and Outdoor Life Magazine.  Terry decided to join us because Outdoor Life Magazine wanted him to get the scoop on what the RJ Dunlap Program has been up too and a photo gallery to go along with it!  Throughout the day, Terry asked some important questions on the program and took some amazing pictures.  It was important for Terry to come out and see that there are anglers working directly with scientists, achieving similar goals and maximizing brainpower, otherwise known as collaborative efforts.  This example of course would be Dr. Neil Hammerschlag and Captain Curt Slonim, who with out each other would never achieve the same results.

Dr. Hammerschlag and Captain Curt talk research and fishing. (click to enlarge)

A journalist and advocate, Terry Gibson covers issues related to fisheries conservation in diverse locales. (click to enlarge)

Cooperative research between fisherman and scientists is essential to collecting data on the economic and social impact of fisheries, restoring habitats, helping reduce by-catch through group innovations, and improve recreational fishing data through angler action programs.  For the RJ Dunlap Program, the combined efforts of angler and scientist have helped collect data on large coastal sharks in the State of Florida that is essential to their enhanced protection and improved fisheries management.  This working relationship between angler and scientist should be replicated across global fisheries and research facilities and could be if the Coastal Jobs Creation Act goes through.  Check out the link and find out how you can support giving fish a break but allowing fisherman to keep working and help rebuild depleted fish stocks.

Dr. Hammerschlag asked the students to form a circle and do the bull shark and hammerhead sign, hoping to conjure up a shark. (click to enlarge)

Students come together information of a bull shark! (click to enlarge)

On to the trip!  The day started out normal, getting gear on the boat, chatting away to everyone I hadn’t seen in awhile, due to an overwhelming amount of schoolwork!  Captain Curt looked at me and said, “Brendal, we need more of your hair”.  You may be asking yourself, why would anyone want my hair?  Long story short, Captain Curt and Dr. Hammerschlag believe that my hair is good luck for catching Great Hammerheads.  Since I started my internship with the RJ Dunlap over a year ago, almost every trip and I do mean almost every, we have caught one or more Great Hammerheads.  So, Captain Curt proceeded to cut a piece of my hair without me knowing and let’s just say he has never cut hair before.  I went to the bathroom to take a look at his handy work, and well I had a nice chunk missing and looked like a devil child. I suppose it gives me character.  By the way, I have received a new shark tattoo, so I can literally wear my heart on my sleeve, a great hammerhead of course!

Sandy, our new great hammerhead, a front view of her binocular vision. (click to enlarge)

A new tattoo to add to my shark collection, a great hammerhead. (click to enlarge)

The shark team quickly attaches a satellite tag to sandy, while letting water flow through her gills. (click to enlarge)

I was not upset in the least though, because I do what I can for the program, even if it means losing a big section of my hair:) Guess what, it worked!  We did catch a hammerhead that day and named her Sandy.  She got a satellite tag and swam away in great condition.  Also that day we caught, two lemon sharks, a blacktip, and a nurse shark.  A good variety of apex predators can put a smile on everyone’s face.

An unusually calm lemon shark takes a rest while we attach a tag and take samples. (click to enlarge)

In addition to Terry being on the boat, we had another group of kids from Miami Science IMPACT program.  Let me tell you something about these kids, they rock!  I mean they are so excited to be out there, learning about sharks, let alone see and tag one! My passion is this, giving kids an opportunity to be apart of field work and letting them see that just a few people can change the world, or at least help save sharks. They had a great time and they put in a lot of effort and got the job done, thank you so much guys!

End of day smiles with students from IMPACT and Shark Team. (click to enlarge)

This may be one of the last blogs I personally write for the program, at least for awhile since at the end of August I will be leaving for one year to complete a Master’s Degree in Marine Resource Management from Dalhousie University, in Nova Scotia.  However, I will still continue to maintain the blog site for all other sharky interns..  It has been an absolute pleasure to work with these people; everyone involved really shows their dedication to science and conservation. GO TEAM GO! Can’t wait to come back one day soon.

The Shark Team works with kids from IMPACT to deploy our shark lines and bait. Great job guys. (click to enlarge)

All my sharky love,

Brendal Davis (Shark Program Intern)

3 replies
  1. danny
    danny says:

    Found you while searching for tat ideas. Saw the biggest hammer head ever a few weeks back about 30 nm out of Homosassa while fishing. Estimated at about 12-13. Such an awesome creature. Have caught and released many on the west coast of FLA but nothing even close to this big fella. 5-8 and a few small bonnet heads but that one makes me feel privileged to have even been in his presence. Best wishes with your education and love the tattoo.


    P.S. Got cords if u need them for reasearch.

  2. Ryan
    Ryan says:

    Wow. I love what you’re doing. I think it’s a wonderful effort to save the sharks out there that may be endangered for various reasons. And those pictures are great! Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Angel Inoir
    Angel Inoir says:

    This is really awesome guys, I was doing some shark diving in Cape Town recently and what you guys are doing is vital for the survival of these wonderful but misunderstood creatures. I hope the “Shark Team” will be able to continue the work you are doing while you are doing your masters.

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