November 13, 2010
Today was an awesome day out on the water. We had MAST Academy out with us and they were ready to do some serious shark tagging. We had a few people getting sea sick as we were putting out our drumlines but as soon as we pulled up the first line, all that sickness went away. On our first line of the day, we pulled up a 12-foot tiger shark! Despite her size, however, she didn’t pop the hook timer, an interesting observation indeed. She was a gorgeous animal and the team handled her with perfection. We satellite tagged her and got her quickly back into the water in great condition.
A few lines later, we brought in a small Atlantic sharpnose. After we picked up our last line of the set (the deployed camera we have been using to asses the ecosystem composition of our research spots), Captain Curt spotted a beautiful 9-foot mako swimming up behind the line! Everyone on the boat went nuts. We didn’t have any drumlines because we had just put them all out! Nevertheless that was not going to stop us from collecting such important data; we rarely get to see mako sharks in the Keys, so this was an opportunity to gather some unique data. We managed to hook it with a tasty amberjack steak and a makeshift line made from one of our gangeons, a swim buoy and rope. It was a bit too big to bring on board so we kept the shark in the water and satellite tagged it from the back of the boat. Samples were taken and the shark was then safely released. Everyone had a huge adrenaline rush after that and our day just kept getting better.
On our second set of drumlines, we pulled in two hammerhead sharks, both in the 8-9 foot range! One was a male and one was a female, but both were equally beautiful.
It was truly a great day and I was really excited to see all these sharks on only my third trip out. I also had my first shark burn experience, which, for those of you who don’t know, happens when your skin rubs against the shark’s skin in the direction that feels like sandpaper. The team tells me its like earning your stripes. So, even though we had sickness and shark burns a plenty, everyone left the boat smiling and stoked for trips to come.