Blue Skies and Bliss

[Sunday, October 10, 2010]

Today was another beautiful day in Islamorada. The sky was nearly cloudless and the water was crystal clear. We had a great group on board, a truly collaborative mix of individuals ranging from RJD interns to students. One of the most exciting aspects of the day was having our two new interns, Kyra and James, with us for the first time. It is hard to get into the swing of things at first, but they did a great job of embracing their new tasks and taking constant direction. Dr. Jeff Hartog was also on board for the first time, taking pictures of the RJD shark team and students at work.

James and Kyra hard at work wrapping up line extensions for the drumlines. Click to enlarge.

Palmer Trinity School was on the water with us today and as always they were an enthusiastic group, eager to participate in all of the work. They always come prepared to learn, to get dirty, and to hopefully see some amazing sharks.

Palmer Trinity students and RJD interns. All smiles. Click to enlarge.

We started the day at our outer reef site, but eventually had to relocate to Hawks Channel due to a strong current. While at the reef we caught one small nurse shark. The shark was brought on deck and was worked on efficiently and safely. All of the students were given the opportunity to touch the shark and to perform a given task for data collection. After the shark was released, we relocated and reset the drumlines. While giving the sharks ample time to find our bait, we all went for a swim. It was such a perfect way to take a brief break, relaxing in the aquamarine surroundings.

Beautiful skies, beautiful water, and a beautiful swim. Students and RJD shark team enjoy a dip. Click to enlarge.

After the swim we returned to the boat for drumline pick-up. We were happy to see 2 more nurse sharks, this time larger and somewhat darker in color. Of course other sharks tend to be more thrilling, but seeing the nurse sharks can be equally rewarding. Their incredible strength and musculature is truly impressive, reminding us all of the evolutionary greatness of these animals. Before we knew it the day had come to a close and it was time to leave Islamorada. We all eagerly await the next time we can get out on the water and share these experiences with other enthusiastic students.

Nurse shark coming in towards the boat. Click to enlarge.


Cameron Rhodes (Shark Intern)

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