Sunday, February 27th 2011
As students and interns all took their seats on the boat and we prepared to leave the dock, Captain Curt explained to everyone, “Today’s goal is nurse shark blood.” Our site in Florida Bay is packed with nurse sharks, so predictably we headed out there with today’s goal in mind: to sample and extract blood from as many nurse sharks as possible. While we all expected to pull up lots of feisty uncooperative nurse sharks (these characteristics defining the lack of physiological data we possess for them in the first place), and maybe a couple blacktips, it was also Captain Curt that brought up the fact that we had never put out a satellite tag in this area before. We all agreed with him that we were way overdue for a sizable bull, hammerhead, or tiger in the area. “Something is bound to be swimming through here one of these days,” Curt said. That day happened to be today!
While we were able to accomplish our goal of extracting blood from a good number of nurse sharks, the most exciting part of the day came about half way through when we realized we had an 8ft bull shark on the end of the line! Our shark team was able to get her into the sling, pull her up into the boat, measure, satellite tag, extract blood and release her all very quickly and efficiently (not without some serious shark burns though – all part of the experience!!). While these are still healing, and probably will be for a while, I don’t mind one bit. What an amazing animal!
Our end of the day total was 11 sharks, including the 8ft bull shark, a lemon shark, blacktips and nurse sharks. We also had a few dolphins follow us in our wake for a few minutes, overall an awesome day!
Looking forward to the next set of trips!
Fiona, RJD Intern