No shoes, no service: Shark tagging with the MAST Academy

by Stacy Assael, RJD Intern
October 14th, 2012

Today the RJD team and I had the pleasure of fishing with Miami’s own MAST Academy, and the one and only Greg Markham. Expectations were high as we set out to the same spot from the day before where we caught 5 sharks. We were heavily staffed so the ride out to “Curt 1” (Captain Curt’s top secret fishing spot in Everglades National Park) went smoothly as bait crates and drumlines were prepped in record time.

Time to Fish. Upon arrival at our fishing site we deployed our first ten lines. I looked at my watch, it had taken all of 15minutes to deploy two sets of gear (Note: 1 set=5 drumlines). This left us with plenty of time to enjoy our 10:30am …lunch ?

MAST Academy students kiss the bait before setting it out to soak for at least one hour.

Caption: Mast Academy students kiss the bait before setting it out to soak for at least one hour.

Rain encircled all 360°s of horizon, leaving us questioning if we would even catch a shark. Our first line, which so graciously greeted us with a feisty nurse shark the day prior, came up empty. This trend continued until finally, Popped! We had a fish: a beautiful blacknose. Samples were taken, blood was drawn (by yours truly) and the shark was released in mint condition. Our next and final shark of the day was a large, happy (or not so happy) female nurse shark. She was quite plump, either full of a recent meal or perhaps the next generation of RJD samples. Either way she cooperated with both the team and participants long enough to safely collect our data and pose for a brief photo op.

Mast Academy students pose for a group picture with the happy blacknose shark.

Today’s trip ended up being a real success despite our relatively low catch rate. Our Mast Academy students were full of questions and enthusiasm. That aside, any day on the water is a great day for me.


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