‘Nother Nurse-tastic Day with a Surprise Visitor

Saturday, June 25th 2011

Saturday was another perfect day for sharking, and when there’s good weather and flat seas, the team usually heads out to the reef!  So that we did. Since our reef site is more out in the open ocean, we take every chance we get to go out there since the weather can most times be uncooperative.  Today we welcomed the staff and faculty of Miami-Dade College to come along on the day’s opportunity.

The Fabulous Faculty and Staff of Miami Dade College who joined us on our trip. Click to enlarge.

We have been working in partnership with Miami-Dade College to help satellite tag our larger friends (bulls, hammerheads, and tigers).  They have been extremely supportive of RJD and have graciously sponsored several of our sharks.  We are very happy to have this relationship with them as our circle of shark friends expands!  This time we luckily had the faculty and staff out to do a “checkout” expedition; you know the kind to make sure everyone has a good time and that money is being well spent (we know, but sometimes the people who sit behind a desk all day don’t).

After a few bumps on the way out, we made it to our site and dropped drumlines baited with fresh delicious tuna and jack steaks into the water.  I mean this bait looked so good, I would definitely take a bite had it been offered to me!

After eating what seemed to be a very short lunch, we sped over to pickup our drumlines.  I must say that I was very impressed at the group’s level of involvement.  Everyone definitely pulled his or her own weight on this trip and no one wimped out! The first line we pulled in was a very feisty nurse shark.

Faculty and Staff of Miami-Dade College help to secure the nurse shark for tagging. Click to enlarge.

After calming him down, everyone grabbed hold and we quickly worked to tag the shark while Austin hopped in the water to take a quick blood sample (a new method which works very smoothly and we don’t even have to take the animal out of the water).

Intern and graduate student, Austin, takes blood from the nurse shark while in the water. Click to enlarge.

Two lines later we pulled up another large nurse and repeated the tasks methodically.  Throughout the day we picked up two more nurse sharks, tagged, and released them as well.  The biggest surprise came at the end of the day when we finally caught a Caribbean reef shark! This was a first time for us in Islamorada and it was very exciting indeed…except for the part when the shark managed to slip the hook and swim off before we could get it onboard to tag.  It was a large beauty – estimated at about 7 feet. At least we know they are here and hopefully we’ll get her next time!

Until that next time stay sharky, Florida,

Laura E. Rock


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