March 12, 2010
We set out on Friday wary of how the weather was going to treat us yet still excited about the prospect of catching some amazing sharks. A cloudy and overcast sky seemed like a small obstacle in our way to the ocean side reef. South Broward High School had come out with us that day in high spirits, ready to take on the sharks and sea. But as the song goes, “The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed, if not for the courage of the fearless crew. The [shark catch] would be lost, the [shark catch] would be lost.” Let’s just say that as the boat lurched, a few stomachs did too. The fate of our trip looked gloomy as we each looked to the left and right and realized that at least 2 of the three were puking over the side of the boat (extra chum, I suppose?). As we approached the first drumline, spirits were kind of low and the swells remained high. We brought in the line to find a 269cm (~ 8’10”) Great Hammerhead fighting on the other end. He was a perfect prospect for one of our satellite tags, and so we brought him on board and quickly went to work. Dom and Curt looked like the fastest shark tagging pit crew I have ever seen, and they quickly got the shark back in the water. In honor of those who barfed in the name of research, we decided to name the shark “Hurley”. It was an amazing start to the day, and it was exactly what we needed to bring color back to all our green faces!
The next few lines proved unsuccessful, but none of us were ready to give up our shark catching hopes and dreams. We begin pulling up drumline 7, and before any of us see anything, Curt yells, “There’s something on the line.” (We are all convinced he has a 6th sense). As we pull the shark closer, we find that we have a bull shark on the end. We hoist the shark aboard and begin our routine of measuring, tagging, and sampling. Curt points out that the shark we have caught is actually a sandbar shark, and they are often mistaken for bull sharks. He points out that the ridge along our little guys back is one of the few distinguishing features between our shark and a bull shark. The shark seemed offended that he was almost mistakenly identified him and proved a tough match for our team. Let’s just say he was a well endowed, mature male with a little too much testosterone for any of our good. After a little tug of war match with our shark, we were finally able to wiggle the pump out of his mouth and slip him back into the water with nothing more than a little shark burn along our legs.
The last three lines were empty, but I was pretty ecstatic at how the day had turned out. A huge hammerhead was satellite tagged, and we caught a shark I had never even seen before. All and all, it was a great day for catching sharks and a great day to look rough seas in the eye and say, “You can take my lunch, but you’ll never take my dignity!”
Track our satellite tagged sharks in real time!
Ashley Schenk (Shark Program Intern)