By Jessica Wingar, RJD Intern
When I woke up on Saturday morning, I was incredibly excited to be going shark tagging. I had been looking forward to this trip all week, and I saw that the weather was going to be perfect. It was going to be sunny and high 70s to 80s all day. I grabbed all of my gear and headed to Diver’s Paradise at Crandon Marina.
The RJ Dunlap team arrived at Diver’s Paradise around 8am to load the rest of the gear onto the boat. We were all ready for a great day of tagging with a great group. The group from Big Brothers Big Sisters arrived soon after and they were all very excited to be going shark tagging with us today. We added extension lines, since the weather was good enough to go to a deeper site. Captain Eric gave a safety briefing followed by Dani, who gave an explanation of our drumline system.
We were all filled with anticipation going out the site, which was just off of Miami Beach. The group came to the back of the boat to see how we deploy the lines. Then they helped us deploy the rest of the first set of ten lines. Everyone was very enthusiastic and so helpful. The first ten lines went out smoothly. We then let the lines soak for an hour.
Our first shark was a large nurse shark. I think it may have been the biggest nurse shark I have ever seen. We quickly brought the large animal up onto the platform and did the work up. Everyone got a chance to touch the shark, which has very different skin than most sharks. Our next shark was a sandbar, which was extremely active on the platform. We did the workup in less than five minutes and the shark was put back into the ocean in excellent condition.
After these two sharks we got data on another two nurse sharks and another sandbar shark. All of the workups were done quickly, and everyone on the boat had an opportunity to help with at least one aspect of the work up. We had a great day, with a lot of important data collected. I hope that the group from Big Brothers Big Sisters had as amazing as a day as I did. I enjoy every trip that I go on and appreciate all the opportunities that I have to help aid in the conservation of these incredible animals.