By Samantha Owen, RJD intern
RJD had another successful day on the water last Friday. Our enthusiastic guests from Cadillac Fairview met us at the Diver’s Paradise dock early in the morning. After a quick safety briefing from Captain Nick and an overview of our research methods and expectations for the day by Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, we set out from Crandon Marina for an exciting day of shark tagging.
Due to recent successes in the area, we decided to fish just off Key Biscayne near Bill Baggs State Park. With the help of Cadillac Fairview, we deployed our first 10 drum lines and took environmental measurements including temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen.
After an hour soak time, we pulled in our first line with great anticipation. Shark on! We had an adult Atlantic sharpnose shark approximately 2.5ft in length. Our team did a quick work up and set the little guy free. It’s always a good day when we get a shark on our very first line! After 3 more lines we caught our first blacktip of the day. One of our newer projects involves tracking local blacktips and bull sharks using acoustic tags. Neil was able to successfully insert an acoustic tag into our blacktip shark and release it back into the water quickly and in great condition. With such success after only 4 lines, everyone was excited to see what the rest of the day would bring.
Our guests from Cadillac Fairview were able to help us tag, measure, and sample 3 more blacktips, 3 nurse sharks, and a Great hammerhead! Hammerhead populations are declining dramatically due to overfishing, and it is very rare to have the opportunity to see one. We were able to successfully deploy a satellite tag on the hammerhead, which should transmit its location every time the tag breaks the surface of the water.
By the end of the day we tagged a total of 9 sharks of 4 different species! No matter how many tagging trips I go on or how many sharks I see, I never fail to get excited when there’s tension on the line. I would like to thank Cadillac Fairview again for all of their help and support. Their excitement and eagerness to pitch in made the day that much more special.