by Jessie Wingar, RJD student
When I woke up on Wednesday morning, I was incredibly excited to be going shark tagging. I couldn’t wait to go on a trip with a new school group from Deering Estate. I grabbed everything I needed for the day and drove to Diver’s Paradise at Crandon Marina. Little did I know this was about to be one of my most memorable days shark tagging yet.
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 Deering Estate arrived around 9am and couldn’t wait to get on the boat and go shark tagging with us. Captain Nick gave a safety briefing followed by Steve and Robbie, who gave an explanation of our fishing methods.
We were all filled with anticipation going out the site, which was two to three hundred feet off of Bill Baggs. 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, helpful, and cheered for one another. The first ten lines went out smoothly. We then let the lines soak for an hour and took environmentals.
The first set of ten lines had no sharks. On the second set we got a very large female nurse shark. Everyone had a chance to interact with the shark and were all so thrilled to be this close to a shark. Then we got the best surprise of all. We could feel that there was a big shark on the line the moment we picked up the line. On the end of the line was a 15ft Great Hammerhead. I had not had the opportunity to see a hammerhead, since my interview trip almost two years ago. I could not contain my happiness. After securing the shark off of the back platform, it was fitted with a brand new satellite tag. The shark was released in top condition.
However, the day was not done yet. We caught another Great Hammerhead. Although this one was a lot smaller, so we decided not to satellite tag the animal. Everyone on the boat was so happy and I hope that the group enjoyed themselves as much as we did. They were a great group and we were so glad we could show them what we love to do. I am constantly in awe of these animals and I am so lucky to have this opportunity to help in the conservation of so many species of sharks!