By Hannah Calich, RJD Graduate Student
Last Friday was a great day of shark tagging. Not only did the RJD team get to spend the day with the fabulous students and teachers from SLAM academy, but the day was documented by a CBS film crew!
The RJD team met at Crandon Marina at 8 am to begin loading up “Divers Paradise”. It was beautiful out and we knew it was going to be a great day. Once SLAM and the CBS crew showed up, the RJD team introduced themselves and Dr. Neil gave everyone a briefing. Since it was such a gorgeous day and the water was quite calm we decided to head offshore to a deep reef.
Once we got to the site we quickly set 10 drumlines, took some environmental data, and had some lunch while we let the lines soak. After the hour-long soak we began checking our lines. When we got to line 3 we felt a familiar tug on the line and the team got ready for action. As we pulled in the line we determined we had caught a feisty female nurse shark that was approximately 250 cm long! Unfortunately, as we brought her in she managed to slip the hook and swim away. While it’s always a bit disappointing when a shark slips the hook it was great to see such a strong and healthy animal.
We continued checking and rebaiting the lines but the next 14 lines came up empty. However, something was eating our bait and we knew it was only a matter of time until we caught another shark. By line 18 the action picked up again when we caught another 251 cm long female nurse shark. The RJD team secured her while the students went to work collecting data. Within a few minutes her workup was complete and she was on her way again. Lines 20 and 22 also came with their own ~250 cm female nurse sharks! Each time a new shark was caught a different group of students came to the platform to help the RJD team collect data.
In the end it was a very interesting day because all 4 of the sharks we caught were ~250 cm long female nurse sharks. Hopefully the data we collected can help us determine what they were all doing there. Thanks again SLAM, it is always a pleasure to go out with you guys. I can’t wait until the next trip!