Shark Tagging with South Broward 9/26/2014

By Jake Jerome, RJD Graduate Student and Intern

Last Friday marked the first time that RJD went shark tagging out of West Palm Beach, and it proved to be an exciting first! We were joined with one of our more frequent school groups, the South Broward Reef Dogs. After making the trek up to West Palm, we loaded up the Deep Obsession with our gear and set out with the crew from Jim Abernathy’s Scuba Adventures aboard.

With choppy seas and rain falling down on us, we launched our first 10 drumlines in the hopes of catching our first shark in West Palm Beach. Despite the weather conditions, everyone on the boat kept spirits high and we all had a good feeling about the day. After letting the lines soak and collecting some environmental conditions with the help of our guests, we began pulling up our lines.

After a slow start and the rain still pelting down on us, we managed to pull up an Atlantic Sharpnose, the most abundant shark species in South Florida. Once we brought the shark aboard, we began our quick workup to collect data for our over 9 research projects. In less than 4 minutes we were able to collect multiple morphological measurements, a fin clip, draw blood, place an identification tag and perform nictitating membrane stress tests. Once these procedures were completed, we released the shark and returned to pulling in our lines.


A participant helps take a fin clip, a small cartilage sample that will help reveal long-term toxicology and dietary patterns.

After our first shark we seemed to hit a slump going into our second set of drumlines. After switching the crew around, our luck took a drastic turn for the better! While pulling up one of our final drums of the second set, we knew immediately we had something big on the line!

After hearing our captain shout “Shark,” all eyes turned desperately towards the water looking for the animal. Once the shark hit the surface we could see that it was a hammerhead! After we had the large male secured next to the boat, we realized that we had a Scalloped Hammerhead, a species that we rarely get to collect data from. Knowing this, we quickly collected as much data on the animal as possible and then attached a satellite tag so we could follow the shark’s movements after we released him. For the rest of trip, spirits remained high and we were fortunate enough to catch two more sharks, a feisty blacktip and a large bull on our very last line of the day.


Measurements of the scalloped hammerhead are quickly taken while a satellite tag is being attached.

All in all, our first trip out of West Palm Beach proved to be a successful and exciting one. We were able to collect data from four sharks of four different species and were able to satellite tag a Scalloped Hammerhead! Thank you so much to the always awesome South Broward Reef Dogs and the rest of the crew from the day.


Our awesome group for the day, the South Broward Reef Dogs!

1 reply
  1. Haylie Morris
    Haylie Morris says:

    The trip was specatular! The day started off rough, rain pelting down on everyone and some students getting sea sick (which I’m assuming it’s from the coffee we had before we all got on the boat…wasn’t a good idea). As we went out in West Palm’s ocean, we casted our first round of 10 booies. While we were all waiting to see if we caught a shark or not, we took some water samples to see how much oxygen was in the water and the salinity. There wasn’t much luck for the first round. So some studets helped cassting out booies for round two. We waited maybe 20-30 until we went to go see the first booie. It just so happens I was pulling in the first booie, at the end of the line was the first cathc of the day…the Atlentic Sharpnose! It looked like a baby shark, but no, that was it’s actual size! We had also caught a blacknose, scapled hammerhead, and on our last round we caught a bull shark! The most exciting part was that we got to “play” with a fish’s eye (the fish was dead). The puple was hard, but soft at the same time. It was awesome! I had an amazing time and I cannot wait until I can go on another trip!

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