by Dani Escontrela, RJD Intern
It was going to be another day of shark tagging and I was too excited. After the last trip with no sharks, all I could hope for was for this day to be different. As usual, I woke up at 4:30am and began my long drive down to the keys, picking up Christine and Emily along the way. We had a pleasant drive down with a beautiful sunrise for company.
Once we got to Curt’s house, we met with the rest of the RJD crew, David, Stacey, Austin, Kyra, Evan and our fear less trip leader, Leann. Most of the gear was on the boat but we still had to some last minute preparations to make, such as making more gangions and getting a few more supplies.
Soon after, the students from South Broward High School got to the boat and right away I recognized a lot of familiar faces. We did our usual introductions and then had a long ride out to the site. We went to Middle Grounds in the Everglades which was very exciting; last time I had been there we had caught eight sharks, and had also found the “bull shark lair”
Once we got there we deployed our drumlines. Something especially important was that we had new goodies: a brand new accelerometer that we were testing for the first time. After an hour of waiting, some amazing lunch and an overview of what we were going to do if we caught sharks, we went back to pick up our first drumline.
As luck would have it, on our second line we pulled in a female bull shark, about 1.5 meters long. She was a true beauty and as Leann, Emily and I secured her, the students from South Broward came in to do a work up on the shark, doing an amazing job along the way.
In the next eight lines we managed to reel in three more bulls and a lemon shark. I was especially excited as I was getting the chance not only to reel in this awesome creatures (which I might say are extremely powerful) but I was also helping to secure them so the students could come in to do their jobs.
We had more goodies on board such as a heart rate monitor and while Evan, Emily and I picked up the Lemon shark, Austin was able to listen to its heartbeat. What an exciting day, could this be a new component to a project? I guess we must stay tuned to find out!
The next 10 lines came up empty, most likely because the tides changed, but spirits were still high and as always we were still having fun. On the last set we managed to catch a blacktip shark. I went in to secure her with Kyra coming in after me and once again the students did a fabulous job of getting precious data. We also had the chance to listen to the heartbeat of this shark.
It was another incredible day on the water and after getting the chance to work up six remarkable sharks, not only did my arms and legs hurt from the shark burn, but my body was sore and I was exhausted. However, as always, this is all worth it as the data we collect will hopefully one day help protect these incredible creatures.