Shark tagging with South Broward High School

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.

With David’s help, a South Broward High School student deploys one of the drumlines

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.

RJD interns secure and measure a bull shark

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.

 Students pose with the final shark of the day, a blacktip shark, before releasing it in perfect condition

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.




6 replies
  1. Makenna
    Makenna says:

    It was such an amazing experience! The RJD crew was so informative for all us first timers. It was awesome learning about the Drum lines and the yo-yo’s as well as learning the difference between smooth fish and bony fish. I have to say that performing the tasks while tagging the sharks was pretty nerve-racking especially measuring and taking the biopsy. Though I still ended up going home to my mom and gloating about how I got to help collect data on sharks. Thanks for such an amazing time tagging sharks!

  2. Adam Roberti
    Adam Roberti says:

    This was such a great and memorable trip! Not only did we catch six amazing sharks, but I got to learn so much that I hadn’t on past trips. Watching the centrifuge spin the blood and seeing first hand what it did was an awesome experience. Plus, I was happy to take measurements and insert the spaghetti tag rather than the muscle biopsy that I had done multiple times in the past. Overall, we had an excellent time!

  3. Brianna Simon
    Brianna Simon says:

    I had an amazing time on this shark trip we caught 4 bull sharks,1 blacktip ,and 1 lemon shark and the fact that my principal was able to come along with us made the experience even more fun! I can’t wait to go on the next shark trip and hopefully catch more than 6 sharks this was by far the best shark trip I have been to.

  4. Janelle Lewis
    Janelle Lewis says:

    The shark trip was absolutely amazing, I loved every second of it. It was a great experience and I had so much fun. We even named the 6 lemon sharks we caught and tagged. I learned a lot of things that I didn’t know, like the three lengths of the shark and how to measure stress by the nictitating membrane. I can’t wait for the next trip! (:

  5. Shirley chong
    Shirley chong says:

    This was my first time on a shark trip and it was amazing. Words cant describe the feeling of seeing a shark for the first time. I had a great time on the boat learning about the drumlines and the yo-yos. I was so excited to take the measurements and doing the muscle biopsy of the bull sharks. This was a wonderful experience for me!

  6. Brandon Dunlop
    Brandon Dunlop says:

    Sorry the blog is late, but this is one shark trip i will never forget. One of the best days i have had with shark team. This was a great experience. I mainly enjoy pulling lines in. This one was a busy day, 7 sharks! It also was a gorgeous day out on the water. Thanks a lot guys, can’t wait to do it again

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