by Daniela Escontrela, RJD Intern
I was out on the boat for another day of shark tagging. I was excited because I hadn’t been out much this semester and wanted to see what the day would bring. This was a particularly happy day for me because my mom would be going on the boat with me. After three years with the program she had only seen what I did once before so I had high hopes for the day.
Once we go to Crandon Marina we loaded gear onto the boat and did the usual pre trip checklist. Soon enough the participants, students from South Broward High School, arrived. South Broward high school has been coming out with us for a few years now and I definitely recognized a lot of repeat faces.
Before leaving the dock we introduced ourselves and talked about the day’s activities. Then we were underway to Soldier Key where we deployed ten drumlines. Emily had been at this site the previous day and caught some good things so I was very hopeful. During the hour wait we talked about the work up procedure with the students.
Once the hour passed we were picking up lines. The first six lines came up empty, and then on my favorite number, line seven, we got something big. The water was clear and we could see a massive shadow gliding over the bottom, swimming effortlessly despite our attempts to pull it near the boat. After a little effort we managed to bring it close and slide it onto our partially submerged platform. The massive creature was a bull shark, which we presumed may have been pregnant because of how wide she was. She came in at an incredible 271 cm (~8.9 feet). I was holding down her head and it was impressive to see how such a huge animal with such a bad reputation stayed there without fighting. We quickly worked up this shark and soon enough we sent her on her way, kicking strong.
We kept picking up lines and our second set of ten lines came up empty. However we did manage to catch three more nurse sharks. One of them managed to pop off our hook before we could bring it on the platform and work it up. However, another one of the three was one of the smallest nurse sharks I had ever worked up.
It was an incredible day of shark tagging and I felt lucky to have been able to be on the boat that day. Being on the boat reminds me of how lucky I am to be able to interact with a species that is so misunderstood yet so threatened. I will definitely be looking forward to my next shark tagging trip.