By Brittany Bartlett, RJD Intern
When I woke up at 4:45am and saw that it was still dark outside, I had every intention of rolling over, putting the pillow over my head, and going straight back to sleep. But, it then hit me that I was going shark tagging down in Islamorada! I quickly jumped up, got ready and was out the door by 5:15am to pick up our photographer, Amanda! It was going to be a great day!
We got to Curt’s at around 7:15am where we greeted Curt, David, Evan, Josh, Emily, and James and me munched on some delicious donuts that David had bought; a great way to start the day! At around 8:30am, after doing the everyday boat preparations, an enthusiastic and fun group from St. Thomas Aquinas High School came on board
We were all really excited for the trip because we were going to a new spot where RJD had never sampled before! After about 45 minutes of travel and the usual introductions and briefings we started to deploy our lines! We put ten in right away without a hitch and after about an hour of waiting and a beautiful sighting of over 5 Atlantic bottle nose dolphins playing in the wake of our boat, we began to pull up our lines.
Earlier that day on the car ride down to the keys, Amanda and I had wished for one thing…we desperately wanted to catch a hammerhead. I have been on my fair share of RJD trips, but for some reason I had never been on a trip with a hammerhead! But today would be my lucky day….
After quite a few lines, we caught our first shark of the day…a great hammerhead! I was in awe. These creatures are incredible. I loved them before ever seeing one, so you can only imagine how enamored I was when we saw this at the end of our line.
After a few more drumlins and the students of St. Thomas Aquinas being absolutely amazing helping us to deploy and pull up the very long and heavy lines, we got our next treat…a scalloped hammerhead!
Two hammerheads on one trip! The sun was shining, the water was refreshing and beautiful, I was surrounded by so many enthusiastic individuals, and I had finally seen two hammerhead sharks! What more could you ask for!?
The day progressed and we had the fortune of catching two more sharks. The first was a huge bull shark, over 8 feet long! We were able to tag this shark, as well as retrieve blood, and obtain a biopsy and measurements. Hopefully, after we analyze these samples we will be able to learn some more exciting and new information about the species’ diet, stress levels, and migration routes.
The last shark of the day was a nurse shark, which are always so much fun. I was able to help with the measurements and samples, which is my favorite part of the trip!
What a great day on the water! Nothing beats a sunny day on the water with friends and sharks! Thank you so much to St. Thomas Aquinas High School for helping us out and don’t forget to pass along the valuable information that you learned to your friends and family!