by Emily Rose Nelson, RJD Intern
In the midst of finals, the best study break you can ask for is a day sharktagging in Islamorada. I was eager to put down my books and get on the water. After it had been raining for a few days straight I was nervous the trip may be cancelled, but the weather looked like it was going to hold out and I would get my much needed study break. The RJD team prepared the boat, Sarasota Military Academy arrived, and we were off.
Upon arrival at the site drumlines were deployed with no problem at all. The sun began to beat down and we still had about an hour to wait, giving us the perfect opportunity to go swimming. After some fun splashing around we were off to pick up drumlines.
As I pulled in the first line I could tell there was something on it, this was going to be a good day. I continued to reel in the shark while the team quickly got everything together for a work up. Just as soon as we could identify the shark as a nurse it broke free and swam away. Not to worry however, the rest of the day was filled with nurses. A total of 7 nurse sharks were caught (3 came off the hook before we could process), each one doing its best to show us whose boss. For as docile as these animals are in the water, once brought onto the platform they are incredibly strong and feisty. This power combined with their distinguishable brown color deemed the nurse shark “the great brown” for our trip.
While pulling in the last set of lines the beautiful blue sky grew dark, and next thing you know we were in the middle of a thunderstorm. Captain Curt advised we halt tagging, anchor, and take shelter inside the salon to let the storm pass. The rain kept up for a while, but after some time crammed inside we could pick up the last few lines. While pulling in the 30th and final line of the day we brought in yet another nurse shark. After this animal was processed and released in excellent condition we were on our way.
Overall this was an incredible day; 7 nurse sharks and 1 Caribbean reef, a great group of engaged students, and the sun was shining again when we got back.