by Jessica Wingar, RJD Intern
It was raining on and off when I woke up on Saturday morning. However, this rain didn’t deter me from my excitement of heading to the Seaquarium for a great day of shark tagging. I went to pick up Kyra to drive over to Key Biscayne, and we kept talking about all the possibilities of this trip; she was extremely eager to get out on the boat seeing as she went to Trinity Prep.
We got to the boat around 7:30am. For this trip we were on the Maven with Captain Eric. The gear for the day was loaded easily onto the boat with the help from the high schoolers at Trinity Prep; they were a great help. Once we had everything and everyone loaded onto the boat, we set off for the Key Biscayne Channel. I was very excited about this spot because the week before we had caught and got samples from six sharks.
All of the students, Rose Eveleth, a science journalist, and the RJD team were buzzing with anticipation as we drove out to the site. Although it was starting to sprinkle with rain again, we didn’t let that deter us from getting our jobs done. On the way out to the site, David gave everyone a briefing about the research that RJD is doing and why we use the research methods that we do; everyone was really thrilled to hear about all the good work being done.
Once we got to the site, we started to put the drumlines out. We put the first set of ten out and waited for the hour soak time. Once, we had waited an hour and finished eating lunch, we started to pull in the first ten lines. The first ten lines had no sharks on them. We went back out for the second set and no sharks. Morale was starting to decline and especially because it had started to rain again. However, just in time, on one of the last lines of the last set we got a beautiful bull shark. She was about seven feet long. We quickly did the work up with the help of our amazing team on board and the shark was released in great health.
At this point, we decided that we were going to put out the remaining lines that we hadn’t wrapped up for the day. We were so glad that we did this because on one of the lines was a female nurse shark about the same size as the bull shark. Again, our team on board sprung into action, and the work up was done quickly and safely. She was released in excellent health and she provided us with a lot of good data.
It was a great day of shark tagging, and we didn’t let the crazy weather stop us. However, we were glad that the downpour waited until we got back to shore. Every trip I go on holds something different, but no matter what they are always incredible. I can’t believe that I am lucky enough to have this opportunity to aid in the conservation of these animals!