Sunday Feb 21
By: Katie Sellers
Despite some gnarly seas, the shark team had a great day on Sunday. The skies were blue and the weather had warmed up just enough to have a comfortable day out to sea. Our crew consisted of Dr. Hammerschlag, Captain Curt Slonim, Ashely Schenk, Brendal Davis, Josh Levy, Adam Matulik and myself, Katie Sellers. Also on board we had a special guest, Mark Rackley. Mark is a professional filmographer who has done previous work for Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, Animal Planet and even WildBoyz!
On our first line of the day we were graced with the presence of a juvenile tiger shark! This little boy had a total length of about 120 cm. He was absolutely beautiful, showing vivid colorations that are very different from any other shark. This little guy is not only special for environmental reasons but also because he is the first juvenile tiger shark that Dr. Hammerschlag has come across in his shark studies. This was by far one of the most exciting catches the shark program has had. The information obtained from this shark will be of great importance to our studies.
As if having a tiger shark on line was not special enough, Mark jumped into the water to video this beautiful animal. Mark took video during all stages of our process from a so called shark eye view. He filmed the shark going though our processes of measurements and sampling as well as the most important part, the release. It was a great opportunity to watch Mark do his work as well as chat with him about his past endeavors.
Following our exciting first catch of the day we went into a bit of a shark slump. Our lines would either become caught on bottom structure or pull up abandoned lobster traps. Also, much of our bait had not even been nibbled on by any creature whatsoever. This was all unfortunately a tell tale sign that we were not in the appropriate spot for fishing. No data is good data as it always relays useful information. Also, while we were pulling in our lines in search of sharks, we came upon two inflated Goliath Groupers. Unfortunately fishermen had been in the area and let these animals go in an unhealthy and very vulnerable state. When fish with air bladders are pulled to the surface quickly from deep waters, their air bladder uncontrollably inflates. When the fish are too small, fishermen throw them off of the boat, still inflated where the fish float at the surface like a balloon. We fortunately spotted them in this state and stopped to help them deflate their air bladders.
On our second to last line we did catch one more shark, a nurse shark. This nurse was very large weighing approximately 300 pounds. We tied him up to the side, did our measurements, tagging him very quickly and letting him go in great conditions. All in all we had a great day out on the unpredictable waters of the Atlantic.
Katie (Shark Program Intern)