Students Share Their Experience With RJD

Thursday, November 10th 2011

“Stand back!” Fiona said. After many let downs, one of our lines finally shared a shark. Our hearts were racing for, what we didn’t know at the time was to be, our only catch of the day. We watched the water, waiting for a glimpse of a fin or tail. Finally, the shark came to the surface. She was a sight to take in.

A majestic great hammerhead. Click to enlarge.

A 7ft long great hammerhead shark is rare to be able to catch and an even rarer sight for our virgin eyes.  These animals are not as hearty as other species so we were to be extra quick with our designated tasks and keep it in the water for the sampling process.

Students help sample a 7ft hammerhead shark. Click to enlarge.

Everyone had a job. Erin took a sample of from her fin. Matt tagged the shark. Megan measured the shark. Katie took a muscle tissue sample. Azia took pictures and Mandy took a video of the whole thing. We had to be efficient and smart about our movements. One wrong step and we could be in someone’s way, or the shark could get hurt, or hurt someone. Everyone knew what he or she had to do and they moved like they’d done it a thousand times before.

It was very comforting to know that the samples we were taking from the shark wouldn’t hurt her. The RJD team uses surgical grade instruments and cleans them between sharks. They’ve also caught the same shark within weeks of the first time and seen little if any scars from the first samples. It was an extremely exciting experience and the time until we watched the hammerhead swim away went by in the blink of an eye. Everyone stopped what he or she were doing and watched in happiness and content the shark swim away. We got a first-hand experience with one of the most powerful fish in the ocean. Beautiful.

After that, time slowed back down. We continued baiting with chunks of fish and chatted. Even during the down time, we had fun baiting hooks and wrapping rope. The crew was fun and the day was beautiful. We kissed the smelly bait for good luck and laughed at the taste.  Stories were exchanged and laughs were heard all around the boat.

Student from Island Christian School ready to deploy the next drumline. Click to enlarge.

Bait kisses! To ensure good luck, of course… Click to enlarge.

When we pulled in our last line, there was a serene air. We may not have gotten a lot of sharks, but we did get one big, rare shark. On our way back to the dock, we went snorkeling at a nearby reef. We petted jellyfish and watched as a nurse shark swim by alongside us. Some students soaked in the sun and others talked to the crew about other sharks they’ve seen. Once the boat reached the dock, everyone got off with a smile on their face, each person thinking about their own highlight of the trip. All in all, a very exciting, fun, relaxing, and interesting day.

Students from Island Christian School. Click to enlarge.

Island Christian School

Honors Marine Science, 2011-2012

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