Shark tagging with Miami Dade College and friends

Friday, June 22, 2012
Megan Piechowski, RJD Intern

Three weeks ago I imagined spending my summer at home, in Austin, TX. When I was offered an internship with RJ Dunlap I was ecstatic, as this incredible opportunity seemed to piece itself together nicely. Last Friday was my second trip as a member of the team, which was exhilarating as I was able to be truly involved in securing the sharks and collecting samples. We went to the Everglades National Park with a helpful group of Miami Dade College students and an enthusiastic family that bought a satellite tag, or Hammer-tag.

When life gives you lemons…

Friday, March 2nd

Today was a wonderfully lemon-y day on the water for the RJD team and our friends from Miami Dade College. Captain Curt took us out in the beautiful R/V Endsley to a site in Everglades National Park called the middle grounds. We have often had great luck at this site before, catching blacktips, bull sharks and lemon sharks, but today we were in for a special treat: four female lemon sharks, the smallest of which was 242 centimeters—or just under eight feet! The largest was 8.3 feet, and estimated by the RJD team to tip the scales at around 350 lbs.

The use of cables help RJD staff and interns bring large sharks (like this lemon shark) on board safely, preventing too much pressure from being placed on the hook in the shark’s mouth.

Though we might joke that lemon sharks take their names from their zesty flavor (not true) or sour disposition (not true), the real reason is probably that they are yellowish in color. The intensity of their color varies based on the habitat they are in—lighter and brighter in sand, darker and browner in mud or seagrass. Because of the muddy bottom in the area where we were fishing, none of our lemon sharks were very brightly colored.  Luckily, there is another easy way to identify them: although most sharks have both a dorsal and a second dorsal fin along their back, in lemon sharks the second dorsal is nearly as large as the first.

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