“Welcome to the Jungle”

Friday, October 29, 2010

This song best describes our most recent trip to our gulf coast site near Fort Myers, Florida for many reasons. First of all, we put out three satellite tags in one day (two bull sharks and one tiger shark), and secondly because the day was filled with intensity, bumps, dives and split second decision making.

With the crisp air and Halloween season beginning to make its way to Florida, we set out to our fishing sites and deployed 30 baited drumlines over the course of 4 hours. Our first set of 10 drumlines yielded a productive collection of sharks, the first of which was a 150 cm blacktip shark. Moving swiftly to tag and sample the shark, we released it and brought in drumline # 2, which consequently had a 200 cm bull shark attached. The bull was gently brought to our sling and we immediately initiated the satellite tagging process. A few minutes later, the bull shark-named Hoover, was released back to the prey rich waters of Florida’s southern gulf coast.  The day continued to yield several healthy blacktip sharks, as well as another bull shark which we named Sandy. While all sharks we catch exhibit healthy behaviors and reflex responses, it seems as if the Fort Myers aggregations we sample always bring it a little more when we are sampling them, meaning that we need to be on our game even more.

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Our second set was a bit slow, likely a consequence of a slack tide, however the last set of the day brought us some very frisky blacktips and a beautiful, sub adult male tiger shark.  We named this shark Chuck, and he appeared to just begin the shift of his skin pattern from dots to stripes. We sampled tissue, fins, and blood from every shark that day. We also gathered a really interesting result from the tiger shark blood we sampled.  Although too early to make any bold claims, I am excited to sample more tigers, as there certainly may be species-specific differences in sensitivities/tolerances to angling pressure.  Tiger sharks, while very impressive to the eye, really are an amazing and unique species…..there are many questions surrounding their biology and I hope we will be able to answer some as time progresses.

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The day was full of excitement, heat, and intense shark action. All of the researchers that day walked away with some heavy duty battle scars from the days feisty collection of 15 healthy sharks, and I probably should have been a zombie for Halloween, because later that weekend I was covered with scrapes, cuts and bruises on both of my arms, a result of some serious tiger and blacktip shark burn.  Nothing a little Neosporin can’t cure.


2 replies
  1. Vilma Sooknanan
    Vilma Sooknanan says:

    Well I guess you guys work outside of South florida. Looks like the sharks population in the North Florida’s gulf is in pretty good shape. That’s alot of sharks! Nice pictures by the way- different ways to handle them.

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