I don’t think I really realized how much I missed “sharking” over winter break until we had that first nurse shark secured to the back of the boat. That frenzy feeling filled the air as all the kids buzzed with their designated instruments clenched in their hands. It is truly a remarkable experience to be able to go out on the boat in the beautiful Florida Keys and have the opportunity to work with talented and FUN people collecting data from these magnificent creatures.
To hold down a blacktip shark, to be so close and to see the iridescent shine of their skin under the Florida sun is without parallel to anything I have ever done before. This trip was particularly awesome because we had a fantastic group of high schoolers. These kids from South Broward were just incredible. Everyone was really enthused ’til the very end, which was great to see because we usually loose a few by the end to the cell phones and ipods. However, this time we even had a lot of inquiries about how to work with the program outside of their school trips, how to become an intern like myself. Also, two teachers from the school were talking and came up with some great ideas on producing live video blogs into the classrooms, so that more schools could participate.
We started collecting data for a barracuda project that Laura Rock will be pursuing when she gets back from her semester abroad, so now we are measuring, weighing, and taking muscle samples from our bait. Yum!
I also found out on Friday that we now have 30 SATELLITE TAGS!!! In addition to the ten we first had, we now have CUSTOM-MADE ones for hammerheads and bull sharks! I think I am overly excited about deploying these bad boys. I SIMPLY CAN NOT WAIT.
Ok, so, before I forget, final catch of the day: 6 nurse sharks, 5 black tips, with our biggest shark being a 250 cm (which is about 8.2 ft) nurse shark that we caught on our last line…nice way to end the day We had two other nurse sharks come in at about 230 cm, so overall it was big nurse day.
We changed locations and went to another place outside the national park. I think it’s cool to look at this data in terms of what the park’s border is doing for the shark population it protects. Are we catching the same thing in and outside the park? The same sizes? The same types? Same amount? I’m taking a GIS class this semester and I can’t wait to make some maps with the data
from our trips so we can compare and look at these type of effects.
Cheers to everyone who was out with us on Friday and to everyone who is following this blog. We greatly appreciate the support and am sure this season is going to ROCK. Also, thanks to Mrs. Mary O’Malley who came out with us and has provided some insanely beautiful pictures for us to share with everyone.
Excited to be back on the water,