Laughing, Loving, Learning

Saturday, April 2nd 2011

Today we had the pleasure of going out to sea with Miami Dade College students. They were an interested and curious group, anxiously awaiting the first shark of the day.

Miami Dade College students on the bow of our boat ready to go! Click to enlarge.

Unfortunately their anticipation was not relieved until later in the day. Many of the drumlines afforded no sharks, or even the signs of sharks. Sometimes we can tell that a line has seen some activity by noticing the shredding of the monofilament or the torn flesh of the bait, but today it seemed like nothing was there.

RJD interns Leann and James make the best of the slow morning. Click to enlarge.

Finally we felt tension on the other end of one of the lines. A large, thick, and healthy nurse shark arose from the depths. The crew secured the animal and began working through procedures as usual. Once all of the data had been collected, the shark was safely released. It slowly careened away from the boat, eventually disappearing beneath the waves. The Miami Dade College students eagerly got involved and helped the interns as three more nurse sharks were caught throughout the day.

MDC student looks for the number on the rodo tag he placed to read it back for confirmation to the data recorder. Click to enlarge.

Later in the day, one of the drumlines pulled in was very misleading. It seemed as if nothing was on the other end, except for the tug of a baited hook dragging through the water.  To the crew’s surprise, a small, elongated figure came into view. A juvenile Atlantic Sharpnose was gently pulled from the water and brought on deck for sampling. It is always exciting to see young sharks in our sampling area. Seeing the product of our typical study specimens’ successful reproduction ensures us that there is still hope for their plummeting populations. Although the day did not deliver in terms of species diversity and number, it was, thus, still fulfilling.

Juvenile Atlantic Sharpnose before release. Click to enlarge.

Until next time,

Cameron Rhodes, RJD Intern

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