Two more satellite tags deployed! 2/20/2010

Shark Blog: 2/20/2010

By: Jamison Farrell

Saturday, a stunning day with light winds from the East and temperature of 75 degrees.  The team headed up by our fearless and injured leader Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, was embarking on virgin shark tagging territory. We were heading offshore to a sandy bottom area past the reef and dropping our lines at depths of approximately 115 ft.  A task that proved to be quite a feat when it came to pulling 35lbs of concrete back into the boat, possibly and hopefully accompanied by a shark. There is no question the effort was worth it by what was accomplished in the end.

Enjoying a beautiful day out to our shark fishing spot…

When we returned to check our lines for the first round, we saw that one has been dragged a fair distance away and we all know what this means!  We quickly pull the line in, only to be faced with a feisty mature male great hammerhead.  He had NO desire to be reeled in and had no problem showing this.  Once he finally calmed down we measured him at 248 cm in length (just over 8ft).   We then deployed our first satellite tag of the day on a shark that is now named Sawyer, in honor of Captain Curt’s son.

Getting ready to put a satellite tag on Sawyer

The last line on round one would not budge and it seemed like ages to pull it up to the surface.  To our surprise, we had caught a goliath grouper.  Knowing that the grouper was a protected species, we carefully removed it from the hook (without bringing the fish onto the boat).  This guy was an absolute monster of fish.  We measured him to be 165cm (about 5.5 ft) in length and estimated his weight to be 200 pounds!  After cautiously being released unharmed from our gear he swam happily back down, likely returning to his hole on the bottom.

Releasing a Goliath Grouper

On round two, at the same location we caught Sawyer another beautiful great hammerhead!   This one was an immature male, named Dr. Hammer, and was just a touch smaller measuring in at 238 cm.  It is amazing that just 10cm in length can mean the difference in maturity level in male sharks.

Tagging a Nurse Shark

All our fish traps came up completely empty– this can likely be attributed to our distance from the reef. Furthermore, we pulled in five massive nurse sharks, two of which were able to roll into an escape before we were able to tag them.

Brendal and Dominique preparing a fish trap

The new location certainly proved to be a massive success.   Great hammerheads, nurse sharks and a goliath grouper have dedicated there short time on the surface to research.  We did not pull in a single shark under 220cm (just over 7ft) in length. The team is super stoked to have tagged two more great hammerheads with satellite tags on this epic day.  The word to describe this remarkable day: righteous.

NOTE:  You can now track our sharks, including our newest member, Dr. Hammer. See where he is going and what he has been up too!

Please go to: http://www.rjd.miami.edu/learning-tools/follow-sharks/

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