By Daniela Escontrela, RJD Intern
It was the first trip of the semester and everything couldn’t have been more perfect. Not only did we not have to make the tedious drive all the way down to Islamorada, but the trip departed at 1pm. I couldn’t be more excited as my last trip had been about a month ago and I was beginning to get anxious about not being out on the water.
We were departing from the Miami Seaquarium dock and had some last minute preparations to make. After getting some gear from the lab at RSMAS, putting the platform on and doing a checklist to make sure we had everything we needed, we were ready for our group to arrive.
Soon enough the enthusiastic group from AIMIA arrived and we departed the dock. It was a short ride out to the site, Virginia Key Channel. In the past we had caught some big bulls here in addition to nurse sharks and blacktip sharks. All hopes were high for a strong start to the season.
While each piece of bait got a good luck kiss from the participants, the RJD team deployed the first ten drumlines. As the lines soaked, Neil gave the group a briefing of what would happen if we caught a shark. After a long hour, we finally started to go check our lines.
One by one we picked lines up and as we switched yo-yo colors and the people pulling in the lines, we started to realize we might not be so lucky. After pulling up the first ten lines and coming up empty handed, we decided to let the other ten lines soak for a little longer.
After another anxious hour of waiting, we made our second and final round of the day. A moment of hope came when we pulled up one of the drumlines and the timer was popped. It had the time 36 minutes on it, but as we reeled in the rest of the line, we realized that whatever had bit our hook had also chewed right through it. This gave us hope as we pulled up the rest of the drumlines since we knew something big was around.
However, we don’t always get sharks on the trips, and today was one of those days. Although disappointing, this just serves as a reminder at the state of decline sharks are in and how every time it becomes rarer for us to see this gracious animals.
Although we didn’t have the best start of the season, the group had fun and it’s always good to be out on the water!