Heavy Hearts and Empty Lines

Friday, November 4th 2011

Today marks another uneventful day out on the water for the program. However, the important thing to remember here is that no data is still data, as we reminded each other after a long day of pulling in empty (very heavy) lines. We set out to UM’s field research station on Broad Key from Biscayne National Park’s Visitor Center in Homestead. Once we prepared all our gear and checked the charts for a good spot, we gathered our crew and our guests from the island and set out beyond the channels of the keys. We decided on an area of deep water along the edge of a reef where a wreck was marked, and deployed our drumlines with high hopes of a great day ahead.

Dr. Neil Hammerschlag shows entrepreneur Harry Yeh how to set a drumline. Click to enlarge.

Unfortunately, 30 drumlines later not a single shark had been added to our data sheets. While these are not the most exciting days, they are painful reminders of the brutal reality of the status of shark populations these days, and that data is still significant. It is one thing to read about how, worldwide, shark populations are declining at a dramatic rate, but to experience this reality first hand through year after year of increasingly smaller catch rates is alarming to say the least. We must all count ourselves lucky to be part of this program and keep striving to do all that we can to protect these animals, whether through research, education, public outreach or any way we can think of, always remembering that everyone can make a difference.

Let’s keep our fins up!
Fiona Grahman, RJD Intern

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