Shark tagging on World Oceans Day!

Kyra Hartog, RJD intern

Driving down I-95 on Thursday afternoon, I couldn’t stop talking to my parents and grandmother about how excited I was to get back on the water with the RJ Dunlap team. Last Friday, I was lucky enough to have my parents and my grandmother, who just happened to be in town, out on the boat for some summertime shark tagging. As this was my only trip for the summer season, I was itching to tag some sharks. Also on the boat were some other University of Miami parents as well as some other guests from around South Florida and a reporter from Guy Harvey Magazine. Many thanks to Susan Gerrish, RSMAS’s Assistant Director of Advancement, for organizing this trip and coming along with us as well!

Our team and participants for World Oceans Day!

After all the guests arrived, we started up the R/V Endsley and headed to a spot called Middle Grounds in Everglades National Park. I was excited to fish in this spot as it was likely for us catch one of my personal favorite species, the Lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris). Our first line of the day brought up a good-sized Nurse shark! We performed our usual shark work-up in a swift manner, taking a fin sample, blood sample, and attaching a dart tag. The work-up for Nurse sharks is slightly different from our work-up for other sharks. We do not test their nictitating membrane response, as they do not have this membrane, and their skin is too tough for a muscle biopsy. We sent the nurse shark on its way and moved on to the rest of the drumlines.

The RJD team works up a nurse shark

The next set yielded a small blacknose shark and another nurse shark. The blackness was fairly small and in good condition so the group was able to take pictures with the shark as well as a picture for Guy Harvey magazine with a copy of the magazine. During the final set, my wishes cam true! Along with another blacknose and a juvenile blacktip shark, we caught two lemon sharks! Samples were taken, the sharks were measured, and a dart tag was placed on each shark.

All in all, the day was very successful. The group was able to interact with a number of different species and everyone got involved in our work-up process! The group came away with a new appreciation for these beautiful animals and I was reminded why I am so lucky to be involved with the RJ Dunlap Program’s research. I could not have asked for a better day or a better way to celebrate World Oceans Day!

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