Shark Tagging with St. Thomas Aquinas High School

by Michelle Martinek, RJD Intern


This most recent trip on Captain Curt’s trusty vessel is likely one that the RJ Dunlap team and guests will not soon forget. What started as a bleary eyed, early morning trip to the keys turned into quite the adventure courtesy of our unpredictable friend Mother Nature. In the span of only an hour, we saw beautiful blue skies give way to a lightning storm that relentlessly pelted our faces with warm rain and rocked the boat with large waves. To a native Floridian, this changeability is no surprise. Our steadfast team and all the students from St. Thomas Aquinas braved the elements and had an extremely successful day, catching and collecting data on 6 sharks! Even wet and chilled, we returned a very happy crew.

The day began with a carpool of the RJD team with two new interns, myself included, setting off at 5am from RSMAS. After our trip leader David introduced us to the wonders of a deep fried breakfast burrito called the “tornado” and the following discussion of the recent “Sharknado” film, we arrived a little more alert to Captain Curt’s house at 7am. Our relief was great upon seeing that most of the supplies were still onboard from the previous expedition that weekend. Curt made sure we didn’t have it too easy however by informing us we would be going to the shallow waters of the everglades, meaning we had to completely re-rig all of the drumlines since they were set for far deeper water. After preparations were complete, we welcomed a wonderful group of students from St. Thomas Aquinas High School, most of whom are part of their school’s marine science club, and set off.

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Photo of the Week: American Alligator

Deep in Everglades National Park, Dr. Neil Hammerschlag captured this extreme close-up view of an American Alligator. To learn more about this predator and their vital role in the ecosystem, visit:

Deep in Everglades National Park, Dr. Neil Hammerschlag captured this extreme close-up view of an American Alligator. To learn more about this predator and their vital role in the ecosystem, visit:

Shark Tagging with South Broward High School

By Jon Dorsey, RJD Intern

Today the RJD crew met at the dock nice and early to welcome our shipmates from South Broward High School and special guest Steve Cooke. Despite the long bus ride and early arrival time, the Reef Dogs were in high spirits once they arrived on the dock and boarded Captain Curt’s boat. We had a long trip ahead of ourselves to a site named the Middle Grounds in Everglades National Park, but without the blazing sun beating on us and the cooler weather coming in, it was more than enjoyable.

Anticipation was high as we anxiously pulled in 6 empty lines, but of course on lucky number 7 the timer was popped! Leann did a great job pulling the Lemon Shark up onto the platform and the team immediately went to work. The students took turns collecting data and measurements for the team and before we let the little guy go we got the opportunity to sneak in some pictures.

The crew bring the final lemon shark of the day on deck to pose for a group shot.

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Shark tagging with Island Christian School

October 12th, 2012
by Dani Escontrela, RJD Intern

It had been about two months since my last shark tagging trip, so needless to say, I was super excited. I barely got any sleep the night before thinking about how incredible this trip would be. At the same time however, I tried to not get my hopes too high as sometimes we don’t catch anything, but boy was I in for a surprise!

Austin, Fiona, Stacy, Becca, Christine and I loaded up the boat with all the supplies we would need for the day and then had a couple moments to relax while our group got to the boat.

When the guys from Island Christian School got there I immediately recognized a few familiar faces from previous trips. We also had Greg Markham join us that day and Margarita Cubano, one of Neil’s students. We loaded everyone on the boat and where soon our way to Everglades National Park. We were to set our lines at Middle Grounds, a shallow water site.

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