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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