Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Shark Research in Action: Sharkland

This photo makes me want to quote The Avengers ("I'm not overly fond of what follows...")
Guest Blog
By Annie Anderson and Antonia Ash

As the crews left for night one of Sharkland the conditions were ideal for setting the gillnets and the competition for the straightest net was on. However as the saying, ‘the calm before the storm’ goes, within a few hours the crew found themselves snuggled up hiding under transport boxes with bolts of lightening landing within a stones throw. Despite the relentless rain, 35 sharks were still captured and the crews soldiered through the conditions ensuring they met their 15 minute check window. Unfortunately with conditions deteriorating by the minute, the decision was made to haul all lines four hours ahead of schedule, with the time to be made up over the coming nights.

12 hours on a boat is likely to make you make faces like this one.
As the nights spent in Sharkland went on the count was lower than in previous years. We only tagged 13 on night two and during night three was just under with 12. Despite the low shark count the PIT crew still had some interesting captures. Net three found the largest shark caught in their gillnet during the whole of PIT 2013, measuring 116cm. Net one also witnessed a returnee caught only the week before in North Sound which had escaped from the behavioral holding pens. Amongst all the shark action and the delirium of the night, in between checks net one, led by new assistant manager David, found themselves stalking what they believed to be a four meter sawfish which in the bright lights of the Q beam transformed into a lonely nurse shark in search of a mate.

You do not want to zoom in on this photo, trust us.
In an attempt to rescue the team from the nights delirium the annual fancy dress food run arrived to a PIT crew of confused faces as they witnessed those on home duty parading themselves round the boat in extremely minimal cowgirl outfits.

In the final three nights of Sharkland the total count for night four was 17, night five slightly lower with 13, and the final night tapered off with a low of 5; this brought the total count in Sharkland to 95 captures.

PIT 2013 has been a strenuous but rewarding 12 nights for all involved. The Sharklab would like to say a special thanks to all who participated for their continuous hard work and enthusiasm amid all the chaos and long hours - a special experience for all to take away.

The Bimini Biological Field Station Sharklab depends on the efforts of dedicated volunteers to accomplish our research. Since its 1990 inception, the BBFS Sharklab has been host to thousands of volunteers from all over the globe. Annie Anderson blogs at Sharks Need Love.
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