healing sharks

HEALING SHARKS

Recent research on the stress physiology of South Florida shark species is being used to create new guidelines for sport fisherman in order to help protect the health of our world’s oceans.

 

Islamorada, Miami, Florida - Spring 2012: The RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center shark-tagging team reels in a hammerhead as their first catch of the day while out on the water with students from the Our Lady of Lourdes Academy.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida – Spring 2012: The RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center shark-tagging team reels in a hammerhead as their first catch of the day while out on the water with students from the Our Lady of Lourdes Academy.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida - Spring 2012: RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center graduate students Virginia Ansaldi and Austin Gallgher prepare the drumlines for deployment during a day out on the water with the shark research team. Thirty drumlines with baited hooks are dropped on each trip and are reeled in one hour later, optimally with a shark on the other end.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida – Spring 2012: RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center graduate students Virginia Ansaldi and Austin Gallgher prepare the drumlines for deployment during a day out on the water with the shark research team. Thirty drumlines with baited hooks are dropped on each trip and are reeled in one hour later, optimally with a shark on the other end.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida - Spring 2012: An RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center intern holds ready a piece of bait before tossing it into the water during a day out on the water with the shark research team. The team uses only circle hooks when baiting and reeling in sharks, as they allow for a specimen to be hooked without getting caught on any internal organs and causing permanent damage, like an old fashioned J hook would cause. Due to the shape of the cirle hook, when the shark consumes the bait, the hook then comes back up and catches on the lip of the shark's mouth, a location that heels in a few days to weeks.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida – Spring 2012: An RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center intern holds ready a piece of bait before tossing it into the water during a day out on the water with the shark research team. The team uses only circle hooks when baiting and reeling in sharks, as they allow for a specimen to be hooked without getting caught on any internal organs and causing permanent damage, like an old fashioned J hook would cause. Due to the shape of the cirle hook, when the shark consumes the bait, the hook then comes back up and catches on the lip of the shark’s mouth, a location that heels in a few days to weeks.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida - Spring 2012: RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center graduate student Austin Gallagher tosses the ends of a drumline into the water. An orange float is attached to the end of each drumline to allow the team to find it their hooks again later.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida – Spring 2012: RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center graduate student Austin Gallagher tosses the ends of a drumline into the water. An orange float is attached to the end of each drumline to allow the team to find it their hooks again later.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida - Spring 2012: Students from MAST Academy in Virginia Key set sail for a day out on the water with the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center's shark-tagging team. Every trip out of the RJ Dunlap team is with a school group, as the program is aimed at not only performing the necessary tests, but to teach students about the need for research that helps combat the failing health of our oceans and what we can do to save them.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida – Spring 2012: Students from MAST Academy in Virginia Key set sail for a day out on the water with the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center’s shark-tagging team. Every trip out of the RJ Dunlap team is with a school group, as the program is aimed at not only performing the necessary tests, but to teach students about the need for research that helps combat the failing health of our oceans and what we can do to save them.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida - Spring 2012: RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center intern Laurel Zaima reels in a drumline and hoping their is something on the other end during a day out on the water with students from MAST Academy in Virginia Key.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida – Spring 2012: RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center intern Laurel Zaima reels in a drumline and hoping their is something on the other end during a day out on the water with students from MAST Academy in Virginia Key.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida - Spring 2012: Attached to every drumline dropped by the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center shark research team is a hook timer. When a shark takes the bait and is hooked, that pressure causes the hook timer to pop and begin timing how long the shark has been on the line. This information is later juxtaposed with the stress levels of the specimen to determine how long a particular species can be hooked on a line before its defense mechanisms begin to break down. This information is being used to design new guidelines for anglers and sport fisherman, those of whom catch large fish species and keep them on the line as long as they can. While they are still releasing the fish, if they keep it on the line too long, its natural defenses will no longer function and it essentially becomes a sitting duck for its predators.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida – Spring 2012: Attached to every drumline dropped by the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center shark research team is a hook timer. When a shark takes the bait and is hooked, that pressure causes the hook timer to pop and begin timing how long the shark has been on the line. This information is later juxtaposed with the stress levels of the specimen to determine how long a particular species can be hooked on a line before its defense mechanisms begin to break down. This information is being used to design new guidelines for anglers and sport fisherman, those of whom catch large fish species and keep them on the line as long as they can. While they are still releasing the fish, if they keep it on the line too long, its natural defenses will no longer function and it essentially becomes a sitting duck for its predators.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida - Spring 2012: Boat captain Curt Slonim reels in a nurse shark during a day out on the water with the shark-tagging team from the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center and students from MAST Academy in Virginia Key. The team caught 11 nurse sharks that day, a record number for that location.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida – Spring 2012: Boat captain Curt Slonim reels in a nurse shark during a day out on the water with the shark-tagging team from the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center and students from MAST Academy in Virginia Key. The team caught 11 nurse sharks that day, a record number for that location.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida - Spring 2012: Christine Shepherd, the multimedia specialist at the R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program, holds steady the line on a female nurse shark during a day out on the water with the shark research team. The Conservation Program is aimed at research the stress physiology as well as other aspects regarding sharks in South Florida, but doing so in a method to keep them alive. Every time a shark is caught, blood samples are taken, as well as length measurements and fin clips, and then they are set free. The mission of the R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program is to advance marine conservation by combining cutting edge research and outreach activities.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida – Spring 2012: Christine Shepherd, the multimedia specialist at the R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program, holds steady the line on a female nurse shark during a day out on the water with the shark research team. The Conservation Program is aimed at research the stress physiology as well as other aspects regarding sharks in South Florida, but doing so in a method to keep them alive. Every time a shark is caught, blood samples are taken, as well as length measurements and fin clips, and then they are set free. The mission of the R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program is to advance marine conservation by combining cutting edge research and outreach activities.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida - Spring 2012: RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center shark tagging team interns and staff wrangle a lemon shark onto the boat during a day out on the water.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida – Spring 2012: RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center shark tagging team interns and staff wrangle a lemon shark onto the boat during a day out on the water.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida - Spring 2012: RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center shark-tagging team intern Evan Byrnes holds steady the head of a hammerhead, while fellow team members collect samples from the animal. The tube sticking out of the shark's mouth is a water pump that is placed inside the mouth to pump water over the gills while the specimen is out of the water.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida – Spring 2012: RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center shark-tagging team intern Evan Byrnes holds steady the head of a hammerhead, while fellow team members collect samples from the animal. The tube sticking out of the shark’s mouth is a water pump that is placed inside the mouth to pump water over the gills while the specimen is out of the water.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida - Spring 2012: Once the animal is on board, two to three people will sit on the shark to secure it while the rest of the team performs their tests, a process that totals three inutes at maximum. The tube sticking out of the shark's mouth is a water pump that is placed inside the mouth to pump water over the gills while the specimen is out of the water.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida – Spring 2012: Once the animal is on board, two to three people will sit on the shark to secure it while the rest of the team performs their tests, a process that totals three inutes at maximum. The tube sticking out of the shark’s mouth is a water pump that is placed inside the mouth to pump water over the gills while the specimen is out of the water.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida - Spring 2012: RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center shark-tagging team intern Catherine MacDonald holds steady the head of a hammerhead, while fellow team members collect samples from the animal. The tube sticking out of the shark's mouth is a water pump that is placed inside the mouth to pump water over the gills while the specimen is out of the water.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida – Spring 2012: RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center shark-tagging team intern Catherine MacDonald holds steady the head of a hammerhead, while fellow team members collect samples from the animal. The tube sticking out of the shark’s mouth is a water pump that is placed inside the mouth to pump water over the gills while the specimen is out of the water.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida - Spring 2012: Whenever a shark is brought on board, a spaghetti tag is attached the the cartilage at the bottom of the first dorsal fin. The tag includes a serial number that corresponds with the tests run on that animal, as well as the phone number for the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center, so that should the specimen to caught by someone else and released, they can let the team know when and where they caught the shark.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida – Spring 2012: Whenever a shark is brought on board, a spaghetti tag is attached the the cartilage at the bottom of the first dorsal fin. The tag includes a serial number that corresponds with the tests run on that animal, as well as the phone number for the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center, so that should the specimen to caught by someone else and released, they can let the team know when and where they caught the shark.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida - Spring 2012: Instead of eyelids, sharks have what is called a nictitating membrane, a transparent or translucent pseudo eyelid that can be drawn across the eye for protection and to moisten it while maintaining visibility. When a shark feels they have been threatened in some way, this nictitaing membrane will fire, protecting the eye. If a shark is continually in a state of heightened risk, like being caught on a line, this defense mechanism will break down and eventually, the nictitating membrane will not fire. To test if the shark is severely stressed, the team shoots a squirt of saltwater into the shark's eye. If the membrane fires, the shark is still in control of its defense mechanisms. If the membrane does not fire, however, the specimen needs to get back into the water immediately. This information is later paired with the amount of time the shark was on the line, allowing the team to find out how long each species can sustain their defesnse mechanisms will hooked before they are in immediate danger to predators.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida – Spring 2012: Instead of eyelids, sharks have what is called a nictitating membrane, a transparent or translucent pseudo eyelid that can be drawn across the eye for protection and to moisten it while maintaining visibility. When a shark feels they have been threatened in some way, this nictitaing membrane will fire, protecting the eye. If a shark is continually in a state of heightened risk, like being caught on a line, this defense mechanism will break down and eventually, the nictitating membrane will not fire. To test if the shark is severely stressed, the team shoots a squirt of saltwater into the shark’s eye. If the membrane fires, the shark is still in control of its defense mechanisms. If the membrane does not fire, however, the specimen needs to get back into the water immediately. This information is later paired with the amount of time the shark was on the line, allowing the team to find out how long each species can sustain their defesnse mechanisms will hooked before they are in immediate danger to predators.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida - Spring 2012: Boat captain Curt Slonim takes a blood sample from a nurse shark caught during a day out on the water with the shark-tagging team at the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center. The blood sample allows the team to look at what the shark has been eating, where it has been swimming, if it is pregnant (if a female specimen), along with many other hormonal atributes that could have an affect on the stress physiology of the shark.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida – Spring 2012: Boat captain Curt Slonim takes a blood sample from a nurse shark caught during a day out on the water with the shark-tagging team at the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center. The blood sample allows the team to look at what the shark has been eating, where it has been swimming, if it is pregnant (if a female specimen), along with many other hormonal atributes that could have an affect on the stress physiology of the shark.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida - Spring 2012: RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center graduate student Austin Gallagher performs tests on a blood sample taken from a great hammerhead to find out if the female is pregnant, an attribute that could greatly affect the stress physiology of the specimen, during a day out of the water.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida – Spring 2012: RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center graduate student Austin Gallagher performs tests on a blood sample taken from a great hammerhead to find out if the female is pregnant, an attribute that could greatly affect the stress physiology of the specimen, during a day out of the water.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida - Spring 2012: RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center director Neil Hammerschlag and boat captain Curt Slonim, with the help of RJD interns and staff, work to get an adult lemon shark back into the water after performing tests necessary for researching the stress levels of particular shark species.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida – Spring 2012: RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center director Neil Hammerschlag and boat captain Curt Slonim, with the help of RJD interns and staff, work to get an adult lemon shark back into the water after performing tests necessary for researching the stress levels of particular shark species.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida - Spring 2012: RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center shark-tagging team member Virginia Ansaldi celebrates after releasing a great hammerhead, the team's first catch of the day, back into the ocean during a day out on the water.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida – Spring 2012: RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center shark-tagging team member Virginia Ansaldi celebrates after releasing a great hammerhead, the team’s first catch of the day, back into the ocean during a day out on the water.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida - Spring 2012: RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center graudate student Austin Gallagher holds steady a great hammerhead as boat captain Curt Slonim uses bolt cutters to remove the hook from the lip of the specimen during a day out of the water. Hammerheads are a particularly fragile species and often times need help to regain the use of their fins after being out of the water for any period of time. Gallagher hopped into the water with this specimen during its release to help it swim away.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida – Spring 2012: RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center graudate student Austin Gallagher holds steady a great hammerhead as boat captain Curt Slonim uses bolt cutters to remove the hook from the lip of the specimen during a day out of the water. Hammerheads are a particularly fragile species and often times need help to regain the use of their fins after being out of the water for any period of time. Gallagher hopped into the water with this specimen during its release to help it swim away.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida - Spring 2012: RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center graduate student Fiona Graham uses bolt cutters to remove a hook from the lip of a nurse shark to release it back into the ocean during a day out on the water.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida – Spring 2012: RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center graduate student Fiona Graham uses bolt cutters to remove a hook from the lip of a nurse shark to release it back into the ocean during a day out on the water.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida - Spring 2012: The eye of a lemon shark while on board during a day out on the water with the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center' shark-tagging team.

Islamorada, Miami, Florida – Spring 2012: The eye of a lemon shark while on board during a day out on the water with the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Center’ shark-tagging team.