Playa del Carmen shark research trip 2012 days 3-5

On Monday Mrs. Mendelow woke up early to go on the fishing boat Dr. Antoniou and Dr. Hoyos had chartered to catch a bull shark so that they could implant an internal tracking tag. When the rest of us woke, we learned that they had successfully tagged a pregnant female. We went to the same dive site as the day before and dove with the sharks again. One of them came within an arm’s length of our group, and the others were not much further away. The star of the dive was a little sea turtle that sat on the bottom right behind us, almost as if it were just another diver.

On Tuesday, we all rose early to join the fishing expedition. Sydney went on the boat with the scientists, while the rest of us stayed close by on a separate vessel. Unfortunately the sharks were not biting, so we were unable to deploy the tag. Tuesday afternoon, Connor, Marcus, Sydnee, Dr. Burke, and Mrs. Mendelow went diving with sharks again with Dr. Hoyos, who was hoping to deploy an external tag on a bull shark. Alex, JP, Dr. Antoniou, and I waited on a second boat for the tag to be set. The plan was for them to follow the shark’s signal using an acoustic receiver overnight. However, the sharks didn’t come close enough to be tagged.

Today, the schedule was similar to yesterday’s. We went out to watch the fishing take place, this time with Marcus with the scientists. After over an hour of waiting, they got a bite, and pulled in a six-foot female bull shark. They attached a spot tag to the dorsal fin, which transmits data to a satellite whenever the fin is above the water, and inserted an internal acoustic tag, which transmits data to receivers located strategically throughout the area. Later on in the day, we went on another dive with and tried to attach an external acoustic tag so we could track them with a boat, but unfortunately no sharks were present.

This trip has been a terrific learning experience, and I have enjoyed working with Fins Attached.

-Ben Lehr and Alex Wissmann and the rest of the T4O crew

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