The shark population is depleting every single day. From the shark fin soup scandal in china to people killing them for no reason because people think they are a threat or they are they can even be victims of bycatch from commercial fisherman. Well think about this, sharks reproduce small numbers of pups and by killing premature sharks allows the reproduction of sharks to diminish. Shark are at the top of the food chain and with out them the populations of fish and other marine species will overpopulate and take over. But in order to protect these marine species, a group of scientists, including Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, that Jessie Jessup was able to work with, created a charter that catches, tags, releases and tracks dozens of species of sharks to get a better understanding of them in order tp protect them and keep their populations stable. Below are the steps to this tracking process so you can get a feel of what we do on on the boats.
Step 1 :Drumlines & Circle Hooks
Using custom-designed fishing units called drumlines, hooked sharks can swim in large circles. Circle hooks reduce the incidence of deep hooking. These strategies increase efficacy of catch and release fishing.
Step 2: Hook Timer
Each drumline has a timer attached, which records how long each shark has been on the line. With this data, we can better gauge fish stress levels, and adjust our tagging procedure accordingly.
Step 3: Water Pump
If the shark is brought aboard for tagging and sampling, a water pump is placed in its mouth that pushes fresh ocean water over its gills. This allows for continued breathing, and reduced stress levels.
Step 4: Blood Sample
Just like at the doctor’s office, a quick blood test can reveal a wealth of information without an invasive procedure. This is one of the methods used to conduct non-lethal sampling.
Step 5: Satellite Tags
Utilizing the latest satellite tag technology, we can gather invaluable data without compromising the life of an endangered shark. The tag is attached with the utmost consideration to shark health and safety.
Step 6: Sonogram
During special expeditions, sharks will be quickly and painlessly inspected via sonogram for pregnancy. This is a cutting edge, non-lethal method for studying shark reproduction.
Step 7: Rapid Processing Time
To minimize stress to the sharks, our team works like a race car pit crew to quickly tag and sample the shark before releasing it back into the ocean.
Step 8: Medical-grade Equipment
The biopsy, finclip and tagging tools are medical-grade, and cleaned with ethanol between uses. While sharks have incredibly strong immune systems, we do all we can reduce the risk of infection.
Step 9: Monitoring Release Condition
We monitor the shark’s condition upon release to help gauge the efficacy of our stress-reducing efforts. Taking underwater photo and video allows for later scientific review.
This opportunity was granted by The RJ Dunlap Program, working with UM and research students
The RJD Program is committed to protecting the health and safety of all individuals involved in its research and outreach, including the animals. All staff, students, interns, volunteers, and participants receive shark handling and safety training. In addition, we are always brainstorming new ways to improve our efficiency and decrease shark stress exposure.