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You are here: /main/research expeditions/August/September 2007/Tagging sharks

Day 7 - Tagging large sharks
Friday, August 31

by Carlie Wiener

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Another day of dive operations at Pearl and Hermes atoll. The weather was very stormy and I was not looking forward to facing the ripping current and strong winds. Today, was a special day as it was my birthday, and I got to spend it in one of the most unique places in the world. Dr. Meyer allowed me to come out with his team today to implant receiver tags in large apex predators. These species include sharks, ulua and other sizeable fish. We began the day checking out the west side of the atoll and hit a major storm squall. After battling seven foot swell and a long, bumpy ride, we let out the long lines to attract fish and sharks.

Pulling out the long lines
Dr. Carl Meyer pulls out the long lines to catch apex predators for tagging, Carlie Wiener.

The hooks are bated with other fish which are put on the lines right from the boat. Almost immediately, we found several Galapagos sharks and a few ulua. Dr. Meyer assessed each animal by taking body measurements, identifying the sex and then implanting a tracking tag with a small incision that was easily sewn up.

Calie Wiener holds a satellite tag.
I get to hold the satellite tag while Dr. Meyer preps the shark, Carlie Wiener.

After a few sharks were caught and released we headed down wind of the storm into the sheltered lagoon of the atoll. This was the first time I have seen land since leaving Oahu. On the maps the atoll looks so large, that you would expect to see a significant land mass. In fact, only a small spit of land is seen with most of the atoll submerged underwater. Upon our transition to the other side of the atoll we were very fortunate to have caught a twelve foot tiger shark. I could not believe how large the shark was, it was quite the challenge to stabilize the shark along side of the boat.

Stabilizing a 12 foot tigershark
Jon Dale stabilizes a tiger shark for tagging, Carlie Wiener.

Dr. Meyer and the team worked diligently taking measurements and implanting several satellite tracking and identification tags. The shark was surprisingly docile once immobilized and had really smooth skin. The other research teams were also very successful today, with the Maritime Heritage group discovering a new wreck in the lagoon. A brief investigation was carried out and they determined it to be a more modern wreck. Dr. Karl and his team continue at their patch reef site as well, plotting transects and observing coral, while Dr. Toonen and his researchers continue their sample collection of marine invertebrates. The evening is somewhat quite as everyone tries to enter their data from the day and prepare for tomorrow. There is always work to be done, and an exciting adventure to be had the following day. From Pearl and Hermes Atoll a hui hou!

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Coral bleaching

Galapagos shark

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