Thursday last week saw a rare break from the northeast winds that have been relentlessly blowing across campus. The Shark Research and Conservation Team took this opportunity to set longlines for their ongoing survey of coastal shark abundance and diversity around the Cape. The team, led by Dr. Owen O'Shea and joined by the Brewster Academy of New Hampshire, left CEI after breakfast and deployed a twenty-five hook longline approximately one mile north of Cape Eleuthera.
After an hour and a half soak time, filled with an educational talk by Dr. O'Shea, the team began retrieval of the line. Two very feisty black tip sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus) were caught and worked up quickly, before being released with minimal stress. Shortly after that, the team were shocked to haul in a male great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran), over 3 metres long! Measurements were taken, a tissue sample was collected and tags were administered before the animal was released. The team watched in awe as this rare and beautiful catch swam off gracefully. The measurements recorded will contribute to the diverse database CEI has been collecting for over 10 years about coastal shark populations. This information furthers our knowledge of the sharks endemic to this area and assists in the conservation of these creatures worldwide.