84 sharks!

Last night was our first evening of PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) where we insert a small chip under the skin of the shark, each reading its own unique number.

We go up into Biminis North Sound and set gill lines over night to catch baby lemon sharks, putting the lines out for twelve hours, and checking them every fifteen minutes. We went out and had our lines set by 6pm, and pulled the lines in 12 hours later at 6am this morning.

We will set our lines in the North Sound for 6 nights before moving to a different nursery location, typically catching between 60 and 80 sharks in the North Sound each year during PIT.

Last night was our first night in the North Bimini Sound and we were able to pull in 84 sharks! A record number for sure, with very limited by-catch (about 4 or 5 fish I think), and only one shark fatality.

For me, it is still difficult to see sharks die, especially with how targeted they have been, but as far as science goes it is important to realize that one death is a very good number for collecting 84 other sharks, and who have been tagged and whose DNA is going to be used to further the study on the species, which in turn helps an innumerable amount of other sharks.

PIT has been an active annual project here in Bimini for almost 20 years, which is at least how far back you need information on specific animals within a species to start being able to draw conclusions about them and their habits, which in turn helps with their conservation. Through the PIT program and DNA testing that has been going on we have been able to learn that females return every other year to give birth here, and we have been able to see that specific females have returned up to 6 times to give birth here, so 12 years of reproduction devoted to the same little part of bay here. Which are really quite astounding figures to hear about for these “mindless killing machines”.

It is pretty astounding to be able to connect all  of their DNA to see which sharks have been the most productive, to know their relationship to one another and to watch the Bimini family tree of lemon sharks continue to grow.

    • Toasty
    • June 3rd, 2013

    missed you this weekend, but the sharks are really cool 🙂

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