About a dozen high school students — guests of the University of Miami’s marine research program — went aboard the vessel Curt-A-Sea. Their mission: to help scientists capture sharks, measure them, take blood and conduct other tests before tagging them so they can be tracked.
Students including 14-year-old Kyle Truesdell, kissed chunks of fish, placed the bait on 10 weighted hooks and waited. And waited. And waited some more. For six hours. But on this day, no sharks were biting.
Catherine Macdonald, lab manager for the university’s R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program, has been tagging sharks for 10 years. Tuesday’s trip was her first shutout. Although some students got seasick or stung by jellyfish while swimming, Macdonald tried to make it a learning experience.
“If there are no sharks, there is a reason for it,” she said. “Whether it’s a change in barometric pressure, the presence of all these jellyfish or it’s the water temperature, I don’t really know. But the more days we have like this the better able we are to sort of look at that data and see what it might be telling us.”