Project news

Caught on camera!

By Ariadna Rojas Corzo, 13th February 2024

In October 9th and November 27th of 2023, Changing Seas South Florida PBS joined us in Sarasota Bay and the Indian River Lagoon to film an episode highlighting our work supported by Save Our Seas Foundation. This episode, scheduled to air in June 2024, will be showcasing our tagging efforts on young whitespotted eagle rays in Florida. In Sarasota Bay a young eagle ray (~80 cm disc width) was captured in the Gulf of Mexico and actively tracked for a few hours in collaboration with Mote Marine Laboratory. In the Indian River Lagoon of Florida’s East coast we tagged a 55 cm eagle ray at the end of November, which we considered an early Christmas gift!

Eagle ray captured in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida November 27th, 2023. Photo © ChangingSeas_SouthFloridaPBS

How do we find and tag the rays?:

  • In Sarasota Bay, with the help of the marine operations staff from Mote Marine Lab, we visually look for eagle rays and encircle them with a seine net. Then, we scoop the rays out with a net.
  • In the Florida’s Indian River Lagoon, the Fisheries Ecology and Conservation Lab captures young eagle rays using a short-soak entanglement net with accessory floats.
  • In both locations, the rays are kept in a live well tank where a series of measurements and samples are collected.
  • After the measurements have been taken the rays are tagged with an active and coded transmitter for short-term and long-term tracking.

Compass encircling the young eagle ray tagged in the Gulf of Mexico in October 2023. Photo © ChangingSeas_SouthFloridaPBS

Gillnet retrieval in the Indian River Lagoon. Photo © ChangingSeas_SouthFloridaPBS

Surgical procedure to insert internal acoustic tags. Photo © ChangingSeas_SouthFloridaPBS

Thanks to the support of Save our Seas Foundation and The Mote Scientific Foundation we have been able to collect data that will be used to reveal the first nursery areas for this species in North America. This type of study takes a village and would not be possible without the efforts of the Fisheries Ecology and Conservation Lab at FAU-Harbor Branch, Kim Bassos-Hull, Pete Hull and the Marine Ops staff at Mote Marine Lab. Thank you to ChangingSeas_SouthFloridaPBS for joining us in this adventure. Stay tuned for more updates!

Pinging away! Release of a tagged whitespotted eagle ray in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo © ChangingSeas_SouthFloridaPBS

Project See project and more news