Good morning everyone, and welcome to the first installment of the CEI shark program blog! Its mid summer here in the Bahamas with heavy duty sunshine and 30 + degrees outside – a number which becomes more significant with no air conditioning in the office and no shade on the boat!
For those of you that are not familiar with us and what we do our project this year is focusing on the validation of baited underwater video surveys as a measure of relative abundance in shark populations. For more info on the project please look at the SOSF project pages or the Cape Eleuthera Institute website. The project is essentially comparing the trends in relative abundance between baited video surveys and the current ‘industry standard’, scientific long-line surveys.
So what have we been up to so far? We are currently about 60% of the way through the first two month sampling period. All our baited underwater video surveys have been completed for this quarter and we are making good headway into the long-line surveys and we have been catching HUGE numbers of sharks of with both techniques!
Mostly we are seeing a large number of Caribbean reef sharks anything up to eight on a long-line survey (the most on one 40 hook long-line was 16 sharks!) and recently the big boys have been coming out to play – 260cm lemon sharks and 300cm tiger sharks! But of all the species we are seeing the nurse sharks are causing the most stress! With the video surveys as they suck out the entire bait leaving none to attract other sharks, and with the long-line surveys as they are exceptionally tough to handle as they are strong and have a tendency to barrel roll and soon as they get next to the boat! Conversely the ‘ferocious’ tiger shark is one of the best behaved whilst being tagged!
Well that’s about all for now – I have to go back out in the field to catch some more sharks! More from sunny Eleuthera soon.