Shark Tagging with the Guy Harvey Research Institute & Pompano Dive Center

Two weeks ago I was invited by Pompano Dive Center to go on a shark tagging excursion with Nova Southeastern University, Guy Harvey Research Institute!
Boat?! Memorial Day Weekend?! Sharks?!?! There’s no way I could say no to this opportunity!

I arrived at Pompano Dive Center in Pompano Beach, Florida at 8am where we were briefed by the Guy Harvey team of what we would be doing on this nine-hour shark tagging excursion. We were informed it would be a “hands on experience,” but I didn’t know to what degree….. I mean, we’re on a boat with scientists and marine biologist. I figured we’d be doing the most elementary tasks — BOY WAS I WRONG!

We boarded the 46-foot Sea Siren and made our way to the Hillsboro Inlet where we headed north to Boca Raton, Florida. As the shark tagging excursion began, Dr. Derek Burkholder, Research Scientist at the Guy Harvey Research Institute and Save Our Seas Shark Center, explained the important role sharks have in their ecosystem. Throughout his talk, we all asked questions to learn more about these amazing creatures. As we made our way to our destination, Burkholder’s crew showed us how to setup every aspect of the 10 research shark fishing rigs called “drumlines,” and the importance of each piece. From baiting the circle hook, to the length and test of the mono-filament line, to throwing the buoy and everything in between, no aspect was left untouched.

We were then tested on how well we were paying attention as it was our turn to set up and launch the remaining 9 shark tagging rigs.

After all 10 rigs were set at depths between 25-125 feet, the crew showed us how to properly tag the sharks and extract tissue samples for data collection purposes. After round 1 of 3, it was time to relax and enjoy the perfect Memorial Day weekend weather as the lines soaked. Some people stayed on the Sea Siren and tanned, while many of us grabbed our snorkel gear and enjoyed the water. Saffy, our amazing DM for the day, prepped for lunch during this down time. More than enough food was provided to everyone on board. Deli sandwiches, veggies, fruit, chips, bottled water, Gatorade and soda were some of the items everyone on the shark tagging excursion enjoyed for lunch.

After setting up the 10 shark tagging rigs three times, we tagged two sharks — an 8.5ft nurse shark an a 4.5ft juvenile tiger shark. When working with the tiger shark, Burkholder noticed a bait bag in the shark’s stomach. With the drawstring hanging out of its mouth, he was able to successfully remove it without harming the shark!

This excursion was truly a hands on experience! EVERYONE on the boat had the opportunity to do nearly every task that’s involved with successfully tagging a shark…. Everything from prepping the drumlines, to reeling in the sharks and even placing the tag onto the shark. If you love sharks, want to help the ocean and/or want to learn more about sharks, you need to go shark tagging!

Why Is Shark Tagging Important?

Sharks face intense fishing pressure worldwide. Shark tagging is important as it allows marine biologists to track which species of sharks are thriving and which are shrinking. Shark populations have fallen significantly worldwide to less than 30% of their numbers two decades ago. This decline is due to the combination of sharks being fished and their slow reproductive rate.

These shark tagging excursions help education people about sharks. We feel the people who call sharks killers and believe they need to be whipped out are lacking factual data.

FACTS: The odds of being attacked and killed by a shark are 1 in 3,700,000. The International Shark Attack File investigated 150 incidents of alleged shark-human interaction that occurred worldwide in 2016. Upon review, 81 of these incidents represented confirmed cases of unprovoked shark attacks on humans. There were only 4 fatalities  from unprovoked attacks in 2016. ONLY 4! This is a very low total considering the billions of human-hours spent in the water each year.

If you’re scared of being killed by a shark, you may want to rethink your lifestyle. You are more likely to die from lightning (1 in 79,746), car accident (1 in 84), stroke (1 in 24) or heart disease (1 in 5).

29 people were killed by falling TVs in 2011. Be careful when watching Shark Week on TV!

What To Bring On The Shark Tagging Excursion:

  • Towel
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses, and/or Hat
  • Snorkeling Gear — mask, fins and snorkel
  • Bathing Suit
  • Wear clothing you do not mind getting fishy or wet.

Ready To Join The NSU Guy Harvey Research Institute & Pompano Dive Center On A Shark Tagging Excursion?

Click or call 954-788-0208 to find out when the next shark tagging excursion is!
Fees collected by Pompano Dive Center for the shark tagging excursion will be donated in your name to Nova Southeastern University. This money will be used to support the research and education efforts conducted by the Guy Harvey Research Institute and NSU.

Please Note: Some details have been intentionally left out to protect sharks from the wrong people.

Shark Tagging In South Florida

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