Field Update #4: Almost there...
I'll keep this one short as we are mostly just fishing as usual. So far we've put twenty animals in the cage and have observed a 58% total mortality rate. We're getting there... another ten Squalus cubensis and we'll probably be done with that species!
I'd like to share a video of some of the sharks in the cage to give you a better idea of what we're seeing as the Cuban dogfish recover- check out a short clip below:
We have also begun using our 'fin cam', which we place on the dorsal fin of released, non-caged, individuals to ID predators on the way down. No predators have showed up on camera yet. I don't think we've had a deep enough drop, with our deepest follow terminating at 350 ft, but hopefully the next few weeks give us that opportunity. Either way it is always exciting to check out the footage when we get back from the field, and we get 'natural' descent rates each time as well. These can give us a point of reference for how fast the cage should be falling.
I'll continue to update you over the next two months. The schedule gets pretty busy with Island School as we have parent's weekend and the research symposium coming up, so the students will be busy preparing and practicing their presentations. Other than that, we'll keep at it and figure out a plan for the spring field season.
As always, thanks for your support!
After three weeks of catching absolutely nothing whenever our students were on the boat, we broke our streak of bad luck with a shallow drop that gave us four dusky smoothhound sharks (Mustelus canis insularis), one Cuban dogfish, and a non-target bony fish that we sampled for toxicity analysis. These samples will be used as points of comparison for fish caught around the Deepwater Horizon oil spill site in the Gulf of Mexico.