Scientist Hold Bake Sale
Published: June 8, 2012
Scientist Hold Bake Sale, For scientist Neil Hammerschlag, it was just another Sunday. He was out cruising the reefs near the Florida Keys, hunting for sharks – not as trophies, but for research aimed at keeping them out of display cases and in the water. In many places, these iconic predators are disappearing.
A research assistant professor at the University of Miami, and the director of its R. J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program, Hammerschlag spends every other weekend in southern Florida dragging baited, shark-safe lines behind a boat, hoping one of his research subjects will take a bite.
When he and his team catch one, they outfit the shark with either a satellite tag or an ID tag, take tiny samples of muscle and fin and a vial’s worth of blood (they check to see if the shark is pregnant), then send the shark on its way. The whole process takes about five minutes.
On Sunday, May 27, they were having plenty of luck. Something snagged the other end of the 75-foot line, and Hammerschlag began to pull it in. Right away, he said, he could tell something was different.
“It’s a lot of work to bring up a line, but I can usually do it myself,” he says. This time, he needed help.
He and a colleague joined forces. “We didn’t know if we were pulling up a sunken boat, a monster shark, a school bus – we had no idea which it was,” Hammerschlag told OurAmazingPlanet.
They were in about 150 feet of water, and, even as the two men strained to pull in whatever it was, it remained invisible, hidden by the murk of the shallow ocean.
“As soon as it came to the surface, it literally took my breath away, it was so big,” Hammerschlag said. They had hooked a massive bull shark, the region’s See images of the bull shark .]
“It’s one of the biggest bull sharks I’ve ever caught, and it’s the biggest bull shark I’ve ever tagged,” Hammerschlag said – and he’s tagged more than 1,000 sharks. “When this guy rocked up, it just took my breath away.” (MSNBC)
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