Catching, measuring and tagging sharks … cool stuff. Especially when students are doing it.
Out here on clear, silky Florida Bay and under the warm winter sun, marine-biology students from the MAST Academy, Palmer Trinity School and the University of Miami are coming face to face with the oceans’ top predators and building a vital database for scientists. During this six-hour excursion they will catch another 10 Atlantic sharpnose sharks — one more than three feet long. They soon become so adept that the sharks, hauled to the dive boat’s makeshift gurney, are out of the water only three to four minutes.
The students are building an inventory of the sharks in Florida waters. They record the latitude and longitude where each animal is found and test the water quality every hour.
Hammerschlag, 27, originated the South Florida Student Shark Program (SFSSP) in 2006. He envisioned high school marine-biology students not only taking inventory but also acting as shark ambassadors to spread the word about the animals’ endangered status.
Now that vision has become multifaceted and scientifically important not just for high school and university students but also for ocean researchers.