Words by Baylie Fadool
Photos by Baylie Fadool, Chelle Blais, Wyatt Albert, Jasmine Nyce, Meghana Binraj, Shannon Powers, and Ilijah Louis
Apr 30, 2023
April tends to be our busiest month for outreach activities and more, and this year was no exception! We reached an audience of over 1,000 people this month through various conservation events, Request a Speakers, research, and conferences. Read below to learn all about it!
Back to Research in the Florida Keys
Our team kicked off this month by heading to Big Pine Key to conduct more research. Throughout the month, our team caught a total of 151 sharks! Within this total, we broke a Shark Lab record by catching the biggest shark that the lab has ever recorded. It was a big, pregnant, female great hammerhead shark measuring in at a total length of 398 cm. She was outfitted with a satellite tag so that her movements can be tracked over the next few months by our researchers. The smallest shark caught on the trip was a bonnethead shark coming in at a total length measurement of 80 cm.
During the first half of the month, we were joined by Dr. Andrea Kroetz from NOAA Fisheries and her intern Ashley and also Ashley Dawdy from Dr. Dean Grubbs’ lab at Florida State University. Dr. Kroetz studies smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) to better understand their population numbers. Smalltooth sawfish are listed as critically endangered under the IUCN Red List. We were able to sample two large sawfish with them. All research activities were conducted and authorized under Endangered Species Act (ESA) permit 22078 and also under permit FKNMS-2022-083 issued to Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation.
[Photo by Baylie Fadool]
[Photo by Baylie Fadool]
We had our new cohort of interns join us for the last two weeks of April in the Florida Keys. They come to us from a range of different backgrounds and experiences. They will be with us until the middle of June and will complete the rest of their internship in Bimini gaining outreach and education skills through tours, university courses, and local outreach.
Emily Cormier, previous Shark Lab intern and current Masters student at Dalhousie University, also joined us for the last two weeks of research in the Florida Keys and will be helping out for a bit in Bimini. She is doing her Masters research in affiliation with the lab looking at lemon shark habitat change over the years using satellite imagery and how a change in habitat could be reflected in their diet using stable isotope analysis. Learn more about her research here at this link: https://www.biminisharklab.com/sharksfromspace.
Micheal Näf, a previous Shark Lab volunteer, returned to Bimini with a group from Switzerland to spend a week doing a Field Expedition at the lab. The cold weather from Switzerland made them even more eager to spend time in the water doing field activities, so much so that it was hard to get this group out of the water! It was stormy for a few days, but it did not stop this group’s enthusiasm and tenacity. They saw all that Bimini has to offer: from curious stingrays to majestic great hammerheads to plentiful Caribbean reef sharks. Micheal’s last visit with a group was before COVID, so he got to see all the upgrades and renovations to the lab. We were so happy to have Michael back, and we hope to see him with another group back in the near future!
Tortuga Music Festival
Rock The Ocean is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ocean conservation and raising public awareness for the threats facing our oceans. They do this by supporting scientific research, education, and conservation through apparel, partnerships, and benefit concerts. Tortuga Music Festival celebrated its sold-out 10th anniversary this year and was created by Rock The Ocean. The entire festival is focused on ocean conservation and has an area where guests can learn more about organizations helping our oceans called Conservation Village. The Shark Lab is proud to be a part of Conservation Village every year since its inception. Every year, we choose a different theme in shark research to highlight. For this year’s theme, we focused on lesser-known sharks and sharks of the deep sea. We displayed this theme through a deep sea shark poster and a television display looping videos of deep sea sharks. Our outreach shark made of fiberglass, Noodle the Nurse Shark, helped us demonstrate a unique-looking shark. We had guests help us do a shark workup by measuring Noodle to get the two measurements we take from nurse sharks when we are doing research in the field: precaudal and total length measurements.
Stoked on Salt’s Ocean Conservation Day
Stoked on Salt organizes beach clean ups and sells apparel to contribute to the conservation of our beautiful oceans, beaches, and coral reefs.The Shark Lab attended Stoked on Salt’s Ocean Conservation Day for the first time last year. This day is a free, family-friendly event in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, that educates the public on organizations doing work to save the ocean. We were happy to be back this year for the 6th annual Ocean Conservation Day! We took Noodle, our nurse shark, to show guests how to do shark workups like we do when we are in the field doing research.
Florida Marine Science Educators Association Conference
Outreach Coordinator, Baylie Fadool, attended the Florida Marine Science Educators Association (FMSEA) Conference on April 29th. FMSEA was founded in 1968 and is a professional association of individuals and organizations devoted to the cause of marine education in Florida. It is a regional chapter of the National Marine Educators Association (NMEA). Baylie gave a presentation on “Educator Opportunities at the Bimini Shark Lab” and attended many other presentations to learn educational tools and materials from individuals and organizations that can be implemented in the Shark Lab’s various marine science programs.
Request A Speaker
We were busy this month doing virtual and in-person talks for classrooms and clubs! We gave 7 virtual talks, and Station Manager, Jasmine Nyce, traveled back to her old high school in Pennsylvania to give in-person presentations about the Shark Lab and her journey. If you are interested in requesting a speaker from our station, follow this link: https://www.biminisharklab.com/speaker-request. We can tailor our presentation to whatever lesson you are teaching or topic you would like covered. Just let us know in the details section of the form!