Spring time at the Bimini Shark Lab means young-of-the-year lemon sharks, which signals the beginning of our annual PIT sampling. PIT is a 12 night marathon of 12 hour sampling shifts with the goal of catching as many juvenile lemon sharks as possible. It is definitely challenging, but also incredibly rewarding! I was very fortunate to have an action packed and well-rounded PIT experience. It started out with being stationed at the iconic Sharkland Net 3. Going into the first night, I was feeling both anxious and excited to get started and forge my own memories and stories with my fellow lab-mates. The eagerness of each crew as we departed for our first night was clearly evident, and after setting our net, it did not take long for my team to start catching sharks by the dozens. We may have caught less and less sharks as the nights went on, but as the sharks became less frequent, we filled our time with singing, dancing, storytelling, and overall bonding.
After Sharkland sampling was completed and we moved on to the next nursery, I was given a new task: help PhD student Clemency with setting up her shark behavior experiment trials. Although it was unfortunate to be up during the day and therefore on a different sleeping cycle than the rest of the lab, working with Clemency was fun, productive, and gratifying. For the last few nights of PIT, I was lucky enough to be in charge of one of the nets for a night and then be a part of the work up crew the next two.
Possibly the most silliness took place on the last two nights, when I put on a show for each crew as I brought them food half way through the night. My first performance consisted of capturing and tagging a fake sawfish (PhD student Vital). I then presented select scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean as Will Turner with another intern (Jerome Jones aka Jerry) who flawlessly portrayed Captain Jack Sparrow. Soon after PIT ended, my time at the Sharklab came to an end, and I could not have drawn up a better way to complete my internship.
Also it is important to note that in the middle of this PIT season I finally achieved what most deemed impossible. I captured multiple iguanas, therefore successfully solidifying my place as Bimini’s resident herpetological expert.
Joseph Danger Bowline