Volunteers and mentors from Broward County Libraries joined Florida International University scientists onboard R/V ANGARI for an exciting day of research in the Lake Worth Lagoon.
December 3, 2022
Lake Worth Lagoon, FL
All sharks were fished for, caught, studied and released for research purposes under Florida permits held by Florida International University scientists.
Coastal Ocean Explorers: Sharks is an at-sea educational program that immerses youth and educators in hands-on marine science onboard our 65’ research vessel R/V ANGARI. On this expedition, youth volunteers and mentors from Broward County Libraries worked alongside researchers from the Florida International University College of Arts, Sciences and Education to support shark research and conservation in Palm Beach County.
Participants received training in marine science field methods, which included using baited remote underwater video system (BRUVS) surveys and drumline fishing to study marine life below the surface of the Lake Worth Lagoon. The participants assisted the scientists in all parts of the research process from the setup, deployment and retrieval of the survey and fishing gear, to analyzing the data in R/V ANGARI’s onboard lab.
For fishing, specialized shark research gear called drumlines were deployed. Drumlines allow sharks to swim freely in their environment after being hooked, which minimizes stress on the animal before a quick workup and release. A non-invasive method of studying sharks and other marine life, known as BRUVS, was also used. BRUVS consist of a camera and bait box mounted to a metal frame that is placed on the seafloor. Underwater video footage collected via BRUVS can be used to estimate marine life abundance and species diversity in a region, as well as examine marine life behavior. This expedition identified a high diversity of fish species in the Lake Worth Lagoon.
This expedition was sponsored by Broward County Library Foundation and supported by the generous donors of ANGARI Foundation.
Erin Spencer is a science writer, marine ecologist and Ph.D. candidate in Biology at FIU. Her research uses biologgers, or animal-mounted data collecting devices, to record acceleration, speed, depth, etc. that helps us understand great hammerhead shark energy needs and movement patterns. Prior to working in Florida, she received a M.S. in Ecology from the UNC – Chapel Hill where she studied red snapper fishery management and seafood mislabeling, and a B.S. in Ecology from the College of William and Mary where she studied invasive lionfish management. She is a three-time National Geographic Explorer grantee and has given talks to groups of all ages through National Geographic, the World Bank, TEDx, and schools. Erin is an avid writer and published a children’s book called The World of Coral Reefs. She is also passionate about science education and serves as a lead scientist for ANGARI’s Coastal Ocean Explorers: Sharks program aboard R/V ANGARI.