Students and teachers from Palm Beach Central High School joined scientists from Florida International University onboard R/V ANGARI for an eventful day of science in the Lake Worth Lagoon.
December 4, 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.
As part of our Coastal Ocean Explorers: Sharks at-sea education program, teachers and students from William Bartenslager’s classes at Palm Beach Central High School were invited onboard R/V ANGARI for a day of hands-on field research. The participants worked closely with scientists from Florida International University’s College of Arts, Sciences and Education throughout the day, utilizing techniques such as baited remote underwater video system (BRUVS) surveys and drumline fishing to study sharks and other marine life living in the Lake Worth Lagoon.
The students and teachers participated in the set up, deployment and retrieval of fishing and survey equipment, as well as the analysis of collected data. For fishing, specialized shark research gear known as drumlines were deployed. Drumlines allow caught sharks to swim freely in their environment after being hooked, which minimizes stress on the animal before its 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. After recovering the BRUVS, the participants reviewed the video footage in R/V ANGARI’s indoor lab, working in teams to put into practice their species identification skills. The survey equipment attracted several notable visitors, including a nurse shark and a green sea turtle.
This expedition was 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.