Students and teachers from Palm Springs Community Middle School spent the day onboard R/V ANGARI for a hands-on Coastal Ocean Explorers: Sharks expedition with Florida International University scientists.
September 21, 2023
Palm Beach County, FL
All sharks were fished for, caught, studied and released for research purposes under Florida permits held by Florida International University scientists.
Palm Springs Community Middle School’s STEM Rays joined ANGARI crew and researchers from Florida International University’s (FIU) College of Arts, Sciences & Education for an educational day of science-at-sea onboard R/V ANGARI. The Palm Springs students and teachers participated in a variety of shark research methods throughout the day, including baited remote underwater video system (BRUVS) surveys and fishing for sharks using a specialized type of field gear known as drumlines.
After introductions to R/V ANGARI’s crew, the FIU scientists, vessel operations and the research methods to be employed, the students worked in teams to assemble and deploy the BRUVS. They eagerly filled the bait cage, attached it to the bait arm and connected the bait arm to the BRUVS frame. They also helped to attach the GoPro camera and float line prior to deploying the rig into the Lake Worth Lagoon. While the BRUVS soaked, the students and teachers practiced their BRUVS video analysis and marine species identification skills on curated BRUVS footage.
Once the BRUVS was recovered, the vessel repositioned to the northern lagoon for drumline fishing. Drumlines are a research-specific type of fishing gear that minimize stress on sharks by allowing them to continue to swim once hooked. The students worked side-by-side with the scientists throughout the drumline assembly, deployment and retrieval process. Although no sharks were caught, the participants had the rare opportunity to witness a hammerhead shark feeding nearby! As the vessel returned to the dock, all onboard debriefed about the experiences of the day and the importance of shark research and conservation, while also discussing a variety of career pathways in marine science and related-industries.
This expedition was made possible with funding from the Society for Science’s STEM Action Grant program.
Sara Casareto is a Ph.D. candidate in the Marine Community and Behavioral Ecology Lab at Florida International University. Her work focuses on behavioral ecology and trophic interactions. Her current research centers around elasmobranch biology and ecology, looking at different factors that affect juvenile shark behavior and decision making in coastal waters. The specific questions she is interested in involve risk from larger sharks, abiotic factors like salinity and temperature, and the presence/absence of different shark species. Originally from Maryland, Sara has been in Florida since 2016. She holds a B.S. in Biology-Marine Science from the University of Tampa and has studied marine species ranging from sharks to photosynthetic sea slugs. Sara hopes to further her career in predator-prey interactions to help elucidate management and conservation strategies for shark and ray populations. A passionate educator, Sara is involved in outreach through National Geographic and The Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and ANGARI Foundation.