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Expedition 76:
Coastal Ocean Explorers: Sharks - Women's Foundation of Florida STEAM Academy

Fourteen women from the Women’s Foundation of Florida STEAM Academy boarded R/V ANGARI to experience marine science research first-hand as part of our Coastal Ocean Explorers: Sharks program in partnership with Florida International University.

Female Mentors
STEAM Academy Students
Nurse Sharks



March 2, 2024


Palm Beach County, FL


Science Team

Sara Casareto
Candace Fields
Mia Gabb

Sara Schoen
Deirdre Stinson

All sharks were fished for, caught, studied and released for research purposes under Florida permits held by Florida International University scientists.

Eleven female students and their mentors from the Women’s Foundation of Florida’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics) Academy joined ANGARI crew and an all-female team of scientists from Florida International University (FIU) College of Arts, Sciences and Education onboard R/V ANGARI for an empowering Coastal Ocean Explorers: Sharks expedition. The day got off to a great start with introductions from everyone and a safety briefing with ANGARI’s crew. We then moved on to our first research method of the day – learning about and deploying a baited remote underwater video system (BRUVS) to non-invasively study marine life. The STEAM Academy participants were excited to get started and helped assemble, bait, deploy and recover the BRUVS. They also worked on their species identification, data collection and evaluation skills using previously collected underwater BRUVS footage.

After recovering the BRUVS, the vessel repositioned for our second field method – fishing for sharks using specialized shark research fishing gear called drumlines. The students worked together in teams to set up the drumlines, carefully baiting the circle hooks before deploying them into the Lake Worth Lagoon. After waiting eagerly for each drumline to soak for 60 minutes, the teams took turns retrieving the drumlines to see if we had been successful in catching any sharks. Over the course of the day, two nurse sharks were caught and the participants were able to work with the scientists to measure, collect small tissue samples from and attach a uniquely numbered National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Cooperative Shark Tagging Program (NOAA CSTP) identification tag to each shark prior to its safe release. Everyone onboard enjoyed getting the opportunity to experience a shark in its natural habitat, and the students and mentors wrapped up the day with an engaging conversation about what it’s like to be a woman in STEAM and career Q&A with the scientists and the crew.

This expedition was made possible with funding from the Women’s Foundation of Florida and Great Charity Challenge.


Sara Casareto

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.

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2023 Great Charity Challenge Logo


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