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Expedition 81:
Coastal Ocean Explorers: Sharks - Eagles Landing Middle School

Eagles Landing Middle School students and mentors spent the day onboard R/V ANGARI working with Florida International University scientists as part of our Coastal Ocean Explorers: Sharks hands-on education program.

Research Methods
Nurse Shark



April 10, 2024


Palm Beach County, FL


Science Team

Sara Casareto
Candace Fields
Mia Gabb
John Hernandez
William Sample

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

Students and chaperones from Eagles Landing Middle School joined ANGARI crew and scientists from Florida International University’s (FIU) College of Arts, Sciences and Education onboard R/V ANGARI for a day of hands-on marine science research and education. Despite the windy conditions, the expedition participants worked with the FIU scientists throughout the day to successfully employ two different field methods for studying sharks in the Lake Worth Lagoon. They conducted a survey using a baited remote underwater video system (BRUVS) and fished for sharks using specialized research gear known as drumlines.

The participants first task for the day was to help construct, bait and deploy the BRUVS. Everyone onboard was excited to learn about and engage in this non-invasive method of studying marine life. Once the BRUVS was deployed, the competition was on as the students worked in teams to test and hone species identification and assessment skills using previously collected BRUVS footage.  After an hour-long soak, the students and scientists worked together to recover the BRUVS, before the vessel transited north in the Lagoon to our fishing area.

Fishing was done via drumlines, or a specialized type of shark research fishing gear designed to allow the shark to swim freely once caught. The students worked side-by-side with the scientists to assemble, including baiting the circle hook, and deploying these drumlines. After a 1-hour soak time, the students eagerly recovered the drumlines to see if any sharks had been caught. Everyone onboard was thrilled to find that we had caught a nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) that was just over 8-ft in length! The students helped the scientists conduct a quick and efficient scientific workup on the nurse shark before it was released. One student helped to gather a series of length measurements, before another carefully collected a small tissue sample. A third student assisted with tagging the shark with a unique identification tag from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Cooperative Shark Tagging Program. On our way back to dock some aspiring captains took a turn at R/V ANGARI’s helm with Captain Angela, while others learned some impressive knot tying skills with Captain Kevin. It was an exciting day of marine operations and science-at-sea, with the participants gaining firsthand experience with shark research methods, while also learning about the importance of sharks and other species in the marine environment.


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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