The scientist-teacher team spent another incredible day out at sea today, but this time with at least one shark! Due to the lack of success attracting sharks with the low frequency sound transducer, the science team had to move on the “plan B” – baiting the sharks with dead fish and chum. We have to thank Mangrove Mike’s, Hillary’s Mike, and Dolphin’s Plus for donating extra fish parts for this attempt. It was exciting watching the scientist lower the bait bags down to the reef.
Hillary and I spent the morning hours back in the Aquarius habitat, but this time we were able to do a VFT with our own school, Ocean Studies Charter School here in the Florida Keys. It was so exciting to be able to communicate to our own students from 50 ft. under water! I almost cried when I answered my own son’s question – “what’s the coolest fish you’ve seen?” What an amazing experience to be able to be a part of this program and also share it so closely with my students and my own children. I can only hope that some of them are inspired to follow their ideas and dreams and realize the opportunities that are out there. Our last Skype of the morning was with a school whose students were very well prepared with some great questions. I had just finished telling the students that we had not yet seen any sharks, when Hillary spotted the first shark of the expedition – a big Caribbean reef shark! It seems “plan B” worked. The students on the VFT, Hillary, Otter, and I watched as the shark, goliath groupers, rays, and even a sea turtle roamed around the habitat. We hoped this was a great sign for the scientists and their efforts! Hillary commented that we got the “coolest briefing ever” when Otter briefed us on how to respond to a hungry shark in the case that he decides to be aggressive on our way out of the habitat.
Today’s surface interval was spent napping, grading my students’ research papers, and watching tea brew in the sun. All the while, hopefully the cameras down below were recording sharks and how the other fish responded to them. Our afternoon dive was with the science team, recording and removing the algae tiles from the study plots, changing GoPro cameras, and experimenting with the fish-eye lens on my own GoPro. We didn’t see any more sharks, but we liked watching the hogfish with the lobster antennae sticking out of its mouth and the southern sting ray doing flips.
Again, we watched the sunset on our way back to the dock and reflected on another fun day out on the water. After dinner, we met back at shore base to organize data, watch more videos (tons of shark sightings this time!), and explore some of the sonar data. I’m exhausted and ready to call it a night but excited to see what tomorrow brings!