Juvenile Lemon Shark.
The PIT project is a yearly census of the juvenile lemon sharks that utilize the lagoonal waters of Bimini as their home. PIT is an acronym for passive integrated transponder - the type of electronic tag employed by the BBFS crew to mark lemon shark individuals. PIT 2007
should be particularly interesting, as female sharks that were originally caught as newborn pups over 13 years ago may
return this year to their nursery waters as mature mothers to continue the cycle of life.
Every May, pregnant lemon sharks enter the lagoon to drop their pups. The PIT project is set up so that every May/June the lagoon is intensively fished, via gillnets, to catch, tag, and census all the juvenile lemon sharks that call Bimini Lagoon their home. This ensures that all the new babies are tagged, weighed, measured, and sampled for DNA. The mark-recapture techniques employed by the BBFS crew allows us to see how much lemon sharks captured in previous PIT censuses have grown. Bimini's two main nursery areas are called the North Sound and just to the south, Sharkland. Each nursery is fished with three gillnets for 6 nights. After the workup, the lemon sharks are put into a large pen to ensure that they are not recaptured. Upon the completion of all 6 fishing nights, the sharks are fed and mass-released back into the lagoon. It is an impressive sight to see 100+ juvenile lemon sharks swimming around in a pen from underwater - each a miniature replica of the finely honed predator that sired it.
The recent departure from the lab of two of its long-time managers makes this busy time a period of transition. The 2007 PIT team now faces the challenge of stepping up and finding its own identity as it carries on in the name of science. The leadership of veteran members will be critical this year, as we ease the greenhorns into the wild and often unpredictable world of field biology. The team is set and eager to
dive into the work. Ahead are long nights of work in the water, what amounts to miles of gillnets to be repaired, careful transfer of baby sharks, workup and data recording, and the mountains of dishes, as well as tons of equipment and laundry that are dutifully cleaned and organized to be ready for use all over again. PIT is an intense time at the lab, when all team members cooperate to form a finely-oiled shark research accomplishing "machine". Welcome to the PIT 2007 Web Journal. Please sit back, strap your seatbelt on, and come along for the ride with us.
May 24, 2007
Repairing Gill Nets.
And for more information on the BBFS PIT Tagging Program, Click Here.