North Sound Gillnetting, Days 1-3
written by Janet Stalker
The team got to work organizing and checking all the gear to be used tonight as the newcomers went out back to the shark pen with Bryan and Alan for a chance to practice handling the sharks. Although the sharks are small they can still bite when held incorrectly, so this is definitely a worthwhile class. After learning all the do’s and don’ts of working with these sharks we headed back to the lab. After lunch the group divided up into the home and away teams, as the home team set about their tasks for the day the away team got a few hours of rest to charge up before the long night ahead of them.
The away team was up at 5PM for a light snack and the final packing and loading of the boats, and off we went. Just before leaving Bryan gave his now annual “inspiration speech” followed by a short clip of the President’s address at the peak of the movie “Armageddon”. Needless to say that got all spirits charged and ready to go! Finally we reached the North Sound, the 3 nets boats and the tagging boat checked their respective pens one last time for holes or areas the sharks might get caught in, then the nets were set. Straight away sharks were being brought to the tagging boat, with the peak hitting around probably 10 O’clock.
Dinner was delivered around 11:30PM and everyone hungrily devoured the Korean chicken dinner. (The home crew delivers us dinner, as well as our choice of snacks, hot drinks, pop, and dessert. Needless to say they are the backbone of the whole operation). As the night wore on the catches were slowing down, and many of the boats crews started getting creative with ways to spend the down time between net checks. By the time the night was over we had caught and successfully tagged 43 sharks.
There were some interesting things that happened last night, for instance on one of the nets a shark that was caught was attacked by a barracuda! It was saved by the crew of the net and was happily swimming around the main pen shortly after, but still it’s quite an unusual sight. The home team has been working hard all day, they were able to get all of the gear cleaned and reloaded and get the gill nets fixed for use tonight.
All the boats and their crews headed back out to the North Sound to resume the PIT gill netting around 6:30PM and the nets were set around 7:20PM. Meanwhile at the lab the home crew is busy organizing the snacks and meals to be delivered to the away crew later tonight.
After the dishes are done the final touches are added on to the dinner delivery for the away crew, Grant, Paul, and Jamie head out to the North Sound with the food. The dinner delivery is a highly anticipated event for those out in the field, and a rousing competition for who can say the best “Thank you” over the radio to the shark lab is always amusing. The home team went to bed after finishing the dishes that came back from the field, around 12:30PM.
As the night progressed and dawn was breaking a rainstorm hit part of the away team and many took cover under transport boxes and wet gear to escape the rain, but luckily they were heading home soon anyway. The home crew spent most of the day fixing gillnets and doing chores. Tonight’s away team left for the field a little earlier then last night, so hopefully they will be back sooner in the morning for our much anticipated day off tomorrow. As the home crew was preparing the snacks and dinner for the away team we started getting a little creative, as we figured with fewer sharks being caught the boats would have more downtime.
So we put a few funny magazine articles in each box, needless to say the away team was entertained by the surprise, even if it lasted only a short time! After having a hilarious conversation around the table with Doc and the rest of the home team, we all are heading to bed to rest up for tomorrow.