“Because EVERY shark Counts” was the theme of yesterday’s dives with Force-E and Shark Savers.
On Dec 10, 2011 Force-E together with Shark Savers put together an event for shark awareness by teaching the SharksCount program to local divers in Palm Beach County. SharksCount engages divers as ‘citizen scientists’ and empowers divers to count and identify the sharks that they see on their recreational dives. This program provides the tools to log and share shark sightings with Shark Savers. Over time this information about local shark population trends will help create the potential of improving protections for sharks in Florida’s waters. Recently, three species of hammerhead and tiger sharks were added to the FWC prohibited species list here in Florida, thanks to the hard work of Shark Savers, marine biologists, responsible fishermen, concerned citizens, divers, and a growing coaltion of marine conservation groups; with more data, still more protections may be possible.
So before the afternoon dive to go count sharks we had Samantha Whitcraft from Shark Savers come to Force-E to present the SharksCount program. We learned how to use the data sheets, how to id shark species and male vs. female, and we learned that if we don’t see sharks we should record this too.
After the presentation we went out for 2 dives, first dive was at a set of wrecks call Governor’s River Walk. This site is in 80ft of water, and today we have a slight south current with 80ft of visibility. These four wrecks were a part of a US Custom’s drug bust and were set up in 2002 to be artificial reef in Palm Beach County. As we descended to the site we were greeted by a loggerhead turtle. We approached the first wreck in this trek and one of the divers, Bill, saw a nurse shark. The rest of us circled around each wreck with hopes to see some sharks. Then out of the blue a female lemon shark swam into view. It was amazing to watch her calmly swim around the divers then swim off into the blue again. She re-appeared when we were on the last set of wrecks, but we couldn’t stay down to hang out with her so we started our ascent. During our safety stop a 4ft wahoo swam by us! WOW!
Second dive we went north to Shark Canyon, again we had a south current but the visibility was not as good, maybe ~60ft. On this descent to the bottom we were greeted again by a turtle, but this time it was a Hawksbill turtle. We followed along the ledge with hopes to see some sharks and we ran into a school (yes a school) of 7 lionfish! Good thing we had our master lionfish slayer, Erin, to get rid of these problem fish! As we continued on, our group did not see any sharks but the group ahead of us did. They saw some Caribbean Reef Sharks and were able to id two female and one male shark.
So today’s dives were a success!!! Horray for sharks! And we are so excited that we have divers diving for sharks now!
For more information about the SharksCount program please visit this link http://www.sharksavers.org/en/programs/sharks-count.html