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Shark Conservancy with JMS Yachting USA

Saturday 12 August JMS Yachting’s Rick Thomas and his son Tristan Thomas provided on-water resources with their 10m boat Surface Interval for an exciting day of shark research.

Supporting our efforts was Kristin and Matt Braisted, the husband & Wife crew of MY Dione Sun, traveling with Surface Interval in their 10m Nor-Tech tender. Our boats made the 116-Km run from Fort Lauderdale to Jupiter, stopping off in Palm Beach to pick up the film crew and producers joining us to film content for a future PBS network documentary.

Also joining us were a couple from the American Shark Conservancy. The International Seakeepers Society also supported this venture with Tony Gilbert, Chief Programs Officer and Aubri Keith, Program Development Manager joining the boats.

The Seakeepers were instrumental in organizing the boats and the collaboration of the scientists and the media. The purpose of the work was to place our boats in known areas for shark encounters, to attract the animals to our boats and video document the species, sex and size and numbers of the sharks.

We spent the morning with no sharks encountered. We drifted among quite a number of fishing vessels as we allowed the Gulf Stream to move us north in the current. We repositioned our boats several times during the day, and at midafternoon we enjoyed our first encounter with a Silky shark. A male approximately 2-meters in length.

This individual shark interacted with us for about 15 minutes, then moved off. Shortly afterwards two other make Silky sharks came to our boat. One slightly smaller than the first, the other slightly larger. These animals swam around our boat and our swimmers in the water for almost 30 minutes. One was trailing over 10-m of fishing line which we were able to remove. What was remarkable was the reduced number of shark we encountered. We had hoped to see some lemon and bull shark in the waters we were working.

Speaking with the local scientists from the American Shark Conservancy much of the decline in the local population is at the hands of the local fishermen, In spite of Federal protection of these shark species, a culture of ‘catch and kill’ still exists among many of the fishermen. Creating awareness of the importance and beauty these amazing shark is the best hope of ensuring future generations will take a more benevolent view of these apex predators. The heath of our oceans depends upon the health and viability of these amazing animals.