Sunday, February 5, 2012

Weathered out

"Remember, they're smart, have lots of arms and a powerful beak," lab manager Emily said as she dispatched five of us for Shitty Weather Activity Volume XXI: Octopus Catching. Long term volunteer TJ quickly offered that one of the last octopi scurried across the lab wall to evade capture. 

When the weather, namely the wind, dictates the Sharklab limit water-based excursions, an interesting arsenal of tasks emerge. Fix gillnets; find, wrangle and catch nurse sharks; perfect pens; train stingrays; catch bull sharks from the marinas on North Bimini; and most recently, catch octopus. 

"This is the first time it's been a task at the lab," Emily told us as we laughed in disbelief. 

Arriving at the potential - and in all likelyhood actual - octopus habitat off Shell Beach, we were greeted by the same rolly, wave-slamming seas that we were avoiding due to a small craft advisory. 

Striking out locating nevermind containing an octopus, we tried our luck at Big Game on the North Island for bull sharks.  Seasonal residents of Bimini's waters, they're quite common off the docks in the afternoon and especially during and after fish are cleaned.  Two were baited in off an amberjack carcass and recent spearfishing kills.  A 2.5 meter recap female was landed after everyone - myself included - on the workup boat was "Gruberized" by Doc.   

Alex looking under ledges

Tessa wondering where all the octopus are 

 Sarah and Ravi chilling between gillnet checks

 Working up the juveniles caught in the gillnets

Jim grabbed this juvenile nurse at the Sappona

There's a bull down there 
Bull alongside the boat 

View from the bow


 Released - not what you want to see when you're walking on the flats

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