The Day I caught a Catshark and a tagged dark shyshark
One of my favorite activities we got to do at Marine Dynamics Academy was fishing and pyjama shark tagging.
During the course of the internship, we went fishing a couple of times at the harbor where Etienne and Hennie taught us how to bait up, cast the rod, and hopefully catch a pyjama shark to then tag it. Clara (the other intern) and I learned fast and started to cast like pros by the second time we went out to catch some sharks.
It was always a rollercoaster of emotions for me because I kept losing the sharks that I caught while reeling in. So, when Clara caught 2 dark shysharks in the span of 5 minutes and I just could not get mine to stay on the hook I was kind of frustrated. However, this also motivated me to try harder the next time.
So when the final week of my internship arrived, and I still didn’t manage to tag a shark, it was the last opportunity for me to go fish and tag. As I was fishing, I felt stronger bites than usual and suddenly something much stronger pulled my root. I struck and reeled in. When Etienne saw what I had caught he instantly told me to be careful. I was nervous but also excited. I caught a catfish that has only been caught by an intern once before, so I guess I was pretty lucky.
With catsharks, one has to be careful because they have a hard venomous spine in the dorsal fin as well as their pectoral fins which can easily scratch your skin just by touching. Luckily Etienne was there to help me take it off the hook and we recorded it on the datasheet. The fishing trip was for me already very successful at this point, but we still had not caught a pyjama catshark to tag.
There was not much time left so we decided that whatever we catch next I get to tag.
It was one of my last throws and I had another bite. I stayed focused and pulled it out of the water, only to find that it was a tagged dark shyshark. I mean what are the chances to catch an already tagged dark shyshark and a catfish on the same day? We all couldn’t really believe that this was happening. I was very excited but also a bit sad at the same time because it was my last chance to tag a shark.
Because it was tagged, one can find out where it was tagged before by looking up its tag code and drawing conclusions on its movement and growth if it was measured when it was first caught. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to do that anymore because it was time for me to leave Gansbaai. It was definitely one of my favorite experiences, being lucky enough to make such extraordinary catches and also contribute to the data collection of Marine Dynamics Academy.