Tagging sharks in Cocos Island, June 08

by | Jun 9, 2008

This is unbelievable, but I’m in Cocos Island and I have internet access! I’m on board the Proteus, a surveillance boat owned by Marviva, a Costa Rican marine conservation organization that fights to protect Cocos Island. The goal is to tag fifteen sharks with acoustic tags, deploy two acoustic receivers, and tag 6 sharks with satellite telemetry. I’m part of a team of researchers from Marviva, the Malpelo Foundation of Colombia, the Charles Darwin Foundation of Ecuador, and of course, Pretoma (the sister organziation of TIRN). We are also accompanied by colleagues of the University of Costa Rica. The expedition is funded by Conservation International-Walton Foundation.

Marviva: Cindy Fernández
Malpelo Foundation: Sandra Bessudo and German Soler
Charles Darwin Foundation: Alex Hearn
Pretoma: Randall Arauz, Allan Bolaños, Ilena Zanela

We left San José (the Capital of Costa Rica) last Friday, and took a long 10 hour bus ride to Golfito, close to the border with Panama. Usually the trip takes 6 hours, but the main road had been wiped out by the recent storms. We were expecting our colleagues from Colombia to be flown into Golfito during the afternoon, so we could depart that evening, but again, the storms delayed thier flight until saturday morning. We didn’t start our 36 hour boat ride to Cocos Island until then, and finally arrived to the island today, this afternoon.

At Pretoma we have been tagging hammerhead sharks in Cocos Island with acoustic tags for 4 years, underwater with scuba gear. The big challenge now will be tagging the sharks with satellite tags (called SPLASH tags), which will require the sharks to be caught, and decked by means of a cradle. This will be exciting!

Tomorrow (monday morning) we will do our first dive in Manuelita, one of the most popular dive sites, and we hear there is plenty of hammerhead shark activity. Tomorrow night Allan and I will go set a fishing line with 15 hooks, and will attempt to catch a shark. I’ll let you know how it goes! Stay tuned!

Directly from Cocos Island!