Sometimes, support comes to us in unexpected ways. We are always writing grant proposals to fund our specific projects. And I do mean always. We get a specific as we can in each budget line item but sometimes, when a project has never been done before, you are not entirely sure what you need until you get out there in the field. Over the past few months, we have embarked on a project to learn more about a popular recreational fishery: shore-based shark fishing. We read some information online and contacted anglers who were willing to work with us. We did not know what to expect on our first few days on the sand, observing the anglers fish for large coastal shark species. We were well equipped with our satellite tags, tagger, data book, and spare parts in case anything went wrong with that equipment. But one of the things we don’t always think about is what makes us comfortable in the field. Most of us are used to working on boats where space is very limited, and you usually can only bring the essentials. We quickly learned that working from shore, we were only limited to what we could carry, which opened up a brand-new world to our team!
You have to think of a lot of things when packing for fieldwork. You need sun protection but you also need protection from rainy and cooler weather, especially here in Florida, when you can easily have all three conditions in the matter of a few hours. And if you get wet, you need a set of dry clothes. You need bags to keep things organized. Dry bags are essential because some equipment and that other set of clothes needs to stay dry. You need water and snacks to carry you through some of the slower times and keep your energy up for when there is a shark to tag and data to gather. Most of our team have some of these items but as the season wares on, hats and buffs disappear, coolers break, and I have gone through at least 2 dry bags (pro tip – do not store your light dry bags on top of sharp equipment).
And that is where Bass Pro Shop (Port Saint Lucie, Florida location) stepped up to help. A short phone call from Mary Ann, the events coordinator and we were gifted a large cooler, hats, buffs and large dry bags! These items may seem like equipment that is easily replaceable but after months of field work, the costs do start to add up. It is support like this that allows us to continue our work to better understand sharks and our relationship with them. This understanding is what leads to better management and protections. We are grateful to any company, individual, or organization that validates our work by supporting it in any way.
Thanks again to Bass Pro Shops, as Mary Ann said, “We can take care of you, while you are taking care of the sharks”.