Celebrating Shark Week 2013…. Yes, we see these too on the Amelia River Cruises!
Article by: Kacie Couch
It’s Discovery Channel’s infamous “Shark Week 2013” this week! And you know what that means here on the Eco Tour at Amelia River Cruises and Charters: “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
Just kidding! While we do catch sharks in our otter trawl net from time to time, they are almost always under 2 feet in length and not nearly as dangerous as the twenty-something foot great white shark portrayed in the movie JAWS.
However; just because we don’t catch large sharks where we trawl does not mean that we do not have large and dangerous sharks in our area. In recent studies, it has been found that great whites do visit the outer banks of Amelia Island! In fact, if you come on the Eco-Tour you might just be lucky enough to hear our resident marine biologist Justina tell you the story of what exactly happened when she was aboard the OCEARCH vessel that caught and tagged Lydia, a 13 foot great white (who weighed over 2,000 pounds, no less), about a mile off the Jacksonville coast. Lydia was three feet shorter in length than Mary Lee, the notorious 16 foot great white (weighing 3,500 pounds) who wandered into the Jacksonville Beach breakers earlier this summer. No one really knows why these sharks are down here, but theories have been thrown around recently indicating that they may be following the migration of the Right Whales or that these sharks may travel to northeast Florida to give birth.
Can you imagine little great white babies swimming around Amelia Island? How adorable, right? OK, maybe not. But if you’re worried about a giant shark ramming into our boat until we sink, don’t be. First of all, that only happens in the movies (I hope) and secondly, according to OCEARCH’s website (which allows you to track these glorious sharks) Lydia and Mary Lee are both swimming happily away from the Fernandina area into deeper waters, which I’m sure comes as a sigh of relief to many surfers in our area.
But do not fret, shark lovers! Although our great whites are migrating elsewhere, there are still numerous shark species in our area. Most commonly found in the estuary we fish in are the blacktip, sandbar, and bonnethead sharks, to name a few. We see them quite often out on the water, especially during low tide near the oyster beds. They like to stick around these areas when the tide is going out. The reason for this is because when the tide is coming in lots of little fish and other animals swim up into the waterways between the oyster beds in the mud and spartina grass. These waterways only appear at high tide and are called feeder creeks; and for good reason. When the tide starts to go out all of the fish and other critters that were in those little creeks wash out with the tide creating an all you can eat seafood buffet at the mouth of the creek. These creek mouths are the best places to spot two little fins splashing around while chasing prey, and birds like to hang out here during low tide as well!
Since starting the tour this summer we have caught four blacktip sharks! Now that sounds very impressive, but keep in mind that we do fish in a marine estuary which is the home of a lot of baby fish (and sharks). That being said, the largest shark we caught was probably close to three feet and the smallest were about a foot long each. When we do catch sharks we keep them aboard for everyone to see before releasing them back into their natural habitat. They certainly are a cool sight to see up close and personal (and not nearly as scary as a 16 foot great white)! So come out on an Eco-Shrimping Tour with us this week to celebrate shark week! You never know what we’ll catch next.
See you on the boat, everyone!
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