For our adventure, we motored out past the breakers that mark the barrier reef at the mouth of Kaneohe bay. It was a calm day, which made finding the line easy. We hadn't been reeling in the line for more than a minute or two when James announced, "We've got a big tiger!"
She was indeed a big one at a total length of 433 cm (14.2 feet), and a feisty one at that. The 60 or more meters of line that she had tangled into a knot less that two meters long was evidence that she wasn't going quietly. The knot couldn't be reeled in, so the remaining distance had to be taken in by hand. After a few dashes, splashing, flailing, and at least one good slap from the tail, we were finally able to secure her along the side of the boat with ropes around her mid-section and tail. Even after being rolled over into the belly-up position, it still took a while for her to settle down to the point that Jeff and James could attach the satellite tag.
Once we secured the shark alongside the boat, the whole process of measuring, tagging, removing the hooks (she had taken the bait of two separate hooks), and releasing her probably took around five minutes, which is good because at rapid release decreases the amount of stress on the animal. James and Kim bid the fish farewell and off swam the largest fish I have ever seen. In time we will be able to see where she travels on the PacIOOS website.
To find out about other HIMB Shark & Reef Fish Research projects follow the link: http://www.hawaii.edu/HIMB/ReefPredator/
Video credit L. Weaver.