WPBT2's Changing Seas Heads to the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Voyaging into shark-infested waters somewhere in the Northern region of the Gulf of Mexico...To us this might sound like something Jules Verne would write about, but to the Changing Seas crew, it's just another day at the office. WPBT2's award-winning program is currently in production for another exciting season and we wanted to give you a small snippet of what we have in store. It is sure to be something you can..uh...sink your teeth into.
This past October, Producer Alexa Elliott and Videographer Sean Hickey were filming aboard the R/V (Research Vessel) Weatherbird II. The R/V Weatherbird is the Florida Institute of Oceanography’s research vessel in the Gulf. “During this research cruise we joined a science team from FSU’s Coastal and Marine Laboratory led by Dr. Dean Grubbs, an expert on deep sea sharks. His team is conducting research in the northern Gulf of Mexico to determine if deep sea sharks and other fish are impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that occurred in 2010,” said producer Alexa Elliott.
One might think that it might have taken a couple of days to catch or see anything that would take one's breath away, but that wasn't so for this crew. Their very first day at sea proved fruitful. They were fishing for deep sea sharks, and wouldn't you know it, they caught one - a really big one! An almost fifteen foot bluntnose sixgill shark!
"It's amazing what lives in our oceans," said Sean Hickey, videographer/editor for Changing Seas. "The researchers took blood samples, length measurements, tagged the fish and even performed an ultrasound on it." The latter was performed to see if SHE was pregnant.
Yes, this massive creature was a female.
"The biggest misconception about sharks is that they are evil, vicious creatures that will stop at nothing to attack us. Nothing could be further from the truth. As apex predators they provide a necessary balance to our oceans. Sharks are beautiful creatures that must be protected to maintain this critical balance," Hickey says.
Scientists were looking to find out more about this elusive fish. Since they live primarily in deeper waters, interaction with these sharks is rare. Not only did they perform tests to determine the health of the animal, they released her back in the wild.
Sixgill sharks are one of several species of deep sea sharks the scientists are studying in and around the DeSoto Canyon, a deep sea canyon in the northern Gulf. Little is known about the lives of some of these deep sea creatures, which range from the massive six gill shark to the very small and very beautiful Green Lantern shark. “It was fascinating to watch the experts bring up so many rarely seen species of fish on the deck to study them,” said producer Elliott. “I can’t wait to share this story with our audience!”
"I have had wonderful opportunities to both observe and film sharks in the wild. From Caribbean reef sharks off of Florida to Hammerhead and Tiger sharks in the Bahamas," said Hickey. "Each encounter left me with the same feelings of excitement, awe and appreciation. I absolutely love them."
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