Revillagigedo Archipelago ’13

Project type: Expedition
Dates: January 6-13, 2013
Location: San Benedicto, the Revillagigedo Archipelago, Mexico
Base: Liveaboard
Project target: placing acoustic tags on Scalloped hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini)
Lead scientist: Dr. Edgar Mauricio Hoyos Padilla
Tagging team: William Winram, Philippe Beauchamp safety diver, Lukas Mueller scientific assistant
Participants: twelve from age 13 to 52
Sea life: abundant

San Benedicto, third largest island of the Revillagigedo Archipelago, 386 km southwest of Cabo San Lucas

San Benedicto, third largest island of the Revillagigedo Archipelago, 386 km southwest of Cabo San Lucas

The main challenge of this tagging expedition was the fact that the scalloped hammerhead sharks stayed deep within the water column. The team dove to an area of the reef serving as a cleaning station for the sharks, but the area was battered by heavy currents. As a consequence tags were placed at depths of 22 to 40 meters.

Scalloped hammerhead shark about to get tagged – photo William Winram

Scalloped hammerhead shark about to get tagged – photo William Winram

The youngest participant Yasmine had several encounters that re-enforced the value of this concept of The Watermen Project. At 13 years of age she saw a 4.5-meter tiger shark up close, Galapagos sharks, silver tip sharks, scalloped hammerhead sharks and she swam with a giant manta ray… as well as seeing scores of dolphins, hearing humpback whales singing and watching as they would swim by the boat etc… not bad for 13-year old!

As a young marine biology student, Lukas not only shared in many of these encounters but also worked hard, logging data, keeping track of tags and getting in the water to watch the tagging. He left with a real idea of what this kind of work is like and what it entails for both the scientist and those of us that help in the research. He left the expedition even more inspired and passionate about the sea and sharks.

The other members of the expedition also who shared in the encounters with the different species of marine life as well as the evening talks on the boat given by Dr. Mauricio Hoyos about sharks, his research and the particulars of the island we were anchoring near. Many thanks to them as their coming together to support sharks conservation is what made this expedition possible.

Waiting at 25 meters for hammerhead sharks - photo Laurent Egli

waiting at 25 meters for hammerhead sharks – photo Laurent Egli

It took about 300 dives over the course of six days to place ten tags. Dr. Hoyos having had no luck placing tags over the past five years prior to this expedition, this number is sufficient to give him the first chance to have good data about the scalloped hammerhead sharks and their behaviour.