This past spring, three Mines alumni met up in Jardines de la Reina—an archipelago in southern Cuba—with a unique mission: to help tag migratory tarpon.
Kevin Small ’78, Barth Whitham ’79, MS ’82 and Hugh Harvey Jr. ’74, MS ’80 joined the Fieldworkers Club and the University of Miami in their effort to better understand the migratory patterns of this breed of fish.
“We were charged with hooking and landing tarpon on a fly rod, handling and measuring the fish safely, tagging it properly, reviving it if necessary, while subjecting the fish to the least amount of stress possible,” Small said, who is pictured holding one of the smaller tarpon he tagged.
A Cuban marine park nearly the size of the Florida Keys, Jardines de la Reina has some of the best diving and fly fishing in the world, with strict catch-and-release rules, making it the perfect spot to study the animals that call the unique ecosystem home.
“The most important thing I’ve learned is how critical it is to plan and establish a marine preserve so that fish and wildlife have a protected place to live and breed,” Small said. “It’s astounding how many different species of birds and other wildlife we saw while we were down there.”
While Small has been on many trips with the Fieldworkers Club to both Cuba and Belize and is experienced at tagging tarpon, it was a first for Whitham and Harvey. Reconnecting with two other Mines alumni turned out to be Small’s favorite part of this year’s trip, sharing stories about school, work, family and—of course—fishing.