I Hate gill nets. So much. They’re one of the dirtiest fishing methods around, but if your end goal is to eat every fish you catch, it’s a pretty
good choice I suppose. Our fishing surveys are meant to mimic the fishing
methods of local Cocama Indians so appropriate take quotas can be set for the
Reserve; but instead of keeping the fish, we count/weigh/measure each fish and put it back in the river.
|The village of Bolivar is just a couple hours downriver. They're better at fishing than we are...|
Ten percent mortality is written into the permit, but I
suspect it’s much (MUCH) higher than that, as mangled fish become easy targets
for larger predators once we “release them Live” (just slightly worse for the wear..).
|So it's possible that not all the fish make it back to the river. It's really hard to let those big Oscars go...|
Plus, we sometimes catch things that aren’t fish.
|These armored catfish are especially hard to get out of the nets, but they sure are adorable.|
When it was time to bring in the net yesterday, Ormenio and
Paul kept pointing at the net and saying something that sounded like, “kooshoory!,” which I soon realized
meant that hat 5 Neotropical cormorants were wrapped tightly in our nets. Two
had already drowned, and I set off in the canoe with Ormenio to see how this
would all play out. With the aid of a stick and a quick grab, Ormenio managed
to free the live birds, and I went to work on the ones that were dead.
|Ormenio assesses the situation and sets to untangling a Very Pissed-off Bird...|
|...and VOILA! |
|Maybe just slightly worse for the wear|
the population of wading birds in the Pacaya Samira has skyrocketed as
thousands of egrets and cormorants follow the small fish as they begin moving
out of the lake (falling water levels and all). A few dead birds here and there
probably isn’t going to make a big difference in the long run, but dead birds
in the fishing gear does break my heart.
|I don't really know how these guys keep getting caught, but here we are.|
We catch the occasional turtle here and there, but they’re
easy enough to free unharmed. I’ve heard rumors they caught an anaconda in the
net last year, but so far (fingers crossed) we haven’t had to deal with that (HOW WOULD YOU???). But that's a problem for Future Ellen...
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