Fish, nets and more turtles!

Yesterday started with my alarm going off at 7am to go check the first
catches of the day. The boats weren’t in yet so Perfet and Ali showed
us how to mend the holes in their fishing nets. By the end I got the
hang of it and I can now add net-mending to my beach skill set. I went
to Waterloo after breakfast to buy a cell phone for my work in Bonthe
in a few days, which took most of the day, so very little fish work
happened yesterday.

First Catch of Barracuda

Barracuda

Today we were able to measure many fish. Our total fish count is over 700, and we have samples from 1-finger, 2-finger, 3-finger, and 5 finger nets as well as hooks. These nets catch drastically different things. The smaller nets catching herring and the larger nets and hooks catching fish as large as 1 meter long barracudas and a small tuna.

I asked the fishermen why they would go for many smaller fish nearshore with the 1 finger nets as opposed to the larger fish offshore, as more than half of the boats fish with this method. I thought maybe the number of fish brought in more money than the size or type. This wasn’t the case. They fish nearshore as it’s easier and safer, as they paddle huge dugout canoes by hand and it’s exhausting work. If they had engines for their boats, they would go offshore and fish for larger species.

Jess and I were able to identify a half a dozen fish in our guidebook today, though sometimes they just weren’t in the book! I’ll have to use other resources, photos, and fin counts to identify them once I’m home – but we’re off to a good start.

Clupeids

Clupeids

Today we also had another great turtle surprise – there’s a nest of green turtles about to hatch. We’re going to stay up late tonight hoping it’s the night they make their journey to the sea. Someone from the Sierra Leone Sea Conservation Group came by to look at the nest – it’s work in partnership with the Fish & Wildlife Service in the US. Great to see collaborative work taking place between our countries!

Thanks again to Meredith for these great photos!

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