You know the song “Gone Fishin” by Louie Armstrong and Bing Crosby? “Folks won’t find us now because Mister Satch and Mister Cros,,,We gone fishin’ instead of just a-wishin’….Bah-boo-baby-bah-boo-bah-bay-mmm-boo-bay….Oh yeah!” That song pretty much sums up our last 72 hours- we have been working 12-16 hour days fishing, crabbing, dissecting, with a splash of croc stuff, and karaoke of course! It’s definitely been full of adventures.
At our southern most point, known as the Blue House, we have been fishing in waist high water, singing our lungs out to all types of disney songs for hours. Not to mention that I stepped on a sting-ray and then almost got smacked by another one while walking to our fishing spot. If I got stung, I was not going to live that down amongst my crocodile friends! After an unsuccessful day due to a storm coming in, we thought we were doom for the samples we needed. Right as I began wishing for us to catch crabs, about 20 crabs began walking on the road across us- we jumped off our bikes and then… needless to say we decided to call that event the Blue House Massacre.
We thought the night was over, and had some fun at the local hostel pub, singing some karaoke with our new Zimbabwean fisherman friends. As we headed to bed, I got a phone call- Chris and Vince from ACES caught a croc and wanted to stomach flush it right away. We instantly woke up, put on our croc gear, and at 11:30pm at night we were stomach flushing a croc. The second croc they were relocating we took basic measurements, and assessed it for abnormalities, etc. One croc had NO TEETH!!!! And it was a young croc too. So far we are finding evidence that my theory is true- the heavy pollution of this island is causing some weird aliments in the crocs, and the further the crocs, fish, and crab are from the city, the healthier and more parasites they have. Parasites are not a bad thing. Actually, a healthy ecosystem has a healthy population of parasites. When you find no parasites that is a serious red flag. Once we perform the heavy metal analysis on the samples, we will have a better idea of what is going on here, and what action the government will need to take to ensure the health of this environment, and its people.
Yesterday was by far the most tiring day. We started at 7am and finished at 8pm. We biked about 10 miles in total on bumpy roads to get to our collection site and back, but it was worth it! After helping out with a croc capture (again, a pretty emaciated croc that was blind), we ended up fishing and crabbing. We definitely had a good time, but being in the beating sun for hours and hours sucks the life right out of you. We almost caught a HUGE fish (we think baracuda) which would have been amazing! We had some locals fishing with us at the end of the night, and they helped us a lot getting our sample number by giving us the fish they were not going to eat. After it raining on us, and fighting with fish and crab all night, we eneded up with 15 samples. We are heading back over there tonight to get 5 more fish- those that we already dissected had parasites which was pretty exciting.
Needless to say we are having a blast on this trip! There’s been a lot of singing, a lot of laughing, and just good ol’entertainment with one another. We have a great work dynamic with one another, which sometimes isn’t always the easiest to find. Definitely I have found my dream team of research assistants, and hopefully we can continue working with each other in the future.