Today, I did not spend the day in a mighty scientific effort. I did not spend the day lounging luxuriously on the beach. No, I spent the day sitting with four giant fish traps in various bleak commercial strips as my partner hunted for bungee cords.
To backtrack a bit, Ayana, my partner on this trip and a fellow graduate student at SIO, is trying to build a better Antilles fish trap. Curacao’s fisheries have declined significantly over the past few decades for the usual reasons – climate change, coral sickness, better technology – and Curacao is very interested in trying to institute some regulation in order to make their fisheries more sustainable. So Ayana is working with the Curacao resource managers to test various ways to exclude non-target species and juveniles from traps.
The traps are made of stick and chicken wire, so they’re very light, but they are quite large – perhaps the size of a dining room table. [I’ll post pictures soon.] We managed to cram four traps in our truck, and thought we tied them in securely. They were indeed secure – until the rope broke. We recovered the traps from the side of the road (fortunately still intact!), were heartily mocked by passers-by, jury rigged a precarious setup using the broken rope, and limped to a grocery store. Freshly supplied with bright orange nylon cord, we tied the traps again. This time, we only got one block before the nylon slipped off the traps and the @#$%&#$%^#$%^#$%^!!! traps fell off again. So we unloaded all the giant traps in the parking lot of a bank, and I sat there with them while Ayana hunted for bungee cords. Between the dearth of bungee cords on Curacao and an unfortunate traffic jam, I sat in that parking lot with those traps for two hours. Fortunately, I had a book – the Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. Unfortunately, I still don’t really like Margaret Atwood (except for Oryx and Crake). Behold, the glamor of SCIENCE!
So we get the bungee cord and tie up the traps again and make it back to our rented house this time. And…there was enough time for a quick fun dive on the house reef! My first warm water dive ever! Here’s my train of thought:
Oooh! Clear water! Warm, so warm! Coral reefs pretty. Like pretty fishes. Like pretty wormies. Like pretty visibility. YAY CORAL. Ok, must think about science. Oh, good, my invasive tunicate is everywhere on all these convenient dying coral heads! This will make a great study site! *pause* Why aren’t there any fish bigger than my hand? *pause* CORAL REEF SO PRETTY! Will look for stomatopods and resident green moray eels tomorrow. *pause* Coral, please don’t die. I just got here.
Post title from “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley and totally stolen from Sam.