Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Day 87 - Amo Baiter

Date: 9/25/12
Location: Costa de Oro, Costa Rica

Word of the day: Cebo - Bait
Turtle Fact:  TURTLE EXCLUDER DEVICE 1. At a cost of millions of dollars, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service developed the Turtle Excluder Device (TED). 2. The TED is a small, metal grid trapdoor inside a trawling net that allows shrimp to pass to the back while the turtles escape to safety before becoming entrapped or entangled. 3. Since 1989, federal law requires that this device be installed on the nets of all U.S. fishing trawlers working in areas populated by sea turtles.

7:30am wake up. HT.com updates. In honor of our first 111 turtles hatching I ran a little promotion within my previous work circle: for a donation of $10 I will send you a HelpingTurtles Badge/Patch and will send you a personalized postcard as well. For those of you reading this and interested in this deal let me know and I will gladly extend this offer to you as well!

Breakfast (cereal). Eric and Lotti stop by this morning to check in on us, see how the first release went and to take their baby for a little swim on the beach. Eric asks if I would like to join him on the fishing boat this afternoon and fish with a local fisherman throughout the night. I gladly accept the offer. 

Courtney, Ever, Ingrid, Kayla and myself head out to beach and exhume the two nests that the turtles came out of the night before. Courtney walks us through the process and explains the various stages on embryonic development just as Lotti had done a couple weeks prior. It was a great refresher as this task will be done on a daily basis for me in the future. 

While exhuming the nests we find several turtles in the hole that where alive, but just did not make it to the surface just yet. We place them in a bucket, with moist sand on the bottom and the top of them and place them in cool dark room (shower) until we release them this evening with the community. We do this in hopes they "go back to sleep" and stay inactive until we release them

Lunch (rice and veggie salad). Eric calls and informs me that we are leaving at 2pm, giving me a couple hours to finish up some chores and pack for a night on the ocean. I get picked up relatively earlier than expected and rush out the door (forgetting my rain jacket and pants - really the only thing I actually needed as I was was to be sleeping on the top side of the boat sin shelter. Ohh well, it will just add to the excitement and story if nothing else. 

On the way to fisherman's dock, we stop at the local grocery store and pick up a few items for the night. Having already packed some oatmeal and bread, I pick up some fruit and a little sweet treat (reward) for later in the night. 

3:15pm we arrive at the boats and proceed to wait an additional 1.5 hours before packing up the boat and taking off at 4:30pm. Being a in a smaller boat (than the Pretoma boat) there was quite a difference on how it rides on the water. Especially when trying to get past the initial waves close to shore. It's really like a cat and mouse game, trying to creep up during a lul in between the waves on our way out to the ocean. 

We wait in the calm waters just off the shore as the other fisherman (about 8 other boats) make the venture through the waves and join us. During this period Erick explains how everything works: In short, everyone takes off at the same time from these calm waters to head to their fishing spot. Some people wait to see where others go, as the night previous they had a good catch or perhaps that individual is known to be on a lucky streak, so they follow his boat to whichever area he goes to. While other others wait for everyone to leave, so they are not "followed" in hopes to retain all the large fish int he area they will head to, for themselves. 

We end up heading out to a spot in front of Playa San Miguel and Costa de Oro and probably about 5 km from shore. As the sun sets, we start the process of setting the anchors and buoys in the water, marking the start of their fishing line. Once set, the captain grabs the bait boxes (hooks with sardine segments on them) and feeds them to water as the boat is idling along the water ever so slowly. Hand over fist, 900 hooks leave our boat and end up on the Pacific floor about 30m from the surface. After completing setting the line at 8pm, we enjoy our individual meals, noted as "the best part of the job" the captain explains in Spanish. We relax for the next 3 hours.

Around Midnight we check the lines. We start at one end, and slowly go through all the hooks. After bringing each consecutive hook to the surface the captain examines the the current bait and decides if he wants to replace it or not. More than likely he does. As this process is taking place, Erick is cutting up new pieces of sardines for bait. He discards the heads and tails overboard and cuts the body (width wise) into 4 to 5 sections. Just think 900 pieces of bait in which you only get 4 pieces out one sardines... thats a lot of cutting and thus the title of today's blog "Amo (Master) Baiter". Sorry.

After going through the line the first time he gets about 20 kilos of red snapper. There was some bi-catch like eels and some smaller stingrays, but we were able to return them back to the ocean.

After going through the entire line which takes about 1.5 hours to complete, we take another siesta and repeat the processes. To be honest almost the exact things happened. Same amount caught and time spent. We siesta once more before I "begin" the next day.

SIDENOTE: All the while, there is thunderstorm on the horizon seeming like they are heading in our direction. Each time we take a siesta both Eric and I sleep on 2ft wide benches, while we stare into the star freckled night, bobbing up and down all night long. Without the aid of medicine, I have been able to keep my composure on the boat from sea sickness. My trick is to nibble on non-liquid food (like bread and oatmeal) all throughout my time. It works for me!

  • It what you get used to
  • All about perspective
  • Don't fear the reaper
  • Jokes are funny across cultures. You just need a translator.   

Food: Oatmeal mash... Oatmeal made with water, and dried out a malleable state where granola, and Kool Aid packet were added.
Animals: dogs, crabs, stingray, mantaray, red snapper, yellow snapper, Jackfish, "Preacher fish", churro shells, flying fish and Gnars

Something I am thankful for: Sustainability. Otherwise known as equilibrium and balance. 
Something I don't want to admit: I really did not do any of the work on the boat today, other than notate each type of fish we caught and the measurements of the fish. However Erick has plans for me to come out with the fisherman alone...

Total Nest I have saved: 31
Total Nests Poached on my Patrol: 25
Total Turtle Eggs I saved: 3,640
Total Baby Turtles I Released:151
Days of Rain: 52/83

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