By Emily Hancox
The final day for most of the team coincided with the annual fishing competition. We arrived at the pier at 11am, to be met with the first fishermen returning with their fresh catches, and a small crowd of spectators.
Being saved the effort of catching our own specimens, the team rapidly set up an array of scalpels, knives and forceps to process the variety of fish available. The goal was to collect length, weight, sex and maturity information, and to extract the fish ear bones (otoliths) for ageing purposes. A messy business at times, bystanders watched with interest as the borrowed hacksaw was put to use, sawing open fish heads to reveal the otoliths. A small crowd of children became willing assistants, holding little vials and offering enthusiastic advice as the blood, brains and bones occasionally proved challenging to work with. As the sun swang around to glare upon our previously shaded workspace, onlookers “oohed” and “aahed” as the first of the boats returned with their spoils. Huge tuna, the largest weighing 120kg, were craned on to the pier and winched into position to be weighed. After being professionally butchered and sliced into stunning chunks of meat, the heads were available for us, and the saw was back in action.
The species available for sampling were diverse, different jacks, dolphin fish, moray eels, and wahoo forming a part of the hooked fish that were brought to the table. Remnants of these, and those that were unwanted were rapidly welcomed by the blackfish in the water below.
As people retired to the Saints Club, samples were packed, gear was cleaned and packed, and preparations were made for our imminent departure.
Thanks to all who were involved!