Further adventures with fish traps! As I’ve mentioned before, my sugar momma for this trip to Curacao is fellow Scripps graduate student Ayana Johnson, who is trying to build a better fish trap, one that excludes juveniles and tiny non-target reef fish. Our adventures with tying the traps to the truck were only the beginning – we still had to get her modified fish traps in the water.
Trouble is, Ayana is deploying eight per site and the traps are really quite big – about 4 feet wide and 1.5 feet deep – so we needed a boat to get them out. So here’s what stacking fish traps looks like if you don’t know what the heck you’re doing. That’s Ayana on the left and me on the right.
After only one day of checking the traps, we’ve already noticed a sharp difference between the regular traps and the ones with escape slots. (All the fish we catch will be released at the end of the five-day experiment.) The regular traps catch all kinds of tiny useless-but-beautiful fish, like juvenile French angelfish and four-eye butterflyfish. And eels. Holy crapoly, huge moray eels that come into the traps and eat everything else. In contrast, the modified traps did not have nontarget fish. But they also didn’t have any fish, though it’s hard to judge after only one day in the water. After seeing my very favorite fish on the reef, the fluttery silly-looking smooth trunkfish, caught in an unmodified trap, I sure do hope that Ayana can find a way to stop wasting all these fishy lives.