Saturday, July 9, 2016

Reeling 'Em In

Our week at the Children's Museum started off eventfully, with Jenny reeling in a two- or three-foot American Eel. Just a few hours after we had set up the poles and touch tank, Jahari noticed one of the rods bending against the railing and raised the alarm. All the SHSB staff on site worked together to bring the eel up onto the boardwalk, fill a tank with water, and show our catch to gathered onlookers. I snapped a series of photographs in the midst of the action, as the eel tried to thrash its way free and Luke, Bella and Jenny attempted to remove the hook from its throat. Quite a scene for museum visitors and passerby on a drizzly Tuesday morning! Since the eel was so big and active, we weren't able to keep it for long, so we released it back into the water after cutting the line.

Before this summer, I'd only ever been fishing a handful of times, and had never seen anything actually landed. So it was exciting and a bit nerve wracking to watch a creature pulled from the depths, flopping heavily on the transparent line and tugging the top of the pole toward the water. I have a good idea of how some of the young kids who we show things to feel: the sense of awe and strange joy and concern that comes with touching or observing a live crab or just-caught fish. I'm learning so much right along with them!

For the next couple of days, we caught mostly crabs: green crabs, spider crabs, and one particularly disgruntled specimen that we identified as a native Atlantic rock crab. As promised, I've learned to tell and teach the difference between male and female―we even hauled in a couple of green crabs carrying eggs. A few kids have been able to reel up crabs that go after the bait on the fishing lines, which is always a memorable moment for them. And then on Friday, a little visiting fisherman checked the crab trap and found not just a green crab, but also a young perch caught in the net! He was so proud, and we were all pretty excited, too. After some confusion, we were able to get the fish into a tank, rescuing it from the claws of its companion. Thank goodness Bella was there to get that fish free! I was surprised by how beautiful it was, with hints of blue among its brown scales, and I'm feeling inspired to discover what else we can find in the harbor.

~Emily B.

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