Wednesday, 4 November 2015

A fishy outing to Apalachee Bay, Gulf of Mexico

View of St. Marks river (CM Lau)
There is something really fishy about this outing. A couple from our host community Tony and Renee decided to take us boating in Apalachee Bay, Gulf of Mexico. We’re clueless about the trip initially - unsure if we’re just going sightseeing or doing something else.

It turned out to be an exciting trip! Not only we went sightseeing, but we had geographical and biological lessons about the St. Marks and Wakulla rivers. The 2 rivers have different pH with Wakulla being more acidic, meet before flowing out of river mouth where freshwater and saltwater mix. Due to the difference in water density, it created a unique ecosystem which comprised of organisms from both freshwater and seawater.

12-inch black rock bass caught (Tony Murray)
Pelican resting on a red buoy (CM Lau)
We spotted pelicans, vultures, bald eagle (which is used on the US emblem) along our journey from the river out to Apalachee Bay. Once we arrived to the fishing spot, first cast returns empty hand but a 11-inch rock bass was caught within seconds of the next cast. That really kicked off our trip. With the first catch hauled in, we continued to get many fishes - mostly rock bass as well as white grunt (Haemulon plumieri) and trigger fish (Balistidae). Smaller rock bass and the trigger fish were released to allow them to go through reproduction phase. Now, this is something I admire - the sustainable practice of recreational fishing which is something lacking in Malaysia.

Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncates) (CM Lau)
While on the way back, we were escorted by unexpected guests. Who? A small pod of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)! These beautiful marine mammals (yes, in case you didn’t know they are NOT fish) followed us for a good 15 minutes. What a start to our fellowship!

Imam collecting water samples for red tide testing (Tony Murray)
Fish aside, we took the opportunity to collect some water samples to be sent for red tide analysis. This collection is somewhat also known as citizen science, where volunteers help to collect opportunistic samples whenever they go out to the sea. Large data sets give more accurate analysis, but more collections are limited by funds and manpower!

Southern style fish along with chips and 'Hush Puppies' (CM Lau)
We made full use of the fish we caught, sending it to a restaurant nearby to be cooked into the Southern style – fried and blackened. Not just that, the restaurant if well known for their hush puppies. Not the hush puppies dog or even the shoe brand but they are delicious corn balls! I like to think that I am a southerner, because the southern style really fits my taste, hot and spicy! Good food usually seals the deal for the day!  So what’s so fishy about this trip? Really, it’s just the fish.

Oh, the catch of the day? It’s our host couple’s 28th wedding anniversary!

Catch of the day: Tony and Renee took us out boating despite it's their 28th wedding anniversary!

Thank kew 4 sarpoting ah, come again oh!


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