When I lived in London, I never went to the Tower. One Madrileño I met claims to never enter the Prado. I am sure there are Cairenes always wanting to visit the Pyramids. I know I’m not alone when I often ignore what’s in my own backyard. The appeal of the distance always seems to be more attractive. But with the Covid crisis, we are all aware of the importance of finding the treasure under our noses. That’s why I was on a fishing boat heading out of Pembrokeshire’s tiny port of Dale with oceanographer Richard Rees and Captain Andy, plus some excited photographers and divers – and a bit shy -. The group is reduced a bit to keep the social distance.
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Andy has been sailing the seas off the coast of Wales all his life, carrying fishermen mainly to rich foraging fields 30 miles offshore. We are on a mission to see and swim with marine life that most people, including myself, associate with more alien locations.“It’s only about 80 meters deep out there,” Andy told me as we passed some impressive bulges, “but there’s a lot of food and lots of stuff chasing it. ”
Almost as soon as Skomer Island receded toward the horizon behind us, dolphins appeared, lined up along the boat and sailed away when we awoke. The birds, too, were always concerned: the feasts of ganks, shearwaters, fulmars and hurricane pets, all checking on us while being on the lookout for occasional skids. and kill at any time.
“For many years, I’ve been studying whale sharks in the Indian Ocean,” said Richard. “But then I returned home to Wales and realized what we have here is just as amazing.”
The trip was fun, even on settled days. The Atlantic storms left their mark in the form of large swirls. When we reached our final position, out of sight of the mainland, we turned off the engines and immersed ourselves in them. The anti-drunk pill was swallowed, but only one person could not bear it. Andy begins to work, tossing the mackerel clippings tied to the stout fishing line above the train – no hook to be concerned. We wait. A trio of dolphins plunge out of the waves; they seemed to be grinning in amusement, possibly having a free lunch. I watch the Manx ski waves sweep the waves, one of the great views of the vast ocean surrounding England, home to much of the world’s population. The treasure, as I said, is sometimes under your nose.
Meanwhile, under Andy’s nose is another treasure: a smelly fish soup in a bucket that he scoops regularly on board. When there is no response, a rope basket is filled with fish and hung at a depth of four or five meters. Still nothing happened. A few hours passed.
I asked Richard about the morality of chumming. Isn’t it bad for sharks? He nodded thoughtfully. “Feeding them regularly and in one place can definitely change behavior, but we are never in the same place, our trips are infrequent and we only give them one. taste, not a meal. Plus, these are blue sharks, sharks and makos, which are marine species that roam large distances – very different from sharks that inhabit one place. ”
Our stomachs are now in the groove so we eat and drink hot drinks (everyone’s stuff is stored carefully). The rich birds are constantly entertaining. Andy mixes a bucket of pilchard oil and molasses. : “Can’t resist. Never fail.”
But it does. Nothing happened. Andy is not disturbed. He has more tricks up his sleeve. An inexpensive electric toothbrush was turned on and submerged inside the fish basket, transmitting a fascinating stream of vibrations out into the clear blue water.
And then one of the fishing rods was jerked. The supernatant is rotating, undulating and sinking. Suddenly the rod flexed and the wire tore off the spindle. Andy grabbed it and stepped on the brake. “Let’s see if I can bring her back.” It is not easy. There is no hook, only a struggle between humans and marine life for food. Now, some of us are looking to equip snorkelling gear. I was struggling to wear wet clothes when the cry started. “I was full of eyes!”