Removing Fish from a Net
Paul Ward - 1985-86 - Signy Island - Antarcticans Database Project - more

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Removing Fish from a Net

A rapidly grabbed picture because I was supposed to be involved here in getting the fish out of the net and the fact I was taking pictures instead meant that I was having a break instead of doing the same uncomfortable job that my friends were doing. As our fish needed to be alive and in good condition we had to take care in extracting them from the nets and they seemed to have an awful lot of little hard protrusions and bits for the net to get caught on.

It was a skill that you had to develop as a fish biologist, removing a sometimes very tightly caught fish with fingers that were at least half numb and getting worse. Very unpleasant at first, but of course, you got used to it and it was usually better to just carry on with fingers that at half worked than to keep warming them up which just made it worse.

This is one of the common inshore species, Notothenia neglecta, the subject of my particular studies. It was sometimes called "Antarctic Cod", but then I've seen that label attached to several other Antarctic fish species. With no native human population and a fish population that is pretty much totally unique to Antarctica, very few Antarctic fish actually have anything like a common name. The people who deal with them with any regularity are scientists rather than fishmongers as it would be anywhere else in the world.

The result is that Antarctic fish tend to be referred to by their Latin name as most people who need to refer to them are scientist. For reasons I have never been able to fully understand this can greatly irritate some people. The conversation goes something like this:

    "So what kind of fish did you catch out there?"

    me - "Quite a few types"

    "Like what?"

    me - (ok here we go again) "They didn't really have common names, just scientific ones"

    "Like what?"

    me - (I know where this is going) "Notothenia neglecta, Chaenocephalus aceratus, Trematomus bernachii, Champsocephalus gunnari"

    "Well that means nothing to me! Didn't they have proper names?"

    me - "Well you could call them Antarctic Cod, or Icefish"

    "Oh that makes more sense, I can imagine what they were like now"

    me - no you can't! (but I never say that)


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Photo; ©Paul Ward