Day Three: The SEA People Diaries | By Greg Johannes.
Where fishing is a lesson in humility, climate change takes a sea turtle nesting beach, and some thoughts about conservation funding…”it has nothing to do with what they do, and much more to do with whether they can write a nice grant application or demonstrate a project ‘at scale’ ” (fyi – we couldn’t agree more on this point Greg!!).

Fishing. I like fishing. I think I’m ok at it. So this trip I bring some high end spinning gear hoping I can learn a bit from the locals while I land a few.

My first lesson is humility.

I’m throwing fancy lures left, right and centre at fish busting up the surface while the local crew watch me catch nothing on my $400 set-up.

Meanwhile, Roy the ship’s engineer is happily catching squid using an unbaited hook on a short length of fishing line attached to a discarded plastic bottle. His set-up costs about 20 cents.

On day three I try hard to save face.

Lynn and I head off with Yos and Piet to the local river. We swap transport at the mouth and climb into a wooden boat carved by hand from a single log. We’re led by a local named Roy and three tiny kids.

One of the kids has a Messi shirt on – ahhh … the world game. Their balance is, predictably, amazing while mine is, predictably, terrible and I’m constantly trying not to capsize us.

We stop at several spots but the river is swollen and turbid from recent rain and I catch nothing.

The dense and hilly jungle is bursting with life. Giant hornbills everywhere. Big green monitor lizards slither away and I spend time up close with a fuzzy little couscous. And iridescent teal butterflies skate happily above the botanical violence that comes from the constant battle between vines and trees in the tropics.

On the way out we stop at a spectacular waterfall. I’ve been here before and I’ve rehearsed in my mind the photograph I’m going to take … with the tripod I left back on the boat.

We swim and refresh and then head back down the river and out to sea. On the way out Yos points at a surface disturbance and I throw my lure. Fifteen minutes later the boat has a 3kg golden trevally and a Spanish mackerel in the cooler. There are high-5s all round.

When we get back to the liveaboard Roy sees my fish and lets out a long “whoaaaaaa”. I feel like I’ve finally contributed to life onboard.

For all this I’m a bit melancholy when I go to bed.

This place is home to five of the seven known species of turtles, including leatherbacks. They come here to nest.

Climate change is now taking the beach and it’s visibly receded since last time. The locals have to rescue stranded turtles from the mangroves as they push further inland so their eggs can stay above the waterline.

I also find out that the organisation that protects the nesting leatherbacks from threats like pigs has lost its funding. I can’t help but thinking it has nothing to do with what they do, and much more to do with whether they can write a nice grant application or demonstrate a project ‘at scale’.

I fall asleep again wondering whether it’s time for us to rethink the scale equation.

Source: LinkedIn | Greg Johannes
Photo: Lynn Lawrance

Past Entries: 

About The Author: Greg Johannes, Ambassador  – The SEA People.  Greg spent 2 weeks aboard the Galaxea with us and documented his experience in his daily entries into ‘The SEA People Diaries’. 

Day One and Two – Read here

Day Zero – Read here