JBL Expedition 2016: Day 5 – Fishing in the Tributary of the Orinoco

This day should have started differently because the onward journey to Canaima was on the agenda. But due to the prolonged dry season it had to be changed at short notice and we were able to spend one more day in the Eco Camp Orinoco. The teams were able to use this extra for new trips, which were decided on within the groups. Some of them explored some more tributaries of the north-western Orinoco Delta, others visited a large indigenous village.

Groups 3 and 4 decided to explore some further tributaries of the Orinoco. We wanted to find some new fish species. Armed with a self-constructed dip net, catch nets and snorkels we searched the surroundings. The water was cloudy, but a little bit clearer than the days before. The current didn’t seem to be whirling up so much. The guides and some team members took the time for some fishing. This was for lunch. Even if the cloudiness meant we didn’t see many fish, the landscape was impressive. We were only a few hundred metres away from the main branch of the river, but it had changed completely.

In the afternoon we drove once back to the farm that we had visited some days ago. We had been tipped off that there were a lot of fish in the almost dried out water holes on the other side of the farm. Using a trawl net and within seconds we caught numerous species, which, along with thousands of tadpoles, had been swimming in the 29 °C warm pool directly near the narrow water stream.

That’s how we came to photograph a swamp eel (Synbranchidae), knifefish (probably Adontosternarchus spec.) and some leaffish (Polycentridae).

At the end of the day we drove further up the river, where we caught some black and red piranhas, which the guides cooked for our evening meal. Some of our group returned to the water to be carried back to the farm by the current. And that’s where we all met up. You had to be careful in the water. The cloudiness of the water impaired your view and there was a large indigenous population of electric eels. The electric shocks are no joke!

On the way back we met some indios. As before we stopped them whenever we met them in their logboats. That way we learned a lot about freight transport on the water. They proudly showed us pacus, piranhas, caterpillars from the tree of life, bananas, birds and much more.

Back at the camp that evening we packed our luggage for the return journey, had a meal and were given the opportunity to listen to some national music from a local music school, which had travelled some way to visit us. We were setting off with the boats next morning at 4 am, so we went to bed early.

The sun determines the pattern of life at the Orinoco. That’s why we wake up early at sunrise and are tired in the evening after sunset – we have adapted to nature.

© 20.04.2016
Matthias Wiesensee
Matthias Wiesensee
M.Sc. Wirtschaftsinformatik
JBL GmbH & Co. KG

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