Catch of the Day
By Malcolm Callister
Just offshore you see the action begin. At sunrise the low angle of the sun’s lights penetrates the Pacific breakers, casting shadows of the fish in the wave. Pelicans and the Frigate birds spot these shadows from great heights and attack. Inshore fishermen follow the birds. Gulls follow the fishermen.
As the sun is rising, you are standing on the nearly deserted golden sand beach, below the RV park at LaPenita, Nayarit, Mexico. In front of you is the Pacific Ocean, you smell and taste the salt air. The sun is climbing above the palm trees in the jungle at your back. Just offshore you see the action begin, you are viewing the beginning of one of natures’ natural fishing tournaments. A tournament that relies on the sunrise.
You feel the warming rays on your body, and the sunlight casts your shadow to the water's edge. When the angle of the sun is this low, and the light hits the incoming Pacific Ocean waves, it penetrates the water. The shadowy movements of fish are caught, as if ex-rayed. The birds, pelicans, and frigates, gliding high on the thermals are ready. When the fish are observed, the birds dive.
With the sunlight, you see the fish in the wave. Then diving from a great height, wings folded back come the pelicans. Rising to the surface each pelican has a fish held firmly across its beak. The pelicans flick their beaks to the sky and toss the fish so that it is swallowed head first.
The Frigate Birds
The frigate birds and level out with the surface, they attack from the side, wing tips skimming, almost touching the water. Frigate birds with their hooked beak tip are ready for an unsuspecting fish swimming near the water surface. Without going into the sea, each bird takes a fish. Having caught a fish, frigate birds fly high before swallowing it.
The Inshore Fishermen
An open inshore fishing boat with three men in it, have spotted the activity of the birds and are heading into the center of the shoal. With the boat engine off, the men drift silently towards the fish. Fish identified for them by the birds. Two men stand in the bow, fishing nets ready to heave over the side. One good catch of the day and their days' work is done.
With nets full, the men haul their catch in. But their fish are to be shared. The gulls have been waiting for an opportunity to take fish from the nets. As the fishermen pull their fishing nets into the boat, the gulls scream and dive, chase and fight to get a fish.
A Fishy Tale
That evening as you tell your story, during Happy Hour, you are told: "we get a display like that often during the winter season."
And you thought that what you had seen was unique.
M&L Tip of the week
Be prepared for an invite to happy hour. Always have a bottle of something ready, and a tale or two to tell. It makes for a fun evening, laughing with new friends.