18th January 2002
The weather today is fine and dandy. A good night’s sleep went down a treat and now I can enjoy the novelty of fresh air on the bow. I went down to check the haul after lunch and found that someone has taken my boots… I can’t believe somebody would steal my welly boots! I spent lots of time in the factory today not helping (I couldn’t without my boots) but just observing, extracting otoliths and dissecting fish.
I rang home tonight to tell Mum and Dad about MRAG losing the contract; everything is okay in the James household and it was good to have a chat a dose of normal.
This evening was also spent in the factory…We are catching a lot of cod, it seems like the captain has blown caution to the wind and is just filling up with whatever regulated species he fancies. I am duly noting down what I see, but otherwise I’m helpless to change it. Some of the cod are huge and it’s sad to see them being caught after so many years surviving in the Atlantic against all the odds. In other fisheries, Observers collect biological information about the catch which feeds into stock assessment, sadly that’s not the case here which I find really disappointing.
I collected some otoliths out of interest, but they won’t be used as they should. Otoliths are tiny ear bones which are situated in a fluid filled cavity near the fishes brain. Otoliths grow with the fish – every year the fish is alive another layer is added to the otolith. It’s a bit like counting rings in a tree stump and can be used to accurately age a fish – information which is important to know when managing a fishery. The otoliths are cut and ground and through a microscope you can count the rings. Even with the naked eye some of the rings are apparent – these cod were probably older than I am.