>> Saturday, May 3, 2014
Finally, after two and a half months of intensive fishing (if you can call dragging a handline intensive…) we caught our first edible fish today. As we started to near the cooler waters north of Cape Hatteras we had begun to give up hope of enjoying the pleasure of fresh fish straight from the sea. Each morning we dutifully streamed our line off the taffrail, with the confidence that today would be the day and we would soon be eating the fresh fish sandwiches for which our cook Lizzie is famous for throughout the fleet. But every night at twilight we would reluctantly coil up the fishing line with resignation and, as the days wore on, despair.
Sure we've had some close calls; we've seen Dorados (Mahi Mahi as their known) leaping in the air around our lures, we've seen them lying in wait under fish floats, and we've even caught a few barracuda (which we threw back over concerns of ciguatera). Our wait for a delicious seafood meal would have to wait.
But today was different. The entire ship was woken up to the call of "Fish On!" yelled by our Chief Mate, Mr. Leathers. In no time he had a beautiful Bonito (a smaller cousin in the tuna family) over the rail amidst a very happy ship's company. Not wanting to waste any part of this opportunity, we reviewed some salient aspects of the fish's physiology, and looked in its stomach to see what we could learn about its diet. Shockingly we found about two dozen small larval crustaceans, larval fishes, and even a very small seahorse! Nothing was nearly as big as the lure that the fish had tried to eat.
The fish was lightly seared in olive oil and garlic, and proved an excellent accompaniment to the gnocchi we had for dinner. And best of all, we saved the skin and are currently experimenting to see if it is possible to make fish leather using black tea!