Currents Change and Fishermen Profit

Each year as dry season ends and the rainy season begins the ambient temperature of the regions almost doubles. Surface water warms and hot wind blows off shore pushing the warm surface water away from shore. As it shifts, nutrient rich water is pulled from the deep up to the shallows. This phenomenon known as upwelling brings a wealth of opportunities for artisanal fishermen taking advantage of the swelling fish numbers brought by the nutrient rich water. 

Each morning on a beach in Ouakam hundreds of men push small wooden pirogues on to the sand and into the shallow clear waters that surround Dakar. Most pirogues have a team of at least 3 who spend their day using hook and line wrapped around a piece of wood to temp schools of fish to take the sardine bait. On a good day they can catch over a hundred fish between them to be sold at the market and the profits split between them. 

The larger of the boats have teams of 10 using large nets and a team of divers to spot fish and surround them. Divers herd schools into the net. Repeating this many times a day until the crew is happy with the catch which Sid then sold directly to Restaurants on the beach. 

The seasonal shift in currents brings a fortune of fish within reach over the course of the rainy season getting more intense until the rains stop and the winds change.

*Photos and words by Guy Peterson