By Nadim Parves
[The is the fifth blog in a series about the WCS-led marine megafauna survey, which is gathering data on whales, sea turtles, sharks, and other marine species inhabiting the coastal waters of Bangladesh. Data from the effort will identify biologically important locations for future consideration as marine protected areas.]
As we sailed southeast from St. Martin’s Island towards deeper waters, we scanned the waters for marine mammals. Sighting conditions have been poor, and it has been five days since we last spotted a cetacean. At 08:30 we pass by several Sampans, small, elegant half-moon shaped fishing boats typical of the southeast coast of Bangladesh near the border with Myanmar.
Then our team spots a large fish floating about fifty meters from the bow. We decide to take a closer look. To our surprise the belly-up fish is still very much alive when we pull it aboard and a couple of us get whacked by its powerful tail. The twelve-kilogram fish measuring almost a meter long is a giant Asian sea bass.
Just before noon the wind drops to nothing and the sighting conditions are perfect: Beaufort sea state zero, glare zero, fog zero. It was then we spotted four different species of sea snakes – Jerdon’s, black and yellow, spine-bellied and annulated sea. We also recorded a variety of seabirds, including: brown-headed, black-headed and Pallas’s gulls; common, whiskered, little, greater and lesser crested terns; a Eurasian curlew; and a couple of barn swallows circling our boat.