While it’s true that we live by the sea, it doesn’t often smell that way. But for a couple of days recently there was a distinct fishy smell wafting – well not exactly wafting, more like blasting – our way. So I set out to discover the source of this smell.
The nearby commercial fishing harbor is of course the most likely suspect, so of course I went there first to sniff things out. They don’t call me Sherlock Jones for nothing.
The pier was hopping. There were a couple of tractor trailer rigs parked there and forklifts going back and forth loading huge toters. When I was here a few days earlier the toters were being offloaded and they were full of crushed ice.
The further out on the pier I went the fishier it smelled. Still hadn’t put my finger on though until …
This photo shows a couple of purse seiners back to back. The red pipe is a hose that’s sucking stuff out of the hold into a hopper, which then was putting stuff onto tha ladder-looking thing which is really taking stuff up into some other hopper which then had a chute that loaded the stuff into the toters.
Aside: Here’s what purse seiners do. Info thanks to interpretive panels around the harbor.
I didn’t really know what the stuff was that was being loaded, so I pedaled on. The forklifts and I dodged each other, along with other cyclists and tourists and fishermen. I stopped at one of the toters, which came up to my chest, and took a look in.
Calamari, anyone? It’s squid time. These guys are about 8-10 inches long (20-25cm). I learned later that these are used primarily for bait but also for food. They live about a year, near the end of which they do their reproductive duties before dying. Squid boats are out day and night. They have huge lights on them to attract the squid, which is legal. Once upon a time I had a poster that was entitled The Earth At Night, which showed how lit-up the world is. One huge blob of light was off the coast of Japan. It was their squid fleet.
Below is another look at the offloading process. The forklift is waiting with a toter on its forks. Between the boat and the building is a tall metal thing with the elevator full of squid on it. You can sort of see the chute, which is not well visible but goes at a downward angle towards the forklift. That’s loading the toter sitting on the forklift.
There must be a lot of bycatch using seines, so the offloading process must somehow sort out the squid from the other fish.
I think this must have been the source of the smell. It wasn’t really that bad down at the pier so I’m not entirely convinced. I was afraid it was a beached whale, of which we’ve had several this summer along the beaches but not close by our house. At least it wasn’t that.
This was one of the few really sunny days we had this summer. The rest of the state is roasting and we’re having temps of 55F/14C with the marine layer day after day. It was a lovely day for an investigative ride.