Fish for an Island

Studying how major climatic events are affecting the ecology of coral reef systems, a marine biologist reflects on what this means for communities whose lives are intertwined with the ecology.

Nadia walked briskly up to me, her hands full of food containers. “You wanted short-eats, no?” she asked as she led me to the group of women who were waiting close by. Earlier in the day while interviewing her, I had asked her about recipes for Maldivian short-eats, fried tuna-filled snacks that often accompany their morning or evening coffee. The women had just returned from a meeting at the school with plenty of leftovers, so we made our way to one of their homes. Inside, Nadia arranged a plate of gulha, samosa, and boakiba in front of me, and poured me a glass of juice. Three other women—all part of the Women’s Development Committee on this island of Rinbudhoo—stood around the table, giggling at my obvious pleasure. These were all snacks Nadia had prepared at home, which she often shipped to Malé or sold to tourists. Her boakiba (fish cake) was fantastic, spicy and dense, but not heavy.

A few minutes later, we heard that the boat that had gone out that afternoon was just pulling into the lagoon. The previous day, my collaborator Fisam and I had been told that we should try to make it out to see the catch of frigate tuna when it was landed the next evening. “You have to go fast!” Nadia said, motioning for me to finish eating quickly. Fisam and I made our way to the beach on the island’s north-eastern edge, the sand a muted pink and orange in the late light of the setting sun.

The day's catch, ready for sorting.
Credit: Author

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Updated On : 15th Jun, 2020


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