The giants of the sea, all but gone?
In search of stories of a fish soaked in myth and magic, and uncovering other ocean mysteries along the way
Abida Rahman ChowdhuryMay 18, 2020
A ray is being processed. Photo:Fayed Masud Khan
When we get there at the break of dawn, Cox's Bazar is asleep and unexpectedly cold. Pinching at our cheek, making everyone scrunch up their noses. But reassurances drop in from right and left that the coast is rarely ever cold, for a long stretch anyway.
It proves true soon enough. Just as we enter Ground Zero of marine biologist Alifa Bintha Haque's study area, the mercury starts climbing.
The very broken and expansive Bangladesh Fisheries Development Corporation (BFDC) approved landing site for fish caught from the Bay of Bengal looms large and menacing. The open market stands just at the mouth of the Baghkhali River leading to the ocean. Alifa and her team of young researchers get to work immediately.
They plan to collect monthly data on landings of sharks and rays (elasmobranchs) caught by fishing vessels who spent countless days in the high seas.
Fins, tails and other parts of sharks being dried over a machan by the sea. Photo: Alifa B Haque
It does not take long for the research team--Mahi, Nidhi, Nazia and Shawon and many others who haven't been named here--to get down and dirty. On the sprawling dirt-stained mosaic floor, fishers haul in the day's catch. The smell of blood, fish guts, burnt mobil and kerosene, betel leaf spittle and Hollywood cigarettes hang heavy in the air. An hour and the stench is everywhere. Hair, nostrils, at the base of your throat and through the mesh of your scarf. But nothing deters this bunch. The team divides into two and sloshes through the sea of blood and slime. One in search of sharks--pig eye, bull, tiger, hammerhead, spot tail, whale and spadenose sharks. The other looks for rays- blue-spotted, spotted eagle, whip, spinetail and longtail butterfly, among others
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Garba Shehu, the presidential spokesman, says the proposed “Ruga Settlement” is not for herders alone.
Reacting to the massive opposition towards the project, Shehu said it is untrue that the federal government has the plan to forcefully take lands from some states.
He also expressed disappointment with the recent “unhelpful comments” regarding the plan to stop roaming of cattle herders with the attendant clashes with farmers.
“Ruga Settlement seeks to settle migrant pastoral families. It simply means rural settlement in which animal farmers, not just cattle herders, would be settled in an organized place with provision of necessary and adequate basic amenities,” he said.
“Such amenities include schools, hospitals, road networks, veterinary clinics, markets and manufacturing entities that would process and add value to meats and animal products.
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BHUTAN : HAPPINESS IS A PKACE Glimpse of Bhutan : Thimpu- paro (4D -3N) Temples, Tiger nets, monastery, stupa, national park, paro BDT 36,400 Best of Bhutan: Paro – thimpu- Punakha (5D -4N) Tiger nest, monastery, stupa, paro, punakha, dochula pass, pu