Today is our first day on the water with the hired boat and captain. We planned to fish but everyone was eager to get on the water so there was not enough room to take the gear. After a walk that I will never forget down the fisherman lined beach towards our boat, we got underway in the 5m boat with our skipper, deck hand, and eight scientific crew… now you might believe us that there was NO room for the fishing gear. From the beach at Bagamoyo we had about a 10km run to the mouth of the Ruvu River. This is one of the stretches of water where having a captain with local knowledge really paid off. There are a lot of rocky reefs and sand banks not easily spotted in the plume water and with a tide range of up to 4m (13') we need to know where they are to safely navigate. We were able to collect some preliminary environmental information including water salinity, dissolved oxygen, temperature, conductivity, and river depth profiles. About 20km upriver we also came across a local family that had a small roadside market where a variety of fresh produce was available as well as some fresh boiled corn… our captain was especially happy about that!!!
This system definitely looks like Shark River in the Everglades! Tomorrow, we will start setting our lines across the major salinity gradients of the river from the mouth to freshwater areas, including brackish waters. We have seen a diversity of plant and bird species today and took as many pictures as possible to document biodiversity across the river. We also saw our first hippo footprints in the river… but no hippos.
When we got off the water we visited some more fish landings and documented 3 other species of elasmobranchs caught today ( the rays Himantura fai, Himantura uarnak and the shark Carcharhinus sorrah). We will definitely be getting our lines in the water tomorrow!!!