"Do you want to learn something?Kabelo Brenda Wellington (Dept. of Animal Health and Production, Ministery of Agriculture), Shaft Nengu (Head of Dept. of Fisheries, Maun), and Ben Van Der Waal (University of Venda, SA, AquaRAP Fish Team). Species: Marmyrus lacerda, Western bottlenose, "nono" (mbukushi name)
Lick the fish then!"
"Do you want to learn something? Lick the fish then!" said AquaRAP scientist Ben Van Der Waal as he offered the stem of the Western Bottlenose’s tail to Kabelo Brenda Wellington of the Botswana’s Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Animal Health and Productivity. Kabelo pulled back sharply, but finally put her tongue on the fish scales.
I had the same reaction when Ben turned around and offered me the fish. ("Give it a kiss," joked the other Botswanan scientists.) I "taste" the faint shock of the electricity that this fish uses to orient itself in turbid waters, compensating for its small eyes.
This bottlenose, Marmyrus lacerda, or "nono" in the local mbukushi language, is one of the first species pulled out of the Okavango River at the mouth of the Delta. Next is a brightly patterned tigerfish (Hydrocynus vittatus), or "ngwethe" in mbukushi, which is a favorite of sport fisherman.
African Pike (above, Hepsetus odoe, "njeru" in mbukushi) live four to five years in quiet, deep channels and lagoons, preying on smaller fish by sudden attack. Scientist Denis Tweddle wiped a small smear of blood off his hand where the pike’s sharp teeth cut him, while others picked spines from Grunters out of their own hands.
Nothing serious, but when Denis used a hypodermic to inject the best fish samples with formaldahyde, a squirt bouced off the fish and hit him in the eye. Luckily the scientists were able to rush him over to a tub of water and flush out his eye before it could scar the tissue. "Worst dose of that I’ve ever had in my life," laughed Denis.
The Zambezi Grunter (Parauchenoglanis ngamensis), another fish pulled from the Northern Delta, is a common species named for the noise it makes both in and out of water.
– Reported by Jensen Reitz Montambault
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