The Fish Market: strictly for the birds

[If you only want to see the birds, they are mostly near the end of this post!]

There are two fish markets on Lake Awasa in Ethiopia, and they attract a rich melange of human life and wildlife, in a symbiotic balance that has probably changed little for centuries. The boats are skiffs:


And there are dozens of them:


The fishermen clean the fish with ferocious mini-scimitars and sell them to middlemen:


Who in turn sell to local buyers:

DSC07584The pelicans hang around hoping for discards:

Great White Pelican

The entrails are sold for “rich man’s dogs” to eat, but there are plenty left over that are cleaned up by the marabou storks:

Marabou Stork.

though this stork has clearly scavenged from something much larger:


The  half-wild village dogs chase the storks (unsuccessfully, and the storks are much larger than them anyway, their 12 foot wingspan is the largest of any living bird):


And they also scavenge the carcasses dotted around the shoreline:


On land there is a party atmosphere. Kids play soccer, though this goalie is rather unorthodox:

Marabou Stork. Goal.

At the back, stalls sell fish soup:


Barbecued fish:


And in the back rooms , something else:


In the water, birds abound. A spur-winged goose:

Spur-winged Goose

An African jacana male, with its blue forehead  shield :

African Jacana, male

Sacred Ibis:


A Black-winged Stilt:

Black-winged Stilt

And Hammerkopfs:


Everyone wins except the fish. As the population (both local and tourist) increases, overfishing is apparently taking its toll, and the catch is steadily shrinking,

P.S. Lake Awasa is part of the Great Rift Valley, It is an endorheic basin, meaning it is fresh water, but has no outlet (except perhaps an underground one), and instead it peters out into shallows and swamps.

P.P.S. Most of these photos were taken at the smaller and less official market. The high-end hotels buy from the other one, which is slightly (just) more hygienic!

3 thoughts on “The Fish Market: strictly for the birds”

  1. Great mix of shots! I recall the guide saying that the lake has always been overfished to a certain extent, but now that the fishermen have been supplied with ultra fine-mesh nets it means that the immature fish are captured as well. Another local ‘tragedy of the commons’ looming?


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