WHEN CATCHING FISH AROUND CORAL REEFS BIGGER MAY NOT ALWAYS BE BETTER
|Photo by Peter Griffin
We received the following from Bill Riley a retired Coast Guard Officer and now a marine surveyor with the Maritime Alliance Group Inc.(MAGI)in Baltimore. The MAGI do hull, cargo, compliance surveys, and marine investigations for ship owners and insurance interest throughout the Chesapeake Bay area. Cargo issues can include spoiled frozen food cargoes including fish. So if Bill sounds a bit like a toxicologist at times that's just one of the many skills needed by a top flight marine surveyor. One day we'll do a career profile on the marine surveyor profession for our younger readers considering a maritime career. For the time being however if you are unfamiliar with the profession try clicking on the MAGI link and take a look at what marine surveyors do. So...I digress, on with Bill's warning for those of you who may have the occasion to fish around a coral reef this year."A total of eight recreational boaters suffered a potentially fatal case of Ciguatera poisoning after eating a 40-pound Amberjack they had just caught fresh and cooked the same day while anchored in the Bahamas. Thanks to ham radio, Bahamas Air Sea Rescue, and the U. S. Coast Guard, the barely-conscious boaters were successfully medivaced and survived. I'll leave it to you to read the article for the gory details. The point is that Ciguatera is a little-known poison that comes from dinoflagellates on or around coral reefs, and accumulates in fish up the food chain. The larger the fish, the higher the concentration.The victim's new rule of thumb: anything over 5 pounds, or large enough to feed more than two people,is too big, if it was caught in a coral reef area. Treatment requires IV therapy with Mannitol. Most doctors will not be familiar with the ailment or its treatment. This form of poisoning may be worth writing up in the fishing section of AAB Books."We certainly agree that Ciguatera poisoning is worth writing about. Unfortunately we can't offer any real expertise. So instead we highly recommend that our fishermen and fish eating readers click on the Ciguatera link provided. Here is the truly scary part, this toxin has been found on rare occasions in farm raised salmon and in restaurant fish. Also, while Mannitol seems to help, on a double blind test it performed no better than a saline solution. There does not seem to be a way for consumers or fishermen to test for the presence of the toxin. Around coral reefs we suggest that you take up snorkeling, enjoy the fish show but if you are going to fish a coral reef would be a good place to get acquainted with catch and release.