Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Maggie To The Rescue

Two posts ago (Coming To Valdez), I introduced you to Maggie, a scientist by training, working for the Alaska Fish and Game Department keeping tabs on the health of the fish being caught by sport fisherman. I had taken the opportunity to do some nominal assisting with her studies and learned, or so I thought, quite a bit in the process in a very short time . And I did. No, really I did. But I did not, evidently, learn quite as much as I previously thought.
So when OUTLAW landed with my limit of both Yellow Eyes and Halibut a day ago, I presumed I was quite able to remove the otolith bone (the inner ear bone of the two species and prized both for the information it can provide about the fish and also for its ivory like potential in jewelry After all, I had watched as Maggie removed quite a few specimens for study with seemingly little effort at all. Like all people who actually know what they are doing….she made it look easy.
So naturally, when I cut open my first "practice" halibut, and found absolutely nothing of value in that area of the head, I was a bit perplexed. But undaunted, I tried my own first fish and again found nothing. This story was repeated until I was plum out of fish and had nothing to show for the dockside surgeries I had performed on my fish- other than for the fillets, that is.
A bit frustrated by my inability to find and recover the otolith, I heaved the fish carcasses over the rail and into the waste vat which gets hauled out to sea for dumping when full. I had tried. But while my expectations were high, my skill level was not, and so I had failed…or so it seemed. But walking up the ramp from the boat float, who should appear, but the ever pleasant Miss Maggie, fish brain surgeon extraordinaire! I told her my sad plight and much to my surprise (she was dressed much to nice for cleaning fish at the time) she willingly offered to help remedy the situation. All I had to do now was to go “wading” in the fish waste to pull out the prized, previously discarded remains of my trophy fish. No problem! Within minutes, Maggie had removed and recovered the prize from its appointed hiding place deep within the head of the halibut. I’m grateful! And next time, with her step by step pointers, I will, no, I shall, be able to find that little number on my own.
Here’s what it looks like, should you ever decide to go looking for one!

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