After spending the morning on a giant floating structure holding red tilapia in the middle of a calm lake, I still hadn’t gotten a close look at the species. It wasn’t until Abraham, an employee of a small-scale tilapia producer, and I were rowing back to shore that we spotted a farmed tilapia resting perfectly on a giant lily pad. One of the white herons that predate on the lake’s farmed fish had snagged it but was scared away by us seafaring humans before she could swallow it down. This picture represents one of those moments when the photo you want finds you.
Abraham, my rowboat companion who spotted the perfectly presented fish, is a young man from the city of El Progreso. He migrated to Honduras’ largest lake, Lago de Yojoa, to work for a small-scale tilapia producer, Lobos del Mar. The ecology of the lake has been rapidly changing over the past 15 years since tilapia production started. Beautiful, eye-catching lily pads like this one deceives visitors; the accumulating silt and contamination is making survival harder for native aquatic life. Much of the damage happens out of sight or below the water’s surface.
As I report on Honduras’ recent aquaculture boom I find evidence that it is helping some while hurting others.
– Clare Fieseler