October 10th 2012
On the Evros River today (Greek-Turkish Border). We're sampling - fish, waters, everything..... Second time I've electro-fished at this beautiful site south of Tychero Village, where the Provatonas Stream creates a confluence with the mighty Evros. The Evros is our Danube- many Turks and Greeks I know love it. However, its ridiculous - I always feel really nervous near this border. Its a true no-man's land, it has a spooky feeling. You're always alone here - no one or someone - some army, some refugees, its no-ones' river.
But its a special feeling....You walk up to this serene river valley scene - then you feel a frontier - some kind of invisible wall. Jays and woodpeckers fly across the river, changing countries. Fish swim across too. You hear a tree frog singing from the Turkish side, then a marsh frog from the Greek side. Cormorants fly down the middle. You hear things mostly - you see only nature.
Then you think of a Peace. Why are we at cold war? You see the old clothes washed up on the banks - thousands of refugees crossing the river to Europe. Many people drown here. You see the big Turkish flag down-river, then the Greek army trucks, mine-signs, FRONTEX gaurd jeeps. Its sounds like some kind of industrial operation - and it makes some people nervous.
In February 1997 a friend Tassos Verouchis from Karystos was killed by a mine just upriver. He was a soldier at the time, wandering down to the river to fish, with another chap - both were killed. I was in the army then too - but I didn't go fishing....I recalled this today, as I said it to our crew: "'we are on a border (!!), a place so beautiful and wild, yet human-kind can be so cruel here"'. I'm talking to myself.
So, our crew - a girl from Alexandroupolis a local from Marisia village, Yorgos and Athena - we sampled here today. I sampled the fish. Caught 17 species. But I electrofished in a rather unorthodox way; one electro-anode and one net, on just one bank - the Greek side of the river. I should have done this using more nets, more people. Ok, this in not Europe!
Although everyone knows that I often kill fish to take samples sometimes even I can get sentimental too. In this river, I found a long-line with large hooks while electrofishing and suddenly a big carp came up - hooked on the line. HUGE for a carp in my experience - about 50 cm. I was amazed by the injured mouth of the fish - probably caused by being on the hook for days - the long-line probably forgotten. So I released the fish into the river. It felt good to release a big fish.
Lets make Peace.