Sunday, 18 September 2016
Food for fish
The sea water here at our holiday village is crystal clear, the beach is sandy and today the water was calm as a lake. The water was a little cold for my liking but I gingerly waded in, swam around a bit and got some exercise.
There is no fishing allowed in this bay and the fish know it. Standing in the water there are shoals of quite big silver fish with a black dot on the tail (melanouria in greek) and smaller black fish swirling all around. If you stand still too long they come along and give a painful nip to the leg.
Deeper I saw some big sponges on the seabed. There used to be many in the waters around Poros but it is years since I've seen them. They attach themselves to rocks and cling there for dear life. It needs a very sharp knife and some patience to bring one to the surface. We did gather 2 or 3 and probably so did others which is why there are none there today. There were sea slugs too which filled up with water and you could bring up and squirt at your unsuspecting partner.
Nowadays there are virtually no sponges or seas slugs and spiky sea urchins (ahinous in greek, kina in New Zealand) have become an endangered species although the latter always seem to turn up just where you want to enter the water and instead become a dangerous species.
The contents of the sea urchin are a delicacy and the greeks love to (very carefully avoiding the spikes) cut them in half , squirt some lemon juice into the shell and scoop out the 'meat' with a piece of bread. It tastes like sea water with lemon juice to me.
The grandchildren still find starfish and now and again a delicate little seahorse (ipokambos in greek or hippocampus from the latin). We make sure these are carefully returned to the water.
The sponges we gathered back then were a pain to clean. Nowadays we would have goggled for more information. They were black on top and had to be soaked for days and then stamped until the blackness started to disappear. But they were still stinky with small sea creatures which had died inside them and when they dried they were still malodorous and rather brittle.