Monday, October 8, 2012

Attack of the Atomic Mullet

August 17, 2012...
Since the disastrous meltdowns at Fukushima Daiischi power plant last year, radioactive materials that were deposited on land have been washed away by rains and into streams, then rivers,  then lakes.   The lakes of Ibaraki-ken (our fair prefecture), including Lake Hinuma where we sail, have some of this material.  It has gotten into the shijimi clams that live at the bottom of the lakes and contaminated them such that they can no longer pass Japan's strict food safety inspection.

Also in the lake are a lot of striped mullet.  I haven't heard about any contamination of those fish, but they do eat things that they find on the bottom of the lake, so if I were a fisherman and caught one, I would certainly run it by my dosimeter before cooking it for dinner.  

It was a beautiful day on the lake.   The air temperature was around 31˚C  (about 78˚F) and the wind was about 5 knots when we started rising to  perhaps 8.  Just right for us.   The sky was clear above us, with tall build ups of cumulus to the west and north.    As it was Friday and still during the Obon holidays, we had the lake practically to ourselves.

Here are a couple of video clips to give you a feel for the conditions. As you can see, striped mullet were jumping a good deal as they are wont to do, and we were relaxed as we plied the east end of the lake.   Then came the attack of the atomic mullet!

  Striped mullet jump off the port at the beginning:

Attack of the Atomic Mullet 1 from Panda B

Kamikaze Mullet attacker flies across the transom (10 seconds in) - a miss!

Attack of the Atomic Mullet 2 from Panda B on Vimeo.

With a loud 'bang!', a striped mullet flew into the mainsail about five feet above the waterline and landed at my feet. A big one at at least twelve inches long, it flopped wildly about injuring itself on some piece of hardware or other and spattered blood, scales, and slime everywhere it went. As I was at the helm it was difficult for me to do much and it was K who finally ushered it over the side.

Whew! But even after cleaning up a bit, Bluesette started smelling fishy again. As K mentioned it to me, she glanced down to see that another mullet had jumped aboard. A much smaller fish, I had somehow unknowingly stepped on the poor creature, smashing its body. Yuck!

Leapin' lizards! What next?

Well, there is only one thing to do after a day of atomic mullet attacks - go to Mama's Kitchen, of course!

Until next, sweet sailing.