Just occasionally I’m lucky enough to be able to share my fieldwork with my family — and in this case we took things to an extreme.
I had been commissioned to produce a panorama with a photographic background of the subaquatic environments of the lower reaches of the river Ebro, which would depict the four species of threatened (or even extinct!) migratory fish that are the object of the LIFE Project MigratoEbre.
We chose a site just downstream from the weir at Xerta, a stretch of river with clear calm water, splendid underwater vegetation, good access and, most importantly, the weir itself, which was to appear in the background to the poster as an example of an obstacle that, happily in this case, fish can overcome thanks to its fish-ladder.
So the whole family went down to the Ebro. The small HEP station on the weir was designed and constructed by my dear father 15 years ago – what memories! With Valentina and the kids, we hired two canoes from Aiguadins (good people, good service) and whilst my mother – for she too was there! – waited on the riverbank, we paddled up the river to just under the weir. Uff! The current was strong, above all for those of us used to the rather gentler waters of our humble local river Fluvià. Once below the weir, we all jumped into the water with our goggles and snorkels to explore what resembled an underwater jungle, which tricked us into thinking for a minute that we were in fact in the Amazon! Exuberant 2-m-long pondweeds and watermilfoils dancing in the current, with small groups of chub, enormous mullets and colossal carps, swimming in-between … but sadly no sign of any of the four migrant species of fish that appear on the poster.
And then, back home and to work in the study and on the computer classifying the 300 photos – underwater and from the surface – I took to create the ‘ideal’ panorama, and to draw the fish in perfect perspective and with the right light to fit in with the background. Here you have the result, with details of the four target species: