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Fish #151 Pompano Trachinotus ovatus ~ Terry Loader
Machine and hand stitched quilt using cottons and cotton batiks 31 x 43 cm
Trachinotus ovatus, the Pompano, is a species of fish in the Jack family. It is common in the Mediterranean Sea, and in the Atlantic Ocean from the Bay of Biscay to Guinea. Its range extends into British waters, the North Sea and Baltic. Adults feed on small crustaceans, molluscs and fishes. It can grow up to 70cm in length; common length is 35cm. The maximum recorded weight for the pompano is 2.8 kg.
I chose the Pompano because it sounded like the sort of fish you would want to have with you in a crisis - pompous but confident of its own abilities and attractions. And it's a Jack, which makes it sound like somebody's brother. And who couldn't resist a fish that not only has had three (count them my friend) US ships named after it (well, two of them were submarines, but that actually makes it even more exciting), but also has an entire beach area (what our American cousins describe as a significant 'city') in Miami, in the sunshine state of Florida, named for it too!
And it's a good-looking fish too - deep-bodied and mackerel-like, typically silver and toothless (ignore that bit), with a forked tail and narrow base. Of the 20 described species, most are valued as food. Some species are considered prize delicacies and an important game fish. I personally like the sound of the Cayenne Pompano - is this food that seasons itself? - and of the Paloma Pompano, dove-like and flying free. I will avoid, if I can, the Blackblotch Pompano and its close cousin the Snubnose, because frankly they sound just plain ugly. So swim on, my pompous fish buddy, in your oceans of choice. Who knows, one day we may meet on the golden sands of a Mediterranean beach and, if we do, I promise that I will throw you back.
Fish #151 Pompano Trachinotus ovatus ~ Robin Chandler
Oil 45 x 90 cm
10,000 years ago great ice sheets spread across the globe, and the Doggerland Bank, a prime North Sea fishing ground, was a plain connecting Britain with the European Continent. Years ago I ferried from Rotterdam to Hull pushing on to London and King's Cross railway station; some days later I boarded a train at Waterloo Station for Dover and the ferry to Ostend. It was my first journey to Europe, my first voyage crossing big water, and the North Sea waters kindly served to baptize me. Captivated by the waves and the wind, I watched from the deck entranced, perhaps sensing some deep link with the water's depths. Born and raised in the states, my ancestors emigrated several centuries ago from Britain, France, Germany, Norway and Scotland - all places connected to and shaped by the North Sea.
In modern times, trawler nets, scouring the sea floor for fish, have uncovered mammoth and saber-tooth bones and the hunting tools of our Ice Age ancestors. Today, the North Sea's big five: cod, haddock, herring, plaice and sole are commercially fished providing nourishment to consumers throughout the world. In a deep-time "clock of the long-now" way of thinking, my first sea crossing was really a return to the place where my genetic story began among the Holocene's community of animals, plants and humans. Then as now, the peoples of the lands defining the North Sea's shores found their livelihood alongside this great expanse harvesting abundant resources of fish. In later ages, North Sea residents also discovered petroleum, and harnessed the wind.
Unfortunately, increasing human populations have placed heavy demands on North Sea resources. Two hundred native fish species have been identified in the North Sea; the "big five" are the most economically important, although other fish commercially harvested also comprise halibut, turbot, whiting, pollock and saithe. Many of the two hundred fish species are vulnerable, endangered or threatened with extinction including the Atlantic cod and Haddock (both members of the big five) as well as many kinds of shark, skate, and ray, the European sea sturgeon, the European eel, the Atlantic Bluefin tuna, and the Atlantic halibut. So far only one species, the Houting, a whitefish, is extinct. However relieved we are at this solitary number, this should serve as a warning, loud and clear. While nations cooperate to manage these important resources through fishing quotas, many species have been endangered by historic overfishing practices. Other human impacts on the environment including pollution and climate change adversely affect these fish species threatening their survival. Worldwide the negative results of human activities has become so dominant, a new geologic age, the Anthropocene, has been proposed to signify the commencement of humankind's significant impact on the Earth. And the North Sea, one of the earth's most densely populated and heavily industrialized areas, is increasingly under stress, threating one of the world's most fertile and productive regions.
Fortunately, not all North Sea fish are endangered or threatened yet, and the Carangide (family) Trachinotus (genus) Ovatus (species) commonly known, as the Pompano is only deemed moderately vulnerable. The Pompano makes it's home in pelagic neritic waters - a marine environment defined as clear shallow waters over sand or mud bottoms corresponding to continental shelf area - found throughout the North Sea and in the Mediterranean. Swimming in schools, the Pompano uses its small band of teeth to feed on small crustaceans, mollusks and smaller fish. Valued as food by humans, it is primarily a game fish, but can also be fished commercially. It's length ranges from 35 to 70 cm and it weighs typically 2.8 kilograms. A deep-bodied fish, the Pompano is silver green blue gray in color with some areas of yellow, three to five vertical black spots on the lateral, a forked tail, two dorsal fins, and one anal fin.
There are twenty species in the Trachinotus genus such as the Trachinotus carolinus, known as the Florida Pompano, found along the western coast of the Atlantic ocean and eastern coast of the United States, and is a popular sport and commercial fish. Pompano Beach, Florida derives its name from the fish; the city's name resonates in the imaginations for many Americans, mine included, as it is a place associated with vacation fun in the warmth of the sun after long, cold, snowy winters.
Blass, Tom. The Naked Shore of the North Sea. New York, New York: Bloomsbury Paperbacks, 2017.
De Wilde, P. A. W. J., Jenness, M. I., Duineveld, G. C. A. "Introduction into the ecosystem of the North Sea: Hydrography, biota, and food web relationships." Netherland Journal of Aquatic Ecology Volume 26 Issue 1 (1992): pp. 7 - 18.
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