Crab Hunters

You’ve probably heard stories of how polluted Port Harcourt is at the moment so I’m hoping this won’t be another one of those stories for you.

This instead is a story about kids fishing for crabs.

The geography of your wonder years probably has an impact on certain skills you pick up while growing up. The only wildlife activity available to me growing up in Port Harcourt was hunting for birds with catapults. I sucked at it and still do. When you grow up around water bodies, you spend your time swimming or fishing.

I came across a group of kids on the outskirts of Port Harcourt hunting for crabs some months ago. The kids follow surprisingly simple process in catching the crabs. They attach a piece of a dead fish to a hook and drop the hook in any area they suspect a crab is present. I don’t think the hook is necessary though considering the crabs do not swallow the fish with the hook.

The crabs use their claws to grab the piece of fish and try take it away. The kids immediately pull up the line when they see a crab has a hold of the bait. Same way you would pull it up if you were trying to catch a fish. A weird thing then happens. The crab refuses to let go of the bait once it’s up in the air. It only let’s go of the bait when it is lowered into a bucket.

I’ve been trying to decide if it is greed that causes the crab to end up in someone’s pot or just a fear of heights.

There’s a sad part to this story though. If you look closely at the photos, you will notice how oily the surface of the water is, and also the black stains on the shoreline. Illegal refineries spill crude oil into the waterways. Byproducts from their crude refineries also runoff into the water. No one should be eating anything from water that’s clearly polluted, much less kids.

So this is a story about kids fishing for crabs in polluted waters, sadly, it is another story about how polluted Port Harcourt is.

This story is a project documented by Enefaa Thomas who is based in Port Harcourt and likes to play with his camera and notepad in his spare time.