Tuesday, August 19, 2008

water, fish and swimming

Very close to Darwin now, and the terrain and weather have changed dramatically- much greener and considerably warmer.

At Mataranka we went to two different 'thermal' pools which are springs alongside the Roper River fed from pools in the limestone 100m below the surface which ensures a constant 34 degrees water temperature. Surrounded by exotic palm trees the pools are great to swim in, providing a great free spa treatment for the paupers in a van.

But, as this is Australia, there are hazards and pitfalls on the periphery of all pleasures and adventures.

Barramundi fishing is a big sport here, as these fish thrive in environments where fresh water meets salt water. They are enormous fish, up to 1.5 metres in length and 55 kg in weight, and are quite willing to jump great heights for a feed as we discovered when we went to a fish feeding demonstration.

My favourite barramundi fact is that they are all born as males but when they reach salt water the majority of them change into females. Sex change provides a method whereby the larger, more successful individuals (the female fish) are able to make the greatest contribution to the genetic material of a stock.

This fact conjures up all sorts of possibilities if our species could do the same. A misogynist's coach tour to the seaside for a lovely swim for example.

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