Jama-Manabi-Ecuador – July 2014
The shrimp ponds along Rio Jama are owned by a handful of families, and each one has a modest headquarters where pumps, feed and supplies are stored. Life is usually quiet on these cameroneras; the pumps run when fresh ocean water ebbs upriver each day, and they are quiet when the river is low.
Many times a modest living area is located on the second floor above the bodega. (My house is this type of design.) Having someone watching over the ponds day and night helps protect against theft (yes- thieves sneak in at night and steal shrimp!). The employee also turns the pumps on and keeps an ear tuned for signs of mechanical problems. When the river water levels get low, the pumps are turned off.
The health of the ponds is closely monitored from the time the tiny larvae are delivered to a small nursery pond until the day of harvest. Oxygen levels are important, and sunny conditions produce healthier ponds than cloudy ones. The ponds are deep enough that herons and egrets are not tempted by the shrimp that stay near the bottom. If the birds line the edges, it’s a sign that something’s wrong – perhaps the shrimp need more oxygen, and they’re coming to the surface. Continue reading