Colors of winter

Isla de la Plata life

Ecuadorian winter on the Ruta del Sol, the southern coast, is a misty, bleak and windswept time. All but the hardiest greenery fades and shrivels. The coast turns a dusty brown without the lifegiving rains and sun. It’s actually quiet beautiful in its austerity.

Save for a few bright spots, like this flower from Isla de la Plata, off the coast of Puerto Lopez.

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For the record, shrimp fishing is hyper-destructive

Hauling it in

Puerto Lopez, that wonderfully sleepy fishing town, unfortunately sees its fair share of shrimp trawlers taking advantage of its rich, cold waters. Sadly, shrimp fishing is routinely harmful to the environment — ripping up vast amounts of reef-supporting life along the bottom of the ocean and catching (and mostly killing) up to 20 kilograms of “bycatch” for one kilo of shrimp.

As tasty as the shrimp are — Lord knows I’ve been a giant fan over the years — they are not fished sustainably. Please, please do not eat shrimp.

Equally unfortunate: the mass destruction of coastal mangroves and estuaries for shrimp farms. There are some alternative versions of shrimp farms that are considered sustainable — multi-species growth ponds like those used for centuries in Asia or modern, high-tech closed-loop systems — but the practice of grinding up other fish to eat shrimp is still a questionable practice at best.

Of course, shrimp fishermen (and dependent people and businesses) are a large block of the poor coastal economies worldwide. This is a huge challenge for the development and conservation sectors to answer: how can we keep these people sustained while also sustaining the environments they’re destroying?

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Quiet English coast

When I'm a lighthouse operator, will you come visit?

Not a spectacular photo, but a peaceful scene. Great to look out the train from London to Glasgow and see the countryside and the coastline.

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