ICRPS 2013: ICRPS gone wild! …in the wetlands that is.

by Catharine Weber, 23/06/2013 on day 6 of the 2013 Summer Institute

Our Sunday adventure started with a bus trip to Comacchio. Upon arrival we walked a short distance to la manifattura dei marinati. The museum building was once the main processing site for eel in the 1940s and 50s. We toured the plant after watching two Mussolini propaganda films highlighting the city’s eel industry. This export delicacy has been added to the lost of fish species victim to the tragedy of the commons. The famous brand Aguilla Marinata is processing just a fraction of its previous capacity. After the museum tour our large group was divided between those who wanted to bike and those who preferred a walking tour of the small city. Laced with canals and ornate churches, the walking tour mostly focused on gellato and coffee.

Once the group was reunited and boarded our double-decker bus, we headed towards the Po Delta. A double-decker boat toured us around the sprawling shallow canal with broken marshy landscape. We made two stops at 20th century fishing homes. Men would stay for three months to catch eel in the fall. Old rusty equipment and rotten wooden boats spoke to the once healthy fishing habitat and industry. Throughout most of the boat tour you could see a pinkish bird in the distance. The Greater Flamingo has made a migration home in the Po Delta since the mid 1990s. This magnificent creature was seen off in the distance. The large flocks numbered in the thousands. Flying overhead everyone could not help but stop and stare. What a beautiful creature! This spectacular event came to an end as we slowly chugged back to the dock. On the bus ride our tired eyes stared out the window as farm fields and straight human-engineered water channels passed us by. The ecological function of the Po Delta is has been dramatically altered by humans. Hopefully awareness of this magnificent area will be raised with greater fervor. Thanks to the ICRPS staff for organizing this trip!  If you are a bird watcher it is a must see!!

Photos: Kjersti Nordskog