While my intention to visit Mangalore during its vibrant dasara celebrations was to witness and document the Hulivesha dance, I was curious to visit Mangalore’s Port as well. Mangalore’s Port is locally known as ‘dakke’ and I was very keen on learning the different species of fish caught and sold at the port. As it was just the onset of the fishing season post monsoon, the catch was a bounty for the fishermen. There was chaos everywhere – workers preparing for the cold storage of fish, dead fish lying around in slimy waters, wholesale auctions held to sell fish, sharks, rays, etc. I slowly made my way to the deeper areas of the port where large catch is landed, and began to socialise with the fishermen requesting them to show me ‘big fish’ as I thought it might lead me to see something interesting. I was shown many rays and sharks, but one fisherman took me to a sight I didn’t expect to see.
A large fish was placed inside a plastic crate as it awaited buyers. The fish seemed very peculiar with having traits of both, a shark as well as a ray. And with my poor knowledge of marine life I had no clue which species this belonged to. Upon enquiring, the fishermen revealed that this was a bycatch from a trawler. As its fins and dried meat would fetch a good price at the market, it was kept basking in the sun until it was bought for a lofty sum. I managed to stick around for a while and capture a wide angle perspective of the fishing port with respect to the lifeless body placed inside the crate. It was only in the coming days when I found out that the bycatch was of a Vulnerable species – a Shark Ray, also called the Bowmouth Guitarfish.
This image was adjudged – Sanctuary Young Photographer of the Year and also Winner, Conservation Photography, Young Category in the Sanctuary Asia Wildlife Photography Awards 2017.