The Buoys of Spring
April 27, 2014

Buoys of SpringApril, the “cruelest month,” is just about over and in Prince Edward Island that signals the beginning of the lobster season. For me personally, it signals the beginning of the “photography season,” when I shake off the cobwebs and make a concerted effort to get out and photograph more frequently than I have through the winter. Yesterday, I drove to Tignish and Seacow Pond at the western tip of the Island, where I spent a very enjoyable afternoon and evening photographing the colourful lobster buoys unique to that part of the Island. The lobster traps and buoys (which are used to mark the location of the traps in the water) were piled high on the wharves ready to load onto boats before “Setting Day,” April 30. I’ve always wondered why the lobster traps in these harbours are more colourful and display a greater variety of colours than in other Island ports. Some fishermen have up to eleven different colour combinations for their buoys. Most have at least three or four. The explanation I received from fishermen, when asked (and not everyone would answer my question) is this: Tignish has the largest inshore harbour in Atlantic Canada, which means it has the largest number of boats and lobster licenses, so it’s a very competitive fishery. The idea is to outsmart your competitors. If a fisherman sees a concentration of one colour of buoys on the water, he’ll think it’s good place for lobsters and put his gear there too. With a variety of colours, they can mix it up and keep the competition guessing. At least that’s the theory. It’s difficult to believe that they wouldn’t know the other fishermen’s buoy colours in such a tight knit fishing community. As one fisherman said to me,”They’re not fooling anybody!” For this photographer, the reason doesn’t really matter, I’m just happy to feast my eyes on some bright colours and leave the drab days of April behind. I’m also looking forward to my first feed of lobster!

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