Experienced nature chroniclers visit a tiny Amazon town that celebrates its tropical fish trade.
In the company of Scott Dowd, senior aquarist from Boston’s New England Aquarium, and others on the Project Piaba team, Montgomery and photographer Ellenbogen travel up an Amazon tributary, the Rio Negro, to see tiny fish in their native habitat. During the dry season, discus, cardinal tetras, and other ornamental species, locally classed as piaba, are collected for sale to aquarists around the world. Modernizing this fish trade might preserve a way of life in tiny Amazon towns and the surrounding rain forest as well. In Barcelos, the travelers observe an annual celebration with elaborate costumes, dancing, and floats displayed by contesting teams. Aboard their boat, they watch veterinarians from abroad teaching Brazilian professionals techniques for the collection and preservation of healthy fish that the Brazilians, in turn, can pass on to the locals. And even farther upriver, they visit a tiny community of piabeiros, fish gatherers. Their trip is reported smoothly and illustrated with well-chosen photographs of local fishermen and women, scientists, dancers, and the fish themselves, often in the dark, tannin-stained waters of the Rio Negro. Like other titles in this series, chapters are separated by short, interesting side stories.
An adventure that might help protect an ecosystem. (map, selected bibliography, Web resources, acknowledgements, index) (Nonfiction. 10-15)