Miskitu Coast of Honduras: Harvesting Jellyfish at the Rio Kruta

Share

On a recent trip to the Kruta River near Cape Gracias a Dios on the Honduran Caribbean and the Nicaraguan Border, life without roads and little electricity proceeds slowly, detached from the world at large. Yet, drug trafficking is changing the economy and the culture of the Miskitu People, and due to overfishing, local people can only turn to harvesting jellyfish for China as an honest source of revenue.

Kruta River, La Moskitia, Honduras, Caribbean Sea

At the mouth of the Kruta River in La Moskitia, Honduras, there is a small fish camp dedicated to harvesting jellyfish for the Chinese market, but very little fish being caught for consumption by the local Miskitu people. Photo By Jack Eidt.

Caribbean Sea, Miskitu People, Honduras

Miskitu fishermen cutting and salting their catch at the bar of the Kruta River, where fisheries have been depleted and subsistence fishing is not easy. Photo By Jack Eidt.

Chinese have been eating “Hai Zhe” or jellyfish for more than 1,000 years. With stocks of fish depleted, turning to harvesting the medusas, as they are called in Spanish can be lucrative. Sadly, the fishermen here claim they have delivered the jellyfish to their Chinese buyers, but have not been paid by the local intermediaries. Corruption is rife in Honduras, and the struggle to get paid for honest work remains a difficult issue with the Miskitu.

Unfortunately, drug trafficking is the only other viable option available.

Caribbean Sea, Miskitu Indians, La Moskitia, Honduras

Heading out in search of hand-netting “medusas” or jellyfish. Photo By Jack Eidt

Jellyfish is likened to “really tough cucumber” or “cartilage” but popular in parts of Asia, where it’s usually sliced thinly, marinated and served cold in salads. It is high in potassium and copper and a good source of selenium and iron, though low in protein. Given the problems with worldwide fisheries, the taste for jellyfish may have to grow worldwide.

Climate change is expected to actually help jellyfish (they prefer warm oceans), and then they in turn could speed climate change, because carbon dioxide-producing bacteria love their excrement. Jellyfish need less oxygen than other sea life, so they aren’t bothered by waters choked by contaminants and algae. Unlike oysters or snails, jellyfish aren’t affected by increasing oceans acidification, since they don’t have shells.

medusas, China, Honduras, Miskito Indians, Caribbean Sea, jellyfish, La Moskitia

In Mandarin they call jellyfish as seafood “ko-gan” or “mouth-feel” – for its rubbery consistency rather than its flavor. You can slice it thinly and marinate it in a sesame soy vinegar dressing with sliced cucumber, bean sprouts and shredded chicken and have it as a cold salad garnished with toasted sesame seeds. Photo By Jack Eidt.

Print Friendly
Share
Jack Eidt

About Jack Eidt

Writer, urban theorist, and environmental advocate, Jack Eidt careens down human-nature's all consuming one-way highway to its inevitable conclusion - Wilder Utopia. He co-founded Wild Heritage Planners, based out of Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at jack (dot) eidt (at) wilderutopia (dot) com.