Over the course of my CLAS summer research project in Ecuador I have grown accustomed to going with the flow and expecting the unexpected. Despite embracing this general philosophy, there are days that still surprise me with their unforeseen twists and turns. June 2nd, 2023 was one of those days.
The day before, I received word that Mr. Rodriggues would be draining one of his shrimp ponds and harvesting the remaining shrimp. I had come to Atacames, Ecuador to better understand environmental contamination caused by shrimp farming, specifically looking at the spread of antibiotic resistance either through the consumption of raw shrimp or through the environmental contamination of water.
Today was supposed to be a great day to collect water samples since the highest concentration of environmental toxins are released during the draining of a shrimp pond in preparation for a new cycle. I arrived on the scene with my water sampling bags, pipettes, antiseptic wipes, and reactive agents, ready to strike when the moment was right!
Suddenly, from behind me I heard someone yell, “Corre, Corre!! (Run, Run!!).” I whipped around to see three men running towards me with nets and buckets. They brushed past me and clambered barefoot down the side of the bank and into the shrimp pond. With water up to their waist they cast their nets into the water and pulled out heaping nets filled with shrimp and fish. In the commotion, I did what any good researcher would do- I started to ask questions.