Ethereal images capture the adventurous fishermen of Ghana's coast

In the rough seas off West Africa, fishing isn’t just for the brave—it’s a tradition that shapes coastal communities and their respect for nature.

Fishermen prepare their boats in a small harbor in Jamestown, a district of Ghana's capital, Accra. Many people in the area fish, but this crew lives at a port about 60 miles away. They came to Jamestown to sell their catch and then stay the night.

Along this coast of ours, nothing is strange. If you wake early enough to meet the canoes as they come in—in Port Bouet, Côte d’Ivoire; in Ngleshi, Ghana; in Old Jeswang, the Gambia; in Grand-Popo, Benin; in Apam, Ghana—you will hear fishermen speaking Fante, Ga, Ewe, all languages of Ghana.

As the men separate into identifiable bodies in the emerging sun, pulling in the nets, their chants get louder: “Ee ba ei, ee ba ke loo—It is coming, it is laden with fish.” Each net comes in heavy with what the deep has to offer in the clutches of its mesh. The fish flop, flail, and trampoline on the sand, catching the sun’s light as quick hands sort them into wide metal basins. 

The catch is never the same. Yes, there are the easily recognized commercial varieties: snapper, grouper, tuna, mackerel, kpanla (a variety of hake). But invariably there are the coveted: crayfish, eels, rays, and species of odd shapes and sizes, boned and boneless, some with features that would excite fantasy and horror writers in the manner that open-sea Phronima creatures apparently inspired the film Alien. But there will be no screaming here—there will be spices to render all species delicious.

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