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Local fishermen help scientists understand secrets of lake in Italian Alps April 10,2012   |  Source: Discover

Sometimes, the collective knowledge of generations of locals is just as valuable as a network of high-tech sensors. That’s what scientists studying the fluid dynamics of Lake Como in the Italian Alps found, when they began to interview fishermen.

The team from the University of Western Australia had been studying the complex currents and temperature gradations in the Y-shaped lake for some time, using a system of floating sensors. Alongside them were the approximately 30 local fisherman who go out each night to string out their giant gill nets, as much as 2,300 feet long and 27 feet high. In the morning, the fishermen retrieve the nets and any fish—mostly shad and whitefish—that have swum into them overnight.

The team was surprised at first to learn that the fishermen were aware of some the complex phenomena the team had observed. But it made sense: When you are laying out nets that long, it behooves you to know where the currents will have taken them by morning, as well as whether they will be blown into your neighbor’s nets by the breeze. The temperatures at various depths in the lake are also worth paying attention to, since they determine where the fish will be.

As it turned out, though, the fishermen were also able to tell the team about many features that


© 2012, Kalmbach Publishing Co.

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