09-Mar-2002 -- During our navigation from Port Harcourt (Nigeria) to Douala (Cameroon), where we had to discharge a consignment of 850 tons of frozen mackerel, we visited a beautiful offshore point, from which even two countries can be seen, on 09-Mar-2002 at 07:40 am.
The point is located 4 nautical miles (7.4 km/4.6 st. miles) SE of the small coastal village Bakingili in Cameroon, and 15.5 nautical miles (28.7 km/18.0 st. miles) NNE of the Island of Bioco (formerly Macías Nguema Biyogo and more formerly Fernando Póo), a Spanish colony until 1968 and today a part of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea.
The scenery presented itself clearly on the radar, with the Cameroon coast on the port side (the left side of the ship) and Bioco Island on starboard (the right side of the ship). Disregard these streaks in the vicinity of the ship's position, those are only reflections from rainclouds.
From the confluence position, which we met almost exactly (7.4 metres in the North), we could see the Island of Bioco, but the most impressive view from this point offer the Cameroon Mountains, of which the Cameroon Mountain is the highest peak (4,069 m/13,350 ft). It is a volcano which was active on its western slope in 1922. Its sides are clothed with trees and luxuriant verdure.
Numerous hills rise from the slopes of the Cameroon Mountains, but they appear so inconsiderable when compared with the central peak, as scarcely to break the uniformity of its gradual incline.
In the SE of the Cameroon Mountain there is the small town of Limbe, and close to it is the Limbo Oil Terminal, where huge tankers are loaded with crude oil for export.
The Island of Bioco is traversed nearly wholly by a mountain ridge from its SW towards its NE point, and culminates in the magnificient cone of Pico de Santa Isabel, whose summit being 3,007 m (9,866 ft) high, is almost continually enveloped in clouds. It has been doubted whether this volcano can yet be considered extinct, as smoke issued from it is seen occasionally, but the highest parts, composed of volcanic scoria, have been so far decomposed as to be covered with a grassy vegetation. When seen from seaward, Bioco Island presents a beautiful appearance. Pico de Santa Isabel is visible on a clear day at a distance of 100 nautical miles (185.2 km). The weather, however, is sometimes so thick and hazy that the Island cannot be seen at all and ships might pass it without sighting.
In many visit reports ashore we can learn something about the people living there. Now we should learn something about the animals below our ship's keel:
The waters of the Gulf of Guinea and the Bight of Biafra are full of dangerous marine animals. First of all there are the evil jellyfish, such as the "Portuguese Man-of-War" and the "Lion's Mane". These are present in large number where they drift with the current and the wind. Contact with the tentacles of these jellyfish results in a painful sting, which may be fatal. And there is the stingray, some of which attain large size. They are buried in sandy bottoms. These dragon-shaped fish have their tails armed with one or more spines, which can inflict serious injuries on anyone who steps on them. Several kinds of poisonous catfish and scorpion fish also inhabit the waters of this area. Caution should be exercised when handling them after having caught them since their dorsal and pectoral spines may inject a powerful venom.
Wound inflicting animals such as sharks and barracudas are common as well. They predominantly frequent river mouths and coral reefs. Just to name a few of them: The "Maneater", the "Bonito", and sharks as the "Hammerhead" and "Tiger", and several grey sharks are most likely to attack man. The mooray eel, however, this has to be mentioned to his vindication, instead and against wide spread opinion, is not likely to attack unless intentionally provoked. Crocodiles inhabit the estuarine and swampy regions and may even be seen swimming along coastal stretches.
From personal experience I may tell that the shock generated by the Electric Ray is unpleasant to the extreme. These rays are common in estuarine waters, where they spend most of their life partially buried in the bottom.
Sea food poisoning may be avoided by taking advice from local people prior to eating.
Of these fish I unfortunately cannot provide a picture, but several sea hawks accompanied us during our visit.
(Information obtained partly from Nautical Publication Nr. 2, Africa Pilot, Vol II, "Bakasi Peninsula to Cape Agulhas", 12th ed. 1977 and Supplement Nr. 11, 1999, British Admiralty, Hydrographer of the Navy, Ministry of Defense, Taunton, England)