Small fish, big appetite
OBI President Bill Horan releases a bag of Gambusia into their tank at the Caribbean Harvest hatchery in Port-au-Prince.
These tiny Gambusia fish helped avert an outbreak of West Nile Virus in New Orleans and now they’ve headed further south to tackle malaria in Haiti.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - They may be small in size, but don’t be fooled—these fish have a big appetite.
They’re called Gambusia, and these tiny minnows eat many times their body weight in mosquito eggs and larvae, making them a natural and “green” way to help control the mosquito population in many countries around the world.
Following Hurricane Katrina, Operation Blessing worked with local and state authorities to release the mosquito-eating minnows into thousands of stagnant swimming pools across the city as part of OBI’s Bug Buster program, and was credited by New Orleans as having averted an outbreak of West Nile Virus.
Now, they’ve headed further south for their next big mission.
Last month, some 2,000 fish made the trek from Mississippi to Haiti to help combat malaria—a disease still epidemic in the island nation.
“One of the biggest problems they have in Haiti is mosquito-borne diseases, like malaria. And untreated malaria kills thousands every year,” said Tim Crowley, OBI’s development director of Haiti. “This literally has the potential to save thousands and thousands of lives.”
In partnership with Dr. Valentin Abe, Operation Blessing is housing and rearing the fish at a newly-built hatchery. Once the fish have multiplied and enough are available, OBI staff will work with the Haiti Department of Agriculture to begin stocking Haiti’s mosquito-infested waters.
“I officially declare open Bug Buster II…in Haiti,” Abe said. “Thank you Operation Blessing.”
These mosquito-eating fish are just one part of Operation Blessing’s exciting Teach A Nation To Fish program, which also includes a microenterprise tilapia farming project and re-stocking food-fish back into the country’s depleted lakes and reservoirs.
HOW YOU CAN HELP: Be a part of Operation Blessing's efforts to transform the lives of children and adults in Haiti, please make an online contribution and help us continue to reach those in need.