When Sander Meurs moved to Newfoundland 20 months ago, he knew little about the province.
“When people in Holland talk about Canada, they just think about Calgary and Vancouver,” Meurs said, explaining that the bigger Canadian cities are all they see on television.
It wasn’t until Meurs’ wife, a research scientist, saw a posting for a job at the Ocean Sciences Centre in Logy Bay that the couple began looking for more information on Newfoundland.
“I looked it up and saw all the icebergs and wonderful things and whales and I was sold immediately,” Meurs said.
His wife landed the job and they moved immediately.
“I’ve loved it ever since,” said Meurs, a former information technology manager in Holland.
While his wife continues to work on contract on cod stocks and aquaculture, Meurs has found his own niche in a different sort of fishery.
He’s also gained a lot of local followers.
It all began with his love of photography. Meurs has been photographing everything related to the ocean in Newfoundland since he arrived here, from whales and icebergs to puffins and caplin.
“I was very surprised to see all sorts of things happening here in a natural world which I would have loved to have known about prior,” he said.
Last year, Meurs witnessed the first caplin run at Middle Cove beach and, with some Internet research, he found photos galore on the web of caplin rolling into Middle Cove in previous years.
Many of them were uploaded on the popular Internet photography site, Flicker.
By checking the dates on the photos, Meurs noticed that the caplin didn’t have a set schedule for appearing in Middle Cove, so he went a step further and created what he calls a caplin calendar.
“I thought then I can predict when the next influx of caplin will be,” he said.
The small fish, however, over the past several years, have been rolling into Middle Cove later each year.
Last year, it was near the end of July and, this year — while some caplin were reported to be offshore in mid to late July — they didn’t roll in on the beach in large numbers.
Caplin did, however, roll in on beaches in Conception Bay, including Holyrood. Mayor Gary Goobie said it was amazing how such an event brings people together.
Hundreds of people came from other communities when they heard of the caplin rolling in Holyrood to watch the phenomenon, with some taking home bucketfuls.
Interest in when the caplin will roll in Middle Cove has also brought all sorts of people together.
Meurs said he can view search terms used to find his blog and caplin calendar and most people were typing in terms like “caplin and Middle Cove.”
One by one, the caplin enthusiasts began finding Meurs’ calendar and, because of its popularity, it has evolved into a separate web page, with a caplin blog where people have been reporting daily what they’ve witnessed — from gulls feeding on caplin offshore to whales being spotted devouring them in the bay.
“The caplin calendar was initially just to help myself, and then I published it online, just one of the stories on my blog, and now it’s a separate page,” Meurs said.
“I guess the youth of today are used to just searching online for information.”
The caplin calendar goes back to 2005.
What’s interesting about Meurs’ fascination with caplin is that he has never tasted them and has no desire to do so.
“I’m a vegetarian,” he said. “They’re a beautiful little fish, but I don’t want them on my frying pan.”
Capturing them with his camera lens suits him fine.
Meurs’ wife’s contract at the Ocean Sciences Centre is expected to end soon, but they’d love to stay here longer if they can.
Every day Meurs finds something different to photograph and plans to publish a collection of his photos.
“Down the road, I decided why not share all these nice places with other people and other newcomers?” he said.
His blog and caplin calendar can be found at http://newfoundsander.wordpress.com/capelin.
Meurs has information on his blog about hiking and other activities in the province and, in addition to still photos, he has numerous videos on Youtube.
The name he uses online is Newfoundsander.