Sissano Lagoon is a muddy brown body of brackish water flanked by mangrove
swamps on three sides and separated from the sea by the sandbars where Warapu
and Arop villages once stood.
For all that it doesn't look so great it is still a marvellous source of food:
fish, shellfish, prawns, crabs. The lagoon was central to village life before
the tsunami because it not only provided food for all, but also was a watery
highway by which you could reach the family gardens or the sago swamps.
The lagoon used to be deeper and more open to the sea but in recent years has
become shallower and the mouth more restricted so that the mixing of lagoon
and sea waters is greatly reduced.
The shallowing was caused by the gradual build up of sediment brought to the
lagoon by three small rivers and probably has been worsened by the great
volume of sand that was carried in and dumped by the tsunami.
People in the care centres are keen to resume fishing in the lagoon but are
waiting for the OK from health authorities. Analytical tests of all the lagoon
creatures may begin this week.