Knowledge gained through experience is stronger than knowledge gained from the pages of the books. This statement was proved true all over the in the year of 2004 when a tsunami trolled and the sea occupied the whole coastal land area. Fishermen who went to the sea that particular day happened to get a quite alert from the anger sound of the sea water and uncertain behavior of both aquatic as well as terrestrial animals.
The eldest and the most experienced fishermen in that area warned each and every fisherman that day not to go to the sea. They also sent warning to the common people about the chances of the arrival of a natural calamity from the sea. Their experience and knowledge could foresee that a severe disaster was in the offing.
But this warning did not do any help. Instead the common people and the government associations dealing with predictions of climate and weather, searched for scientific valid reasons behind the warning. But this search got them very late. Eight hours after the warning, the sea flooded and destroyed the whole city. Later, this help from the fishermen were realized by the CUSAT i.e. Cochin University of Science and Technology and KUFOS i.e. Kerala university of fisheries and ocean studies. They believed that this traditional knowledge is precious and if not preserved might get wasted.
The universities initiated some projects related to the traditional knowledge which can help them to acquire knowledge. The Kerala University Fisheries and ocean studies set up classes and also a separate section for this project. The university also gave the fishermen folk a power to spread their knowledge among the students of the university.
Fishermen were believed to set their journey only by depending on the behavior of the sea and the animals. They do not depend on the government predictions. The vice-chancellor of the KUFOS, B Madhusoodana Kurup, said that they interact with the fisher folk about the sea and marine creatures. He says that they have a peculiar idea to point out the correct place of the sea that would have the dense fish population. By simply, smelling the odor and observing the color of the sea water, the fishermen can say what kind of fish would be available. He added that their predictions were later experimented scientifically and results most of the time are true.
“The project is decided to be done at a place where there are about 10 lakh fishermen. Among them, the senior and most experienced fishermen, about 10,000 would be accompanying the project”, says the vice-chancellor.
CUSAT also took the initiative of a similar project to set up a knowledge bank named as TKDL (Traditional Knowledge Digital Library). This project would be funded by the KSCSTE or Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment and the KUFOS.
The assistant librarian of TKDL by the CUSAT, Beena Cherukuth, says that their library would be a storehouse of all the traditional knowledge like weather predictions, chances of natural calamity, fish type, availability of any species of fish, location of the most dense fish population, medical link with the marine creature’s body etc.