‘I have enough of everything, but not sea or fishes’

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ISTANBUL

A Turkish fisherman for more than five decades, Kenan Balci, a true devotee of his job, is passionate about sea and fishes.

Born in 1956 in the northeastern Kars province’s Arpacay district, Balci, known as fisherman Kenan, spent his childhood by fishing in a stream with a fishing line he made using his mother’s sewing needle and thread.

“I used to take it without telling my mother. I heated that needle in the shape of a fishing line, and was fishing with the quilting needle and thread.

“As a 10-year-old child, I could catch 2-3 kilograms (up to 6.6 pounds) of fish,” Balci told Anadolu Agency.

His passion for fishes started in those years and Balci met the sea and the Bosphorus in the Turkish metropolis Istanbul when his family moved there in 1969.

Forcing his way to become a fisherman despite his family’s objections, Balci used to rush to the shore after school to fish and make friends with other fishermen in the Kadikoy district, where they first settled.

His mother used to complain to him every day as his school uniform smelled fish, he said. “But I still continued to go to fishing every day.” He did not want to continue studying after the elementary school and wanted to become a fisherman.

After giving a shot to his father’s advice to take a job in different fields, Balci was finally able to persuade his family to open a fish store and he started to cure fishes with salt and mummify them with special mixtures.

He has a massive collection of mummified sea creatures, which he wants to use to inoculate the love of sea and fishes in the hearts of the next generations.

He established the Turkey Sea Creatures Museum, where he exhibits over 15,000 sea creatures, in Istanbul’s Beylikduzu district, with students showing great interest in his works.

“I gifted this museum, which I established with 41 trucks of fish, to children and students,” he said, citing that his passion for the fishes and sea started when he was a child.

“I am 65 years old. I have enough of everything, but not sea or fishes,” Balci cracked a smile.

*Writing by Sena Guler in Ankara

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