Of the many traditional fishing methods found in West Papua, freediving from a canoe to spearfish by hand with a long bamboo spear and homemade goggles, in the murky yet nutrient rich waters near Triton Bay, takes a tremendous amount of skill, practice, and patience.
The area is known for having a high level of nutrients in the water, which means fantastic soft corals hosting a variety of marine life can be found here. On the other hand, it also makes for poor visibility (3-4 meters at best when we were out with the fishermen).
The challenges of traditional spearfishing in low visibility mean that fishermen must to be skilled freedivers. They need to dive long enough to locate target food species that cannot be seen from the surface and then spear them carefully by hand.
While sustenance fishing in this remote area is often very opportunistic and may target species that are at risk from over-harvest (particularly from commercial fisheries – both legal and illegal), traditional spearfishing in this manner is selective and produces little if any by-catch.