Traditional Fishing Off The Southern Coast Of West Papua

spear water ocean underwater sea marine traditional papua west southern coast tribal triton bay sea cucumber bamboo goggles murky
spear water ocean underwater sea marine traditional fishing papua west southern coast tribal triton bay sea cucumber bamboo goggles murky

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.

spear water ocean underwater sea marine traditional fishing papua west southern coast tribal triton bay sea cucumber bamboo goggles murky

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).

spear water ocean underwater sea marine traditional fishing papua west southern coast tribal triton bay sea cucumber bamboo goggles murky

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.

spear water ocean underwater sea marine traditional fishing papua west southern coast tribal triton bay sea cucumber bamboo goggles murky
spear water ocean underwater sea marine traditional fishing papua west southern coast tribal triton bay sea cucumber bamboo goggles murky

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.

spear water ocean underwater sea marine traditional fishing papua west southern coast tribal triton bay sea cucumber bamboo goggles murky
spear water ocean underwater sea marine traditional papua west southern coast tribal triton bay sea cucumber bamboo goggles murky sting ray boat dead

More images from the sea around West Papua can be seen in our Indonesia Underwater Gallery and our Whale Sharks Gallery

man boat papua triton bay fishing traditional spear paddle ocean
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