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Pesca con cormoranes

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The cormorant is a sleek bird with rapid movements, perfectly aerodynamic and adapted to diving in search of its prey: fish. It is hard to imagine that even today they are still used as “slaves”.

In some coastal villages in Japan, cormorants are employed for freshwater fishing. This practice, dating back to the year 813, involves placing a muzzle around the cormorants’ necks and tethering them to a small boat with a cord.

The fishing is done at night. A fire lit in a hanging cauldron attracts the fish. The cormorants naturally dive in search of their food. However, once a fish is caught, the bird cannot swallow it due to the tight muzzle. The fisherman then pulls the bird back to the boat using the cord, removes the fish from its beak, and releases it back into the water to catch new prey.

The hungry cormorants continue to capture fish that they cannot consume. A single bird can catch hundreds of fish in just one hour. The trick is to prevent them from eating until the fishing session is over. At the end, the fisherman will give the bird one or two of the fish it caught so it can feed.

The technique involves capturing the cormorants when they are young and getting them accustomed to their “master” and being fed by him. They will spend their entire lives in captivity, catching fish with a muzzle around their necks until the day they die, when they will be replaced by a younger cormorant.

Undoubtedly, the fisherman could obtain the same number of fish, or perhaps even more, using a simple net. However, it would require more effort to set it up and lift it. That’s why he prefers to let the cormorants do the hard work for him. After all, he is a representative of the intelligent species on the planet, isn’t he?

“You cannot defend what you do not love, and you cannot love what you do not know.”