The Cormorant Fishermen of Xingping
I recently had the opportunity to travel to China for work and decided to book a jam packed weekend of travel and photography in some truly beautiful places. I remember seeing some photographs of this area a few months ago and thinking to myself that I would make it out there someday. Well, someday came faster than I thought and before I knew it I was touching down in Guilin, introducing myself to my photo-guide, Bart*. On the first night of my excursion, we made it out to Xingping and headed to banks of the Li River before sunset to get some shots of the Cormorant Fishermen.
Chinese fishermen are smart. Why go through the hassle of actually catching the fish yourself when you can have birds do it for you?! Each fisherman has a couple trusty Cormorants perched on their bamboo raft ready to dive into the river at the first sign of a fish. The cormorants have a snare tied to the base of their throats to prevent them from swallowing their hard-earned catch. When they come back to the raft, the fishermen just pull the fish out of their throats and dinner is served. It is a bit sad, but the birds do get fed in the end so I guess it all works out.
The nice fisherman on the right was so tired from nabbing the fish from the birds that he was dozing off. =)
* Bart is a gentle mannered photo enthusiast whose travels took him to China a few years ago and decided to stay and make a life in this rich country. For anyone even considering going to this area and interested in photography, there is no better guide than Bart. The guy has a knack for being able to get you access to the coolest places and people. Seriously, sometimes we would just walk into people's houses with nothing more than a smile and it was alllll right. I kept freaking out thinking the owner would chase us out with a shotgun, but most of the time we were just invited to have lunch and a conversation. I just made sure to keep my mouth full of food and take lots of pictures while Bart did his smooth-Chinese-talking. Check out his site if you are interested: http://www.backtonature.org.cn/English.htm