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A Successful Day of Fishing

A picture of Jaharuddin fixing a spear gun

Sampela is a village built and inhabited by the people entitled the Bajau and it is built on stilts atop the ocean almost a kilometer away from land. The Bajau’s way of life has adapted to become almost completely sustainable by the ocean.  Whether that be digging for clams throughout the reef, finding sea cucumbers when the tide goes out, or fishing with their most prized and valuable spear gun, they always end up figuring something out in order to support their lifestyle. Two days ago (7/27/18) Olivia, Shaiyah, Mia, and I went out fishing with my homestay father, Jaharuddin. We had to leave at around ten in the morning because the tide was not high enough in the village in order to take his boat out, until then. He pushed us out using a bamboo stick and under boardwalks, until we finally arrived at an open space pointed out into the ocean. He took what sort of looks like a handle on a bike and stuck it in the engine. He cranked it four times until the engine sounded up to speed, switched a lever, and the boat’s engine puffed out smoke and started powering the propeller. As we putted out in Jaharuddin’s louder than normal boat, I was splashed with an immense amount of water as I was sitting in the front of the boat. Once we arrived, I slipped on my water shoes, adjusted my mask, and dove in making sure I did not hit the bottom. He handed me a spear gun and off I went. I swam around spearing any fairly bigger fish I could find, while occasionally going back to the boat the drop off my catch. At the boat, my homestay little sister, Ipa, was waiting with a huge smile on her face to take the fish I had caught and plop them in the hull of the boat. Right after I had dropped off my fifth fish of the day, Jaharuddin came back with three brown parrotfish on the same spear, that he had speared each one of them cleanly through the eyes. This was physical proof and amazing to see that this is his lifestyle. I went out one last time and came across a school of trumpet fish. At first, I caught one right through the side and pinned it nicely to the rock so it was not able to swim away. I decided to go one last time to try to find another trumpet fish. Eventually, I found a singular trumpet fish and I started to follow it. As I approached it, it would dash away; this ended up happening for around thirty minutes until I finally caught up to it. I cleanly shot it through the side, like the other one, however, being a little tired from chasing the fish so I was not able to control my spear gun to the best of my capibilities; it started to swim away with my spear in it. One of the most essential possessions to the Bajau is the spear of a spear gun, as it is hard to come by and it is the soul thing that makes money for the majority of the families in Sampela. As the fish swam away with my spear, I was extremely worried, as I was not concerned for the actual catch, but rather retrieving the spear. Finally, the fish, being as fast as it was, eventually became tired. I was able to get the spear back and the fish for a successful day of fishing.