National Geographic : 1954 Nov
696 Sons of Nazare Fishermen Trudge Homeward with Scabbard Fish for Supper By old custom, Portuguese fishermen may keep enough fish for their families to eat even if the catch is small and the owner of boat and gear gets none to sell. The tasty scabbard fish, a ribbon-shaped member of the snake-mackerel family, is hooked at great depths. the cup is dropped again. The mobile net is recovered from the corral. The master of the nets sets his idlers to watching again, for per haps more tuna are already approaching the corral. The run is on; now they will be coming by the thousands. The catch I saw that morning totaled about 150 big tuna. After each catch a flag is hoisted to indicate to watchers ashore how many were taken, in order that the canneries at Vila Real de Santo Ant6nio may be in formed. The fish are transferred to waiting dhows, which hoist their lateen sails and skim away before the morning wind. But I am left with a thousand questions. Why the flying fish? Are they pilots? Are they counselors of the tuna, and friends? But the tuna eat them-I know that. "There are always the flying fish. We see them first," says La. "But why? No man can say. It is-well, just another mystery of the sea." I was lucky to see the tuna fishing. Some times the men stand by in their boats for days and days, and there are no fish at all. But eventually they always come, sometime be tween May 15 and June 20 each year. Just how they navigate, or how they know when to come-these, too, are mysteries of the sea. Tuna Roundup Centuries Old But there must still be great tuna in untold thousands somewhere in the depths of the sea, for although this roundup of the run has been going on-off Faro, off Tavira, off the Moroc can coast, off Sicily-for untold centuries, the Mediterranean is a big sea, and the Strait of Gibraltar is wide. The nets are turned the other way and the tuna are taken on their return trip, too, at many places. But not off Faro. There they like their tuna fat and full of nourishment, and the thin ones they allow to pass un molested on their way back to the deep and mysterious sea.