National Geographic : 1954 Nov
691 Doomed Tuna Churn the Waters of a Deathtrap into a Welter of Foam Bound for the Strait of Gibraltar and their spawning grounds in the Mediterranean, giant Atlantic tuna blunder into a trap Portuguese fishermen tend each May off Faro. Herded into a killing corral at the corner of a long L-shaped net, the fish struggle vainly to escape the sharp curved gaffs of the fishermen. If roaz comes near the nets-and sometimes he does-the tuna are maddened and break out anywhere, doing thousands of dollars' worth of damage in their panic. Then the nets must be raised again and the whole trap laboriously relaid. Once the driving net is cast, the men make all the noise they can to drive the tuna farther into the cup, for the cup is of net so stout that roaz himself cannot break it, though a bigger whale might. (Once in a while big whales do come in, too, and a great nuisance they are.) As soon as the tuna are in the cup, the men begin to raise the bottom net, chanting an age old song, melodious and with perfect rhythm. It reminds me of the chants I heard the Arabs use for heavy jobs when I was sailing in their dhows along the coasts of Africa and in the Persian Gulf.* The bottom net is heavy and there is much of it. Still I can see nothing-no sign of a fish anywhere! But I know quite well that men did not begin to raise the bottom net or to make any noise at all until one of the idlers, * See "Sailing with Sindbad's Sons," by Alan Vil liers, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, November, 1948.