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James Morrison's Account of TahitiIndigenous Histories
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Fish & Fisheries


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Fish & Fisheries (continued)

make their lines from the Bark of the Roaa (and others already discribed) twisting it (in either two or three Strands as it is found to answer best) on their naked thigh and make ym with great Judgement & regularity; but not half the size in proportion to the Fish for which it is intended that ours are and their hooks are made of Pearl Shell, Bone, Wood &c. of different Constructions for the Different fish, some being made to answer the double purpose of Hook & Bait; they make their hooks by Grinding them into form on a stone with water and Sand and with a drill made of a Sharks tooth; they make a hole into which they introduce a Sprig of the Coral as a file and work out the inside part; and as they have no beard they make the point to round in toward the back of the Hook inclining downward and seldom loose a fish after they get it once hookd.

They have a Number of Methods of Fishing and are expert at all, — the First is with Seines from 5 fathoms long and one deep, to Sixty fathoms long and twelve deep. These large ones have a bag or Cod in the Middle and when they haul them in Deep Bays they never land them till they are done fishing, but cast off the Cod on the outside of the surf, and bring the Fish on Shore in their Canoes when they haul the Sein into a Canoe and having laced on the Cod Shoot it afresh; in this Manner they Catch a great Number of fine fish and some turtle. While they are fishing in this manner the Net is always surrounded by Swimmers who dive down and secure such fish as are like to escape and tho the Sharks often attend them yet they seldom interrupt their work and if they Catch the Sharks in the Surf they Surround them and force them on shore, which is so far from being deemd dangerous that it is Counted fine Sport — the Sharks here are not very large seldom exceeding five or Six feet in length — with their Small Seines they Catch the Flying fish having Small Canoes for that purpose which will Carry two men; the seines for this purpose are 15 or 20 fathom long, and 9 feet deep; these they Shoot amongst the Fish and Splashing the water about with their paddles frighten the Fish till they dart into the Net and Mash themselves, they then haul in their net and take out the fish, and following the School shoot it afresh; as they fish for them for Bait for the Dolphin they frequently take the Night for it and Choose the Dark in preference to the Moon light when the fish cannot see to avoid the Nets — in Calm Weather they follow the School with a number of Canoes and Surround them with their Nets in a Circle and having drawn them into a small Compass make

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© Derived from the 1935 Print Edition edited by Owen Rutter, page 154, 2004
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