Cormorant fishing and rafting at Yangshou, China, photographed by Matthew Atkin

 - photograph by Matthew Atkin 2013

– photograph by Matthew Atkin 2013

My brother Matt has been taking more fabulous photos in the Far East – this time of rafting activities in the Chinese county of Yangshou. The photos are his  copyright, naturally.

Perhaps the most striking images here are those of fishermen on narrow bamboo rafts working with cormorants at night.

Matt was told by locals that the fishermen tie the birds’ beaks during the day to make them hungry, and take them out at night, this time with their necks loosely tied. Once the cormorants dive down and catch the fish they can only swallow the small ones – the large ones they take back to the fisherman and the birds voluntarily stay with their masters.

It’s a strikingly strange way of making a living and seems very harsh on the birds, which are of course prevented from pursuing their natural behaviours. But it you’d have to say that it’s very inventive.

The rest of the photos are largely of tourist rafting – the holidaymakers are largely Chinese, says Matt – but there is one fascinating photo of a boat that’s clearly an ancient prototype of the Mouseboat. This Googlewhack may give you some idea, and there are various plans at the Duckworksmagazine website. You can even a book from Amazon, Ultrasimple Boat Building: 17 Plywood Boats Anyone Can Build, that includes plans for several of them…

For more of Matt Atkin’s photos, click here.

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