Indonesia’s Traditional Whaling Communities-Social Documentary

Two pilot whales are brought to the beach having been harpooned at sea. The meat is carefully cut in to pieces for distributing to the community, each person getting a specific part.

This documentary photography was submitted to Edge of Humanity Magazine by Travel/Documentary Photographer Luke Duggleby.

 

Click on any image to see Luke’s gallery of projects.

 

From project “Indonesia’s Last Whale Hunters” by Luke Duggleby

 

The Indonesian village of Lamalera has hunted whales, sharks and dolphins for the last 500 years. Their method is to leap from a small wooden boat with a long harpoon made of bamboo and spear the animal.

 

A traditional whaling boat called the Praso Sanpang leaves on a whale hunt. The wooden boat holds 10 crew members with the harpooner permanently standing on the front of the boat ready to pounce. For most of the voyage they use the sail but now with the introduction of motorized propellers returning to shore with a catch they use the motor.

A traditional whaling boat called the Praso Sanpang leaves on a whale hunt. The wooden boat holds 10 crew members with the harpooner permanently standing on the front of the boat ready to pounce. For most of the voyage they use the sail but now with the introduction of motorized propellers returning to shore with a catch they use the motor.

The harpooner called Gregorious dives from the front of the boat to harpoon a large basking shark which he hits in the head.

The harpooner called Gregorious dives from the front of the boat to harpoon a large basking shark which he hits in the head.

Once the basking shark is dead it is attached to the side of the boat and cut in pieces small enough to get in to the boat.

Once the basking shark is dead it is attached to the side of the boat and cut in pieces small enough to get in to the boat.

Because of the size of the basking shark it must be cut up in to small pieces. Here they attempt to get the head in to the boat which takes all the crew members.

Because of the size of the basking shark it must be cut up in to small pieces. Here they attempt to get the head in to the boat which takes all the crew members.

 

Once brought to shore the animal is divided in to parts and distributed to the community, partly for consumption and partly for exchanging with other inland communities for corn and rice.

 

Men carry parts of a large manta ray to the beach after harpooning it.

Men carry parts of a large manta ray to the beach after harpooning it.

Manta ray meat dries on racks on the beach. Three pieces of manta meat, roughly 6 inches in length, can be exchanged for a kilo of rice with the highland people.

Manta ray meat dries on racks on the beach. Three pieces of manta meat, roughly 6 inches in length, can be exchanged for a kilo of rice with the highland people.

 

On the 21 May 2009 at the World Oceans Conference, the Indonesian government officially declared 3.5 million hectares of critical marine habitat in the Savu Sea for conservation. Though government representatives have assured that traditional whaling — which has been supporting the surrounding communities’ means of living — will not be banned in the area immediately outside the zone, concerns still remain. Lamalera is one of the last remaining Indonesian whaling communities and is categorized by the International Whaling Commission as aboriginal whaling and is done out of subsistence rather than commercial need.

 

Worshipers during Sunday Mass. The village is strongly Catholic with the first missionary, a Dutchman, arriving in the mid-19th century.

Worshipers during Sunday Mass. The village is strongly Catholic with the first missionary, a Dutchman, arriving in the mid-19th century.

The night time ceremony of 'Misa Arwah'. During the ceremony held once a year to commemorate those who died whaling locals light candles and place them all over the beach.

The night time ceremony of ‘Misa Arwah’. During the ceremony held once a year to commemorate those who died whaling locals light candles and place them all over the beach.

Local fishermen in their Sunday best stand during the ceremony of 'Misa Lefa', a ceremony held once a year to bless the fishing boats and bring luck to the upcoming season.

Local fishermen in their Sunday best stand during the ceremony of ‘Misa Lefa’, a ceremony held once a year to bless the fishing boats and bring luck to the upcoming season.

A fisherman holds a large whales penis that they hang to dry and eat for sexual prowess.

A fisherman holds a large whales penis that they hang to dry and eat for sexual prowess.

 

See also:

Thailand’s Illegal Dog Meat Trade

The Real Shangri-la?

By Luke Duggleby

 


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