The Hunter and His Catch


The little fish spots the danger too late. The net is all around it. If the blue little creature was able to analyse it’s chances of survival it would probably have concluded that being caught in a net is B-A-D news. But as thoughts like this is way beyond fish of any species, it has no idea of it’s faith. And even if it had the logical ability, it definitely would lack the fantasy to understand that it’s about to become an attraction overseas. The diver who managed to wrap his net around it works for Stuart M. Grant, Ltd, a company that exports aquarium fish from Lake Malawi worldwide.

─I love chasing the fish and finally catching them, Musa Kamendo (38) says and lifts a blue Placodon out of the plastic drum that serves as aquarium until he gets ashore again tomorrow.

Musa is one of the divers who make a living from catching cichlids from the lake. These colourful creatures are among the most popular freshwater fish kept in the home aquarium.

─There are the once that are bred in aquariums around the world and there are the ones we catch, he states. The real fish from the lake!

The ones these divers catch are exported around the world at far higher prices than the bred ones.

There are over a thousand species of tropical fish in the lake. Malawi cichlids are popular because they add so much life and color to tropical freshwater aquariums.

We are just off the shore of Namitumbu village on the eastern shore of the lake. Giant baobab trees forms a barrier between the village and the sandy beach. The morning breeze makes the heat more bearable and the waves make the diving boat, “Lord Justin”, roll gently. The border of Mozambique is just a few miles up the coast. Musa, John, Moses, Robertson (yes that’s his first name) and the captain Robert left home on the other side of the lake on Wednesday and are returning Monday. Then it’s a day or two of rest before they have to set off again.

─It’s a strange life, Musa says. We live together here day after day. Working hard from dusk till dawn, and then chilling out on the roof of the boat at night. Watching the stars, singing and telling each other stories.

And missing our families, John adds.

─We never argue, everyone takes his turn and everyone is doing their best to catch all the fish we set out to catch.

The lean diver shows us the list they got from the boss, stating type of fish requested and how many they are supposed to catch of each kind. Most of them are ticked off, and if the list is completed when they return they can collect a small bonus.

The blue fish in the plastic drum is swimming around in circles, happily unaware of the fact that it was pulled out of the water by force just a few minutes earlier to become one of Malawi most beautiful export articles.


16 Responses to “The Hunter and His Catch”

  1. What incredible photos! You really are the man!

  2. John Chrisrensen Says:

    Hello Øystein & and my dear Neigbour. I do hope for a fullnight slideshow at “Nordtun” – soon apon your return back home? (in return I’ll look after and take good care of your Åshild while you’re absent)

  3. I found this blog by chance today, and I love reading your accounts from different corners of the world. I like how the texts and pictures complement each other, and how they let us see details that otherwise might be overlooked. Enjoy your travels! Helsing frå Kanada!

  4. Beautiful! Both the fish and the photos 🙂 It sounds like a happy life to net fish like that.

  5. It never would have occurred to me that someone had to catch these tiny fish for the aquariums. I guess I thought they were all bred in captivity. Thanks for the lesson and the photos.

  6. Amazing photos, and account of the everyday lives of these fishermen. Easy for me to say that I wish these little fish could live their lives in the beauty of their native waters.

  7. Again you have taught me something new. Lovely catch.Like the unbalanced shot of the fellow half out of the boat with the crooked horizon.

  8. Beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing this with us!

  9. You’ve captured this so beautifully Otto.

  10. so that is where some of the aquarium fish come from…interesting. ♥

  11. Fantastic photos

  12. didn’t read the text! but i love the photos!
    well done.

  13. Awesome and stunning photos to illustrate your narrative which is also very interesting.

  14. What a dynamic set of photos. I do hope they collected a bonus!

  15. That blue fish is really glowing… Amazing. 😉

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