Otter Fishing, is that Otter-ing?

Ok so a little dry humor there, really, there is such a thing as Otter Fishing.

A couple of years back I recalled watching this phenomenon. I believe it was in Vietnam but it was unclear at the time whether the Otter was just a pet or really did help in the fishing.

At any rate, just a couple of days ago, I caught a French Documentary which profiled Otter Fishing in the Sundarbans. So if you dint link out to find out what are the Sundarbans, thats basically an area of mangrove forest that is shared by the countries of Bangladesh and India (West Bengal). This place is much more famous for its Tiger population, but you know that is a whole different story altogether.

It turns out that the people that live in the Sundarbans have tamed River Otters to help them catch fish, almost otter-ing (does that sound like 'authoring' or what!?) a brilliant kind of fishing.

Firstly, I think everyone agrees that Otters are up there on the cute meter. They are cute little things (Of course the Giant River Otters of the Amazon are pretty huge, but I digress) and it would really blow our minds to know that they are being 'used' to help people in fishing. Its true, but to me at least they have some sort of job and so at least in this part of the world, the Otters are being saved for this purpose. That in itself is cool to me.

Anywho, so how do they do Otter Fishing?

Well its a pretty simple concept really, the fishermen have a bunch of Otters with them, granted they are kept in little cages but they are at least seen to be treated well, and I would think they would be if they are your main tool of the trade you know?

So the fishermen have huge nets by the side of their boats at the ready when they release the otters into the water. Of course they need to control the Otters somehow and so the fishermen have ropes tied round the Otters necks, which are in turn tied to long sticks. The fishermen then control the otters using the sticks. (Yeah I know it does not sound very comfortable but you know we leash our dogs too dont we?)

How on earth do they train them? Too good a question, but just like any animal that man has tamed, they find ways to train them for sure.

Anyway, so the Otters then will swim around and dive on cue as well (at least it seems so). And the crux of Otter Fishing really is that these Otters will corral the fish towards the bank of the river. At the same time, the fishermen maneuver their boats and nets towards the same river bank. Once they get to the bank, and the Otters have done their job, the fishermen simply lift their nets and presto! They got a bunch of fish.

Easy peasy.

The otters are continuously given treats while working and rewarded at the end of the day with some of the catch.

If that isnt cool traditional fishing, I dont know what is!

And no, they dont somehow get the otters to catch the fish and bring them back, though that would be pretty interesting!

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