July 6, 2007

Whale Hunters

For the fishermen of Lamalera, a remote village in Indonesia, the way of life hasn’t changed for hundreds of years: they still hunt and kill whale with their bare hands:

Hunts are led by the Lamafa (boat captains), who purify themselves during the six-month whale hunting season by abstaining from sex. They are also banned from sleeping during a hunting trip. […]

The Lamafa leaps from the boat holding a ‘kefa’ (a javelin-like bamboo pole with an iron-blade) which he uses to pierce the whale before swimming back to collect another pole.

The fishermen work as a team, stabbing into the whale flesh and working ropes around its massive body. The tiny boats, dwarfed by the bulk of a whale, risk being pulled under with every lurch of its huge tail.

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