Passed down through the generations, the evocative spectacle and ancient techniques of cormorant fishing in China are still alive today.
Through the skilled use of leashes, each fisherman controls ten to twelve birds. Fishermen on bamboo rafts use lanterns suspended over the water to attract the fish. The cormorants, which are tethered with rings round the base of their necks, catch the fish and then disgorge them for the fishermen. When their work is done, the rings are removed and they are allowed to feed. The boats are flat, narrow rafts consisting of five or six large, round bamboo trunks tied together and upturned at the stern. The fisherman stands on the raft, using a pole to propel the boat. His cormorants perch on his outstretched arms, diving on his command. One good cormorant can feed an entire family.
This method of sending cormorants down, and down again, to fetch fish is one of the traditional fishing methods of China and dates back some 1300 years.