Lamalera Fisherman Take On Whale in Hand to Fin Combat

Lamalera fisherman do things the old fashion way. They track down a 75ft-long sperm whale in two small hand-made boats and battle the beast with duri flensing knives and spears. Yeah that’s tough.

The whale, called Koteklema by the locals, provides numerous resources for the village.

The villagers blame lack of harmony between different clans for their lack of [recent] success. “If there is no peace among us, there will be no good whaling,” said villager Anna Bataona…The people believe in the harmony between life in the sea and the island. Peace on the land makes for good hunting from the sea. If a Matros (fisherman) sails without making peace with his brother or enemy, his boat will face problems during the hunt.

The Lamafa or boat captains abstain from sex for six months to purify themselves. During the hunt he will leap from the boat holding a ‘kefa’, a bamboo pole with an iron-blade, to pierce the whale. He does this multiple times swimming back to collect more kefas from the boat.

Moving faster than a jet-ski, the whale drags the boats through the water, writhing as kefas are thrust into its flesh.

Dr. M (1801 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

2 Replies to “Lamalera Fisherman Take On Whale in Hand to Fin Combat”

  1. Crazy. It looks like a scene from that movie … crouching liger, hidden dragon.

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