- 15 Mar 08, 03:40 PM
Posted from: São Raimundo do Jarauá in the Sustainable Development Reserve, Mamirauá.
We went out this morning to go fishing with Jorge from São Raimundo de Jarauá, not just for any fish but for the largest, scaled, fresh water fish in the world. Its name: the pirarucu. Pira means red in the local indigenous language and rucu mean fish, so the red fish. Its scales are famed to be red and really quite beautiful, but none of us have ever seen one.
Jorge, whose nickname is Tapioca, takes Bruce on his tiny paddling canoe into the flooded forests and lakes deep in the forest, where he hopes to find some pirarucu. Keith (our cameraman) and Dudu (our fixer), follow them on another tiny canoe as quietly as possible. The weight of the camera equipment weighs down this second canoe and, disturbingly, it looks like they are floating on a plate. They have to keep very still so as not to scare the fish but also not to rock the canoe and cause an instant rush of water into their vessel.
Keith and Dudu follow Bruce
The name of the game is waiting in total silence to see if a pirarucu comes up for air. This unusual fish actually breathes out of water and comes up for air every 20 minutes or so. While the two canoes go off into the forests and lakes we stay behind in the speed boat waiting to hear from them and staying in touch by walkie talkies, ready to come in case of an emergency.
We sit there for hours, thankful for the roof over our speed boat. We have stopped near the edge of the water so we see squirrel monkeys and capuccin monkeys in the trees and many different kinds of birds. Finally the team emerges from the trees in their canoes but they haven't managed to catch one. We all decide to take a break for lunch and return to the mother ship.
The crew get stuck following Bruce in his canoe
In the afternoon I opt for staying in the boat and abandon the pirarucu expedition. Now as the sun sets in a pale golden sky with grey moody clouds all around I sit and wait for the noise of an engine which will announce the homecoming of the team! I wonder if they have caught the monster fish. Many other fishermen come past on their own in motorized canoes, bringing their catches home. I expect their families listen out for the purr of approaching engines too, wondering what's for supper.
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