How to catch a shark

For centuries, the villagers on the west coast of New Ireland in Papua New Guinea, have gone to sea in small hand carved canoes to call, lasso, and kill sharks by hand. Now, after hundreds of years of western influence, only a few men still continue the magic rituals of shark calling. Tourism has also made it more of a commercial enterprise though some people in the villages of Kontu and Tembin still call on their spiritual ancestors to influence the sharks appearance, and to protect themselves from harm. They hunt the sharks for food as they taste delicious to the locals and provide enough food for a whole extended family, but the sharks are also part of their dances and their spiritual culture.

Selam Kirisibe (also documented in the film 'The Shark Callers of Kontu') is one of the few remaining expert shark callers, but at 65 he is too weak to kill sharks anymore. Instead Selam kindly allowed us to film him passing his knowledge onto his grandson giving us a unique glimpse into the world of a shark caller. Sadly the callers have observed that the sharks seem to be found in far fewer numbers than in the past. Conservationists estimate some shark populations in the world have declined as much as 80% or more in the last 50 years.

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