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  • Writer's pictureScarlett Mao

Cormorant Fishing in Tongli

Tongli is one of my favourite places in the Shanghai area - it has an amazing system of canals as well as several magnificent old temples, gardens and palaces. It’s well worth a visit – you will open a window to the China of the 10th century.

If you are lucky, you can also observe a traditional fishing method in which fishermen use trained birds - cormorants - to catch their prey. It’s amazing to see how easily the birds catch their fish, and it is even more stunning to see that the bird then passes over the fish to his boss.

OK, I was told that the fishermen somewhat cheat - they tie a snare near the base of the throat of the cormorant. While the bird may be able to swallow smaller fish, it has to spit up larger specimens. One may say that the poor birds are constraint to work for the fisherman, but I did not have the impression that they looked particularly unhappy - they rather appeared like a team used to work together every day ...

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