We all know how it is with fishermen and tall tales,and how the fish they caught last summer gets bigger and bigger with every retelling. So when you hunker down with some bubbly by the banks of the Kabini, and an old fisherman saunters up, fixes you with a beady eye, and tells you about a partner of his with wings, you offer to stand him a drink in lieu of a nice yarn. Good bargain, you believe, remembering the Raconteur’s motto, “never let the truth interfere with a good story…”! This then, is the tale of the Little Cormorant, a wee fella, different from his brother cormorants in that he lacks a peaked head and has a shorter beak. It turns out he’s such a legendary fisherman that he’s often been trained to assist traditional fishing communities. Popular since the tenth century in interior Japan and China, Cormorant fishing involved fitting a snare at the base of the bird’s throat, restricting the passage of larger fish. So, each time the Cormorant dived, and returned with his catch, he was allowed to swallow the smaller fish as a reward and spit out the larger ones for his master. This once thriving industry was obviously no match to mechanized trawling, but still has its practitioners in the Orient and parts of Macedonia where it has been a tradition from the middle ages, especially on the scenic Lake Dojran.As you sit back, lulled by the narrative and the scenic waters of the Kabini, you’re suddenly startled by a loud splash. It’s a Little Cormorant that’s just emerged from a successful hunt, and as he poses above the river with wings held aloft in triumph (he’s actually drying his feathers), you can’t help but wonder that in the best stories,the truth can sometimes be stranger than fiction!
We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.