Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/86

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MODES OF FISHING. 73

is nothing less than driving the fish on shore. When the aborigines have reason to know that a shoal of fish is moving about contiguous to the beach — a fact which is readily discovered either by the disporting of the scaly gambollers over the surface of their native element, or by the brilliant transparency which the rays of an Australian sun yield to the latter rendering the smallest object perfectly visible for some fathoms deep — they commence their piscatory operations as follows : — Dividing themselves into two bodies, at a proper interval along the beach, they glide in two files into the water, where, moving with the least perceptible noise or agitation, they soon form a semicircle, the extremities of which touch the shore. Having thus enclosed the fish, the aborigines commence contracting the space in which their prey is confined, by moving towards the shore and towards each other, until, having driven the fish into very shallow water, they are enabled either to kill them with their fish-spears, or cast them on shore with their hands.In their fishing operations the aborigines also use the bark of a species of tree, which, being cast into the water, in a short time operates on the fish in such a way as to render them liable to be caught or speared without difficulty. Mussels, oysters, and some other shellfish form a principal resource whence the aborigines draw their supplies of food. As the mussel and large mud oyster are seldom to be procured except by diving, they evince great expertness and power in this exercise, as well as in that of