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Samoan Material Culture

Fish Narcotizing

Fish Narcotizing

The kernel of the fruit of the futu (Barringtonia sp.) is grated on lapa coral (Fungia) and used for poisoning pools. It is usually mixed up with wet sand to form balls called maunu (bait). Perforated tin has taken the place of coral as a grater.

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The 'avasa (Tephrosia piscatoria) is also said to have been used. Stem, roots, and leaves were all pounded together between stones and made into balls like the futu.

The poisoning of smaller pools is termed oloolo. The method was used in conjunction with nets which were drawn round the rocks or across channels which led away from the pools. Men dived down and placed the poison below the rocks. As it permeated the water, the fish were driven out of the inaccessible crevices and in seeking to escape they were enmeshed in the nets or speared. The poison was used to drive them out rather than kill them. If too strong the fish died in the crevices and many were lost.

Poisoning on a larger scale sometimes took place with the lauloa, where again the object of the poisoning was to drive the fish out of their refuges. In this form the families contributed their share of grated poison.

A man was seen using poison to obtain bait for the modern hook. He spread a lavalava over a small pool and then pushed the poison in under the cloth. The small fish soon began wriggling out of the pool and as the man saw a fish wriggling under the cloth on the margin of the pool he seized it through the cloth.