Elizabeth Moreno    photography
     GIANT SQUID FISHING                                         ( images )

Like a waking up city, the pier at the black beaches becomes alive when the sun dies. Another squid fishing night begins. Among screams, laughs, disputes, music and motor noises the fishermen get ready. Before leaving, a lot of them make an almost forced stop with their boss. He lends them from the money they will earn that night so they can buy certain substance, they say, helps them stay awake and working all night long. Because each dose of meth (locally called “cristal”, “chuqui” or “foco”) costs 7.5 dollars, when fishing is scarce everything on the black beaches costs 7.5 dollars, from a pair of shoes to an hd tv.

Once they are stocked up, the fishermen go out to the sea, sometimes calm other ones rough, in which darkness they form a city of floating lights. Defying the dangers of the night they fight to bring up manually, one by one, the giant squids that surround the oceans depths. The little ones don’t resist, but there are some that can reach 30 kg or more and battle to defend their life. Once they are brought up to the surface they spit a huge jet of water and ink. This is their defense against the predator but it doesn’t succeed very often. The fisherman is rough, and although the squid’s ink and tentacles leave scars on his skin, that doesn’t keep him from working. When they complete an average of a ton of squid per boat they head back to the port. The boats arrive constantly from midnight to dawn to unload the product, which is later transported in trucks to the Chinese and Corean packers in the area.

Sleepless, some fishermen head home to try to sleep, recover and see their families before they head out for another working night. Other ones set out after their boss to ask for another loan to be able to eat something during the day and satisfy their meth addiction. When Saturday comes, payday for many, these last ones will have to start a new week with a debt on their backs. One after another, the days, weeks and months of squid fishing go by, being a job opportunity for many unemployed and a drug trap for others, transforming this town with a mining past and black beaches that houses them.