Concept: Shark Calling


Shark calling was practiced in many parts of the Pacific, sometimes to kill sharks for food, but also in other places as part of rituals where some sharks were 'tame'. It was once a constant event on 'Aoke Island, Langalanga Lagoon, Malaita, where the fata'abu (priest) called sharks to come every day to feed on pig meat. District Officers Thomas Edge-Partington and Dick Horton observed this in 1910 and 1938, respectively. Edge-Partington recorded: 'Went across to island and saw sharks fed, a weird sight. Sharks 2 or 3 of them about 8 to 10 feet long, lying quite peacefully in the canoe passage with their head out of the water resting on the stones, being fed by boys with pig entrails'. In the 1960s, anthropologist Matthew Cooper recorded two types of sharks involved in the Lagoon, one red and the other black. Both were believed to contain spirits but neither contained an ancestral spirit. They are conceived as guardians and protectors. They were fed with entrails from slaughtered pigs. Cooper never saw them hand-fed but heard stories from earlier times when they were called, lay with their heads down on the stones of the canoe landing area and were fed by hand, just as observed in 1910. (BSIP 15 VIII 134, 1910 Station Diary, Edge-Partington, 23 Apr. 1910; Horton 1965, 105-106; Cooper 1970, 108-109) 'Wild' sharks are also 'called' in several parts of the Solomon Islands, usually through use of rattles in the water. These are captured and killed for food.

Published resources


  • Horton, Dick C., The Happy Isles: A Diary of the Solomons, Originally published: 1965, Heinemann, London, 1965. Details


  • Cooper, Matthew, 'Langalanga ethics', PhD thesis, 1970. Details