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italics mine, RvG). Rais Cataldo maintaìns: 'This fishing gives you                The sight of sleek and graceful bluefins being gaffed is heartbreak-
                   goose bumps- emotions only rarely felt, in our hearts, in our blood,               ing. One moment they are on what Cousteau called their 'honey-
                                                                                                      moon', and the next they are thrashing in a panicked melée as heavy
                  watching  them [the tonnaroti]  catch  those  huge animals,  caught
                                                                                                      steel hooks are smashed imo their bodies and they are hauled igno-
                  firstly with our intelligence, later with our strength, but not with                miniously from the only element they have ever known into the one
                   strength alone.'  19  The appearance of the mattanza is violent, but ìt
                                                                                                      where they will  die.  Bluefins are  among  the most powerful and
                  entails dose communication between the tuna and the tonnaroti, who                  beautiful of the oceans' top predators, and seeing them gaffed is like
                  show a deep respect for the tuna and sing to them. When taking the                  watching a thoroughbred racehorse being hacked to death with an
                   tuna, the tonnaroti claim to be in harmony with nature. They say the               axe.  22
                   tuna die well but they are not killed bur merely taken out of the wa-
                   ter. As rais Cataldo contends: 'We don't really kill, I don' t like this           Though some can hardly hide their disgust, th\ heroic man-to-
                   term, I fish the tuna, I don' t kill the tuna, I fìsh i t- and the mattanza    animai sttuggle has also captured the imagination ofseveral film and
                   is the final act, after so many sacrifices.' The spilling ofblood due          documentary makers, painters and photographers who attempt to vi-
                   to the gaffing does not change this, and this is linked with the fish-         sualise the undeniable- albeit gruesome- aesthetics of the process.
                  ermen's classification of tuna as a fish not an animai:                             The cultura! importance of the mattanza is indeed shown in the
                                                                                                  ancient names, songs, ceremonies, rituals, beliefs and prayers that ac-
                      le sang des thons est un épiphénomène qui ne peut égarer que les ig-
                      norants, la mattanza est bien une peche, et les thons sont bien des         company the work. I t is a source of p ride, a referent of identity and
                      poissons. Cela se résume en une phrase, d'une évidence totale pour          an activity shrouded in religious attention. As we have already seen,
                      les ìliens: 'Le thon n'est pas un animal! C'est un poisson!' La caté-       religious worship accompanies all stages of the tonnara operation,
                      gorie "poissons" est donc expressément opposée à la catégorie des           making i t not only a focal point oflocal economie, social and cultura!
                      'animaux'; et puisque la viande ne saurait provenir que des  'ani-          life, bur also of spirituallife. The first tuna caught is offered to the
                      maux', la chair du thon reste poisson, malgré la spectaculaire évi-
                                                                                                  Madonna. An outdoor altar construction of the Virgin Mary holding
                      dence du sang (Vialles 1998: 147).                 ·
                                                                                                  a  tuna  in her lap  is  facing  the  sea.  Women gather daily at  this
                      Blood is a powerful symbol, not just for the fishermen, but also            Madonna of the Tonnaroti to pray for the success of the mattanza
                  for onlookers. Spilling it may arouse people's disgust and carnai fas-          (Singer 1999:64). The tonnaroti revere the Madonna del Rosario in
                  cination, as is evidenced by the number of visitors who arri ve in the          the church of Sant' Anna. During the tuna season the mattanza is re-
                  area just to watch this ancient rite. As one eyewitness confesses, he           peated as many times as the rais deems necessary, depending on the
                  got  sick  but stili  shot  several  rolls  of film:  'There's  a  frenzy  of   quantity of tuna entering the trap. The tonnara season ends in the
                  blood. It was bloodier than I imagined. The ritual was almost Pagan-            course ofJune, if possible by the feast day ofSt. Anthony on 13 ]une.
                  like. Before they did this they were singing Christian songs. The rit-          Following the season there is stili much work in deconstructing, re-
                  ual is part of the old Italian culture.' The renowned marine artist,            pairing and storing the nets, floats and anchors, which may last an-
                  writer and researcher Richard Ellis was appalled when watching a                other month or so. Most tonnaroti then take up other jobs until the
                  mattanza on film:                                                               next spring, usually as fishermen. But the reproduction of the mat-
                                                                                                  tanza ritual is presently in peril.

                      19  Transcription of interview for Tonnara (Hope 2002).
                      20  Transcription ofinterview for Tonnara (Hope 2002).                          22   Ellis,  R.  (2003)  'Mediterranean  Massacre',  Ecologist  Online,
                      21 Last accessed May 18,, Last acces-
                  2005.                                                                           sed July 6, 2005.
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