The Fishing Lore of Tobi.  Peter W. Black 1968, 2017

May 2005: This report was lightly edited and additional material added. Alternate spellings were included and the original Glossary was expanded. Isauro Andrew provided the correct spellings and pronounciations for Canoe Parts in July-August 2004.  
Palau District of the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific no longer exists. Tobi Island is part of Hatohobei State, one of the 16 states of the Republic of Palau.


Tobi Island. Latitude 3 ° 00’ 50” North Longitude 131 ° 10’ 37” East is culturally the westernmost point of Carolinian influence and politically part of Palau district of the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific. Currently there are 58 people on the island and perhaps 25 more Tobians scattered throughout the Trust Territory. Together with the other three islands of the Southwest Islands, Sonsorol, Merir, and Pulo Ana, Tobi is visited by a field trip vessel three or four times a year, a U.S. Navy ship every six months, and various Japanese, Okinawan, and Taiwan Chinese fishing boats.

The following report was written by a Peace Corps Volunteer from information compiled during interviews, usually in the evening from February to June 1968. The report does not claim to be complete. Although the 40-some methods detailed here are, the author believes, the great bulk of the fishing styles of Tobi, there are undoubtedly some obscure types which the informants have forgotten and possibly some which they did not feel at liberty to discuss. All these methods, with the exceptions noted in the report, are practiced at the present time.

The translator for most of this material was Felix Andrew, the nurse-aide. His brother Isauro, the municipal clerk, helped at times as did Fabian Basillio, the principal of Tobi Elementary School. It was found that the most productive sessions were those in which three or four fishermen took part but this was usually impossible to arrange. Following is the format used in the interviews for Fishing Methods:

For each type of fishing, night and day, repeat each question.

There are 13 fishermen on Tobi at the present time. For this report five of them gave their time to establish a permanent record of their knowledge. Those five are:




Nemesio Hatokuchi Mohoriparimaso


about 60

Matias Kuro Chorngrheng


about 60

Esobio Chiheihi


about 60

Santos Horisan Manifaramau


about 60

Patricio Mohorihotimoh



The first three were the sources for Fishing Methods. Wherever their information differed, the various opinions have been identified by their first name.

Patricio is the only man on the island who grew up before the Japanese came (that is, prior to about 1920); thus he was used as the informant for the other sections of the report except Tobian Fish Chart: A Key to the Fish of Tobi. For that section, it was felt that Santos would be the most informative man to ask. The author would like to express his gratitude to those men and to his translators for their patience and good humor throughout the many sessions it took to compile this report.

P.W. Black
June 1968
Tobi Island

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Updated: January 19, 2017