Harold Austin (Narrator)
The expedition sets forth to Magdalena Bay in Baja California to look for fighting fish. The crew consists of Chinese, Irish, Russian and Swedish men as well as a cameraman. Pelicans nest on a nearby island and there are flocks of birds everywhere. The crew's first catch is a couple of big bass. They encounter seals on shore and take two pups for pets, returning them later when they turn out to be too much trouble. The crew meets a fleet of tuna boats and is invited aboard. One boat will hold 140 tons of fish. Later they encounter a whaling fleet. When a whale is caught, it is stripped of its blubber, a procedure called flensing. The blubber comes off in one large strip called the blanket, which is cut into chunks to be boiled down for the oil. The rest of the carcass is then ground up for fertilizer. The crew stops at an island to obtain fresh water and they learn that a devil fish in the neighboring waters has scared away the natives' food fish. They decide to catch the devil fish with the aid of a native, Pancho, who sells sharks' fins for a living. First, however, the crew catches fish for the natives. Soon the water is filled with sharks, including a leopard shark and a hammerhead. The crew explores a sunken ship where moray eels are rumored to breed and finding no eels they catch several sting rays instead. Finding themselves in the midst of a school of porpoises, they remember the sailors' belief that to kill them is bad luck, and continue without harming the animals. Finally, the crew encounters the devil fish, a large manta ray. After eleven hours of struggle, they land the fish, which at 4,200 pounds and 17 feet across is so large that it takes nine hours to tow it 18 miles. One of the largest mantas on record, a small boy can stand in its open mouth.