Fishing Families: Manta Ecuador

Fishing is much more than fish…. It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers.       Herbert Hoover

Large sea ports and tiny fishing villages throughout the world all have their allure and special charm. Along the Pacific Coast of Ecuador lies a sea port town known for its commercial fishing. With just a half a day to spend in Manta, the capital of Manabi Province, we headed for the beach where the fishermen gather.

Our timing was perfect.

It was mid morning and a group of men and women working together were pulling a net containing a large catch of tiny fish. Competing for stray fish were the noisy frigate birds darting up and down just over the net handler’s heads.

Manta, Ecuador Fishing

For a long time, I watched and wondered how these villagers would ever bring that heavy laden net in. Instead, the “scoopers” went to them. Using a large colander, a man scooped the flopping fish into large plastic tubs which were taken up to the beach.

Manta, Ecuador Fishing

The tubs were either loaded into the bed of trucks…

Manta, Ecuador Fishing

… or the fish were transferred into large porous sacks, ready for market or the cannery.

Manta, Ecuador Fishing

Fish stalls were open for business and proudly held up their catch for me to see.

Manta, Ecuador Fishing

Squid was also available.

Manta, Ecuador Fishing, Squid

Manta is a Pre-Columbian culture, existing 1,000 years before the Spaniards arrived in 1535. It was known as Jocay which means “fish house.” It is believed that these ancient Mantenos once navigated the oceans in dugouts and rafts as far as Panama and Peru and perhaps the Galapagos Islands.

Boat building is still a skill, but far from the days of the dugout.

Manta, Ecuador Fishing, Boat Building

Today, Manta has the largest sea port in Ecuador and its population as of 2001 is 192,000. International corporations such as Bumble Bee and Van Camps have large tuna processing factories in Manta and export products to Europe and the US.

In one of the roundabouts is a large mural paying tribute to this vital fishing industry.

Manta, Ecuador Fishing, Mural

Coastal Ecuador is bursting with natural beauty. Long strips of sandy beaches dotted with small fishing villages are typical of what one finds while driving the scenic route. It was time to move on.

Destination: Puerto Lopez for lunch and then continue on to Alandaluz Ecological Center for the night.

All photographs by Ron Mayhew Photography


About travelerlynne

Traveler. Writer. Retired Educator.Traveling on and off the beaten path with my photographer husband. Volunteering locally as well as in Haiti and Tanzania, an enriching and humbling experience. A sun lover! Shelling, boating, fishing and watching sunsets. Growing mango, banana, key lime,and pineapple.Making smoothies and chutneys. Enjoying family and friends! Savoring each new day!
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29 Responses to Fishing Families: Manta Ecuador

  1. i saw this first in the reader, and i thought that john and mary had posted something about the fishermen of san clemente. then i saw that it was yours, and i smiled! about five minutes later the post ‘arrived’ in the nibox! that reader is lightning fast!

    i stay in a hotel across the hightway from that area of the beach; in december i had grilled tuna for breakfast there – ah, talk about wonderful! there is a constant roll-over of boats under construction or repair, and they always catch my eye. it’s so great that you and ron were there as well!

    great post! z

    • I just wish we could have spent more time in Manta. Loved the area. When I read your post about your visitors from Manta and the children’s artistic talent, I smiled, knowing this post was going up next. I could just imagine those same kids down on the beach. I’ve always felt that Ecuador is seductive…and there is a pull to go back. Thanks Lisa. Someday, we’ll grill tuna together.

  2. Letizia says:

    I love that mural- so beautiful.

  3. Dianne says:

    Talk about fresh fish. What a wonderful experience. Ecuador is on our bucket list. This is a must see location.

  4. gwynnem says:

    I’m with Letizia on the mural. I know we have murals in the States, but I was surprised by the plenitude of murals in other countries. A very special kind of public art.

  5. Madhu says:

    Seems more like a fun day out than work! We regretted not having included Ecuador the last time around. who knows…..I might just join you and Lisa for the party 🙂

  6. This is fascinating! Thanks Lynne.

  7. adinparadise says:

    Fabulous photos, Lynne. What a fascinating mural. That squid doesn’t look very appetising. 🙂

    • We had to go around the roundabout several times, each time slower just to get the picture. I love markets of all kinds, but that was the most squid I had seen at one time. I agree. It doesn’t look appetising.

  8. vb holmes says:

    I could smell the fish in your photos–your words and Ron’s pictures make me long to pack up and hit the trail. Delightful post, Lynne.

  9. What a complement. I thought I saw Sammy sneakin’ around the beach, hiding out. He must have been waiting for you. 🙂

  10. Beautiful photos and mural – so tactile one can smell it! I have to wonder what supply is like these days for places like this, where fishing has such a long tradition.

  11. Thanks, Alarna for your comment. I don’t know if the coast is over fished or thriving. I just hope the tradition can always feed these families.

  12. Lynne, thanks for sharing this fishing photo essay from your whirlwind visit to Manta. I have not been to Ecuador yet, but your photos reminded me of stops I’ve made in Marsaxlokk, Malta (vibrant, primary-colored boats) and Jimbaran, Bali’s fishing areas. The flavor of each fishing community is reminiscent of another, but at the same time so different.

    Funny mention about the roundabout snapping. 🙂

    Aren’t you two in India now? I can’t keep your whereabouts straight!

  13. Great capture of those families Lynne!

  14. Thanks, Yulia. It lookied like a big catch of fish for them that day, which translated into big smiles. 🙂

  15. silvana1989 says:

    Hi from Lisa´s friend
    Manta me encanta!!! Fish market is my favorite place! I think is because I´m crazy about fish. have you seen the new mural in the San Mateo Avenue? it´s gorgeous!!! I don´t know if you are in Manta but if you are you should check it!!! I´m happy following your blog!!

    • Hello Silvana. I am so happy to hear from you. I was in Manta years ago (2006) and wanted to write about it. I like fish markets too. Thanks for telling me about the new mural. Maybe one day I will be back to see it. Thanks for your visit and comment and for following my blog. I look forward to reading more of yours, which I will have translated.

      • silvana1989 says:

        Oh I thought you were living in Manta!!!! As Lisa said you never know how much you can learn. I’m planning to write in english soon, I don´t know much english but I´m not afraid to try it!!!

  16. It sounds like you are a hard working, self-motivated and artistic young woman. I’m sure you can do whatever you put your mind to. Best wishes on starting a blog.

  17. silvana1989 says:

    You´re very kind Lynn I don´t find my artistic side yet but thanks to think it. I´m enjoying to write in this blog

  18. Tony Di Bona says:

    The tuna fishing industry in its modern form,( seiners and large bait (pole fishing) boats) originated here in San Diego, Ca.. They were designed and built in San Diego and In Tacoma, Wash. (Martinac shipyards) Many of our boats were sold off to Ecuador. In fact, my cousin ran one of the first modern tuna boats out of Manta back in the early 90’s when the S,D fleet was taken down due to environmental issues. It’s an interesting history that can be researched on the internet.

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