The Snake Divers

Hunting snakes for profit in the Vasayan Sea

Locally known as balingkasaws, the sea snakes off the coast Cebu Island in the Vasayan Sea grow over 4 feet in length and weigh more than 10 pounds.  Its black and bluish-gray striped skin is highly prized by the leather market and its meat is considered a delicacy.  In effort to profit from the abundance of snakes around them, the villagers of Tapilon have developed a unique night time hunting style.

Prior to hunting, the hunters consume great amounts of coconut wine with the belief that it thins the blood, making the snake’s venom less toxic. 

Then, donning goggles fashioned from wood, glass, and old tire inner-tubes and with a Ziploc-encased flashlight in hand, the hunters explore the underwater caves for snakes. 

The snakes are caught and attached to the diver by slipping the head beneath a rubber band around the hunter’s wrist. 

A good diver can collect several snakes per dive.


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