The largest of tropical rivers, the Amazon is also home to more species of fish - among them the pirarucu (Arapaima gigas), tambaqui (Colossoma macropomum), and piranhas (Serrasalmus spp.) - than any other river in the world. An immensely important renewable resource, the fish of the Amazon and its tributaries provide a large segment of the regional population with both a livelihood and a crucial source of dietary protein.
"Man, Fishes, and the Amazon" is an intriguing and original history of the fishermen and fish of the Amazon basin. Setting up a field bas in Itacoatiara, a Brazilian town of approximately 30,000 on the north bank of the Amazon, Nigel Smith spent 500 hours listening to and observing the river's fishermen: their lives, their society, their folklore, their fishing methods, their fishing grounds, and their catch. Analyzing this mass of data, Smith's study shows how local practices based on folklore and myth have helped to preserve the balance between fish and fisherman, and explores how the balance is being disrupted by cultural and ecological changes in the region.
Exploring in depth such specific areas as local food taboos, methods of preparation of food dishes, statistics of protein intake, and the productivity of fisheries, "Man, Fishes, and the Amazon" will provide to be an important source of research, as well as an invaluable case study, for anthropologists, ichthyologists, and geographers.