A Portrait of the Port of Mar del Plata

The wharf is the place to witness the hard work of seamen who catch the coveted fish and seafood.
A fisherman rises before dawn and returns to port when his work is done. Part of the catch is sold wholesale and the rest, from make-shift stalls, to tourists in search of fresh calamari, hake and anchovy.

One of the popular destinations of visitors to Mar del Plata is the dock with its small, bright yellow boats usually named after their owners or saints they worship.

When we arrived, the colours and afternoon bustle caught our eye. We were immediately aware of the characteristic pungent smell of the fishing industry and sea lions.

Tough men shouldered boxes or guided winches to unload the heavier cargo. Their weather-beaten skin and muscular arms were clear evidence of years of strenuous work.
  • Multicolored set

    Multicolored set

  • Sea lions

    Sea lions

  • Seafood

    Seafood

  • Pending the next day

    Pending the next day

  • Fishermen

    Fishermen

  • One of the popular destinations

    One of the popular destinations

"Our method is known as varied coastal fishing; we trawl along the coast at different depths according to our target and the season. We use nets, wicker baskets and jigs. The nets are hand-made and often in need of mending, even our wives help out," said a rugged seaman of Italian descent. He has been working on the family boat for years alongside fathers, sons and grandchildren, no outsiders.

Our children were delighted to watch the sea lions looking for food on the decks. It is unbelievable how they can hoist themselves up despite their massive bodies and then dive off, almost elegantly.

Farther ahead were larger vessels, which stay out at sea for longer periods and have more modern gear. Jiggers specialize in harvesting squid by using strong lamps which make the shoals seek shelter under the boats where they are caught.

We noticed that crew members have lots of lucky charms. As many of them are Catholics, saint cards are very popular, especially of the Virgin or St. Saviour, their patron saint. They also have green and yellow pennants to show they support Aldovisi, the biggest local football club.

When the sea becomes too rough, the smaller boats have to return to port. Despite the hardships, these men prefer to follow their family traditions, cope with the difficulties and not set foot on dry land for at least a few hours a day.

They have their own Fishermen Festival, a close knit of the traditions of Italian immigrants, brotherhood, religion and wishes for a successful season.

When we had taken several photos to record the experience, we bought a cod which we later baked in our apartment.
Read complete Outing... Mónica Pons / Pablo Etchevers

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