One of the divers featured in Discovery Channel’s new show, Abalone Wars, describes the task of hunting for the deep-sea shellfish called abalone as if it’s a walk in the park: “It’s like you’re a kid running around looking for treasures.”
The treasure part is true given that this delicacy costs $20 to $30 per piece (about P800 to P1,200). What he didn't mention though was that every time they dived into the waters south of Australia—where the highly sought-after and incredibly expensive delicacy can be found—there's always a very real chance that a playful Great White Shark will casually bite them. Hunting abalone is a job for the brave, and for those who would literally risk an arm and a leg to harvest what the world calls the “Emperor of Shellfish.”
Now, you might be asking, “Eh ano ba kasi yang aba-lo-neh na yan?” Don’t worry, you are not alone. We too didn’t have a Spongebob’s clue as to what the hell it was. But after a bit of research, we found out that it’s essentially an oversized tahong that’s supposedly so good that after you've tasted its succulent flesh normal tahong just wouldn’t cut it anymore.
Abalone and the treacherous job of hunting for it is the subject of Abalone Wars
In the three-episode Abalone Wars narrated by Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame, we join a cast of veteran divers as they plunge into the Southern Ocean off the tip of Port Lincoln to scour for the prized catch and the bigger chunk of money available in this $35-million-a-year industry. We’ll see just how far each of them will be willing to go in spite of the real dangers of crashing into jagged rocks, having the oxygen line cut off by the boat’s propellers, coming across poachers, temperamental weather, and, yes, sharks. So if you’re up for a thrilling sea adventure that ranks up there with Discovery’s very own The Deadliest Catch, Abalone Wars may be right up your alley.
To give us a better idea of just how “fun” this occupation is, we chat with one of the divers featured in the show, Dominic Henderson. Here he shares his own adventures, explains the risks of his job, and outlines the skills necessary for abalone hunting—just in case you suddenly decide to quit your boring old day job and start hunting for really expensive tahong in Australia.
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