By Crystal Chung @crystalkchung

WITH its myriad shades of purples and blues, the following series of breathtaking photos provide a touching insight of a dying 1,000-year-old tradition

Scroll down for the full story


These stunning photographs provides a touching snapshot of a dying tradition in China

Sailing peacefully across the River Li in Guilin, the cormorant men fish without the aid of a rod, hook or bait, instead using a method which was first practiced in 960 AD.

Cormorant fishing is a dying art which involves sending trained cormorant birds to catch fish and bring them back alive.

The elderly fishermen spend between two to three hours per day on the lake, despite the low yields from cormorant fishing

The fishermen tie a snare at the base of the birds throat to stop them from swallowing larger fish which they spit out. Once a vibrant and lucrative art, it has been practiced for more than 1,000 years but is now quickly fading.

The following series of beautiful images were shot by 39-year-old photographer, Andy Beales who was born in the South Coast of England but now lives in Guilin, China and owns his own travel company, which focuses of creating unique adventures.

The last and youngest of the fishermen in Xingping is Mr Huang Neng Di; but locals call him Blackbeard

With not only these captivating images being a result of his incredible work, Andy has also gotten to know and befriend many of the cormorant fishermen and their families.

The snapper said: “Today the last traditional fishermen only go out fishing when they know there is a very good chance of a catch; some months maybe three to four times, some none at all. Mainly to feed their birds, but larger fish they’ll sell or eat themselves.”

Over the last 20 years the Li River has seen a huge decline in fish, due to pollution and overfishing

In the collection of touching images we are also introduced to a fisherman known as Blackbeard, the youngest of the last fishermen in XingPing.

Beales said: “The last and youngest of the last fishermen is Mr Huang Neng Di; but friends and locals call him Blackbeard. In the village all the fishermen have the surname Huang, so nicknames became essential.”

Mr Huang makes a new fishing net, the net is weaved by hand from one old white net and some new gold coloured cord

Blackbeard started learning the craft of fishing with his father when he was thirteen, but took it on as a profession after finishing school.

Andy said: “Blackbeard lives in a very simple, single-storey terrace house. His brothers built houses next to his, but they are now living in other towns, and the houses stand empty.

Guided only by the flicker of their lanterns and a little sunlight a fisherman drifts silently across the lake

Only he and his wife remain in their little village, and their two daughters, who now work in factories, visit from Guangzhou twice a year.”

In other images we see the River Li begin to light up as the sunrises in Guilin, these stunning images were taken in the very early hours of the morning as Andy set off at 3.30am.

The elegant silhouette of the lone man and his bids on Li River has been immortalised by the poets and painters of times past

He said: “A local Chinese friend of mine called Mr Huang from the fishermen's village first introduced me.

“The first time I met Mr Huang it was pitch black, he picked me up at 3.30am and we set off by foot to his raft. We motored out onto the Li River in the complete darkness.

In the village of Xingping, a rural area of Guilin, there are just five old fishermen from the Huang family who have fished with the cormorant birds for generations

“Only 50 minutes later there were already signs of light, the blue hour starting. Out in the distance a cormorant fisherman was lighting his kerosine lantern."

Blackbeard started learning the craft of fishing with his dad when he was 13, but took it on as a profession after finishing school
Today the last traditional fishermen only go out fishing when they know there is a very good chance of a catch

“Watching the sun come up that morning, no tourists, no noise, no boats, just me, my friend, and the fisherman on the river, was something I will never forget.”

To see more of Andy Beales’ photography visit his website: