The Uniqueness of Fish in Nabire of Papua: Hiding in the Sand and the Myth of Marriage

goodmorningpapua.com – Small islands in the Moora Islands, Cendrawasih Bay area, Nabire, have unique fish. The people of Mambor Island call them sand fish because they like to hide by immersing themselves in the sand when they feel threatened.

A researcher from the Papua Archaeological Center, Hari Suroto, said that in the Mambor language, sand fish are called Tatu fish. “This fish is actually a subtropical fish, in English it is called Pearly Razorfish, its scientific name is Xyrichtys Novacula,” he said when contacted, Sunday, June 27 2021.

Xyrichtys comes from the Greek, xyreo, which means cutting like a knife, while ichthys means fish. While Novacula is a special name that means ‘razor’, referring to the front of the head forming a sharp tip.

This fish lives in the sea where there are sandy corals with a depth of one to 90 meters. This sand fish is also an inhabitant of clear shallow areas with sandy bottoms, usually around seagrass and coral fields.

“They eat mollusks, as well as crabs and shrimp. Their hobbies are building nests with coral rubble, and diving first into the sand when scared,” said Hari.

This fish is 15 to 20 cm in length with the front of the head forming a sharp tip. The snout is very blunt and the mouth is like a parrotfish. Pale green in color, and usually without conspicuous markings on the body. The head also has a stripe that can change color between light blue and orange.

The distribution of this fish is more commonly found in the Atlantic Ocean, including North Carolina, northern Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, Brazil, France, Angola, Mediterranean, Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands, Cape Verde, and Sao Tome Island. “So the fish found in the Moora Islands, Cenderawasih Bay area are very special,” said Hari.

By the people of Mambor, Moora Islands District, Nabire, the sand fish are caught for consumption. Usually fish are caught at low tide. To find this fish requires special knowledge, by looking at the signs on the surface of the sand there are small rocks as a marker of nest of this fish.

By the people of Mambor, this fish is cooked by smoking it on a fireplace, cooked without any spices, with the fish wrapped in young coconut leaves. “It tastes fresh and tasty, because the fish caught are cooked immediately without waiting long.”

There is even a belief that if a woman has not been able to catch this fish, it is considered unfit for marriage. “Because, no one knows the existence of fish in the sand,” added Hari.

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