The Cemetery of Anchors in Santa Luzia, Portugal, is surely a different place from the conventional touristic destinations. Here the dead anchors honor the victims of Portugal’s fishing industry.
No one knows who placed the first of the hundreds of anchors along the sand dunes of Praia do Barril Beach.
But one leads another, and locals people continued adding rusted old weights to honor the small tuna fishing community that once were on all this area, a symbolic memorial to the abandonment of this way of life.
Historical reference indicate also that wintering by boats in this zone were dangerous, owing to the fury of storms. Many ships were buffeted and lost their anchors for the violent waves. Approximately 74 shipwrecks or sinkings occurred in this area between 1522 and 1996.
The anchors were used to weigh down the nets for fishing tuna, and despite fishing in the area was a difficult (and dangerous) profession, the agitated waters where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean were teeming of bluefin tunas.
Traditional tuna fishing methods consisted to create a maze of nets, which would catch also the largest and powerful Bluefin Tuna. These complex structures required hundreds of anchors to secure the nets against the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the strength of the tunas. This was an ancient profession, like the technique for catching them, unique to the area, and was probably invented by the ancient Romans who colonized this area. Algarve prospered on tuna fishing for centuries, but local fisherman had to give up their occupation approximately in the 1960s when the numbers of fish declined. Today there are no Bluefin Tuna in the seas of the Algarve. Since these times, their anchors were just left on the beach to rust, lined up in rows, probably dreaming to meet the sea again 🙂 RUST in peace…..