By Mikey Jones
These fisherwomen have been dubbed ‘real life mermaids’ after catching fresh fish and clams on their paradise island.
UK photographer, Aaron ‘Bertie’ Gekoski, 38, captured the ‘mermaids’ diving down into the coral reefs while visiting, Atauro Island, East Timor.
The fisherwomen dubbed ‘The Mermaids of Atauro’ can be seen wearing normal swimming goggles and ‘lipa’, a colourful cloth which is traditional Timorese dress, while using spearguns to catch their prey.
Aaron said: “Atauro is renowned as having some of the best and most bio-diverse reefs on Earth, with 642 species of reef fish counted around the island.
“We had heard all about the ‘Wawata Topu’ [women divers] or ’The Mermaids of Atauro,’ a group of ladies on the island who go spearfishing to help support their families.
“The ladies have been fishing this way since they were children and do so with traditional handmade spearguns and goggles, whilst wearing flip-flops and ‘lipa’ – colourful cloth the Timorese wear around their waists.
“They fish for octopus, reef fish, clams and more.”
Aaron said that photographing the mermaids was one of the highlights of his career.
“I’ve been working as an environmental photojournalist for a decade, first in Africa and now in Asia. I believe the camera is a potent weapon to tell globally significant stories.
“People love the fact that the ladies are challenging stereotypes and also the handmade goggles and colourful clothing – the images are a feast for the eyes.”