In one of the most miraculous rescue missions of recent times, a Turkish boat captain has been saved by Balinese fishermen after spending three days adrift in the ocean. Erhan Seckal fell overboard from his ship on Monday off the coast of Bali. The ship was en route to Vietnam from Australia when choppy waters in of Buleleng off the coast of North Bali lead to Seckel falling overboard. Local reporters suggest that Seckal cannot recall how he fell from the boat.
He was rescued by a local fisherman who spotted him waving frantically in the early hours of Thursday 5th May. According to his rescuer Gede Budiasa, he was holding on to the Serampang FAD (fish aggregating device) that belongs to a local fisherman, Pak Kari. Budiasa, who lives in the village of Kubuanyar in Buleleng, had been at sea for 4-hours checking on his own FADs when he spotted Mr. Seckal in the distance. He was hauled aboard as quickly as possible and the boat headed back to lands and the local police station as soon as possible.
Despite spending three days drifting in the ocean, Seckal has not sustained any significant injuries. After being taken to the police station in Kubuaddan he was transferred to the Kubuaddan Health Centre. He was severed dehydrated and extremely weak. He will make a speedy and full recovery from his ordeal.
Very little more is known about Erhan Seckal or the ship he was captaining, other than he was manning a crew of 22 people. His case is now being handled by the immigration team at Buleleng where it is likely the Turkish embassy and the company he was working for will assist in his transfer to his registered home address.
It is extremely fortunate that Mr. Seckal was able to grip onto the fish aggregating device to help stay afloat. These devices are a cause for debate in the fishing industry. Many FADs are abandoned at sea, adding to marine debris and often entangling marine life like sharks and sea turtles. Dolphins are also often caught in these devices, and reports suggest that the by-catch is regularly five times high than through the use of other fishing methods.
Fishing contributes a significant amount to Indonesia’s GDP, it is estimated that in 2020 fishing generated 431.47 trillion IDR, around 29 billion USD. It accounts for a huge number of jobs in Bali. Though in small coastal villages like Kudadaan the majority of fishermen are subsistence fishermen or operate small to medium scale fishing operations.
This news comes in the same week as a 41-year-old Balinese fisherman has gone missing at seeing in Western Bali. Hermanto, from Pengambengan Village, Jembrana is yet to have been found. The Jembrana Search and Rescue teams conducted an operation as soon as they were alerted to the situation. It is believed that the family has tried to search for him on their own and in their desperation called Dewa Putu Hendri Gunawan from SAR Jembrana.
Hermanto was sailing with his family from Bali to Java for the Eid Al-Fitr holiday on Thursday 28th April. The family was only 2-miles into their journey when one of the engines failed. While Hermanto tried to fix the problem he slipped, hitting his head and falling overboard.
Indonesian waters are highly populated by large ships and smaller fishing boats. Jukung is the name of the traditional wooden canoes used by fishermen in Bali and Java, although nowadays the iconic design can be found throughout the 17,000 islands of Indonesia.
The Balinese people have a deep and historical relationship with the ocean. Balinese people believe that water should be used for both cleaning and purification. The annual Melasti ceremony is one of the island’s biggest events and is a purification ritual that is performed ahead of Nyepi Day. The communities walk in precession from their village’s Pura Desa (the village’s central temple) through to the water’s edge, whether that be the ocean or an inland lake.
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