Espada fish … everything you wanted to know ; No food at home for school kids ; Grapes at 50c

TODAY’S PHOTO : Thanks to Elaine … garlic and chillies hanging up in Funchal Farmers Market

madeira news blog 0909 elaine sol garlic chillies Funchal Market

This is a bit of a ‘nothing special’ article about cruise ships coming to Madeira MADEIRA WALKING

Jon came up with this article on the Espada Preta, or Black Scabbard Fish, Madeira’s favourite local catch. Thanks a lot Jon!

The unusual habitat of the "Espada Preta"

The Black Scabbard is calculated to reside between 600 and 1,600 metres below sea level. Considered a veritable achievement due to the incredible range of depths that the fish swims. The theory is that the fish rise to the level of 600 metres below sea level when it is dark and then descend a couple of a hundreds metres further below when it is light. Some connection to solar rays has been surmised. But the mystery of why it is easier to catch the Black Scabbard at night remains unresolved. Especially since common reason has it that sunlight does not penetrate the depths of the ocean beyond 400 metres below sea level.
For most of the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries the Black Scabbard was considered unique to Madeira. Recent discoveries of the same fish in places as far afield as Southern Ireland, and even Japan, have dispelled that special qualification for Madeira. The fish has been caught successfully for some years off the shores of North Africa, Portugal, and even the Canary Islands. However, it seems that the only locale where the fish is caught at sustainable economic or industrial levels is the village of Câmara de Lobos itself.

That unique status of the village has lent to the creation of some equally unique and unusual crafts for the catching of the Espada fish. The colourful fishing boats used to catch the fish are all made of wood with four or several oars, which one or two persons can use to row the boat out to sea or on to shore. It also enjoys one single sail and is left to the whims of the ocean currents to change its position once the general target area for the fishing grounds are reached.

I tried to find a picture of an actual live espada swimming in it’s natural habitat Jon, but at that depth in the ocean, I wonder if one actually exists. Looking at those teeth, if I was a deep sea diver, I think I would be making a swim for it rather than taking photos, amongst the relative safety of the sharks if necessary.

Paul in Paul do Mar has suggested that we use this photo from the Diário for a caption competition :

The story yesterday was : ‘Rain affected official inaugurations’. The rain affected Jardim’s inaugurations of new roads in Câmara de Lobos and Ribeira Brava on Monday. In the first one, he had to use the PSD campaign car’s sound system. Usual refreshments were still served. Jardim looked favourably upon the rain, saying: "It is said that when there is rain there is happiness." "Thanks to God we always need plenty of water for our land, especially for these agricultural areas that have missed the rain".

With that inspiration or whatever, any ideas anyone? Please send them in.

My contribution : If that cop comes any closer he’s going to swivel on that!

A week has gone by since I became a contributor, rather than the main writer for the blog, and the surprise for me was Elaine from Garajau appearing with all these daily news updates. Some others have chipped in with bits and pieces, and I have had a flood of photographs (so yours might take a month or so to appear). Many thanks to those who have responded. I have no idea whether Elaine will continue, and I am still putting in too many hours, so the appeal for more written contributions (below) is still a necessity.

"I am certain that there are kids that only eat in school". Teachers tell of situations of infant negligence in Câmara de Lobos. Two teachers in a school contacted by the Diário say that several cases of child neglect exist in their schools. One talks of the shock of seeing "children aged six going to school alone on their first day of classes". The other said "I don’t really know well the reality at home, but in school they eat so much that if we didn’t tell them to stop they would continue always eating". She went on to say that this type of situation  is true with the majority of kids, and associates the matter with "neglect of the parents". "The parents take the kids to school at 8.30 am and return to fetch them at 6.30 pm. When they get home they are given a little dish of cereal, put into bed, and the following morning they return to school", she added. Reality, poverty, who knows, but a dreadful situation. Câmara de Lobos is infamous for its poverty levels, but I wonder what great works at great cost are promised in the C de L PSD party manifesto for the new mandate that will be decided on Sunday. For sure poverty will not be a decisive factor in the election outcome.

Manuel António reiterates support to the grape growers. The regional secretary responsible has guaranteed help to the value of 50 cêntimos per kilo of grapes. The help  promised is to clear grapes from this years production that do not pass the quality grade required by the wine producers.

Aigle Azur Makes Maiden Flight To Madeira. The French airline initiated the Paris  – Funchal route on Monday. The company that has 11 planes already has around 30 routes, mostly between French cities and the countries in North Africa, and in Portugal already has routes that fly to Lisbon, Porto and Faro.

‘Violence Returns To Blight Inauguration’. The main photo on the Diário today shows a cop restraining a member of the PND, as he tries to remove a metal barrier blocking his way. I saw it on the TV news, where the New Democratic Party leadership (all 3 of them) turned up at a president Jardim inauguration to make a protest. Who knows what had been pre-arranged, but the police suddenly had access to metal barriers when the PND arrived, and blocked the street, probably illegally. A large scuffle broke out with police, PND, and PSD supporters involved, and Rabbit was there clearly seen steaming in. Jardim seems to have mysteriously patched up his relationship with local police, having pretty much said that they are only good for issuing parking tickets, and allegedly making an official complaint on Tuesday, because they certainly acted in his interests yesterday, even though I believe he had already left when the trouble happened. It also seems that a group of PSD militants had been organised to get involved if the PND turned up, but that’s just speculation on my part, and of course Uncle Bertie would not dirty his hands with organised violence, or anything illegal for that matter. That’s what cronies are for.

If you can, please contribute something Madeira related. A funny story or experience, a news item, or a story from a Madeira newspaper, a photo or video, a teaser, news of a bargain flight or item in a supermarket. Please help keep this blog going … without user contributions it won’t survive. 

You can email with any large contributions or comments and photos / videos, or if you can contribute regularly, I can give you a special account that allows you to create your own blog postings.

Please use the comments here for general chit-chat, or feel free to ask any questions … someone usually has an answer.

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The headline news & other snippets reviewed here on the blog are mainly from the Diário de Notícias of Madeira, although news from any source is used and welcome.

The blogs in the ‘uncategorised’ category come from the old madeira4u blog.


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13 thoughts on “Espada fish … everything you wanted to know ; No food at home for school kids ; Grapes at 50c”

  1. ‘It’s that God again. He’s stealing my limelight & he’s not even got a vote!’

    Re the espadas, I have heard it said that nobody has ever seen one alive as they live so deep down & always die as they’re brought up due to the difference in water pressure.

  2. “Following heavy rain, Funchal Council to demolish partly-collapsed President as he poses a threat to passers-by and adjacent buildings”

    Anyway, re espada, a trip to Madeira would not be complete without a few helpings of this delicious fish dish. Roll on next February.

  3. I’m just a fella, fella with an umbrella. Looking for…….add your own choice here. (Someone to watch over me! Sex and drugs and rock and roll. The Hoochie Coochie man…..etc etc)

  4. We went to Madeira in 2005 we thoroughly enjoyed it , just before our return home, we thought we’d buy some pot the local delicacy, eg Madeira cake, we thought it was like the Madeira cake in Britain , nice soft spongy cake , but it was unchewable , we did laugh though! We also had some espada which is supposed to be the ugliest fish on the planet, but indeed it probably is but the taste is absolutely gorgeous, loved Madeira


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