Angelika Berndt | Lagoa's secret | Photo 1

Little known and hardly noticed, there is a satellite group of the Colônia Z-13, the traditional fishing association of Rio de Janeiro, based at Lagoa. Lagoa is Rio's big inner-city lagoon.
The fishermen at the lagoon traditionally use canoes and fish using nets, a practice which resembles the traditional fishing style of the indigenous peoples of Brazil.

The fishing community at Lagoa has a long-standing tradition. Many of today's fishermen were still born in the small wooden houses of the communities of Praia do Pinto and Piraqué which used to be the settlements along the margins of Lagoa, and they claim that the fishing practice on Lagoa was started by their forefathers, that it was passed from father to son, and that they have learned the skill from their fathers.
Traditionally the practice was to fish during the night, because "the fish do not see the net in the dark". The fishermen would go out at 5pm and fish into the early morning hours.
Beginning of the 1960s, the lagoon was closed in. As part of the remake of the Lagoa, a road was built around the lagoon and buildings rose high around its new margins. The settlers from the local communities were dispersed to the different favelas west of Rio de Janeiro.
After they were dispersed though, the fishermen kept coming back to the Lagoa to fish. They built floating huts in the water where they could stay and tie up their canoes.
Eventually the prefeitura, the city council, gave in and granted them a small space where they could leave their gear and anchor their canoes. Now the four little huts are tucked away between two heliports and several restaurants. The canoes are barely visible for the passer-by.
Since their homes are far away, the fishermen have no other choice but to stay the week in the small huts at Lagoa. The last of their kind, they continue fishing, going out whenever they can to look for a good catch.