Tue | May 28, 2024

‘Me love the sea more than anything’

Portland’s ‘Chineyman’ driven by his passion for marine life

Published:Friday | April 12, 2024 | 12:08 AMAsha Wilks/Gleaner Writer
Mortluck showing off this large crab.
Mortluck showing off this large crab.
It was a good catch.
It was a good catch.
Miguel Mortluck, maritime enthusiast.
Miguel Mortluck, maritime enthusiast.
Miguel Mortluck, maritime enthusiast
Miguel Mortluck, maritime enthusiast
Miguel Mortluck, maritime enthusiast
Miguel Mortluck, maritime enthusiast
Miguel ‘Chineyman’ Mortluck, spearfisher from Portland.
Miguel ‘Chineyman’ Mortluck, spearfisher from Portland.
Mortluck shows a scar from the bite of a barracuda while spearfishing.
Mortluck shows a scar from the bite of a barracuda while spearfishing.
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EVERY DAY is an adventure for Portland native Miguel Mortluck, who is so passionate about marine life that if he could, he says, he would marry the sea. That’s simply the kind of thrill this resident of Zion Hill gets each morning when he begins...

EVERY DAY is an adventure for Portland native Miguel Mortluck, who is so passionate about marine life that if he could, he says, he would marry the sea.

That’s simply the kind of thrill this resident of Zion Hill gets each morning when he begins his day spearfishing.

You may know Mortluck by the moniker ‘Chineyman’ or ‘Chiney K’ as, within the span of a year since he created his TikTok account, he has managed to capture the hearts of more than 100,000 followers with his freediving chronicles.

He is frequently spotted embarking on expeditions both on land and sea while sharing his underwater discoveries with his viewers.

But his story really began with his taking up fishing at age nine, due to his underprivileged upbringing and the desire to gain independence.

Mortluck, a former Happy Grove High School student, completed his infant, primary, and high school education, but was unable to take the examinations required to earn his Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) qualifications.

“Me neva have it easy ‘cause me born poor. My family nuh have it so a never every time me get fi go school like how me woulda want,” he said, expressing how grateful he is, nonetheless, for how his life turned out.

Mortluck, in a Gleaner interview on Tuesday, revealed that he initially started with line fishing, but gave up because it was difficult to catch fish, so he chose to dive for his catch instead.

The 23-year-old taught himself how to swim and spearfish, but with no money. He constructed a speargun out of whatever materials he could find.

Even though he did not have the official equipment, it did not make spearfishing any more difficult, he said.

“The fish gun that I made was perfect,” he stated, adding that since then he has been able to upgrade his diving gear.

He told The Gleaner that for the first four years of spearfishing, he did not sell the fish he caught.

“Me used to hungry and dem tings deh, some a di time growing up. A after age 13 me start sell fish and a so me start get independent and buy me own things dem and upgrade,” he explained.

From hunting for fish species, such as snapper, parrot, and grouper, Mortluck has taken on more “deadly” adventures in coming head-to-head with barracuda, a predatory fish, which he has conquered several times with the scars to prove it.

RECENT DISCOVERY

For the past eight years, he has been taking on the barracuda, but he has also encountered a diverse range of sea creatures, including stingrays, manta rays, lion fish, dolphins, jellyfish, and shark species such as hammer head, tiger, bull and bonnethead.

He recently came across a pyrosome – a cylindrical cluster of zooids which are thin and jellylike. It is a creature he was witnessing for the first time.

“Every day is like a different day ‘cause the sea move, it change. Fish migrate so you see different things everyday ... so it’s an exciting day to go out there every day,” he said.

Although the venture was frightening when he first started, by age 13 he had gained a great deal of experience that would have helped him feel more at ease with the deep-sea way of life.

“Me love the sea more than anything, like me woulda marry the sea! ... Nature life, seeing the sea every day and wah live in there, it’s so fun!” he exclaimed.

Mortluck also posts videos on his YouTube channel which has nearly 10,000 subscribers and has recently been able to monetise his page.

He said he was taken aback by the number of followers he received on TikTok, but he was sure that his unique approach and content shared was the reason behind the growing numbers.

AIM TO EDUCATE OTHERS

Although he has not received formal training, Mortluck takes great pride in using his videos as a means of educating others. He states that his passion for research, combined with field experience, is what has allowed him to gain such a broad understanding of the sea and the creatures that inhabit it.

Leveraging this passion, he hopes to teach children how to swim and dive responsibly.

His ultimate goal is to explore the world’s oceans, interacting with marine animals that are not found in Jamaican waters.

He is especially interested in places like Africa, Madagascar, and Indonesia. He has already had the opportunity of travelling to Honduras, Colombia, and Mexico, where he fished for up to three weeks with a group of people on a large boat.

“My dreams are very big, like me wah fi start travel the world. A lot of people think say me a mek money offa TikTok ... but me never mek a cent. A only if me go live, so me a show people say me only a do this for the passion and the love,” he said.

But now Mortluck has set up a GoFundMe page for his supporters to assist him in creating higher-quality content and fulfilling his dreams.

Mortluck’s advice to youngsters who share his interests is to seek out a mentor and to never venture out to sea alone, unless they have been thoroughly trained.

He said while he feels he can dive farther, he does not make it a habit to push himself past his limit of 100 feet which he free dives (diving without the use of breathing equipment).

“If you know you can dive 100 feet, dive 40 feet because you know say you have risks,” he added.

asha.wilks@gleanerjm.com

Those willing to offer assistance to Miguel Mortluck may donate to his GoFundMe page: https://gofund.me/e9b5f754

More of Mortluck’s content can be viewed on TikTok and YouTube at bossspearfishingja.