A bright idea on the Thai coast: Lamps from pufferfish



Pufferfish are caught from the seas of Thailand every day. Most fishermen find the poisonous vertebrates worthless and usually throw them back into the sea.


However, that is not the case in the fishing town of Bang Saphan in Prachuap Khiri Khan province, southwest of Bangkok.

Fishermen in Bang Saphan cash in on the unwanted pufferfish by transforming them into decorative lamps. It turns out their self-styled pufferfish lamps have been in great demand among customers and tourists.

The success story started with one of the fishermen in Bang Saphan deciding to do something with the pufferfish instead of simply throwing them away due to their poisonous nature. The spiky fish were always mixed with other fish in a net and fishermen had to carefully sort them out.

Seeing that it could be turned into a lamp, the fisherman cut its back in order to take out the internal organs before thoroughly cleaning it. The cut was sewn up and a balloon was inserted into the empty stomach. After 3-5 days in the sun, the pufferfish was completely dry and ready to be a lamp.

Pufferfish lamps have surprisingly become one of the best-selling items among tourists. Some people like the strange idea of a lamp from a fish while some superstitiously believe that the spikes could expel evil spirits or bad omen.

Fishermen in Bang Saphan have been delivering pufferfish lamps to retailers for almost 13 years and they sometimes could not meet the great demand.

Despite the brisk business and great demand in the market, they won’t go to sea just to catch the pufferfish for their handiwork, but insist on using those hauled with other fish in the daily catch.