updated 4/7/2010 1:45:12 PM ET 2010-04-07T17:45:12

Weeks after a tsunami destroyed their livelihoods, some of Chile's struggling independent fishermen are offering boat tours of the devastation.

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Sergio Rodriguez, a boat captain in the port city of Talcahuano, 300 miles (500 kilometers) south of the capital, Santiago, found tourists were eager to pay $3 for half-hour boat trips around the battered bay.

The idea began as "a semi-sarcastic way of inviting people for a cruise and showing them what has happened," Rodriguez told the local news program 24 Horas on Wednesday. In the past two weeks, he has sold more than 600 tickets for his half-dozen daily tours.

Some neighbors expressed dismay at how he turned tragedy into opportunity.

"I don't like to see people taking photos or anything, because it hurts me to see Talcahuano this way," said one woman not identified by 24 Horas.

For thousands of out-of-work fishermen, though, there are few other opportunities to earn a living.

Port authorities have only just begun to lift dozens of stranded fishing boats out of the streets and return the 50-ton vessels to the sea.

An estimated 1,000 small-scale fishing boats were destroyed when the tsunami slammed them against the coastline after the Feb. 27 earthquake.

Those that remained intact have struggled to unload their catch given the devastation of the area's piers and processing facilities.

Rodriguez says boat tours are his best chance to "keep some cash in Talcahuano."

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