Jeremy Wade on thrills of underwater exploration

Underwater explorer Jeremy Wade speaks of the thrills on the job in an interview with Ashmak Maity

Q. How did dangerous waters enthrall you?
A. I started fishing when I was young; most who start fishing want to catch bigger fish after they catch the small fish. Bigger fishes are predatory fishes. They eat other fish, so they are the ones with teeth. Also, often, bigger fishes stay in more dangerous waters. A big fish can survive in a strong current whereas the smaller ones can't. Incidentally, the first time I fished outside Europe was in India, after we decided to make River Monsters in 1982. I fished for Mahseer in North India. India is special as it's where I got my taste for travel to dramatic places.

Jeremy Wade with a Goliath Tigerfish
Jeremy Wade with a Goliath Tigerfish

Q. Are you afraid of any particular fish?
A. I am afraid of most of them. This might sound like a strange answer, because most people think I am fearless. But it is important to have fear. Fear makes you pay attention to what you're dealing with. Several fish that I deal with have very sharp teeth, like the Goliath Tigerfish in the Congo or Bull Sharks. If you don't pay attention for a second, you can get badly injured. So I do my research beforehand. But there is one fish that is particularly dangerous — the Electric Eel in the Amazon. It doesn't look very dangerous, with no big teeth, no spikes on its body; it's not muscular too but a big one can deliver over 500 volts of electric shock. If you touch it in murky waters, it can paralyze you, leading to drowning.

Q. Tell us about the time when you were detained as a spy.
A. I was in northeast Thailand in 1984, on the border with Laos. Being aware that it might be sensitive area, I was careful with permissions. Since I don't eat the fish, I look at them and put them back in the water, which makes people suspicious. They don't believe that this is my real reason to visit. Amazon people think I am looking for gold, but in Thailand I was in a border area with a camera and a notebook, and the police got suspicious.

River Monsters will air from Monday to Friday, 8 pm to 10 pm, throughout May on Animal Planet.

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