Saturday, September 8, 2018
The old man and the sea
"River Monsters" is a series featuring Jeremy Wade, a biologist and extreme angler, in his search for *really* large fish. If out-sized catfish, groupers, arapaimas or sturgeons is your cup of tea, you will definitely like this one. It seems virtually any fisherman's tale is coming true in this series!
Personally, I waxed slightly philosophical when watching two of the episodes. The misnamed "American Killers" actually feature footage from Australia and India, as well as the United States. In India, Wade managed to hook a gigantic catfish feeding on the badly cremated corpses which pious Hindus throw into the river. In Australia, bull sharks thrive near a sewage plant in fresh water. Wade's first catch, however, isn't a shark but a "regular" fish which turns out to be even larger: the legendary Goliath grouper.
Frankly, the whole thing looks like a horror movie. Who needs "Night of the Living Dead" when you can watch "River Monsters"? Clearly, this planet wasn't made for us! The fish are still the big fish around here, and some of them are hungry...
Unfortunately, humans are pretty hungry too, as can be seen in "Russian Killer", where Wade visits a desolate part of the former Soviet Union, close to the Amur River. Fishermen disappear on a semi-regular basis, and Wade soon realizes that something strange is going on when mysterious people start shadowing him in the streets of a local town. It turns out that the river is home to the massive kaluga, a local species of sturgeon with a lot of caviar inside. On the black market, just one of these super-sized fish can bring in the equivalent of 42 monthly pay-checks for an average Russian worker! Small wonder the kaluga has been hunted almost to extinction, despite being protected by law. The poaching is controlled by organized crime gangs, so local fishermen have both the authorities and the mafia against them if they ever try to catch a sturgeon to complement their meager incomes. A third problem is the kaluga itself, an extremely aggressive fish that can take fishermen with it into a watery grave. Indeed, Wade's investigation starts with the disappearance of three fishermen and their boat!
Of course, humans can extirpate the kaluga. But then what? The planet still isn't ours. With the caviar gone, I suppose we'll be left with the bull sharks...