River Monsters: True Stories of the Ones that Didn't Get Away
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Sea; the body is huge great; the head hath a crest, and is hard and dented like to a Saw. It will swim under ships and cut them, that the Water may come in, and he may feed on the men when the ship is drowned. Olaus Magnus, History of the Northern Peoples, 1555 THIS IS ANOTHER STORY with its origins in the Amazon but its conclusion far from there, on another continent. That day in 1993 when I saw the stuffed seven-foot bull shark hanging in Casa Dragão, the fishing tackle and hardware.
Zealand, the Maori, arrived by sea from Polynesia only seven hundred years ago—a much more recent colonization than that of Australia, which was fifty thousand years ago. One clue to the identity of Cook’s beast comes from Maori folklore, which is full of mythical beings called taniwha (pronounced tun-eefa). These shape-shifting creatures are notoriously hard to pin down. Maori elder Te Pare Joseph told me they are spirits that protect places, and if they are not acknowledged properly, by placing.
More hiding places or fewer predators. New Zealand is home to three species of freshwater eel, the largest of which is the longfin eel (Anguilla dieffenbachii). This is said to be the largest freshwater eel in the world, a sliver of information that has been in the well of my memory for many years. And, on reflection, there’s every reason why this should be true. Adrift on the fringes of the shifting continents, New Zealand is ecologically unique, having been beyond the spread of mammals until.
Spain, where hundred-pounders are commonplace and an increasing number go over two hundred pounds. Wels are not native to the river but were introduced just thirty-five years ago in the mid-1970s. Their phenomenal success here can be attributed to three main factors. First, the water is much warmer than their native rivers, so they feed and grow year-round with no shut-down period in winter. Second, they are aquatic golden geese. The local economy is now based on fishing tourism, so these fish.
Desert floor. I finally got my chance for another crack at this species when we filmed the second series of River Monsters. But in the ten years I’d been away, catches at Lake Nasser had tailed off. Commercial fishing could be part of the reason, and it’s also possible that the water’s productivity has declined after the initial input of nutrients from the flooded land. But a major factor seems to be fish intelligence. Catch and release means that fish learn: a straightforward association.