The Reality of River Monsters
When it comes to freshwater fishing, Jeremy Wade, an expert fisherman and biologist, has turned nearly every stone. Wade has traversed the world’s rivers for almost 35 years in search of fearsome aquatic predators. He is best known for his legendary catches on the Animal Planet show River Monsters which concluded its ninth and final season last year.
But as his travels progressed, he noticed a troubling trend: the big fish were becoming increasingly difficult to catch. Wade told the Emerald that a trip to the Amazon River to capture the illustrious arapaima was terrifying.
I was expecting [arapaimas] to be difficult to find and catch.Wade explained. But what I didn’t expect was to discover that they had been wiped out from vast swaths of the Amazon.
Wade investigates the disappearances of various apex river predators in his new show, Mighty Rivers, which premieres in the United States on Sunday, April 8 at 6 p.m. PST on Animal Planet. Throughout this investigation, he looks at the ecological health of the Ganges, Amazon, Yangtze, Mississippi, Danube, and Zambezi rivers.
Rivers are forgiving
Wade is performing a ritual in the Ganges River with a local holy man. Varanasi is a city in India. We take water and rivers for granted, Wade explained. Rivers are very forgiving; they will put up with a lot.
But, according to Wade, the abuse has reached a tipping point. Toxic chemical runoff from factories and other industrial areas has pushed many river ecosystems to their limits. He hopes that Mighty Rivers will raise awareness about the plight of the world’s rivers.
The plight doesn’t just affect fish; it affects people who enjoy catching fish, Wade explained. Water mediates all of the important, delicate reactions that occur in our bodies. Each of us is a part of the water cycle. Therefore, it is in our best interests for the water to be in good condition.
Wade faced a challenge in making the investigation into compelling television. He stated that because TV is so visual, it was difficult to translate an abstract subject like river health into something people could see and hear. As a result, the plot of River Monsters revolves around Wade’s dramatic journey through each river. As a result, Wade and his team had to deal with several tense situations.
It was quite ironic, Wade remarked. We were going to show a couple of good news stories about the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe. But, unfortunately, we couldn’t show them because we had been ejected.Wade and his crew had another close call while flying over the Brazilian jungle in a small, prop-engine plane. Wade stated that as the flight progressed, an intense storm began to form.
The storm had engulfed the aircraft by the time they arrived at their landing spot, a muddy airstrip in a remote town run by a local mining gang. According to Wade, the pilot made a miraculous dive through a break in the clouds to safely land.When we got down on the ground, there was this collective sigh of relief, he said.
Wade stated that the success of “River Monsters” aided him greatly during his research for Mighty Rivers because he was instantly recognised in many of the communities he visited worldwide.
As a result, he didn’t have to spend time explaining who he was or why he was there. Instead, the concept for “River Monsters” was simpler: Wade caught the biggest fish he could find.
The entire success of River Monsters was that we showed people animals they had no idea existed, Wade explained.
I believe that if you just show some fish that are a few inches long, just a generic fish, people will shrug their shoulders and say, ‘so what? While he values the reputation River Monsters has given him, Wade admits he had no idea the show would last as long as it has.People say it’s just a fishing show, which it is, but I believe it’s more. It’s a kind of natural history show.
Wade, a former secondary school teacher in his home country of the United Kingdom, has always had a passion for exposing people to lesser-known aspects of life. According to Wade, Freshwater fish are understudied by the scientific community because they are difficult to observe. Visibility is reduced in comparison to many ocean environments due to silt and sediment transported by rivers.