Will you be watching Jeremy Wade’s Dark Waters?
- Credit: Animal Planet
Extreme fisherman and star of River Monster, Jeremy Wade, who was born in Ipswich, brings his new series to Discovery’s Animal Planet at the end of this month.
If you get the sense there is something lurking under the surface in the title Dark Waters, you’d not be wrong.
In his new series, beginning on Sunday, April 28, Jeremy Wade investigates folklore, legends and reports of weird and wonderful creatures living in our planet’s waters.
“These are detective stories with a difference – fishy tales from remote waters, and from right under our noses,” he says. “If anybody thought that by now I’d seen it all, you’re in for a surprise – as I was.”
Born in Ipswich, the son of a clergyman, Jeremy’s interest in fishing was sparked when he was a boy, living in a village on the River Stour, in Suffolk. From those early explorations of the wildlife in our local waterways, he has gone on to discover bigger ? very much bigger ? things.
When you consider that 71% of planet Earth is covered in water it is not surprising there is still a lot out there that we have yet to find... there may be hope for a Loch Ness Monster, yet.
His life roaming the globe in search of some of its most elusive water creatures has had its moments. He has caught malaria, been detained as a suspected spy, threatened at gunpoint and survived a plane crash. The remarkable thing is, none of it seems to deter him.
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Having just about located all the River Monsters in his series of that name, Jeremy is now meeting more benign inhabitants of our waters...or are they benign?.
He says: “Dark Waters does not have quite the same sort of bitey fish. We’re widening out the scope of the programme.” But he adds:
“In one episode, I had heard a rumour that in Tasmania there’s a crayfish the size of a dog. And we thought, ‘does that really exist and can we find one?’. This thing will break your fingers - they’ll only do that if you’re stupid enough to put your fingers in the way, of course... but they’re not benign.”
It sounds as if Jeremy is following up on folklore. “Yes, very much,” he agrees. “That is an almost endless source of stories, The problem is, as everyone will tell you, fishermen are very good at exaggerating and embellishing. I collect these stories and then I look at them and think.”
But more often than not it works out well. “I was doing River Monsters for nine years and we had just about a 100% record with either getting what we were after or getting something else that was equally impressive.”
Now living near Bath, has Jeremy ever revisited the town of his birth?
“I did come back to Ipswich a few years ago. I wandered past the football stadium - I used to be an Ipswich supporter, though I’ve fallen by the wayside, recently.
When I started to fish, at Nayland, I was very unsuccessful ? nobody in my family fished and I didn’t really know what I was doing, It was something all the village kids did - they would be given a fishing rod, they would sit there in the rain, they wouldn’t catch anything and then they’d stop fishing and they’d go on to something else - riding their bikes around or whatever.
“I nearly gave up fishing but then, when I finally caught a fish, something changed. I’m not sure what it was exactly - it just awakened that curiosity - it awakened something. You’ve got this two-dimensional surface on the water but there’s something beyond that. It’s very close but very mysterious. I just wanted to see what else was there. In a sense, although what I do now is very different, it’s almost been a continuum - there’s a direct line from then until now.”
In travelling the planet, Jeremy has developed a high awareness of pollution in our waters. “Mostly that’s happening in the oceans but its starting to happen in fresh water as well. The environment is often seen as a thing out there, nothing to do with us.
“I was filming in Australia a couple of years ago and we came across this guy who was stranded on an uninhabited island and if we hadn’t turned up he probably would have died. He had been without water for two days. If we don’t have it we die. Fresh water is a very precious, very limited resource.”
Sometimes things get dangerous - such as the plane crash in the Amazon rainforest. As he told the East Anglian Daily Times’ Steve Russell in 2012: “There almost wasn’t time to be afraid. What was interesting was that a camera kept rolling and we watched the film back, and what we thought was three or four minutes, between the engine failing and the plane hitting the trees, was 14 seconds – an example of how your perception changes in that kind of situation.
“The danger isn’t happening all the time. I try not to be reckless so it’s all about doing my homework.
“I also have a journalistic background so there’s a part of me that thinks (danger) is really interesting. If I get into a situation where its suddenly getting a bit uncomfortable, maybe verging on dangerous, there’s one part of me that wants to get out of there and another part that’s thinking, ‘this is great material, let’s start taking notes. Let’s make the most of it’.” Jeremy quotes Socrates: “‘The unexamined life is not worth living.’ If you study a situation and turn it into material it sort of redeems it.”
I fire off one last question. Did Jeremy find that crayfish purported to be the size of a dog?
He shoots back: “You’ll have to watch the programme.” he says.