River Monsters

Jeremy Wade and a monster.


I stumbled upon the Animal Planet TV show River Monsters while channel-surfing. I jumped right into a scene with a white-haired, British guy wrestling some huge, slimy thing into a tiny boat, and I thought, “Huh, what the hell is this about?” Since that fateful day, if River Monsters is on TV while I’m channel-surfing I will stop and watch. I will go so far as to yell at Jake (who is probably busy doing something important in the other room) and make him watch the show with me.

Blech. Bleccchhhhh. What the hell IS THAT?

The white-haired British guy is Jeremy Wade. Wade is a biologist, extreme angler, and writer specializing in travel and natural history. He’s best known for using fishing as a means to look beneath the surface of human life in remote places, notably the Congo and the Amazon. For me, he’s best known as being a total bad ass. Think Quint in Jaws, only hotter and with a better accent.

River Monsters itself is an Animal Planet TV show that is downright creepy if you’ve ever been swimming in a river and thought, “I wonder if there’s anything hungry in here.” Then, your practical side says, “No, Sara, there aren’t monsters in rivers. There are only monsters in oceans.” That’s when a seven-foot alligator gar crushes your knee and drags you under screaming, “Screw you, practical siiiiiiiiiiide ….” That’s what happens to the nameless victims on the show, at least.

Wade usually gets the call when someone is attacked while swimming in our standing near a river, and it’s always in places you’ve never been to, and no one you know has ever been to, either, like Papua New Guinea, Brazil, and India. He goes fishing for fish you’ve never heard of … and hope never to meet. These fish have nicknames like “The Mutilator,” “Flesh Ripper,” and “Silent Assassin.” And Wade is SEEKING THEM OUT in boats that are usually too small for the things he catches. And we thought only Australians were completely nuts!

That thing totally resembles Ripley.

This blog entry exists because last night, Ripley was playing rough, with her big jaws wide open and snap-snap-snapping (as she is known to do), and Jake called her “our little alligator gar.” I flashed back to that episode of River Monsters, and let me tell you, the image of a ten-foot alligator gar will stay with me forever. I saw a baby shark in Charleston two years ago in water I was swimming in, and that is NOTHING compared to an alligator gar. They’re gross, oily critters that weigh from 350 to 400 pounds at full size. And of course, Wade caught one.

I would suggest watching the show. For one thing, it’s entertaining. For another, it feels like a horror movie—the way Wade says things like, “I think it’s gone under the boat!” Also, it’ll teach you that it’s never safe to swim in dark water. NEVER. When I was seventeen years old and I illegally swam into the Maumee River to paint the pillars (it’s a Perrysburg High School seniors thing), my buddy jokingly said, “Watch out for the gators.” Huh. After watching River Monsters, maybe Ted Bennion wasn’t joking after all … “Fish on!”

11 thoughts on “River Monsters

    • You’re probably right. Whenever I watch Law & Order, I check the locks on our doors, like, a MILLION times. That said, watching so many shark shows sorta desensitized me to them. Sort of. In that respect, “Knowledge is power.”

  1. I have been impressed by Jeremy Wade’s angling aspirations as well. As a chef I find myself wondering what all of the strange fish would taste like- but that is another issue! I am an American who has lived in Australia for most of my life and I would like to defend Aussies. They are not crazy, they just deal with the critters that nature has dealt up here in this unique corner of the world. Everything here bites, is venomous or wants to eat you (except Koalas) and the sharks here are enormous. Faced with this Aussies have had to become a resilient bunch.

    • Blech. I just threw up in my mouth a little, thinking about what some of those fish might taste like …

      I mean no disrespect to the Aussies. You’re right–seems like EVERYTHING can kill you down there. Maybe I’m just jealous. I grew up in Ohio. The most dangerous thing there was the country folk.

      Although standing up to a guy with a rifle and only one tooth in his mouth does take a certain type of bravery, too.

  2. This show cracks me up….and that Jeremy dude really is certifiable. That fish he pulled out of the Congo River last year (the “what the hell is that” fish from above) was the most God-awful beast I’d ever seen. Just a huge ball of carnivorous muscle with razor sharp teeth several inches long. That thing could’ve devoured a cow, IMO.
    Not as big a fan of the new season; seems like too many irrelevant theatrics this time around.

    • I think anyone who hosts a nature show is certifiable. They gotta be to get hired. But they make for entertaining programming yes? 🙂

  3. I’m reading Jeremy Wade’s Book right now, the second one: River Monsters (of course) is the title of the book. He is a really good writer and the book is riveting! I am trying to find a copy of the first book he co-wrote with Paul Boote, “Somewhere Down the Crazy River” published in 1992, but it is out of print. The newer book just came out in April though, and it is available on Amazon in case you are interested in buying it.

    Oh and I agree he is also HOT! I think half the people who are watching that show are in love with him (go on the River Monsters Facebook site if you want proof of that!)…anyway, my husband noticed that all of a sudden I was watching quite a bit of TV, hoping to catch an episode of River Monsters and he blurted out, I know why you like him! He looks like George Clooney (he’s right, I think).

    Anyway, I think it’s cool that you posted about the show…I like your blog!

    • A good writer, huh? I’ll have to check it out. The George Clooney comparison is appreciated, but I think he’s HOT all on his own haha 🙂 Thanks for writing, and I’m glad you enjoy my blog!

  4. jeremy u totally rock… i wish i could assist you some day bein in the same profession thats my aim to learn new things

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