The subject of open water fears has come up here and elsewhere occasionally, and I often get asked about dealing with it, whether it’s fear of deep water, jellyfish, cold or sharks. Particularly sharks. And anytime I ever mention sharks, you all go for it like people for whom the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week just isn’t enough.
But that’s not what this post is about.
I don’t have really suffer many of these fears myself (except when I do stupid things, like parts of Project Copper) so there’s rarely much constructive advice I can offer. Because I know we have no bitey fish here in Ireland, I don’t worry about them. I’ve been stung too often to worry about jellies, and I’ve spent too long in cold or deep water to fear it.
A lot people mention one thing specifically: the movie Jaws. One guy told me it almost ruined all open water swimming for him and it took him years to return to the water after seeing it.
Recently, on a break from writing here, I was watching the BBC’s Monty Hall’s Great Irish Escape, with the eponymous biologist/broadcaster. Great program, by the way, the BBC brings its fantastic camera work to Connemara and the West Coast, something our State Broadcaster seems incapable of, and as such has always annoyed me. We live in a spectacular country, if RTE had any intelligence they’d keep showing it to us, and to others, instead of throwing money at tosspots like Ryan boring-and-ignorant-old-man-in-a-young’s-body Tubridy. Am I right Lisa? Lisa? Back to the subject, okay, okay. Monty Halls was out on what he’d heard was the best dive location in Europe, around Roundstone. Why was it so good? Because of the Conger Eels.
Oh, Dagon. Just writing eels. Ugh. Watching the program a very old fear came back. So old I’d forgotten it. After Jaws, Peter Benchley’s next book was called The Deep, about giant Moray eels, which book I’d read when I was quite young, and still remember the fear of the notion of giant eels latching on to me with their ugly faces full of sharp teeth, and not letting go. Actual shivers up my spine right now.
Anyway, until the BBC hunts me down and makes me remove it, here’s the clip.
What can you say about a creature that is ugly as sin, bites and is one-third gonad? Did you get that? One third gonad. Lovely. I have no idea why that in itself is so disturbing.
Maybe it’s because I’ve known some men who act like that.
Sure Monty, you can put a nice tourism spin on it but I know, I KNOW, that that eel is the spawn of a Great White Shark and the last fictional snake kicked out of Ireland (apart from the remaining two-legged political kind that is).