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How I came to be on a trawler instead of in New Guinea

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Leave the hagfish alone
Redmond O'Hanlon Writer
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[Q] In the case of the shark, who's out of primary school or secondary school, which has this extremely unpleasant, not to say fatal experience, how do other sharks learn not to tangle with these things?

Well, the Greenland shark, they're very, very lazy and slow, and they're scavengers, really, on the bottom. But they keep one eye open and they see what happens, and I don't think there's any way that the mummy shark... well, she doesn't, because actually she leaves the eggs they come across... Other sharks look, I suppose. And they don't do that. Everybody leaves these things alone.

[Q] But that whole system, which you have to believe evolved according to this principle of natural selection over a period of time, it's almost impossible to believe, isn't it?

It is, yes, but it's the only possible explanation. And given that you've got 510 million years, and they're reproducing all the time, yes, it is. That's what I mean. It's so exciting. This... the nets go down for a mile, okay? This was the only fish... it's not really a fish... well, it is, but the only thing that was alive when it came up. It was looking for a new home. There it is, on the gutting table. Damned thing crawling across the stainless steel. Difficult to kill. So I whopped it into formalin.

British author Redmond O’Hanlon writes about his journeys into some of the wildest places in the world. His travels have taken him into the jungles of the Congo and the Amazon, he has faced some of the toughest tribes alive today, and has sailed in the hurricane season on a trawler in the North Atlantic. In all of this, he explores the extremes of human existence with passion, wit and erudition.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: Norlantean

Duration: 1 minute, 30 seconds

Date story recorded: July - September 2008

Date story went live: 01 November 2017