Thursday, April 24, 2014

Marooned – New Survival Series on the Discovery Channel

Last night at 10pm, after the premier of the new season of Dual Survival on the Discovery Channel, a new show aired, called Marooned. It is a series featuring Ed Stafford. You may remember him as the guy who walked the length of the Amazon river, or more likely from his show Naked and Marooned, or Naked Castaway as it was aired in the US. Just like on that show, this new one, Marooned, focuses on Ed Stafford being dropped off in a remote location with absolutely nothing (including no clothing), and leaving him there to survive for 10 days. There is no camera crew. Ed has to film himself in a manner similar to Survivorman.

marooned-discovery-tv-show (1)

Last night’s episode saw Ed stranded on a small island in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. In many respects, the show was very interesting. In the 10 days he was able to make a fire, build a shelter from the rain, make shoes, and even set a few traps. I like watching Ed Stafford, and he reminds me of the early days of Survivorman, when Les was still excited to do the shows.

The downside of the show, at least for me, is that it is filled with comments about how he is setting himself up to “thrive” long term in that environment. Instead of focusing on the very admirable task of successfully making it through the 10 days with no tools, he has to end the show with grandiose statements about how he has made it a long way towards thriving long term in that environment, as he had set out to do from the beginning. I don’t know what it is with the obsession Brits have with “thriving” in the wilderness; perhaps they have all grown up watching too much Ray Mears, who likes to toss around the phrase. The result is unfortunate, naively optimistic, and quite misleading.

Why do I say that? Well…

First, Ed was intentionally dropped off in that area at the back end of the dry season. When he tried and succeeded in making a hand drill fire on the first day there, the materials he was using had not seen any moisture in many months. I would be interested to see the task completed two months into the rainy season, or him repeating the task if he had remained there during the rainy season and his fire had gone out.

Second, his conclusion that he had come a long way to long term “thriving” was largely based on him finding a handful of nuts and stealing a corner of old honeycomb from a bee hive on the last day of the show. Oh, and he spent a day making three traps that didn’t catch anything. Understandably, his clams about thriving are rather perplexing, considering that all of the food that he found probably adds up to about a third of a day’s worth of calories, spread out over a 10 day period. His starvation was evident as he was very lethargic by the last day…and that’s not the result of all of the thriving.

Third, during the entire time he was there, Ed was drinking unpurified water from the marsh surrounding the island, which was densely inhabited by hippopotamus. It is an absolute certainly that there is hippo dung in that water and that it contains a whole range of pathogens, not the lest of which is Giardia. If he had stayed on the island for another week or two, he would have been dropped by one of those pathogens, and would have spend the rest of his time there with severe diarrhea and vomiting, preventing him from doing absolutely anything.

So, the claims about him being able to thrive there long term are quite ridiculous based on what actually happened on the show, and detract from the actual value of the show, which demonstrates quite realistic and good quality survival over a 10 day period.

If you can get past the “thriving” delusions on the show, it is quite good, and worth a look. It looks like it will be airing on the Discovery Channel on Wednesdays at 10pm.

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