Re: NANFA-- Knights of Noturus

Christopher Scharpf (
Sat, 11 Dec 1999 11:13:57 -0400

> No form-- just need a little more info about the unfortunate encounter.

Okay, Jay. I believe I've told this story on this list before, but because I'm
getting old and have no more stories to tell, and because you ASKED ...

I was dipnetting with an aluminum dipnet in Tunche Quebradrada, just behind the
Madra Selva biological field station on the Rio Orosa, a right bank tributary of
the Amazon about 100 km downriver from Iquitos, Peru. I was standing in
belly-button deep water. Mind you, there's absolutely no visisbility in any
Amazonian streams; they're as black as old coffee. Poking the dipnet in the leaf
litter under the roots of tree groping through the clay of an eroding
streambank, looking for knifefish and banjo cats, I felt a huge surge of
electricity in my hands, traveling up my right arm, across the shoulder and into
the neck. The oscillations felt very large and wide, much different than being
shocked while doing minor electrical work around the house. I dropped the net
and screamed.

"What is it?" asked my friend Ron Belliveau, who was a few yards downstream.

"Electric f*****g eel!" I screamed.

Ron: "Did you catch it?"

Me: (emphatically) "NO!!"

Since we weren't catching much anyway, we packed it in and went to another
location. Later, at the Iquitos aquarium wholesaler, we saw people handling
electric eels with bare hands with no apparent discomfort. We subsequently
learned that the fish need to "recharge" after shocking and become easy to

For more Amazon adventures, see my 1990 Peruvian diary at

For photos, visit

Chris Scharpf

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