FUN FACT FRIDAY: Belgium’s Horseback Shrimpers

September 20, 2019

For nearly 700 years, the shrimpers of Oostduinkerke, Belgium, have been using draft horses to help them pursue the local catch.

Typically weighing more than 2,000 pounds, these horses are well suited to the task of carrying shrimp fishermen through the cold waters of the North Sea, but only after at least a year of specialized training (although they say, “You can bring a horse to water,” it’s a lot harder to get one into the water!).

Once a horse is ready, it’s the job of the fisherman to guide the horse, dragging their large, specialized nets behind them to “comb” the ocean floors for shrimp, similar to how a traditional shrimping boat does in deeper waters.

Yet despite its historical importance, operating since at least the 13th or 14th century, Oostduinkerke is the last place on Earth to use this traditional form of fishing. Currently, just 19 or so fishermen continue the practice, with a few of these being children of already established shrimp fishermen passing on the tradition to the next generation so that it may continue to thrive.

Watch the full video below: