Monday, July 31, 2006

Eel Tossing Contest Canceled

Inconceivable! It's the shrieking eels!

No, wait. That was the Princess Bride. This is different.

The AP reported Sunday that a long-held contest was canceled this year.

For more than 30 years, crowds have flocked to the small English fishing village of Lyme Regis to watch an annual tradition — two teams of fishermen standing on wooden platforms as human bowling pins, hurling a dead giant eel at each other. But the ritual was abruptly abandoned after an animal rights activist threatened to draw negative publicity to the latest tournament, organizers said Saturday.

The practice, known as conger cuddling, is the annual highlight in the small coastal town about 155 miles southwest of London. The object of the game is to knock the opposing team off the platform by swinging a 25-pound eel at them.

This has been held since 1974 without incident. But notice the number of animal rights activists who complained this time. One. Anonymously.

Andrew Kaye, a resident and spokesman for the Lyme Regis lifeboat crews who raise money through the tournament, said an anonymous e-mailer had called the practice disrespectful to the dead eel.

The lone activist threatened to film the contest to attract adverse media attention, Kaye said.

It's a shame when people cave in to pressure from fringe groups. I would think that if this activist had filmed the conger cuddle, the video would have made it to the internet, where it might have built up a cult following. I know I would have loved to watch something this strange. But alas, no such luck.

"We decided that it really wasn't worth upsetting anybody by going ahead with using a dead conger," Kaye said. "But it's a dead conger, for Pete's sake. I shouldn't think the conger could care one way or another."


FKAB said...

How very strange. In my home state (South Australia) the fishing town of Port Lincoln hold an annual "tunarama." Basically, they hurl dead tuna across the beach. I don't consider this to be inhumane or disrespectful at all, and nobody - as far as I am aware - has complained.

SkyePuppy said...


Have you ever attended the Tunarama? Is it a distance contest, or do they try to hit people with the tuna as they do in the conger cuddle?

I don't have a lot of respect for live fish, and I have even less for eels, so flinging them down the beach or at teams of fishermen doesn't bother me at all.

Too bad some humorless spoilsport had to bust up the party. We can only hope this person never learns of the Tunarama.

FKAB said...

I haven't been to see one myself, but I have family over there who go every year, plus the local news channels do a story on it. Unfortunately (and this is an area for improvement, I think) it's just a distance contest.

Why no respect for fish? Sure they're slimy and gross, but they're.... umm... tasty. Eels, I'll concede, are pretty disgusting.

Malott said...

I've heard the Aussies are a pretty independent lot. They might deal with a pesky animal rights person by putting an eel somewhere he wouldn't like.

FKAB said...

Oh, we are and we aren't. There are lots of Aussies upset about the cruel livestock trade, the koala culls on Kangaroo Island, various rodeos, pig farms, etcetera. Dead eels, unsurprisingly, don't garner a great deal of sympathy though!