Oostduinkerke, Belgium – The Last Horseback Shrimp Fishermen

An hour after low tide on a beautifully sunny and warm September day I kicked off my sandals and walked quickly through the sand to the shoreline of the North Sea.  Just down the beach, about 20 feet off the shore, I could spot the bright yellow slickers of two fishermen mounted on stocky Brabant draft horses.  Shoulder deep in the cold water, the horses walked with apparent ease as they steadily dragged their nets along behind.  Perched on simple wooden saddles, the fishermen smoked cigarettes and joked with each other, just a classic couple-of-dudes-fishing situation.  Except for that whole part where they are the last of just 15 people who are carrying on a 500 year old tradition.  No biggie.

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