Horses on the beach. Shrimp fishing - the world's last remaining horseback fishermen. Oostduinkerke, Belgium.

- Image ID: F9YHRP
Horses on the beach. Shrimp fishing - the world's last remaining horseback fishermen. Oostduinkerke, Belgium.
jacky chapman / Alamy Stock Photo
Image ID: F9YHRP
Oostduinkerke is a small Flemish town not far from Oostende, where I witnessed a dying tradition. A truly wonderful experience that left a lasting impression. Very few fishermen still use horses to ride out into the North Sea during low tide to gather shrimp. Dressed in the brightest of bright yellow oilskins and waist high boots, the fishermen plod across the sands and after checking and re-checking their nets, wade out into the cold seas. Perched high on wooden saddles the men steer the powerful draft horses (mainly Brabantian or Ardennes breeds) forward until the chilly water reaches the horses' chests. A slow parade then takes place as the horses pace back and forth parallel to the beach. Just as they have for half a millennium (since 1500), the horse fishermen return every now and again to the beach to empty the nets and sort the shrimp from the other sea life. Tiny crabs and fish are discarded to the squalling delight of the awaiting seagulls. In 2013, UNESCO added Shrimpfishing on horseback in Oostdunkerke to the Unesco representative list of the 'Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity'.
Location: Oostduinkerke, Belgium