Aiming for a true castaway experience, Ed Stafford was left with virtually nothing but a camera for his two-month stint living wild on an isolated island.
As the only man known to have walked the dangerous length of the Amazon River, Ed Stafford is no stranger to adventure – but spending two full months in solitude on a small South Pacific island was a challenge even to him.
While many people have become “island hermits” for a time, Ed took his castaway scenario to the extreme.
As with his 6,000-mile Amazon trek, the 37-year old adventurer filmed his stay on Olorua for a television reality series aired on the Discovery Network.
The twist in this case, however, is that unlike for the 860 days he walked through South American rainforests, the camera was his sole provision during his sojourn on the desolate sandy island in little-populated Eastern Fiji.
In interviews, Ed has said that he was unprepared for the psychological impact of being stranded without food, water, tools and shelter – not to mention even the creature comfort of clothing, as he handed over every possession to the show’s producer when he left him on Olorua, save a phone for life-threatening emergencies.
Fighting through the jungle with a machete was one thing – Ed was well-prepared with prior stints as a security specialist in Afghanistan and expedition guide for wealthy adventurers. Sensationally titled “Marooned and Naked”, the Discovery program emphasizes the intense vulnerability of being stranded with nothing.
In addition to being left open to the whims of nature, “Robinson Crusoe” situations can have devastating psychological consequences because options and choices are severely restricted. The tiny environment of the island is all there is – to survive, one must learn to use the scant resources available, for there is nothing else.
In this inhospitable environment, imagination is key. Tropical islands may look like paradise at a glance, but Olorua is a far cry from one of Fiji’s famous luxury resorts. Ed’s first episode of the program was devoted to the basics of survival: first priority, finding a source of fresh water.
Humans can only live for a handful of days without water, and even a healthy individual can only remain active for a few weeks without food, so establishing the resources of the island was highly important. Ed’s tip: green coconuts provide both fluid and sustenance.
Shelter from both the blisteringly-hot days and chilly oceanic nights was another – he used clay as sunscreen, and buried himself into dry sand to guard against the cold after dark.
Ed’s fight for subsistence illustrates that being marooned on an island, despite its prominence in fantasies, is a very serious matter. Pirates throughout history have used stranding to punish disobedient crewmembers – and it was typically regarded as a death sentence.
“Naked and Marooned” is sure to be entertaining and informative television – the program is will begin airing on the Discovery Network on Thursday, March 14th at 9:00pm.
Link: Discovery Channel
Read more about Ed’s adventure: Fiji Times