Could the sport of flounder tramping become a new Olympic event?

Always on the lookout for the odd, the quirky and the plain wacky, Merlin recently came across the sport of flounder tramping.

The common flounder (Platichthis flesus), a flatfish, can be found all round Britain’s coast in areas of sandy or muddy sea-bed. It starts its life looking like any other baby fish, swimming upright with an eye on either side of its head. After a few days, it begins to lean sideways and sink to the sea bed.

The left eye starts to migrate round to the right side of the face and by the time it has completed the migration, the flounder is swimming flat with both eyes uppermost. This ability, combined with the capacity to change its skin colour to match its surroundings, enables the flounder to lie concealed in sand or mud and prey on passing marine worms, sand-eels and small crustaceans. Flounders can therefore easily be caught in shallow water by disturbing them with the bare feet (“tramping”) and then grabbing them.

In the Scottish village of Palnackie, Dumfries, an annual flounder tramping competition has been held every year since 1971 to raise funds for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. A prize is awarded for the biggest flounder caught by tramping.

With 2012 imminent, Merlin wondered whether flounder tramping could become a new Olympic event, along with other traditional British sporting activities such as welly-wanging, bog-snorkelling, cheese-rolling and tiddlywinks.

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