Finding Food at Sea

Food at Sea

This page contains information on how to survive by finding food in the open sea and ocean in an emergency situation, also you will find useful tips on how to preserve it for storage.
Your survival in the open seas depends upon your ability to use the available survival equipment, and your special skills to apply them to cope with the hazards you face as well as your will to survive. But most importantly your ability to improvise, because every survival situation is different, so think and improvise by taking advantage of what you have available to you.

Finding Food in the Open Seas

Almost all sea life is not only edible, but is also an excellent source of nutrients essential to humans. The protein is complete because it contains all the essential amino acids, and the fats are similar to those of vegetables. Seafoods are high in minerals and vitamins. The majority of life in the sea (fish, birds, plants, and aquatic animals) is edible.

Tips for Finding Food in the Open Seas

  • Conserve energy (which will minimize the need for food).
  • Try fishing and spearfishing at night because it's the easiest (use flashlight or fire to attract them).
  • Poisonous fish are usually found in coastal areas, particularly reefs.
  • Sun dry your extra fish for later use.
  • Try catching seabirds, they're sometimes easier than fish.
  • Plankton is very nutritious and easy to catch.
  • seaweed can be found almost anywhere.
  • Don't eat food until you have water.
  • Use internal fish organs and small fish as bait to catch larger fish.

Most seaweeds are edible and are a good source of food, especially for vitamins and minerals. Some seaweeds contain as much as 25 percent protein, while others are composed of over 50 percent carbohydrates. At least 75 different species are used for food by seacoast residents around the world. For many people, especially the Japanese, seaweeds are an essential part of the diet, and the most popular varieties have been successfully farmed for hundreds of years. The high cellulose content may require gradual adaptation because of their laxative quality if they comprise a large part of the diet. As with vegetables, some species are more flavorful than others. Generally, leafy green, brown, or red seaweeds can be washed and eaten raw or dried.

If a fishing kit is available, the task of fishing will be made much easier. Small fish will usually gather under the shadow of the raft or in clumps of floating seaweed. These fish can be eaten or used as bait for larger fish. A net can also be used to procure most all sea life. Light attracts some types of fish. A flashlight or reflected moonlight can be used. It is not advisable to secure fishing lines to the body or the raft because a large fish may pull a person out of the raft or damage the raft. Fish, bait, or bright objects dangling in the water can attract large dangerous fish. All large fish should be killed outside the raft by a blow to the head or by cutting off the head.

Seabirds have proven to be a useful food source which may be more easily caught than fish. Survivors have reported capturing birds by using baited hooks, by grabbing, and by shooting. Freshly killed birds should be skinned, rather than plucked, to remove the oil glands. They can be eaten raw or cooked. The gullet contents can be a good food source. The flesh should be eaten or preserved immediately after cleaning. The viscera, along with any other unused parts, make good fish bait.

Birds might land on your raft to rest or circle you hoping for food. That's your chance to catch them by hand, spear them, catch them with a net, or just improvise.

Plankton is very nutritious and is a also essential to prevent scurvy for long time castaways. It isn’t found in every waters, but as whales (whale sharks and manta rays) feed on large quantities of plankton, all areas hosting those marine animals will be rich in plankton. Plankton will often be found on the surface at night (during the day it might only be found deeper). Any type of net with very small holes dragged behind a raft will work well. Mosquito nets, cotton fabrics from a tent will also work great. Any type of clothing trailed in the water will also work. Sea anchors are ready made natural plankton nets.

Food at Sea

Seaweed (or algae) of various types are found on most oceans. They are used in many Japanese dishes. In addition to being very tasty, they are rich in proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Most seaweeds are edible, however some green or blue algae found in freshwater pools can be highly poisonous. Most type of seaweeds are found in coastal areas either drifting or still attached to rocks. (Don’t collect dried seaweed washed out on beaches). A few types of seaweed can also be found far offshore. In the Sargasso sea and North Atlantic, the sargassum species are commonly found floating on the surface. You can drag a net or any type of homemade hook or rake to collect seaweed. There are many types of seaweed, but the ones usually found offshore are tough and might be hard to eat raw. You can dry them in the sun (or with fire), then chew on them (if you have a lot of rainwater, you might want to rinse them too). Some thick seaweed will require boiling to remove some natural glue.

All sea life must be cleaned, cut up, and eaten as soon as possible to avoid spoilage. Any meat left over can be preserved by sun-drying or smoking. The internal parts can be used as bait. If any doubt exists as to the edibility of a seafood, apply the "marine animal edibility test" found

Reminder: don't eat fish or seaweed or any other type of food that contains protein if you don't have water. Protein needs water to be digested, and therefore eating it will make you more thirsty and dehydrated. For more tips about getting water check our page Getting Food to Survive

More information: We hope this page was helpful and provided you with some survival techniques on how to find food in the open seas. Check out our main page for more survival scenarios here Survival Guide, knowledge is light, and knowledge can save your life. Make sure you do your best to know what to do in a survival situation and then hope for the best.


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