MOUNT PLEASANT -- A doctor is trained to use his hands to heal.

On Saturday, a physician new to The Lowcountry was shown another important use for hands -- beheading shrimp. And around here, that's thought to be almost as vital as healing.

Dr. Marc Rucquoi of Mount Pleasant was a last-minute recruit for the shrimp heading exhibition at the Meet the Fleet event at Memorial Waterfront Park. He joined veteran shrimpers Santos Rodriquez and Jonathan Jenkins in preparing 50 pounds of Atlantic Ocean shrimp for consumption.

Saturday's events included a display of nautical knots and shrimp net repair exhibitions and were a prelude to today's planned Blessing of the Fleet and Seafood Festival, at the same park beside the Ravenel Bridge.

Rodriquez and Jenkins said the trick to quickly beheading a

lot of shrimp is to hold a shrimp in each hand and snap off two heads simultaneously with your thumbs. A rookie would use two hands to behead one shrimp, they explained.

Rucquoi exhibited good humor while handling fresh, soggy, uncooked shrimp for the first time in his life. A physician and hospitalist for Roper St. Francis Heathcare, Rucquoi, his wife, Kira, and 3-year-old son, Noah, just moved to Mount Pleasant from Washington, N.C.

The doctor made a squeamish face and said, "Oh, this feels so natural," and asked if anyone watching had seen the movie, "Aliens." He tossed a shrimp head to a child and said, "here, get a head," and commented, "I hope this blood is not mine."

Holding a video camera, Martine Wolfe-Miller, public affairs officer for Mount Pleasant, informed Rucquoi as the exhibition proceeded that it will be seen on YouTube, via the town's website.

Duane Macca of Geechie Seafood in Mount Pleasant boiled the newly headless shrimp, "till they're firm or they float," and the several dozen people on hand shared in the seafood.

Keith Hudson, a former Navy corpsman and member of the International Guild of Knot Tyers, exhibited a table full of knotty items, and shrimper Capt. Wayne Magwood mended shrimp nets and explained the craft.

Magwood said one of the most unusual items ever snared in his nets was a pouch with a water-saturated $50 bill inside. He said he made a big mistake drying the bill in a microwave oven because the bill "turned to dust."

Reach Edward C. Fennell at efennell@postandcourier.com or 937-5560.