Just having come back from a wonderful scuba diving holiday in The Red Sea, I have fish on the brain. I had been looking at several Red Sea fish guides to identify some of the many fish I had seen on my holiday. I have been trawling the internet for the next scuba diving holiday destination. I have been watching documentaries about mantas. These are wonderful things.
This morning, The Divemaster comes across a video on youtube about a 1000 pound hammerhead shark from chewonthis TV. They use rays as bait to reel in sharks. They say that all the sharks they catch are released. ????????? I got queasy from watching it, and a bit pissed off too.
It got me thinking about Americans and fishing. (Well, only because we Americans are so righteous about our right to have everything and do everything we want.) So I tag surf on WordPress and come across a blog that lists upcoming fishing events from the Miami Herald.
I am intrigued by the Marathon Sharkathon 2010.
They also release the sharks. So what?!! Why do they need to catch sharks in the first place? In order to fish for sharks, they need to put chum in the water, so the shark is at an unfair disadvantage. That is not fishing. To me, that is like cheating. I may get some s**t for this, but the fact that they do this in the name of a couple of charities is no better than people doing violence for a religious cause.
Some people kill sharks and fin them for money. Some cultures use shark fins in their medicines and some use it for food. Although I don’t agree that using shark products is necessary in order to live a healthy life, I can understand the motivation for obtaining money. Just because I understand something doesn’t mean I agree with it.
What I truly don’t understand is the motivation for capturing an animal just for sport. I think it is cruel. I like to fish and I like to eat fish. Sometimes we catch fish that are not big enough to eat and we must throw them back. However, my purpose for fishing is to catch fish to eat. When we went fishing in Kenya we caught a marlin. We didn’t mean to catch a marlin, but we did and so we tagged it and let it go. It’s the law. We also caught a tuna and a bonito, which we shared with the crew for food. We snagged, by complete accident, a whale shark. It got caught on the line. We had to reel it in very carefully in order to take the line out of its fin. I was very emotional about it and glad there was no real harm done. There were so many kinds of fish in the sea that day, we didn’t know what we were going to get. The only bait was on the line.
There is this big thing going on in the States, particularly off the coast of Florida, about killing the lionfish that have been found there. OK, so Florida isn’t their natural habitat, but somehow these lionfish found themselves there and are eating reef fish, which is what they do. It is said that they are decimating the reef fish population because they have no natural predators.
Now, having just come back from The Red Sea, which is one of the lionfish’s natural habitat and where they abound, I just have to ask a few questions: If there are so many lionfish in The Red Sea, why hasn’t the reef fish population been decimated? If there are not many predators for lionfish, why aren’t there millions of them chomping their way through the fish population in The Red Sea? If there are many lionfish in The Red Sea, and the reef fish population is thriving, what is so different off the coast of Florida where there is a panic about them?
My theory about the lionfish (or any fish for that matter) in The Red Sea is that they only eat what they can and what is available. Rarely do animals or fish overeat when left to their own devices. They eat when they are hungry. When left to her own devices, Mother Nature can look after herself. I believe that the reason the lionfish don’t eat all of the reef fish in The Red Sea is because the reefs are very healthy. There seems to be a nice balance between predators and prey. Because there seems to be a healthy balance on the reefs in The Red Sea, I am lead to conclude that the reefs off of the coast of Florida are not all that healthy. That may sound too simplistic, but with big game fishing as a huge draw for tourists (and all that implies), and what little reef I have explored myself off of the Keys, my conclusion doesn’t seem so far-fetched to me. If someone else has a better idea about why the reefs off of the coast of Florida are so lacking, I would like to know.