Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Swimming with Tuna


I've always thought of myself as the total omnivore. The very notion that there was something that I wouldn't eat was dismissed with a casual wave of a roast swan's leg. The very idea that I would stop eating something because I believed it was wrong to eat them, well, I'd have spat out my badger's noses. I think if you go back and read a lot of this blog, it's obvious that's where I was coming from. No, before you drop your bacon sarnies, I'm not about to admit that I've become a vegan, nor even a vegetarian. You see, I've been around cows, seen them mooch about chewing the cud in that mellow sort of way cows do and I have to say that I have no problem eating one. As long as they've spent their time gently plodding around in a contented sort of way, I'd say that being on my plate is a fitting end. See, now the thing is I've seen tuna hunt and there's no way I'm ever eating one again.

It's rare that you get to see fish doing fish stuff. For an hour here or there with scuba gear you might catch a glimpse of what the average fish gets up of an afternoon, but, on the whole, you just don't get to see them living out their lives, so they appear distant, alien and cold. Dead, to be frank, is what they mostly do. You just don't really get an emotional attachment. Even fish in captivity seem robotic. Exciting fish, like sharks, rays and moray eels populate wild dreams of Captain Nemo and Jacques Cousteau, but on the whole, for most people it's hard to get emotional about something that comes in small round tins.

As a kid, I remember quite clearly, being struck by the fact that a tuna fish was large. I'd imagined them small, like whitebait. What I didn't really know then and what I've seen is that they are big. Big, ferocious and fast as quicksilver. A tuna fish in full flight in as awe inspiring as a lioness bringing down prey. It's like a streak of lightning spinning through bait fish. I watched a small school of twelve of fifteen fish spiraling through the water and catching fish, avoiding the lumbering bulk of a cruising reef shark like racing cars navigating a chicane. Like so many silver torpedoes they flew past me in the water, again and again, going from near standstill to ferocious attack with a virtually imperceptible flick of the tail. This was magical, exciting, not something to be mixed with mayo and stuck in between wholemeal bread.

So, I have no idea if this ban will last. Probably not, but I hope so.

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