FISH & CHIPS
I have a book on fish coming out in the next month or so, but don't think I'm plugging it. No, no, no. I for one won't be buying it. I'm sick of fish, with their pretentious Latin names and wet-lipped smiles. Then again, I guess if you wrote 40,000 words on supermodels you'd go off them soon enough.
But there's more to fish than silly names and limited facial expressions. Fish also stink. It's just as well, therefore, that they live in water, or perhaps that's exactly why they do.
Forget leaving the primordial swamp to evolve into reptiles. Most likely, fish were once land-dwelling creatures that were forced to adapt to the swamp to hide their poor personal hygiene.
Perhaps having valiantly struggled for generations, they clawed their way onto land, only to be cut down by some caustic remark from a quick-witted tetrapod.
Many environmentalists complain about drift nets, saying they're too random. Far too random, I'd say. Give me the wonders of modern sonar
any day. I'll track the slimy little monsters down, and then scoop them up in a nice, efficient purse-seine net - every last one of them. That should please the environmentalists - nothing random about that.
Nor will there be anything random about the squadron of special force mink I am training. Clad in their tiny black wetsuits with specially adapted rebreathers, and armed with harpoons and blacked-out switchblades, they'll clean up the seas with ruthless efficiency. I see nothing immoral in this.
Man's greatest triumphs over nature have always been conducted with the alliance of other species - Man and Rat vs Dodo for example.
This intolerance of fish is nothing new. It's been building up since I first started diving.
Having returned from my first ever day gliding over the colourful tropical reefs, I found when I shut my eyes the fish returned. At first just the little gold anthias that swarmed across my retinas, and poured in shoals along my optic nerves. Then, as time marched on, I would see larger fish: groupers and trevallies that would dart and chase after the shimmering schools. It wasn't long until a complete ecosystem evolved on the backs of my eyelids.
I would sit up at nights, sweating and shaking in anticipation of the sharks that would hound my little mind-scape into swirling chaos. But then, just as soon as it was formed, my little submarine empire was discovered.
First came the divers, shore divers mostly, but it wasn't long before they swelled their ranks. Boats came, with their growling engines, dragging anchors and clots of toilet paper spilling out beneath.
Slowly but surely, my little aquatic kingdom was scared away. Leaving me here, alone, unable to swim off. And do they call? Do they come back to visit? Do they write? No, not even a postcard? Too busy having fun elsewhere, the thoughtless little sods. I'll sort them out - just as soon as I get out of here.
I see huge potential in the art of free-style genetic engineering. Everyone knows the destructive power of crown-of-thorns starfish. If only we could wean them from their tedious diet of coral and genetically introduce a taste for something more succulent - like sushi for example.
And what a great invention sushi is.
The Far East has got the right idea about fish, look how they treat sharks - they eat their fins. That'll put a stop to their slippery antics. Here's wishing them a full and healthy recovery of their economy, so they can get back to their worthy cause.
Appeared in DIVER - February 2000