Shot for a fish

“If we cut up beasts simply because they cannot prevent us and because we are backing our own side in the struggle for existence, it is only logical to cut up imbeciles, criminals, or enemies, for the same reasons. “ C.S. Lewis

It was hard not to remember those words as I kneeled next to the dead female sea lion, beached only minutes before. The evidence was flagrant. There were no signs of trauma, no decomposition, no bloating. Blood was still trickling from her snout. Besides the missing eye, probably taken by a seagull, there were no other plucking wounds. This animal must have been alive only a few hours ago. On her back was the explanation for such an unexpected turn of events – a clear round opening, with soft curled red edges. A theory became quite obvious but I still had to do one more test before confirming my suspicion. I walked towards the sand dunes, picked a small branch and with it came back to the victim. Sliding the stick into the wound, it went in as expected and determined what was now a fact. The sea lion had been shot, and hit probably just before diving, explaining the low angle of the bullet’s trajectory inside the animal.

Looking over the horizon and trying to figure out how this poor creature had ended here, I noticed another floating object not too far off. As it got closer, I was able to clearly identify it. Sadly, it was another dead sea lion, but this time, it was a pup. As it rose up with the rolling waves, just before being rumbled back down, the animal would find itself in a transparent crest, illuminated from behind, crystalized and motionless, as if it had been delicately displayed in a glass of formalin. This one never made it to the beach. Trapped in the tumble of the rollers, it slowly kept drifting down the coast. I didn’t get the chance to examine the body but my conclusion seemed quite solid. With a fishing village at about 4 kilometers up the coast, coincidentally the direction from which the sea lions had drifted, and the reputation these animals have for “stealing” the fisherman’s catch, it was fair to assume that the mother and her baby had crossed the path of a person who believed that the world was too small for them to feed on the same “commodity” that he was making a living of.

Filled with a sudden lack of hope, I found myself questioning humans’ ability to make peace with Nature. Just the day before, I had finished reading Sylvia Earle’s book: The World is Blue: How our Fate and the Ocean’s are oneand had started reading A Passion for the Earth, a book of essays, inspired by David Suzuki. Sylvia’s last words were: “Throughout the history of our species, the mostly blue planet has kept us alive. It’s time for us to return the favor.” Closing in on 8 billion of a hungry world population, how many wild animals, how many jungles, how many oceans, will be killed, cut, and polluted so that we may carry on the uncontrolled and unaccounted destruction of our host?

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