Saturday, May 23, 2009

Goblin girl... on eating manta rays!

Of all the shark related news I get in my inbox, this article made me gasp: Manta rays next on restaurant menus as shark populations plummet . Then I started to wonder why I had such a strong reaction and the simple answer is "they are so beautiful!". How utterly banal, coming from me... One of my highest dreams is to dive with mantas. So far I've only seen them in the aquarium in Lisbon, Portugal, but ever since I first saw them in books at the age of 4, I've been devoted to them.

I once went to Norway to upgrade some electronic tracking equipment. The Norwegians have a different view, of for example whales, from many other countries. They still hunt whales and eat whale steak. My Norwegian colleagues tried to provoke me by saying "we now have so many dolphins, we should hunt them and eat them as well!". To their utter frustration I just answered "go ahead, but stay off the sharks", and then the discussion died out.
Many people will probably not share my ideas, but I have struggled so many years now for sharks, that I'm fed up with all "rescue operations" of "cute"animals. (Ok, I have a soft spot for manatees, I'll admit as much.) Tigers kill more people every year than shark does - still people fight for tigers right to existence. And the friendly dolphins who helps people back to shore... what about all the people that they might take further out from shore - who will be missed as "drowned" and never lives to tell that story?! I even know a guy who nearly got raped by a dolphin! And I've seen terrible footage of a group of dolphins killing an other dolphin from an other specie by taking turns blocking it's blow hole!

I'm not against any animals as such. I only think that it's better to work really hard for something that you believe in. Me, I'm into sharks. Sooo many others are doing their best to help other animals that are their favorites. I will certainly not go out with a harpoon myself, but I stay away from dolphin friendly tuna, since I know that it is much more dangerous to sharks and other sea creatures. The problem is to find dolphin unfriendly tuna these days, so I tend to eat tuna only once in a while.

But as you can see... even I can be banal, wanting to save something just because it's beautiful!


DaShark said...

Totally agree!

Good on 'ya for having highlighted this, great post!

Charlott - the Goblin girl said...

Thank you!

Shark Diver said...

This is horrible and sadly inevitable as well, thanks for posting this GG.

I noticed Rob over at the Manta Network raising the alarm as well.

I dove with the all Black Manatas at Socorro with Mike Lever two years ago that was "inspiring".

bwd said...

The Chinese slaughter mantas in their thousands for their gill rakers for use in traditional 'medicine'.

The largest Chinese medicine market in China, in Guangzhou - a whole block of shops on three floors of the most amazing things. These included literally tonnes of dried seahorses - shops-full at a time, and similarly manta gills, 10s of thousands that I saw - boxes piled high.

This is NOT a small, subsistence market, by any means. It is a massive, commercial operation that somehow has evaded notice. It can be added to the foul practices of using bear bile, tiger bone, seahorses etc etc for the magical, culturally-sanctioned, devastation of wildlife of all kinds. If it moves - eat it. It is about time that the centrality of Chinese activity in these matters was addressed properly, instead of pussyfooting around trying not to offend. Culture or long tradition is no longer an acceptable defence for anything, anywhere, now where commercial exploitation is involved. True subsistence use is hard to find, and altogether negligible in impact.

Charlott - the Goblin girl said...

I certainly wasn't aware of this industry in China! Thanks for telling us more about it bwd. It feels like we have a new battle to take on!