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My Dying Wish

by Lydia Seales-Fuller 12 months ago in Nature · updated 5 months ago
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by Lydia Seales-Fuller

My Dying Wish
Photo by Joseph Barrientos on Unsplash

I know this is not what you expect however, this is my last chance to help you and my grandchildren. My generation and my son’s generation are already doomed so I write this in hopes that you can send it to all the world rulers. I will appeal to their compassion and common sense. However, if, that does not work, I will also appeal to their love of self or as you humans term it, selfishness. I just do not like the inclusion of the word fish in that bad word.

You see, I am a fish, yes, I am a Pacific Cod. I am currently 11 years old. In human years, I am 92 years old. I am about 29 lbs and 4 feet in length. My species do not live very long and we hardly get as big as I am and you know why. Yes, we are your prey. I understand and that is why this letter should help make a difference to the pollution and destruction of this place called Earth on which both humans and animals live. I know how much of a trophy I would be if I am caught in your fishing nets or on a hook (shudder). I saw my six-foot uncle get captured 3 years ago. Horrible. The lessons I learned from others taught me tricks which enables me to remain in my home here in the ocean. I live in the area you call the Gulf of Alaska.

Now, it is no secret that humans love to eat cod. I know from personal experience. I was caught some 10 years ago but I was too small. The fisherman looked me dead in the eye and said, “I will come for you next year.” I saw my beloved brothers collected, strung up on a long metal string and carted off. I stayed nearby in hopes that they may get away, but they were much bigger than I was. That night I saw the fisherman and some other humans cook and eat my brothers right there on the ice. In all my years, I will never forget what I saw that night.

That is another conversation. Right now, the urgency I feel and the story I have to tell is far more important than some hungry humans.

It starts with the food my food eats. I know that sounds confusing but wait. My kind does not get big and fleshy from just swimming around at the bottom of the ocean. We are predators too, just like you. We eat some of the very same things that you eat. We love clams, shrimp, krill, crab, and the small babies and teenagers of our own brothers. Look, this is not the time to be squeamish or to use pretty speech. I promise to be honest with you to help you understand how endangered humans and animals are.

Back to my food or, the food chain as you humans like to say, so the shrimp, clams and krill which make up most of my diet, eat algae. The small cods we eat also eat the shrimp, krill and clams. Then our predators such as the sharks, whales, seals, sea lions, seabirds, halibut, penguins, other cod, and humans come to the table.

Hence, whatever is happening to algae; the foundation of a large percentage of ocean life, ends up happening on your table, in your stomach and becomes your experience too.

Coming back to my home here in the Alaskan Gulf, what I am about to tell you is scary but, I think you must experience it or at least be informed about what is really happening. My hope is that it will influence your daily decisions and ultimately save your life and that of my grandchildren. Please remember the aim of my writing is to reach the brain and hearts of the world leaders or whoever makes decisions in your human world.

Each year, we have what is called algae blooms. This is usually not a bad thing because it means more food for the species we eat. They will get fatter, then we will get fatter as we eat them. You will get fatter too. What is the problem, you ask? The issue comes from less than 1 % of the algae that flourishes. It is poisonous or as you humans say toxic.

The name of the toxic algae I will highlight is Alexandrium. It is named after the great lake in Australia where it first was noted to affect large amounts of cattle, killing them shortly after the cattle drank water containing this specific alga.

How it kills its victims? The toxin in the algae called saxitoxin affects the victim by causing paralysis of the respiratory system. Death occurs quickly. Then the predator of the creature that is dying comes along and gets an easy but deadly meal and that creature dies also. Its predator comes along and… you see what happens.

There is more, when the shrimp, crabs and krill die off, my family suffer in at least two other ways. One: we begin to starve therefore, we eat each other. Two: The dying bodies of our family and friends deplete the oxygen we need to live and more of us die. Up the food chain the same thing is happening. Can you imagine what happens when the sea lions, seals, whales, and sharks die? So much more oxygen is depleted. You who live on the land are also affected because many of you suffer from respiratory illnesses and some of you die. I am alive long enough to know the sound of death from the villages near my home. It is true I live near the bottom of the ocean but news travels.

By Tiqets on Unsplash

I also see large amounts of predatory birds like murre, dead on the water surface. I know what is happening with them too. They catch fish and if the fish has the toxin on board, the bird gets poisoned just like us. Additionally, if they do not eat the fish, they still die from starvation.

You guys are also dying, not only from the oxygen depletion but from the poison you get when you eat your food from the sea. The clam, shrimp, crabs, and fish are loaded with the toxin, and you get sick and die. One of my great grandfathers related a story about you humans. I thought it was a lie but today I believe it. He said that the saxitoxin saved his life. He was caught and he was sure his life was over, however, as the fisherman was sitting in his hut on the ice, he had a visitor, a scientist called Bruce Wright. The scientist told him that the catch he had yesterday, was loaded with the toxin and it had killed some seabirds who stole some of the fish he was testing. He also related that a drunk human had stolen some clams, steamed and ate them, and was now dead.

The fisherman remembered that he had just caught a nice big load of fish, including my grandfather from the same area in the ocean. He took all the fish he had just caught and threw them back in the ocean. My great grandfather lived for 6 more years after that because the Alaskan Fisheries stopped taking up fish from that area for many years. But they continued testing and are currently dragging their nets in that area again.

You want to live and so do I, so here is my suggestion. If the algal blooms are caused by your stinking fertilizers and your chemical waste, please, I beg you please stop dumping and using fertilizers. You do not need fertilizers to grow your vegetables and fruits. You are just greedy for a large crop. You do not let your food grow naturally. I know because you always try to make us grow bigger with your chemicals and tests. But these things backfire, and it is killing us and you.

It is true that we are happy when there is an algal bloom, but it is always accompanied by the death toll and all that comes with it. We can do without that. I know most of the algae is not toxic. But even as the one 1% of the bloom species are deadly it is enough to kill out entire families of species. Why do that? You are at the top of the food chain, and you may not feel the effects right away, but I promise you, you will eventually.

The destruction of the atmosphere and the melting of the ice caps is your doing and that in turn is causing algal blooms due to the bad weather and flooding. The flood waters bring your fertilizer to our oceans. The result is that toxic algae is spreading to areas it never was before. Now these algae species are all over the earth’s waters and they can remain dormant for many years then float to the surface and wreak havoc on all our lives.

I know you humans make billions of dollars each year from your tourism and recreation based on the beaches, aquariums and marine reserves other humans pay you money to visit. Do you realize how you are slowly destroying that source of income by your greediness? Maybe if you realize that the coral reefs and all other oceanic wonders and beauties depend on the smallest forms of life that you are destroying then you may find another way to exist. You are killing yourself. Do you know many Alaskans do not eat the seafood in their own backyard for fear of dying? So many clams are surprised that you do not collect them and steam them for eating. We know why. You are so afraid that, that may be your last meal.

That scientist, Bruce Wright, prepared a document and we got to find out about the content of the document by means known only by my kind. That document stated that the toxin called saxitoxin is so deadly to your kind that a granule of it, as small as a grain of sand can kill 8 big fishermen by paralyzing their respiratory system.

My question, why would you continue in practices that harm the ecosystem you need to survive? I beg you on behalf of my grandchildren and yours, please stop.

Here are the things you need to stop:

1. Stop using fertilizer to grow your food. You really do not need so much food. Most of you are over eaters.

2. Please stop dumping your chemical waste in the oceans of this world. Why do you do that? Have you forgotten this is where your food lives?

3. Stop over-fishing the oceans. When you do, you prevent us from eating the algae then it gets overgrown and cause blooms.

4. Please, I beg you stop your global warming (all the things that encompass what that means) This is causing ice caps to melt, storms, hurricanes, and flooding which in turn washes your destructive and unnecessary fertilizer into the oceans, resulting in algal blooms.

I will not use this forum to discuss plastics, oil, and other deadly man-made disasters in the ocean. That is for another day, another fish.

My wife told me I was wasting time with you humans. She said no one would listen or care. But my grandchildren mean the world to me, and my son is expecting so I must try. You hear that horrible wheeze? Yep, that is me, I am dying. No fisherman caught me, but I am dying because as I write you, there is an algal bloom above, robbing us of oxygen and I know the sunrise I saw this morning was my last. Do not let it be yours too. Do something.

Nature

About the author

Lydia Seales-Fuller

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