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Shark Fin Soup

by J. R. Lowe about a year ago in Short Story · updated about a year ago
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A shark's last thoughts

How long have I been laying here, paralysed and motionless on the ocean floor? Who knows. The pain subsided hours ago as salt water seeped into my wounds and swept the blood away. It was almost peaceful to watch it disperse through the water, like clouds drifting with the wind in the sky above. Now I'm just waiting. That's all I can do - wait to slip away.

Humans are such peculiar beings. It's strange how they fear us. They're such adept killers, yet they avoid the ocean out of fear of being attacked by us. They’re natural predators at the top of the food chain. So in reality, it is us who fear them.

Even in our own homes, we are still the prey. Perhaps the most terrifying aspect is that we're not simply food to them - we're a delicacy, an unproven medicinal specialty that isn't necessary for human survival, but rather, for their comfort. To think that my fate was sealed by the demand for a bowl of soup...

***

I was foolish to believe I'd found such an easy meal. I hadn't eaten in several days so my judgement was off and I was desperate, but desperation is a sure-fire way of getting yourself killed. Within seconds of biting down on the fish carcass, I felt a sharp jab in my mouth as the hooks penetrated my gums.

Almost immediately afterwards, I was being dragged through the water. It was agony, and as much as I fought to escape, I couldn't. Each pull of the line felt more painful than the last and eventually I gave in to fatigue. As I was dragged upwards, out of the seawater's safeguard, I heard one of the humans yelling frantically "Quickly! Up, no to the left. That's it! Go, go go!".

Suddenly, I was ripped from the water and heaved onto a small dingy boat. I was in their territory now. The air reeked of oil and gasoline and the sun relentlessly shone down on me, drying out my skin. I couldn't breathe. I was helpless and suffocating.

“Grab the filleting knife.” One of them said as he held me down, pushing my head into the hull.

I knew exactly what was going to happen but I couldn’t stop it. I braced myself, and tried to think of something else, anything else. I pictured the ocean and the way it felt to glide so freely through its waters, the taste of fresh fish and the sense of accomplishment which followed a successful catch.

For just a brief moment, I was at peace, until suddenly, I felt it - a sharp stinging pain along the base of my dorsal fin, and then a second and third along my sides. It was agony. I writhed around as I tried to free myself, but I was pinned down too tightly. My efforts were futile.

I lay there helplessly for what felt like hours, although it must have only been a few minutes. I drifted in and out of consciousness as the pain consumed me and awoke to the sound of a rough and gravelly voice.

"Ready?" one of the humans asked as he grabbed me by my sides. From the corner of my eye I saw the second man nod as he grabbed hold of the base of my tail.

"One... two...three!" they grunted in unison as I was lifted into the air and thrown back into the comforting embrace of the ocean water. At last I could breathe again. I was home, but my relief was short-lasted.

The salt water burned my wounds as I began to sink helplessly. As if it were a reflex, I began to move my body in a motion that used to project me forwards, but my efforts were fruitless - my fins were gone. I could smell the blood as it seeped from body where they used to be. The more I panicked, the faster I bled. Alas, I gave in and sank down into the cold depths.

***

Now, as I lay here on the ocean floor, I wonder why the humans didn't finish me off. A part of me wants believe that they felt too guilty to kill me, and were morally obliged to leave me alive. Yet I think the more likely explanation is that they simply didn't want to waste their time. They got what they wanted already. I was just waste now.

I can’t help but think of how humans suffer so profusely from their own self-indulgent tendencies, or at least they shall, one day. Such myopic creatures can never see past their own immediate satisfaction. Perhaps this attribute will be what eventually seals their fate. It's rather saddening to think that they will likely destroy everything else before they inevitably destroy themselves though.

I wish I could have said something, or done something to make a difference, but it’s too late for me. The ocean current gently rocks me to sleep as my body becomes colder. I hope it’s good soup.

Author's note

Shark fin soup is a popular dish served in Chinese cuisine which is thought to have numerous medicinal properties. The fins are obtained through a process known as 'shark finning', whereby fins are removed from live sharks and the carcasses are thrown back into the ocean - dead or alive.

Aside from the obvious ethical dilemmas, this process poses a number of additional issues including concerns of overfishing, and the subsequent environmental impacts which follow from reducing shark populations.

While modern approaches to reduce shark finning have been introduced, such as laws to prevent finning in certain regions, or the introduction of artificial or 'mock' shark fin soup, shark finning still occurs even today.

Short Story

About the author

J. R. Lowe

I confess, I don't exactly have a specific topic or writing style, or an organised train of thought for that matter. On the plus side, that means there's probably something here everyone ;)

Twitter: https://twitter.com/J0SHwrites

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