When it comes to things of the sea, my ears perk up at any story that deals with our waterways and what’s in them. So, here are 3 stories for today.
The Good: We’re lucky in horseshoes
Often maligned as a lowly, weird looking animal that can scare swimmers back to the beach, the horseshoe crab is a true friend of man. Even the name is not accurate — they aren’t true crabs or even crustaceans. But they live in and around shallow sandy coastal waters and do good for us in a mostly unknown yet remarkable way.
Amid all the talk about a vaccine for today’s Covid-19 pandemic, it’s notable the horseshoe crab carries a highly valuable, copper-based blue blood that’s prized around the world for testing vaccines and medical devices for toxins. It’s estimated that some 750,000 of them were taken from coastal waters to research labs. Up to 40 percent of their blood is drawn and they are returned to the waters.
The blood contains a component that will clot in the presence of bacteria and will signal to researchers any toxins that could appear in vaccines, medical equipment and needles that go into the human body. Their blood is reportedly valued at $15,000 quart.
While not endangered, it is notable that there is growing concern about a decline in horseshoe crab population, according to a Horseshoe Crab Recovery Coalition of 30 organizations. But for now, the lowly horseshoe crab continues to serve the good of mankind.
The bad: PETA’s latest actions
PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, announced it has purchased stock in several racetracks in Ohio and West Virginia. Their purpose: to gain access to shareholder meetings to push for changes in horse racing.
For full disclosure, I am also a member of PETA - People Eating Tasty Animals! However, the other PETA is the one that opposes fishing because hooks hurt the fish. Indeed, PETA once pushed hard to rename all fish “sea kittens.” Their theory was that no one would want to hook a kitten. Obviously, it didn’t sell. And just to be perfectly clear, I like my sea kittens deep fried!
Pity the nation’s horseman and track owners at their next stockholders meeting. But what would clearly be worse —if PETA decides to buy up our fish hatcheries.
The ugly: An angling crime
Yansel Garrido went to the Florida Keys last August to do some fishing. He chronicled his catches on his Facebook page for all his friends to watch. So were officials at the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission.
While Garrido’s actions were bad, the FWC’s response to hold him accountable for all crimes was good. The Facebook posts showed Garrido filleting a protected Goliath grouper, plus a batch of undersized lobster on his grill and even the abuse of an undersized nurse shark placed in a chlorinated swimming pool at his vacation rental. The shark was no more than 24 inches long, FWC said. The law states someone cannot harvest a nurse shark shorter than 54 inches long.
The FWC jailed him on triple charges: cruelty to animals for the nurse shark treatment; taking a protected Goliath grouper; and possession of six undersized lobsters. Garrido claimed he didn’t know the big fish he filleted was a Goliath grouper, a well-known species that has been protected in state and federal waters off Florida since 1990. His bond - $18,101.
“What the hell is that?” he reportedly said to the FWC investigator in the arrest report. “I thought it was just a fish.” Duh! What’s really bad is the charges are all misdemeanors.