Montego Bay, Jamiaca. The clock’s little hand is somewhere northeast and I’m dining on the white sands of this tropical island. There is a low swell in the tide and, to date, I’ve witnessed two jumping fish and a teenage girl whose doing with her bikini top the thing I do with my light switch when I’m bored. To my immediate left, an unattractive little boy is losing a battle with his ketchup – the condiment appears to be at war with his face – while his parents prove lobster tails can offer infinite gustatory pleasure. Beside them though, sits the center of my attention and a philosophical dilemma.
Should tropical resorts display fish tanks near the ocean?
By itself, the question is rather innocuous, but viewed through the watery prism of the ichthyological inclined, it’s rather cruel and unusual. All day, this imprisoned marine life swims about its tank, staring out over the Caribbean. Worse yet, sixteen feet away, international tourists are loading their plates with the marine life’s grilled offspring and baked ancestry as they look on in horror. One can only imagine the fish mind in such a predicament. I think there is an injustice being perpetrated upon the fish. If we’re being fair, natural parks don’t have zoos, and especially not ones with barbecues.
Clearly there’s an alternate argument here. These fish are for display only, spoon-fed – there’s literally a spoon involved when Mildred T. Perkins dips her scooper into the flaked cuisine for tanked animals – and the red-carpet stars and starlets of the fish community. Condiment-covered children gawk and point and press imitative fish-faces up against the glass and blurt phrases like “Cool, he looks like Nemo” and “Check out the fins on that one”, which has humorous – and difficult to squelch – sexual undertones for your average adult male. Point being, maybe the fish take pleasure in their circumstance. But, maybe not.
Dangling an ocean full of freedom so nearby is akin to torture. The whole macabre scene of the buffet and the sea is like death row with windows. Picture this: Little Gil is making his way around the blue coral castle and headed for the far glass pane while trying to avoid Vinny and Paulie – friends from the Mediterranean on loan here from Club Med and hatching a scheme to bring some percentage of the fish food home to Nicky the Fin – the Godfish with the torn dorsal – and hoping to end up spending the night with Rosita, a Latina blowfish (you know how rumors get around) who just happened to get caught up in the mix when Millie Perkins first cast her net into the sea. So Gil is swimming and gives that sideways glance out the window that we humans do on heavily trafficked freeways, when he notices his best friend Barry – last name really is Cuda but that’s too convenient for this fish tale – he notices his best friend Barry steaming on a plate with a pile of rice covering his right eye and a broccoli stalk shoved up his ass. Meanwhile, Vinny and Paulie are whispering something about “Barry sleeps with the humans” and Gil is considering making the great leap out of the tank and trying to flop his way to unbridled freedom. If you were Gil, wouldn’t you?
Anyway, I’m driving hard at something here. The culturally considerate and internationally accommodating tropical resorts should really consider the various ethical implications involved in displaying fish tanks near oceans and buffets. I’m not sure if it’s right or wrong, but there sure is a lot to think about.
Match time is 9:30 a.m. tomorrow. The 5th seed from Brazil awaits.