A Nassau grouper stands guard on Blacktip Island’s Pinnacle Reef Thursday. A plan by the Tiperon Islands Defense Enterprise would surround the island with specially-trained grouper to warn of any impending invasion. (photo courtesy of lowjumpingfrog)
Following last week’s news that a Blacktip Island divemaster had trained a Nassau grouper to add and subtract, the Tiperon Islands Defense Enterprise announced Thursday it plans to train grouper to help guard the Tiperons from possible foreign attacks.
“If this grouper thing checks out, and I think it will, we could have the makings of a offshore early warning system,” TIDE head MacArthur Wrasse said. “They’ll be our eyes and ears on the reef, able to tell us how many bad guys are coming and from what direction.
“We’re calling it our ‘Grouper Wall,’” Wrasse said. “First order of business is getting this Hoase fellow a security clearance. We’ll need clearances for the fish, too, pronto, so we can get the defense system operational asap.”
Grouper training for all the islands will take place on Blacktip, officials said.
“Blacktip’s isolation’ll help keep the training details as under wraps as possible,” TIDE deputy chief Harry Blenny said. “Blacktip’s small, slow-paced and backwards, like most of its residents. Any off-islanders show up and start poking around, we’ll know straight away.”
Island officials welcomed the news.
“We’ll all sleep a little sounder knowing there’s someone on guard,” said island mayor Jack Cobia. “Security on that scale has been sadly lacking for a long time, what with there being no standing military in the Tiperons.
“On Blacktip all we have is the island constable and a volunteer defense force that does occasional patrols, but that’s about it,” Cobia said. “Frankly, the Blacktip Force for Defense is more of an excuse to hang out and drink beer. Groupers don’t drink. That’s a plus right there.”
Not all residents were happy with the idea.
“They’re talking about weaponizing fish. In a marine park,” Blacktip People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals president Harry Pickett said. “Plus, there’s a 2,000-foot wall that drops off 100 yards offshore. How much early warning will the groupers actually give? It’s more like telling us who’s at the door.
“Bigger picture, the program’s a blatant scam for government funding,” Pickett said. “Who, exactly, is going to attack us? There’ve been zero invasions in the island’s history. Unless you count tourists.”
BFD officials called that attitude naïve.
“It only takes one time, you know,” said Antonio Fletcher, BFD sergeant-at-arms. “Not many enemies now, sure, but you can’t be too careful. Cuba’s close by. And Belize. Things change. And The Sight can’t pick up everything.”
“Groupers watching the coast makes good sense – they know the sea better than any of us,” Fletcher said. “Plus, they’re naturally suspicious. They know when something’s fishy or doesn’t smell right.”