Tag Archives: PETA

Lionfish Shortage Sparks Blacktip Island Captive Breeding Program

Common Lionfish

An invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish rests on the bottom of Blacktip Island’s new captive breeding pond Thursday afternoon. (photo courtesy of Daniel Dietrich)

 

A lionfish scarcity on Blacktip Island reefs has spurred local entrepreneurs to start a lionfish captive breeding program to supply the island’s restaurants. The facility, unveiled Thursday, is the first aquaculture program of its kind in the Caribbean.

“For years we’ve culled the hell out of lionfish to save the reef,” said Jay Valve, the program’s creator. “Local chefs put lionfish on their menus to encourage culling. Lionfish fingers, tacos, soufflés, you name it. It’s become an island staple.

“The cullers were so good, though, now there’s not enough lionfish to go around,” Valve said. “Both restaurants were going to have to take lionfish off their menus, or use dodgy substitutes.”

Island authorities say the shortage caused a public health risk.

“There’s a cutthroat black market for lionfish meat – real and fake,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Yobbos are selling parrotfish, day-old land crab, you name it, as lionfish. The clinic’s full of sick tourists. A supply of farm-raised fish should put an end to that.”

To create a suitable facility, Valve enlisted the aid of local marine biologists.

“We’re using an abandoned 20,000-gallon cistern out back of Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort,” said lead scientist Peachy Bottoms. “It’s the only place on Blacktip big enough. We tried doing it in the resort pool, but there were a couple of ugly incidents with small children. And a cat.

“The real trick was getting them to breed,” Bottoms said. “They’re nocturnal pelagic spawners, so we had to set up mirrors and video screens to simulate the open ocean. And a disco ball to simulate a full moon.”

Animal welfare groups, however, oppose the farm.

“These genetically-modified fish are raised in crowded, filthy conditions,” said Harry Pickett, president of Blacktip’s People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals chapter. “Instead of the natural joys of seeing coral or hunting their own prey, they spend their lives in total confinement from the moment they hatch until the instant they’re slaughtered.”

The program’s creators say the fish are better off than their wild counterparts.

“Our lionfish have it made,” Valve said. “They have no predators, besides us, and we raise them free of ocean pollutants. We don’t use hormones or antibiotics or free-radical gluten like other fish farms, either.

“They get a nutrient-rich diet of wet and dry cat food,” Valve said. “And Oreos. It speeds their growth and gives the flesh a fresh, sweet flavor.”

Local businesses are jumping on the aquaculture bandwagon despite the P.E.T.A. protests.

“We’re building an interactive theme park around the place,” said resort owner Sandy Bottoms. “Calling it ‘Lionfish World.’ Gonna have lionfish feeding pools, lionfish petting pools, Kevlar glove rentals and the chance to pick out which fish you want speared for dinner.”

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Misprint Sparks Mayhem at Blacktip Island Poetry Slam

800px-Black-bellied_whistling_ducks_(Dendrocygna_autumnalis)

Blacktip Island Poetry Slam winner Reg Gurnard’s West Indian whistling ducks prepare to take the stage Thursday afternoon on the small Caribbean island. (photo by Charles J. Sharp)

 

Five Blacktip Island residents were hospitalized and an estimated 14 chickens and four ducks were injured Thursday after flyers for the Heritage Society’s annual Poetry Slam were incorrectly printed as “Poultry Slam.”

“We called the order in to the print shop, same as ever, and I clearly said ‘poetry,’” Heritage Society president Doris Blenny said. “Clete Horn read the text back to me, but he was slurring his words at the time and I guess we both misunderstood.

“The first sign of trouble was when twenty-plus people showed up at the Heritage House with poems in hand and birds under their arms,” Blenny said.

“The announcement said ‘poultry,’” island poet Alison Diesel said. “It seemed odd, but it is Blacktip Island, after all. I practiced for days – thawed Cornish hens, mostly – and wrote two sonnets set to the same beat. Rhyming with a live hen, though, in front of an audience, it’s harder than you’d think.”

Organizers proceeded with the event as advertised, but the performances were halted by animal rights protestors.

“It was crazy enough, with our local bards spouting verse and waving their chickens,” the Heritage Society’s Blenny said. “Then the PETA people stormed the stage and the feathers really flew.”

“Abusing birds so flagrantly, we had to cry foul,” local People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals president Harry Pickett said. “Sure, some of our folks got a bit out of hand, but really, thwacking chickens like that, those so-called artistes deserved a sock in the puss.”

Thirteen participants were charged with animal cruelty. Eight protestors were charged with battery. Several poets also were disqualified due to their over-reliance on duck-related rhyme schemes.

“This is a family event, after all,” Blenny said.

A handful of contestants dodged legal trouble by opting for figurative interpretations of the event’s theme.

“I slammed my Rhode Island Red rooster but good,” contestant Led Waite said. “Insulted him every which way, in rhyme royal, no less. I should’ve won some sort of prize.”

Other finalists substituted fried chicken and roast duck for living poultry. The winner used a gentler approach, with live birds.

“I trained each of my West Indian whistling ducks to quack a different note when I smacked them on the head,” Slam champion Reg Gurnard said. “It made for excellent counterpoint, me rapping and them quacking. And none of them the worse for wear.”

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Island Scofflaws Face Running of the Iguanas

Blacktip Island rock iguanas will chase petty criminals to honor St. Dervil, the island’s patron saint of scuba diving and iguana husbandry.

Blacktip Island rock iguanas will chase petty criminals to honor St. Dervil, the island’s patron saint of scuba diving and iguana husbandry.

Saturday marks Blacktip Island’s 433nd Running of the Iguanas, recreating St. Dervil’s original herding of rock iguanas to his Caribbean island monastery and converting them to Christianity in 1544.

“Dervil shared a one-room shack with dozens of those suckers,” island historian Smithson Altschul said. “Called them ‘monks.’ Taught them Gregorian chants. Records say they sang like the dickens.”

“To get the iguanas inside, Dervil’d run in front of the them with handfuls of fruit,” Altschul said. “Got people into church that way, too.

“After he died, islanders kept up the run, with folks racing in front of the iguanas, trying to make it to the kraal without getting mauled.”

The modern-day Running serves a more practical purpose.

“The runners are all residents convicted of minor crimes,” said Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette. “It’s the only way we can get through to some of these people. If they finish the run, their debt to society’s paid.

“We smear all the shoplifters, deadbeats and drink-drivers with fresh fruit, then turn the lizards loose,” I.P.C. Marquette said. “Bystanders are encouraged to throw fruit and vegetables as they pass.”

Runners are dressed in traditional white shirt and trousers, with a red waistband and neckerchief for easy identification.

“We set up barricades to keep the runners on course,” event organizer Jay Valve said, “but with just the one road, it’s more to keep the iguanas from running off into the bushes. The crowd sings a quick benediction, we shoot a skyrocket, and off they go.

“We had a couple of nasty clawings last year,” Valve said. “You have to expect that, though. You trip and fall, you’re gonna pay the price. But these are adjudicated criminals we’re dealing with here.”

“The Running also lets transgressors atone for their sins,” said the former-Reverend Jerrod Ephesians, head of the island’s Interfaith Committee. “Last year’s Running was cathartic. The slashing I got was way more rehabilitative than any week in jail.

“We’ve also revived the traditional baptism of the iguanas afterward,” Ephesian said. “We try to get the iguanas to sing along with the benediction, too, but so far’ve only gotten a couple to hum.”

Island animal rights activists decry the Running.

“It’s barbaric penning wild animals, then forcing them to harm people,” said island PETA representative Harry Pickett. “This isn’t natural behavior. And iguanas are being baptized willy-nilly, regardless of any stated religious affiliation.”

Event organizers downplayed those concerns.

“No iguanas are harmed in the Running,” Jay Valve said. “It’s not like we’re staging iguana fights later. The iguanas get fed. Then saved.

“Do people get hurt? Sure. But they have it coming.”

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