This is about fish (as the title might suggest)...
I have heard that people travel to Mauritius to snorkel and scuba dive because to the abundant sea life. I spotted one decent size fish (it looks better in profile, but the bloody thing turned!) and one school of minnows during my 9 day stay. In the Maldives, fish were abundant every time I peered into the water and more-abundant each time I stuck my face in the water wearing a diving mask.
That said, I enjoyed the best tuna of my life caught in the water off Mauritius. That says a lot, because I have eaten very expensive tuna in Japan and in top Japanese restaurants. Those folks are supposed to know a thing or two about tuna. I hope that they do not discover Mauritius.
Anyway, I spoke with a local man fishing off the beach of the hotel (all beaches are open to the public in Mauritius). I commented on my lack of sightings and asked about his luck. He had had none that day. He explained that fishing had declined and the reefs been shrinking for years. This man has first-hand knowledge of the effects of climate change that US politicians deny. Guess who’s smarter: the one trying to feed his family or the ones bought off by lobbyist?
Dubai has an impressive aquarium, which is located in a mall (also has a skating rink suitable for ice hockey). One four-story glass wall is available for all to see, but one can pay to go inside for more displays and a better view from below and above. The amount and variety of sea life is amazing (a word I do not use often or lightly, unlike many people).
The last aquarium I visited, several year ago, was in Sydney. It was not as large or as impressive. Seems strange that a desert nation would have a bigger and better fish tank than a continent surrounded by seas.
If you want to see fish in all shapes, colors, and sizes, they fly to the Maldives, find a mask, and stick your face in the water. Of course, most fish hang out around reefs, but they also range far and wide.
Each day, many come to the hotel for a daily feeding. If you think fish are dumb animals, think again. Fish and manta rays return each day to the same spot to get free food...just like some humans.
Tonight, we had dinner at a restaurant over the water. Under water lights revealed fish passing our table as we ate. I decided not to order fish...or crab.
If you want an idea about how clear the water is, study the below photo.
That is not a shadow in the water, rather a school of small fish. If one watches long enough, a larger fish will dash through the crowd and cause them to scatter. It is difficult to tell if the bigger fish satiated his hunger, but that’s what Mother Nature told him to do.
I doubt that anyone, who has stood in line at McDonalds for a Filet-o-Fish (I never have), has ever considered what it would be like to have to catch one own's fish. Or given any thought to the logistical process of getting that food onto his or her tray.
I also doubt that the guy in the photo below, who understands the logistics of putting food on the table each, has ever stood in line at a McDonalds. At least, his supply chain is shorter and simpler.
My grandmother told stories about my grandfather, who died when I was two. He would rise early to fish at his "secret" fishing hole to catch his breakfast. The location of his favorite spot accompanied him to his grave, but I have no need for the knowledge. I live too far away and do not eat fish for breakfast.
Times have changed, since American ate hearty breakfasts. No one goes fishing to catch his or her breakfast. (In his day, men fished, but emancipation has conquered America.) People now eat sweetened cereal or pop tarts, which are not much sweeter. And, little fresh water fish is even available for other meals, thanks to pollution and politicians.
Which brings me to my point...
Today, I enjoyed fresh perch from Lake Como, sitting in a restaurant beside the very water from which my lunch was caught. There might be a spot, but I know of no lake in the United States from which one can have a meal.
I cannot think of a spot on this planet where I would rather be...
I like sea bass. I do not the recall the first time I enjoyed this fish. It could have been London, where it is often found on menus. It might have been earlier, when I did not know what I was being served. Anyways, I chose this dish each time it appears on a menu, because I do not find this fine fish in Germany.
Although my family ate much seafood, I recall mostly haddock and swordfish. My mother enjoyed lobster and my father preferred clams, but I stuck with simple fish. Even in later life, when I took my children to visit my parents in New England, I ate swordfish and everyone else ate lobster (which is plentiful in those parts). I recall with pleasure my grandmother’s rendition of fish chowder, made with cheap haddock.
Bass has a special place in my memory, and I do not mean some tony restaurant in London, Dubai, or Hong Kong. I recall spending many hours of my youth with my father on some deserted Atlantic beach, as he sought to catch a striped bass. He spent years trying...and never caught one. Like so many frustrated lottery players, he tried all his life. Hours on a cold beach, watching someone cast a hook repeatedly into the surf would not rate as fun for the current wired generations, but I must have enjoyed something about it. Perhaps, it was merely the fact of spending time with my father, because I do not recall casting a line.
I guess that, besides the agony of his Captain Ahab moments, we did not suffer. We always ate well, despite the lack of bass. He still could enjoy friend clams from a roadside stand on Cape Cod, and I always had salt water taffy.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.