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July 16, 2006

Another Fish Story Shot Down

Tom McLaughlin

Humor by Tom McLaughlin

Lion's and tigers and bears, Oh my! Lions and tigers and bears, Oh my!

As a raving liberal, I just might challenge our notion that most bodies of water on the planet are dirty and need to be cleaned up. This revelation came to me when I was researching an article on the back bays behind Assateague and Ocean City. Everyone told me they were polluted and don't dare eat any shell, swimming, crawling, jelly or other fish that calls this area home.

My first stop was a biologist who is responsible for counting the fish. He informed it was the best baby fish hatch ever and the numbers rivaled last year. Wait a minute, my brain said. How could a juvenile fish live there if the area was so polluted? Must be something else.

I then checked out the areas that an agency had ruled closed to shellfish harvesting. This must have the water quality of battery acid, I concluded. A days march, like Bataan, through the bureaucracy revealed that only people who eat the fish raw, fresh from the shell - water to boat to mouth- or served the saltwater in glasses over ice at a party, were very remotely in danger of getting ill.

Still looking for my liberal press bias, I contacted the local county health department, who referred me to the local county environmental water department - not to be understandably confused with the drinking water department - and asked where they had closed vast acreage to the public.

"We haven't" was the reply.

But, but, but I sputtered seeing my headline and story relegated to the back pages of the good news department. We haven't closed anything in years.

Somebody must be secretly raking the clams in the forbidden areas to sell to raw bars throughout the world. These mollusks are capable of sickening at least one in every 10 million people or so.

I talked to my friends at the Maryland Marine Police and they hadn't even issued a warning citation in over 10 years for the area and they monitor very closely.

Ten years, eh? I said in Canadian.

Still no liberal, environmental story to strike fear in population to have people throw money at the problem.

The next research dealt with the problem of dissolved oxygen (the air fish breathe that is in the water, something akin to carbonated water only with oxygen and not fizzy)).

This must be a great scoop, though by now I was getting pretty leery, Timothy and otherwise. I checked the reporting stations up and down the bay. Yup, dissolved oxygen was well above the critical level. When I say well above I mean distance from here to the moon or one astronomical unit. I could not even say "approaching," "coming close," or any other words to indicate any kind of remote problem.

I then bought t a clam rake, took a basket and - by the light of the silvery moon - I went out and returned with a couple of baskets of forbidden clams. Since the warnings had been in effect for so many years, they were very plentiful and it took me all of five minutes to fill a chowder pot and more than enough for raw clams and hot sauce dip.

What I happened?

I wrote this, didn't I!

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