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Tuesday, September 21, 2021


by Rémy Dambron

A new study in the journal Current Biology has published some stark news: one third of the world’s Chondrichthyan fishes – sharks, rays, and chimaeras – are threatened with extinction according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List criteria. —Forbes, September 15, 2021

They arrive in massive ships
industrialized killing machines perfected 

for the hunt.
Nets stretching far and wide

enough to ensnare an island, 
sprawling from the wakes of the stern like

giant mechanical tentacles 
baited with the flesh of bonita, king mackerel, ladyfish 

eager to grab hold 
of any life form that touches it.

Sea turtles, dolphins
blue fin tuna, birds, even whales

an endless list 
all by the day falling prey 

to the savage entanglement
collateral damage, what they call bycatch.

As if this were somehow normal, 
fisherman reeling in their lines 

knives at the ready
taking seconds to sever the sharks’ limbs,

stacking them up into piles 
like gambling chips on a casino floor 

waiting for the highest bidder, 
who will market them to purveyors 

who will sell them to chefs
who will prepare them for servers

who will present them to fancy diners
high-profile entrepreneurs,

hedge funders and yacht goers,
the power hungry and privileged

plotting the expansion of their empires, 
anxious to boost their status

by flaunting one hundred dollars 
for a bowl of distasteful soup.

While somewhere, off the coast
not far from their lavish banquet

bleeding bodies slide down a ramp
back into the sea from which they were poached 

unable to maneuver.

Hearts still pumping. 
Eyes still watching.

Electroreceptors still firing, 
fully processing the repugnance 

of their own slaughter
as their living remains plummet, 

down into the deep. 

Author's note: It may be hard to find compassion for ocean life when the lives of humans, every day, are being attacked by disease, violence, and unconstitutional legislation. But to dismiss the perils of our environment is to turn a blind eye to a global crisis that, on its own, poses the greatest threat to our collective existence.

Rémy Dambron is an author and activist whose work focuses primarily on denouncing political corruption and advocating for social and environmental justice. His poetry has appeared on What Rough Beast, The New Verse News, Poets Reading the News, and Writers Resist.