I just love PETA. No — I really do. (That of course is the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, though I know a few anglers who insist that they belong to a different PETA -- People Eating Tasty Animals). Those folks are just so zany and entertaining, and we can always use a good laugh these days.
I mean, I was still chuckling over PETA’s recent campaign to persuade major ice-cream manufacturers to substitute human breast milk for cow’s milk (as Dave Barry likes to say, I am not making this up), when along comes a campaign to “Save the Sea Kittens.”
Being a typically uninformed ravager of the sea like me, you’re probably wondering what a “sea kitten” might be. True, it’s not exactly intuitive. “Sea kitten” replaces that archaic term for the finny things we pursue — formerly known as “fish.” (No, I’m not making this up, either.)
Why? Turning logic inside-out in its typically quaint fashion, PETA explains the need to stop using the word “fish” because that “name can also be used as a verb that means driving a hook through [a fish’s] head.” (I don’t know about you, but that pretty accurately describes all the fish I catch.) “Who,” PETA asks, “could possibly want to put a hook through a sea kitten?”
Who, indeed? If you want some nice tackle, cheap, see the ad I just posted on Craig’s List for all my rods and reels. I had no problem mindlessly slaughtering fish by the hundreds, as of course all fishermen strive to do, but now that it’s come to hurting poor sea kittens ... my God! What sort of brute do you take me for?
PETA’s website describes, for example, a poor sea kitten that spent years “watching her friends and family being hooked through the mouth and dragged into a harsh, alien world.” The upshot? Watching that “have [sic] driven her mad with grief.” Think about it, you swine: How many fish have you driven mad with grief?
And PETA points out that the name change will ensure no one buys fish to eat ever again. Eating fish is bad enough, but who in his right mind would order a fillet of sea kitten? (Just as well, since PETA reminds us that, “All fish flesh today is contaminated with heavy metals and other toxins.” In fact, “fish flesh is just about the most polluted thing that humans put into their bodies”! Maybe that explains my recent green glow in dark rooms.)
And for you spiritual anglers, note that PETA suggests you can still get right with God by giving up your evil ways, as it is “un-Christian to torture and kill fish” (if you practice any other faith, you’ll need to consult PETA for a ruling on torturing sea kittens).
In four years, we might have a sea kitten in a large tank occupying the White House — with any luck. After all, says PETA, sea kittens are “cuter and smarter than the president of the United States.”
I now call upon my fellow sea kitteners who still insist upon catching poor marine felines to at least stroke them before setting them gently in the fish box — sorry, in the sea-kitten box. Why? Well, duh! “Like their surface-dwelling cousins, the land kittens [not including a couple of Siamese cats I know], sea kitties enjoy being petted. Their lack of arms makes it difficult for them to pet back, but they often gently rub against each other as a sign of affection,” PETA informs us. Sure, I love to stroke freshly gaffed wahoo as much as the next guy, because I know how that pussycat with razor-lined jaws appreciates it. And now I can better appreciate gazing starry-eyed at scads in a livewell, rubbing and purring in their big love fest that, in my ignorance, I somehow failed to notice all these years.
It’s time you started to realize how adorable all sea kittens are. “Sea kittens talk to each other through squeaks, squeals and other low-frequency sounds that humans can only hear through special instruments. Most ichthyologists — scientists who specialize in sea-kitten biology — agree that this is just about the cutest thing ever.” For example, last week I watched a mako shark bite off the tail of a swordfish, disabling it and dooming it, and then swim off. That was so darn cute, I just wanted to reach out and pet that little mako sea kitten!
Trust me, fellow sea-kitten chasers, this is going to spread and change our sport forever (no less than, for example, PETA’s campaign has changed all ice cream from cows’ milk to breast milk). For example, just one fisheries management official, Spud Woodward, who is Georgia’s chief of marine fisheries, says he’s figuring on proposing an Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Coast Sea Kittens. “I want the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) to be the nation's leader in protecting our valuable sea-kitten resources.” Woodward acknowledges that may mean the ASMFC dropping other plans, but Woodward says the importance of managing sea kittens renders separate management plans for species like striped bass or red drum “insignificant.” And who could argue with that logic?
So there you have it, my fellow sea-kitty lovers. Hug one today. And by the way, don’t look for Sport Fishing magazine on the newsstands starting next issue. We’re now, proudly, Sea Kitten magazine. Thanks, PETA!