We, the fish, would like a word.
We, the fish, ask you to stop arguing and help us. We understand fighting is a cornerstone of America, a diversion like baseball or a game we call “brush the tourist leg.” Working together to solve problems is not your strong suit, and we can teach the benefits of swimming in schools some other time.
We, the fish, have business now, the business of Red Tide. We do not have press conferences or a spokesperson, so we have decided to organize. We are having a really bad time! Maybe we have never had a worse time.
We, the fish, are dying in Pinellas County to the tune of hundreds of tons, and we need help to get our fallen friends out of here. The toxic algae that kills us gets worse the longer we linger. That means more of us are going to sleep with the, uh… never mind.
We, the fish, also represent the birds, dolphins, manatees, mollusks, shrimp, crabs, eels and anything that lives near water, excluding Clammy Carl, who hangs out by the Skyway and sells Popsicles out of a cooler. Though if you see Carl, please give him our best.
We, the fish, understand there is government money somewhere to help. Some of you say it’s under the mattress, and others say it’s behind the poster of the dogs playing poker. We would remind you it’s hidden all over, in the PVC bookshelves, sock drawers, coffee pot, bag of Wavy Lay’s. Just get that cheddar and bring it to us, the fish.
We, the fish, ask patience from the rest of you. Most people don’t think about us until inconvenienced. We reside in a briny chaos hidden from sight, like your guest room. Now, we are washing up in droves, and you hate us for it. We can’t win.
We, the fish, are sorry it smells bad, your beach day is ruined, you cannot play volleyball without coughing, your eyes water during a dockside dinner of, um, us. We apologize for harshening your mellow as you sit by the shore and listen to Katy Perry via Bluetooth. We don’t even like Katy Perry that much, but no one asks us, the fish.
We, the fish, find your surprise curious in a year when hundreds of millions of gallons of wastewater ran into our estuary from the Piney Point fertilizer plant. We’ve been trying to tell you about that one for years. Why do you think we flop out of the water so much? We cannot prove the plant made Red Tide so much worse, but we also know where Jimmy Hoffa is buried.
We, the fish, understand Red Tide is not new and will not ever stop happening. It’s an unfortunate part of being a Florida fish. But we are disheartened by your attitude toward the natural world you claim to love, your thirst for development and deregulation, your increasingly large decorative boat flags. We, the fish, were here first, but it feels like we might not be here last.
We, the fish, don’t want that, even though you eat us with tartar sauce on onion rolls. We want to exist in harmony, see our seagrasses restored, our waters healthy and thriving. Simply put, we want to freak out people from Michigan when they wade in.
P.S. - Money is taped to the back of the nightstand.
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