It's just me, but I think this blue-spotted fantail ray (Taeniura lymma) looks much better alive on the reef than on the barbecue pit where meagre slices of cartilageous meat are downed with spices and stout. Still, this elasmobranch is still less threatened than some of its larger, pelagic cousins (find out more about whale sharks at an upcoming talk!) and other top predators of the sunlit shallows, which continue to fall prey to the notion that the seas are inexhaustible. But worry not! Once the potent combination of global warming and outright destruction of coral reefs, including what remains around Singapore's shores, has done its job to decimate these fruitful marine habitats, we won't have to worry about silly niceties such as sustainable fishing. Within 50 years, there will probably be little or no seafood left to catch.
Also a target of finatical gourmands are rabbitfish, which are coastal herbivores. Some people see the gravid females full of roe as an auspicious delicacy, as the fish breed during the Lunar New Year period early in the year. Like its terrestrial counterparts, the fish surely disapproves the curious practice of catching en masse creatures just when they are on the verge of spawning potential new generations. But what can one expect from a culture where plants and animals are sought after less for their culinary or nutritional worth than connotations of prosperity that arise from a quirk of nomenclature (think facai fungi and the poor animals that bear the name 'yu'), and (the issue of cruelty aside) which seems incapable of grasping the notion of sustainability and extinction? To these people, the perceived potency of downing eau de tigre surpasses all other considerations, and a creature that has bestowed its name and evocative power onto countless companies, creative works and cultures is now reduced to a farmed beast of ill fate and tradable commodity. It seems the Chinese will only be content when Ol' Stripes is reduced to a myth on par with its reptilian peer on the eastern zodiac. And
thereafter even now, it's the other king of the jungle who's the next target of bone lovers needing help to boost their boners.