In the list of the world’s biggest aquaria, the Florida aquarium in Tampa doesn’t really figure. It took us between an hour and an hour and a half yesterday to see all we needed and that was pretty generous. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in diversity and the aquarium delivered some beautiful species of fish and animals that we would never normally have a chance to see.

The environments are quite eye-catching and in the main, the creatures there have a mostly decent life.

No big surprise then that I got some decent shots and have attached them at the end of this blog.

I hope you enjoy.

In general, I object to zoos and lump aquaria into the same category. For smaller creatures it can be argued that they provide a decent environment for those that live there, but I wholeheartedly object to any large creatures having to live out their lives on display and in (oftentimes) settings that are miniscule compared to their natural habitat.

There was a large alligator there (which I chose not to photograph) and he looked so sad, imprisoned in a tiny pool to the amusement of loud children screaming and tapping on the glass inches away from him. Four penguins stood in a melancholy display, clearly in distress or at the very least depressed at what this life had served up for them.

The sharks that swam in the larger tanks were impressive but again their range in such a tank is probably .001% of what life in the wild would afford them.

All these creatures were imprisoned for no crime and handed out life sentences that we would shudder at receiving, even if we had murdered someone.

Now, as aquaria go, I am sure that the people there in Tampa try their best to care for and provide comfort to the creatures that are imprisoned there. I even hear the argument that some of these creatures are rehabbed and possibly not even suitable for the wild.

But I don’t buy it. I think that is subtle propaganda that justifies us imprisoning them.

When zoos and aquaria were invented, the public had no access to ever see such creatures and though now we are inundated with video of almost all of the natural world’s most elusive creatures at the touch of our remote, our desire to put creatures on display for us has not abated.

Living creatures have a right to life and their right supersedes our desire to gawp and be entertained.

Florida has the most wonderful natural environment of any I have ever been privileged to witness and just this weekend we spent hours on the trails at Circle B watching creatures live out their lives without the shackles that humanity has placed on their less fortunate cousins.

Yes, there was life AND death on display as those at the bottom of the food chain sustained those nearer the top. But even they had a life BEFORE their death.

Humans have decreed for themselves a role of dominance over animals to the point where we wrote in our bibles that god decided that they were there for our needs. Apparently we can eat them, clothe ourselves in their skins, plus anything else that we deem a “need”.

Industries have flourished off the backs of these poor creatures and not happy enough with the written word that encouraged us to hunt and kill any creature we encounter in the wild, we then raise them for our purposes to where they never exist in the wild at all.

As a footnote, it is worth pointing out that humans weren’t even meant to be carnivores. If you look our teeth and digestive systems, they were meant for eating and chewing grains and vegetables and such. We only added meat to our diet because it gave purpose to our desire to kill.

But whoever the god we worship, the result is always the same. Creatures suffer and we thrive.

There are over 8 billion of us on the planet now. It took over 200,000 years for us to populate to a level of 1 billion and only another 200 years to climb to 8 billion. Meanwhile through mass hunting, extermination, and environmental theft and destruction, we have forced the numbers of non-human creatures in the opposite direction, making many of them extinct or near-extinct through our efforts.

How on earth does this sound right to anyone?

Yet the right wing and religious radicals continue to push for population growth through lack of contraception, anti-abortion, and reproduction encouragement programs.

“More babies! More babies!” they scream all the while consuming and enslaving those creatures unfortunate enough to be caught up in our growth.

Those that aren’t eaten or exterminated become pets as our entertainment and companionship is apparently a godly need also. So we breed creatures to fulfill those roles too.

Is it any wonder then, that classes of noisy school-children parade through the corridors of aquaria and zoos all around the world screaming and confusing those poor little creatures gathered in display for their amusement?

Where is the sentiment of respect and honor for all creatures of the planet? Where is the concern shown or the care given to any creature, when we educate the unaborted young that we are supposed to flourish in absurd numbers while all around us other creatures pay the price and go extinct?

But it’s OK. We will always have video to look at or those bred for display should we need them. I mean they are only a collection of bright colors and interesting shapes after all. Creatures don’t have souls like us humans. Ours is the kingdom of heaven.

… just a thought.


Babies present an interesting insight into humanity.

As I drove down Walker Road the other day I noticed a new face in a field; a sweet little baby donkey sticking very close to her mother and taking her first steps in a new life.

That I stopped and got out with my camera gives insight into the novelty that I hang on when seeing young elements of nature in its bloom.

I have been so overrun for weeks now that I haven’t shot nor wrote a blog and despite a habitual promise that I would “do so tomorrow”, tomorrow never seemed to arrive and another day and week rolled by.

I have been locked in a heavy battle against the tyranny of business failings and it has soaked my every moment in trying to outwit it. I am not winning yet, but I will one day, or so I hope.

And hope is the very thing that I wanted to write about this morning when I looked at the pics of the beautiful little donkey.

When a creature of any sort enters the world, they do so without any afore-knowledge and the slate of life is clean, waiting to be written for them.

It is this blank slate that allows them to hope that their lives might be good, full of purpose, or meaningful in some unknown way.

Baby calves have no idea that their final destiny is to end up torn into pieces and displayed in cellophane wrapping on a shelf in Publix. In fact, none of what we consider “livestock” do. And it is that lack of knowledge that allows them to prance about in a field, without a care in the world.

We too begin our journey with hope. It may be for a better life than we were born into, or to achieve the unachievable. But whatever it is, we are born full of it. Many people remain full of it later in life but in this case hope is replaced by shit.

There comes a realization in all our lives that there is very little say to be had in controlling our destiny and to imagine otherwise is a fool’s errand. Life has a way of beating the shit out of the best of us and rewarding those who tread on others and treat the world like their own playground. So, fairness becomes a concept that seems to get lost quite early on.

Those of us with a mind to can run around in circles desperately trying to find a meaning to it all and looking for something that makes sense in a positive way. Those without a mind choose religion and focus their mind away from this life in hope that there is another one beyond.

The real problem regardless of your choice in this matter is that hope is very much a two-edged sword. It can provide a light of positive belief or expectation in a dark world. But it also distracts away from the existence we are now locked in.

And at the end of the day, anything that distracts us away from the present is more than likely a disabler when it comes to making our existence (and those around us) any better.

Dante’s inferno when describing the gateway to hell has the well-known saying “abandon hope, all ye who enter here” but little did he know that hell is here on earth and those words are more likely inscribed on the inner lining of the birth canal.

… just a thought (albeit not a happy one).