Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fish Ball?


I'm not really sure what to make of this article I read in today's Seattle Times. Here's an overview of the most disturbing points, and the best quotes:

"Solar surveys" spotted a big hunk in the Columbia River below the Bonneville dam about 50 miles outside of Portland. Engineers freaked out thinking it was a chunk of dam; that the dam was falling apart. Several PhD's from the Corps of Engineers went down and confirmed that it was not a dam ball, it was a fish ball (over 60,000 sturgeon, some up to 14 ft. long). Schwartz, the guy who oversees the dam, had these thoughts: "We call it the big sturgeon ball." "Normally they're pretty spread out. You don't see this balling behavior." Any final thoughts, Schwartz? "They were just lollygagging - definitely not expending energy."

My god, who is this guy?

The article quickly dismissed the Angry Sea Lions connection posed, undoubtedly, by the Angry (and recently wrongly accused) Fisherman's Defense lobby, who wondered if the ball was a giant, prehistoric defense system against all those predatory sea lions ("Defense Ball," I imagine Schwartz saying with a nod of his head). If you're at all involved in sea lion politics (and who isn't?) you know that there was the recent, nationally publicized Sea Lion massacre at the dam, which turned out to not be the Revenge of Angry Fisherman with high-powered rifles as initially reported in the national news, but something even worse - natural panic or heat stroke from being stuck in the trap for so long, a tidbit that barely made the local news.

And then, because the reporter couldn't get all his quotes from Schwartz, he got one from Parsley, a fisheries biologist: "They're the woolly mammoth, the saber-tooth tiger or the lion of the Columbia River," Parsley said. "There's just still a lot to be learned about them."

Now, I've eaten sturgeon before. Nobody informed me I was eating some sort of ancient woolly-mammoth-0f-the-sea. That would've given me pause, to say the least. Further research on my end revealed that the esteemed Portland seafood restaurant McCormick and Schmick's calls their woolly mammoth "The Stark Street Sturgeon" and cooks the post-ball beast (they get their sturgeon from the Columbia, so chances are you're eating a fish that was formally big balled) with basil Dijon and Good Point oysters. Yum.

6 comments:

sharon.horowitz said...

Let me get this straight... you won't eat a mammal, but will eat something smart enough to form a ball with its buddies in self defense?!? I'll bet chickens aren't that smart.

sharon.horowitz said...

And yes, I'm aware that chickens aren't mammals either.

Eden From Sweden said...

I knew I was going to get hell from the bacon eaters for fessing up to eating fish (like, maybe six times a year, in my defense).

Chicken's might not be smart, but they're super cute. I'll loan you my FABULOUS CHICKENS book someday. Do they have chicken's at the Central Park petting zoo, Sharon? :)

sharon.horowitz said...

I don't know. Never been. (That's a crappy zoo that's a pain to get to from where I am.) I forget if there are chickens in the Bronx Zoo, but I know for sure there are none in the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn.

janet said...

How hilarious! Who would have ever thought that a recluse like a sturgeon would ever show itself (even en masse), to a satellite?? Who among us has ever seen a sturgeon, except at the end of a hook, or (as you say) on a plate? Is this a result of global warming? Pollution? Red tide? A social evolution? Sharks? I thought sturgeon were scarce -- or at least too scarce to get together and form a ball that can be seen from a satellite? Yes, the lack of response to the seals dying in the trap was very disturbing to me too at the time. Don't shoot them, but it's perfectly fine to die slowly of heat in a trap. Maybe the sturgeon were having a summit about the inequity of it all.....

Sarah said...

I read something that said this might be a fish orgy. Orgy ball!