Columns Saugatuck/Douglas Commercial Record

Blue Star

By Scott Sullivan
Fish Story
A leading suspect has emerged in the case of the spinning smalltooth sawfish: algae.
For months ichthyologists have puzzled over what’s ailing and killing dozens of fish species off the Florida Keys. In what NBC News calls “a frantic race” to save the endangered creatures, they now think toxins from seafloor algae are the culprit.
When I was young, Al G was Al Gore, Jr. aka “Prince Albert,” son of a Tennessee Senator. Jr. soon became one himself.
He attended St. Alban’s prep school and Harvard, where he started running for student government his second day on campus. What ensued is the stuff of legends, several of which he made up.
Al G claimed Erich Segal based his 1970 bestselling novel “Love Story,” later made an equally tearjerking movie, on himself and now ex-wife Tipper. He invented the internet too, supposedly. He served two terms as Vice President, then got elected President, but that’s only part true.
Since winning the 2000 popular vote but losing the Electoral College tally to George Bush the Younger, Al G has been passionate about aving the planet, a work still in progress.
My theory is now, like a bitter Triton, Al G eradicates schools of fish in the state which cost him his turn to be Free World Leader. Why else would stingrays swim upside down and lemon sharks whirl violently in the mud?
David Bowie and Freddy Mercury’s song “Under Pressure” has nothing on what Keys scientists are feeling from fishing and tourism industries. “Our economy is built on tourism,” says Allison Delashmit, head of the Lower Keys Guides Association. “It’s not a good look to have spinning fish on the water and broadcasting it without knowing what it is.”
So media should keep it silent? Lot of good that will do for thodr who lose fishing and hospitality jobs no more explanation than “unforeseen circumstances.” They may turn to conspiracy theories dumber than even minde.
Fishermen first saw prey spinning in October, says fisheries ecologist Ross Boucek with the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust. “When they (anglers) shined their lights, fish would turn upside down and spin to the bottom.”
Recent research has ID’d a cocktail of natural toxins in both seawater and dead-fish tissues. But algae was there before, so what’s changed? PFA proliferation? Scientists’ heads are spinning.
“I don’t think anything can reasonably be ruled out right now,” says Alison Bertson of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. That doesn’t cut it for businesses that need answers Operation Wart Speed, even ones made up.
I headed for Oval Beach, the nearest coast I could, to offer help. The blonde from Patagonia was still there looking for Northern Lights.
“See any spinning sawfish?” I asked.
“They don’t live in freshwater,” she replied.
“Nor saltwater lately. Look!”
Algae was surfacing in Lake Michigan next to Al G surfing. “Can you hang ten?” she cried to him. “Or chads at least? He said he invented the Beach Boys,” she said to me.
Smalltooth sawfish aren’t what they seem. They are rays made of flexible cartilage instead of skeletons. They have long flat snouts edged with teeth-like but soft,protrusions with no more bite than a Biden ultimatum to Netanyahu.
While Al G hung chads he tried to ape Abe “The Railsplitter” Lincoln chopping wood to burn and add more to the carbon footprint along with the dead-fish stench his lies were leaving.
“Wouldn’t a saw be easier?” I asked.
“I tried with those fish, but they didn’t work,” he cursed.
“Smalltooth sawfish killer!” shouted Patagonia.
“It’s a mistake,” I tried telling Al G, but he couldn’t hear over onshore voters who oohed and ahhed at his feats. He chopped so hard he split his surfboard, which, without missing a beat, he turned into water skis.
“Your Save the World words,” Patagonia railed, “drip poison honey. Plumbers can raise sinks and rays can sink to the bottom. Down, down, we all go!”
“One of her moods ..” I consoled Al. “Anyone could mistake a smallmouth sawfish snout for a Stanley Rip Saw. Look!”
A steelhead leapt from the lake. “We expect a bumper crop,” I said. “They eat midges that feed on algae, so they’ll grow big. Then there are zebra mussels …”
“You can’t make a zebra change spots,” Al G proclaimed..
“Not striped horses, moron” cried Patagonia. “Mussels!”
Al G flexed.
“What if PFAs make you toxic in freshwater too?” she demanded.
“Wouldn’t it be nice?” he sang.
“Algae in spots,” I said, “are invasive, but native to our planet. PFAs are not. We must build a wall between life and the waters we depend on that we’ve turned toxic.”
“How many cubits should we build the ark?” Al G asked. “How much room for animals? We may have to cull.”
“We already are,” I said.

Leave a Reply