I noticed the signs as we made our way around the Albuquerque Aquarium, trying to see a few things besides the sharks which my granddaughter was preoccupied with. In this beautiful facility, one our state should be proud of, there were frequent notices telling viewers that a particular exhibit — occasionally even a particular fish — was underwritten by this club, or that club, or some business.
Because my wife is a vocation rehabilitation counselor, I took special notice of the barracuda, in light of the above signs and sponsorships. Oh, there were several barracudas, but the one that caught my attention was the special needs barracuda, which I believe would be a good marine dweller for the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation to sponsor. His back was deformed in such a way that, had it been necessary for him to survive in the wild- well, he wouldn’t. There, however, in the confines of the Albuquerque Aquarium, is a safe home and a way to make his journey in the world.
Yes, I admit it, I have always had a soft spot for barracudas, even as my granddaughter has for sharks. To explore what this says about either or both of us is beyond the scope of this article; if you cannot appreciate their beauty, they probably repulse you.
Beyond that, however, I was reminded once again of the occasions on which we, as the human species, occasionally manage to take care of the animals lower on the food chain than ourselves. Whether or not the aquarium participates in rescue activities, I don’t know, but there were several fish living within its tanks who would not have stood a chance in the wild.
I was reminded of the duck who has lived for years out at Ned Houk Park. Though not domestic in the strict sense, these waterfowl obviously live in a controlled environment. Which I believe suits this duck just fine, as he has only the bottom half of a bill. Again, any place rife with natural predators or with limited food and fierce competition, this duck would have never gotten beyond duckling. In the cozy park, he lives out a life with food and shelter.
More than a few times, my column has been devoted to the problems, which we as humans have created in our environment. There’s no begging the question, that is true. We have created long term and short term messes, mostly within the past 150 years, and it remains to be seen what we will do about those we can fix, if indeed we can do anything.
It’s only fair and balanced, though, to note that there are times and places where we can provide safe haven for individual animals, birds, fish. I remember walking along a beach in North Carolina a number of years ago, scooping in a plastic cup a fingerling barracuda (yes, barracuda), which had gotten stranded in tidal pools in a storm and taking them out 15 or 20 feet beyond the surf line.
Small difference, perhaps, but large results emerge from myriad small differences.