I’ve had a soft spot for animals long before I got interested in photographing them. Don’t know where it comes from – I’m a devoted carnivore and would hunt if required for food – but it’s been there for as long as I can remember. As such, I don’t have much sympathy for people who don’t respect animals either carelessly or intentionally. You know those commercials about sending money to help the animals? The ones with the close images of sorrowful looking pets? That moves me but if they really want my money they should ask for funds to take the pet abusers out in the public square and flog them periodically. Call it the law of the jungle approach to justice. Not exactly the 15 minutes of fame people in our narcissistic world are probably looking for but certainly action fitting the crime.
Having said that, I realize accidents happen and sometimes what we do may be far removed from the consequences to the point where personal remedy just isn’t possible. Still, a little forethought about the impact our behaviors may have can go a long way toward minimizing adversity for the animals around us. We are commanded to be stewards of the world, not its dictators.
I got to thinking about this a few days ago while looking at some images I made while practicing with my long lens. Here is my subject and the issue that started me thinking:
See that thin line leading from the back of the turtle to its head? Those aren’t iPad earphones in spite of how ubiquitous those devices are. No, that’s fishing line leading to a hook that is stuck in the turtle’s mouth. It probably grabbed the bait that was on the hook and got itself stuck. The line ends just about its tail so there seems little danger of it getting tangled up but there’s still that hook embedded in its mouth.
I don’t know if turtles can feel pain or not but having that hook in its mouth has to be a problem with eating, either from pain or simply getting in the way. If I could have caught it and removed the hook I would have but that tire it’s setting on was about 8 feet away from the shore (this was LONG lens practice, remember) and turtles are notorious for slipping into the water the instant they see any threatening shape. So all I could do was record this event and remember my soft spot.
Now I’ve done some fishing in my time and I’ve snagged hooks so badly I had to break the line to get free so I’ve probably left my share of baited hooks lying around lakes and ponds. Certainly without a care as to what might become of them. And I’ve been hooked before by errant casts (not mine) and know those hooks hurt, going in and coming out. With that in mind any fishing I do in the future will be done with this image in mind so that what I do while fishing will be in the spirit of steward. I offer this image to others and ask they keep that spirit a part of their actions as well. We inflict enough pain on each other – certainly we can minimize the amount we inflict on the animals sharing the planet with us.