When I am working in the Philippines office, whenever I get the chance to go for a snorkel on the nearby beach, I jump at the chance. Nowadays I am mostly behind the laptop so these chances are getting fewer and far between, but I still try and make the effort to go for an evening swim after work to blow off the office cobwebs. #Yesterday, following the same route that I always swim running parallel to the shore for a mile I came across a familiar sight, a cuttlefish staying very still as I mash away overhead in my usual ungainly way. Where we are based, we are very blessed to have all sorts out there including Hairy and Painted Frogfish, Flamboyant Cuttlefish, Ornate Ghost Pipefish, Cockatoo Waspfish, Mimic Octopus and many other species that I don’t recognise including numerous Nudibrach species. I stopped to have a closer look at this large common cuttlefish and ducked down to check it out. I was barely a metre down, about 3 meters from it, when it did something I have never witnessed. It zipped away like the UFO’s they are often referred to and vanished into the distance more than 30 odd metres away out of sight. That’s a long way to go and a lot of energy to spend, and something that doesn’t add up to the threat in my opinion. They normally allow you to come within a good metre of it and calmly stare back at you equally as intrigued. I laughed and swam on but it did made me think. Why……why run away?
As I came closer to my usual turnaround point to head back, I thought about it more and more and related to it in that, in life it is much easier to run away. When something doesn’t appeal or go the way you want it to, or at times if you get scared the easy thing to do is…run away. I work with people, from all countries, religious beliefs and backgrounds who are all involved in the environmental sector be it an NGO, a national government department or simply a local stakeholder and they all share the ability to demonstrate similar responses, as mankind usually does. For too many years, people have been running, running away from the obvious truth that we as a species are harming the environment we so critically depend on. Off the back of the latest IPCC report, I believe that something has change, in my lifetime.
There are always choices in life, and you can see this throughout the animal kingdom in the well document fight or flight response. A classic example of flight is if you sneak up on a cat and make a loud noise it is likely you won’t see if for the rest of the day. Similarly if the same cat is confronted by a dog, it is likely to arch its back and make itself big and scary and stand it’s ground – fight. I believe that to take flight is easier than to stand and fight. For too long politicians, the general public and many others in a position to act have been zipping away from the problem just like the mad cuttlefish I witnessed. I have been put in many positions in my life where it is easier to run but I know that this will not change anything and we NEED to start to make changes. Corals are disappearing, seas are rising in height and our weather systems are getting all out of whack. Time to arch our backs people and stand our ground. Put it like this, if we all stood our ground we probably wouldn’t be in the precarious environmental situation we are in today! I am not saying we need to all be anarchists, just that we need to talk about these issues such as fossil fuel use, the way we fish our oceans and the constant threat from pollution and litter and stop pretending they are not an issue anymore. Let’s not be scared Cuttlefish.
See you out on the reef!