Fish­ing with Sharks

Special Focus - - Contents - Li Liesh­eng

Ihad a few en­coun­ters with sharks when I lived in South Amer­ica. I had bought a fish­ing boat large enough to ac­com­mo­date eight peo­ple. The en­gine was in­stalled on the out­board and it didn’t have a roof. I made deals with lo­cal fish­er­men: I paid for the boat and the gaso­line and they’d go fish­ing with me; and we’d split our gains 50/50. It was a win-win for every­one in­volved.

We chose to fish where the Caribbean Sea met the At­lantic Sea, which was the off­shore area of Ber­muda. Peo­ple shud­der at the men­tion of the name, but I didn’t give it too much thought. I be­lieved what the Can­tonese say, “Fear noth­ing and you live a peace­ful life.”

We caught sharks at times. But shark fins weren’t pop­u­lar in South Amer­ica and shark meat didn’t sell well be­cause of its bad taste. When a shark bites, the fish­er­man must be very care­ful when un­hook­ing it. A tight bite by a shark’s huge and sharp mouth could cost a fish­er­man a

whole hand.

We never cut a shark’s fin off be­fore re­leas­ing it back into the ocean. I didn’t know whether peo­ple did it else­where. To my knowl­edge, peo­ple would take the shark back and sold it to the poor. Sharks don’t have many bones, but they also don’t taste good. Eat­ing shark is like eat­ing ashes, def­i­nitely in­com­pa­ra­ble with the taste of grouper. The poor peo­ple cook it with curry, co­conut milk, vanilla, and other in­gre­di­ents and eat it with bread. It was much bet­ter pre­pared this way, but I only had it once. One time we caught a white shark that weighed around 150 pounds. When we slit open its stom­ach, we found a hu­man leg, black­ened. Af­ter that no mat­ter how many in­gre­di­ents were used to cook shark meat, I never again had the ap­petite for it.

Once we spot­ted a shoal in the mid­dle of the gleam­ing wa­ter while we were fish­ing on the Caribbean Sea. We took our boat closer and dis­cov­ered that it was a tiny is­land formed by ge­o­log­i­cal ac­i­tivty. The ground was merely inches above the sea level. We dis­em­barked on the lit­tle is­land only to find a pile of shells and the oc­ca­sional smell of sul­fur.

We rested on the is­land for about half an hour be­fore we re­al­ized the change of tides was en­gulf­ing the is­land. We hur­ried back to the boat. At that mo­ment, a group of sharks ap­peared. Their fins were like flags float­ing above the sea sur­face back and forth aroundar us. It seems they were wait­ing to take us as their lunch. The helms­man pan­icked see­ing them, and the sit sit­u­a­tion wors­ened when we dis­cov­ered that the en­gine wouldn’tw start, pos­si­bly b be­cause it was flooded. In this fear­ful mo­ment, a scared crew shouted, “Oh God, come to help p please!” It was such an an an­noy­ing but amus­ing com com­ment.

W When the helms­man fi­nal fi­nally dried the en­gine mout mouth and got the en­gine runni run­ning again, we shot out to­ward to­wards shore. We feared oth­er­wise we’d end up be­ing the shark’s meal.

How­ever, sharkss were not the ab­so­lute king of the sea. I re­mem­ber one time I doved near a reef to catch lob­sters and all of a sud­den, I found my­self fac­ing a shark that wasw swim­ming leisurely to­war to­wards me. I was go­ing to as­cen as­cend to the sur­face when in a flash,fla a strong and thick eel shot out from within the reef onto the shark. Just one strike killed the shark. It was as fast as light­en­ing.

This shock­ing scene re­mind­edm­re­minded me of a truth that, there is al­ways some­thing bet­ter and str stronger out there in this world. Even a vi­cious shark has its weak­ness: it couldn’t take one at­tack from an eel, and im­me­di­ately sunk to the depths of the ocean, no longer king.

(From Mem­o­ries of the Past, The Writ­ers Pub­lish­ing House. Trans­la­tion: Zhang Lei)

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