#43 Tom, the Shark Fisherman
The Saltiest of the 3 Fishermen
I met Tom just after he returned from 2 days at sea on the Top Tuna! He and his crew reminded me of weary horses who suddenly have the ability to gallop when they catch sight of the stable. All 3 scrambled on the deck, tackling numerous chores, preparing to leave their boat for the night. Tom did the most grumbling of the 3.
DJ's Deck in Daytona Beach
I was with my husband tackling a plate of raw oysters at a quirky seafood joint, when we noticed the boat pull up beside a nearby dock. It was like sitting at a drive-in movie...watching the show!
A Full Load
We had a perfect view of the boat, loaded down with lines and pulleys, hooks and 2 days worth of shark.
Handling the Sharks Twice
Despite his grumbling, Tom seemed pretty happy to answer my silly questions. (He did have to ask me to step back a few times, since the blood was splattering.)
"I hate all these regulations!" he whined. "We can get rid of the shark's head at sea, but we can't remove the fins or do anything else till we come to shore." He claimed all the strict laws just ended up with more waste. "We can only handle sharks. If I pull up a red snapper, we have to throw it back even if it's dead. There are hungry people who could eat that!"
Shark Fin Soup
There were hoses blasting, knives slicing, blood spurting, along with a little cussing and laughter. "These go straight to China." Tom announced as he sliced the fins off each shark. He shook his head and chuckled at the idea of shark fin soup. "Yeah, they can't have a wedding banquet without their shark fin soup!" He seemed pretty amused. "They think there's some kind of aphrodisiac in that shark fin!"
Tom heaved the gutted sharks into a rolling bin, which was carted off to a nearby fish market.
Dwayne and his son tossed the last fins into the orange basket. I wondered if they could possibly like eating shark after handling them day and night. Dwayne said he didn't eat shark...not anymore.
When Tom and Dwayne were done unloading I had a chance to admire their colorful, rubber overalls. Tom made some kind of crack about just how "colorful" he and Duwayne really were... before we got off on the subject of food.
Dwayne was hoping "Mom" would be making pasta for dinner. Pretty soon their ladies came to fetch them and they headed off for an evening on land...before heading out in the morning.
I know how tired you must have been, so I'm surprised you even chatted at all. You actually made me a lot more curious about life as a fisherman...and life as a shark for that matter. Since we met, I've read up about all the controversies of shark fishing and I understand both sides a little more. Also, like Dwayne...I lost a little of my appetite for shark.
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To celebrate my birthday in April 2012, I decided to reflect on the past with a different kind of list. I've met a lot of people in my 55 years, but I'm going to stop and remind myself about the strangers I've met. These are people I met by accident, not through friends or work. For some reason, these strangers dropped into my life. Even though we may have only spent a few minutes together, these people have never been forgotten.
Each week, I'll spotlight someone I met in the past, who in some small way, made me stop and think.
Remember 55 Strangers