I walked along the edge of a marsh yesterday, and I came upon the body of a stingray. The ray had been dead a day or two, but it still seemed sentient to me, the way its wingtips rose and fell, gentled, in time with the small beats of the tide.
Hermit crabs were making a meal of the ray’s body. With their front claws, they excavated bits of flesh, and fed themselves. They nibbled at the edges of the large animal as if it were an ear of corn.
I never mind seeing nature recycle her own, once a death has occurred. But I knew this ray’s life didn’t need to end so quickly. The day before, I’d heard a fisherman talk about hauling in an enormous “Manta Ray.” Instead of unhooking it and releasing it back to the Pass, he’d let it die on the beach. Some humans fear wild things, and even feel it their right to kill them.
On this ray’s body, I could see the striations and scrapings made by oyster shells, as the ray bumped and drifted from the beach, around to the marsh, overnight.
There is nothing you or I can do for this ray, not now. The fiddler crabs are working hard to dissemble its long life and return its elements to the sea.
Here’s what we can do, what we must do. We must uproot and put an end to the aggressive, staggeringly bold forays against our public lands. If you don’t know this is happening, you must learn. We cannot turn away. We thought our public lands–state and federal– were protected in perpetuity. We thought the body of the Earth was inviolate (we knew it should be). We thought we had enough to do: slow climate change: stop the fracking industry; make the world safe for children, women, all people.
But those who proposed to privatize public lands are not like fiddler crabs nibbling away at the dead body of a stingray.
They are eager to trade the living body of our beautiful Florida for their personal financial gain. We must stop them.
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