Wild animals are pretty neat. Or cute. Or awesome. The list of descriptive words goes on... I consider myself lucky to get to see a variety of wild critters on a some what regular basis. Last weekend, I had the pleasure of having an up close and personal experience with some whales and a friendly sea otter in Homer, Alaska. Like three huge ass whales just swam under the boat. It was crazy. I have seen whales from afar, but never like, under the boat I am on. So that was cool.
Anyway, while walking along the boat harbor in Homer we stumbled upon a sea otter just chillin right by the shore. It was sleepily (ok, who knows what it was feeling. But it looked sleepy) floating around right off the beach. Of course the adorable sight drew in handfuls of people with cameras. I was pleased to see the general respect that people treated this animal with: look, take your pictures, but don't bother it. Lindsay and I wandered down to try to get some good pics of it.
While looking at it, I saw something fly by out of the corner of my eye and splash in the water near the otter. WTF, was that a rock? I look behind us and see a lady standing there with a camera. Not a kid, but an adult who was older than myself. Ok... was the adorable floating otter not entertaining enough for you? I look at Lindsay, you did see that too, I am not crazy, right? Another rock flies by. Who the fuck throws rocks at sea otters? I wait for a third rock before I say anything. It never comes and the lady leaves. Maybe I should have just said something with rock number two. Maybe my dirty look that accompanied rock number two convinced her to leave. Who knows. But my warm fuzzy sea otter moment was ruined and replaced with a jaded annoyance for humans and our lack of respect for nature.
On a basic selfish level, this rock throwing business has ruined my moment with the wildlife. I mean here I was looking at Josiah (we named the otter) just watchin him chill and do otter stuff. I was happy enjoying this rare opportunity to see one of my favorite animals up close in the wild. Next thing I know I have rocks flying by my head. Really, ruins the moment when there are hard projectiles flying by my head. So please, respect your fellow humans and their experience of wildlife. Don't fucking throw rocks at the wildlife. Let us all pass through the experience unharmed and unbothered.
On a more obvious level, this shouldn't have to be said, but respect the wildlife. This otter has for whatever reason chosen to grace us humans with an up close and personal experience. Let's think about it; our ancestors literally hunted its ancestors to the brink of extinction to take their fur and get rich. That's pretty shitty. It's not like they were using all the parts of the sea otter to survive. It was a massacre for their skins. It has no reason to want anything to do with our greedy, violent species. Luckily, sea otters have short memories, and humans have decided to stop killing them by the thousands for fur. These days, we are pretty respectful of these animals. So let's just keep that up and not fucking throw rocks at them so you can make it move into a better angle for your fucking photo.
Don't get me wrong. I went fishing later in the day and totally killed some fish. I hunt and realize that yes, chopping up an animal is somewhat barbaric. That said, I take everything off that animal that I know how to use. I appreciate that I am at the top of the food chain (usually... hello Mr. Bear, please be nice!). I don't just kill stuff for shits and giggles. I don't trophy hunt. I eat what I harvest. I try to minimize the amount of pain and suffering the animal goes through. Realistically, it might even be a better end for the animal than being stalked, chased, and attacked by a predator. I figure that it is better to eat meat that grew up wild and had a good life before meeting a quick and humane death than eat meat that was raised in who knows what conditions in captivity. I'm not saying it is right or the only way to view things, but that is where I come from.
All that said, wild animals should be respected. No matter how comfortable we are in our homes in our warm safe beds, we all come from nature. As humans, we owe respect to the wild critters out there so that our posterity will have wild animals to wonder at and appreciate. If we want to continue having these encounters with animals, we all need to treat the animals with respect. If you throw rocks at people, they tend to not come around you again. Same with animals. Can we all just get along and treat others, human and animals, the way we want to be treated?
Luckily, Josiah the otter seemed less bothered by the rock throwing than I did. He continued to chill near the shore. Hopefully he will grace the Homer small boat harbor with his presence again in the future for more people to enjoy and appreciate. Because otters are fucking cute; everyone deserves to see a wild otter up close.