“Under The Sea” is a series exploring the ways in which humans use and abuse sea life for their food and entertainment. It will explore sea creatures in aquariums, in restaurants, in zoos and in homes. Aslo portrayed will be the fishing industry and recreational fishing.
I took the above photo through two thick panes of glass. He saw me. He watched me. He probably wondered if I was going to be the one who would pick him out to eat him. I wasn’t, but someone will pick him out soon. A customer will walk up to the tank with an employee of this Chinese restaurant, point to him and that will be it. He will be boiled alive.
She lives in a tank on a busy corner in Melbourne. She is displayed in a window. The restaurant is proud of their “choose your fish for your meal” policy, so they are happy for the sea creatures to be in the front window.
She shares her tank with many other fish, some are picked for dinner soon, some die before their turn. She is a large fish and she has very little room to swim. She is always stressed by lights, stimuli, over handling and poor water quality.
This is her life.
I was here for a few hours taking photos. Being in the centre of town means thousands of people walk past this window display daily. The comments I mostly heard were, “Oh look, you can pick your fish for dinner!” and things like “I’d pick that one” and “yum”. Not one person said anything about how awful this was for the sea creatures, not one person, yet everyone looked at me like I was crazy for sitting there taking photos, like I was crazy for caring.
How did we end up treating the kind people of this world like the crazy ones? It’s actually the other way around.
He stares right in to the eyes of anybody who walks up to his glass. He has been in the exhibit alone at the Melbourne aquarium for as long as I can remember. I always walk away from him feeling so sad.
And that’s where she died. After only a month or two of living in that tiny restaurant window, she died right there in the corner of that tank, on that corner of that city street. That was the spot she felt most comfortable to die in a tank that offered nowhere to hide and no relief from the city lights. She most likely died from the water quality in that tiny tank or from starvation. She died in full view of thousands or people walking by, but no one cared because she was a fish.
No one cared because she was a fish.
He was taken from the deep sea, baited in a trap. He is quite big, so he is old. He was taken from his home and sent to this Chinese restaurant in Melbourne. He has sat in the window of a tiny tank overlooking the city street for quite some time. The tank is full of other lobsters and there is no room to move and nowhere to hide.
One of the restaurant’s diners has walked to the window and chosen her lobster. An employee puts a net in the tank and fishes him out and places him on the floor whilst holding him. He picks him up and gives the lobster to the diner who then holds him up by the antenna for a photo. She holds him up for 3 long minutes to get her selfie, her selfie with the huge lobster she is about to eat, her selfie with an animal who has most likely lived longer than her, her selfie with an animal who desperately wants to live and go back home.
He is then placed in this plastic crate and waits to be taken to the kitchen to be killed.
A sad and cruel end for this magnificent creature.
What do you do when you are dying in a tank in a restaurant shop window?
Nothing. You die….and you hope you die quickly.
All they could do was open and close their mouths repeatedly to try and get enough oxygen. Their desperation for oxygen was so incredibly clear, they gasped for breathe whilst their gills worked overtime.
Not only are these restaurant tanks incredibly sad, but the water is absolutely filthy with very poor oxygen levels for sea life.
As people walk by without giving these fish a second thought, these living beings stare out in to a foreign land whilst labouring for every breathe.
Through the glass pane, the lone prawn stood there communicating with the 20 or so prawns in the tank next door. A glass panel stopping him being with his own kind, but not stopping him communicatimg with his own kind.
We will never know what these sea creatures think or feel, but in the absence of cold hard facts, we should assume they are no different to ourselves.
Taken in the window of a chinese restaurant in Little Bourke St, Melbourne.
Please don’t use my images without permission. All images are Copyright Tamara Kenneally