Ode to a Sealice in the Style of R. Burns


B. McPherson

Many people do not understand the serious nature of the numerous parasitic sea lice that attack the wild salmon stocks on the west coast of British Columbia. These creatures attach themselves to the outside of salmon and feed on them.

Before the advent of commercial net pen salmon ‘farms’ sea lice were fairly rare.  They are now found in great numbers near the net pens and prey on the wild babies emerging from their natal streams. Sea lice are increasingly being blamed for the massive mortality of some of the salmon runs.

This ode was penned by a friend of mine – Andy Mathisen – and he has given me permission to reprint it here.
To a Sealice
With apologies to Robbie Burns
Ha! Where are you from, you slimy critter?
That blemish coho's silver glitter
Perhaps yon pens have spawned your litter
Over floats and nets?
By God! You must feed well
On such tame pets!
You parasitic, sucking blunders
Scourge of all the fish you plunder
How dare you spread to wild wonders
So fine as these!
Go somewhere else to seek your feast
On lesser fishes.
Bugger off! To landlocked pits
Where you may suck and sup and stick
To weaker fish ensconsed in shit
Eat your pills and pellets full
In safe plantations.
But DO NOT set those nets in sounds
In inlets rich where wild abounds
With little care for Nature's needs
A mess we make
And only be concerned with greed
And what we take.
O would some Power the gift to free us
To see what Nature has to give us
And maybe then the Future see us
With great emotion
As those with caring hearts within us
Saved the oceans
(and all within it!)
Andy Mathisen adapted from Robert Burn's poem "To a Louse"

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