Caught above the canyon, (how they wanted a thresher), they untangle me, cursing, deliver me to you- mariculturist. Bay alchemist. Because I’m young, nearly 100 pounds, only slightly damaged, you keep me. Holding tank. Pelagic. You weigh me. Name me. Stay up all hours to tap the glass, take notes, wonder mid-air. I swim to cultivate hope.
They feed us well- tendriled squid, sardines, plump jellies. I stay hungry, but never stop swimming, to calm you. Though you’ve been here hundreds of times, you see for the first time: Water Column. Or through it. Hydrolayers. Chain of command among unlikely roommates; white shark, sturgeon, snapper. You watch until it dawns; greed is a many-layered thing. And timed.
Yellow Foiled Star
You test me, and learn patience. I lead you in steps, “discoveries”: yellow is my “favorite” color, foil is better than plastic, stars better than squares. Wet epiphanies. Anything to get more food. You train the handlers: How to Corner Hunger. Surface matters, first course wins.
I reward you. Come when called, the rodded star tapping, metal on metal. (Confession: sound is all I really needed.) I gain 400 pounds in 24 days. You repay me in life, a helicopter airlift back to sea.
(From Wikipedia). “The first ocean sunfish to be held in an aquarium in the US arrived at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in 1986,and this remains the only location in the country where the sunfish is kept. Because sunfish had not been kept in captivity on a large scale before, the staff at Monterey Bay were forced to innovate and create their own methods for capture, feeding, and parasite control. By 1998, these issues were overcome, and the aquarium was able to hold a specimen for more than a year, later releasing it after its weight increased by more than 14 times.”