Small Justice

In desperate need of exercise after so many weeks of bad weather, the sedentary writer finally ventured down to the beach this morning. Nothing like a few good storms for beach-combing, I thought. You never know, a bit of flotsam might provide some good writing material. I didn’t have to look very hard. All kinds of goodies presented themselves as I made my way along the shore. Lots of dumped seaweed, as you’d expect, cuttlefish, sponges, half-opened shellfish and some unusually large starfish all waiting for Mother Nature to come and wash them back out again. But what stood out in all of this was the amount of manmade debris: empty bottles, their missing caps, pieces of gladwrap and plastic bags, a number of fishing baskets, a children’s broken spade and bucket, a very heavy coloured buoy and what looked like endless numbers of deflated blue balloons with strings still attached. Someone had obviously had a party.

I stood looking dimly down through my sunnies at these objects of mass destruction, incensed that people could be so stupid and thoughtless to our precious marine environment. Eventually I trod on one of the balloons, squashed it and with great satisfaction made it pop. It was only then that I noticed that there appeared to be a lot more of these balloons along the beach. Something must have clicked. I picked up what was left of what I’d trodden on and squinted at the blue translucent mess. Having taken off my sunnies for a closer inspection I then picked up another, then another, to see if my suspicions were correct.  Oh my God! What had I done? I can only blame my aging eyesight. These balloons were actually jellyfish! Poor little bluebottles, if you don’t mind.  What I thought were strings were the very finest, most delicate of tentacles.

Knowing that this little creature could well have been the one that caused me grief last summer (the one I nearly swallowed!) didn’t help at all. I felt so stupid, thoughtless and destructive.