What comes to mind are the lines of a quote from Sir Walter Scott – “oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” The web I’m referring to in this context doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with lies or deceit between humans – however, it does aptly illustrate what happens when our species pretends to know more than Nature herself. From original misguided intention to botched execution it doesn’t take long for the mismatched energies to reveal themselves, often times in startling and overwhelming fashion. The “web” of which we are all a part – all animals – begins then to fray and imbalance occurs.
Such was the case earlier this year when one of the lakes in Colorado became inundated with goldfish, approximately 4000 of them to be exact. This left local parks and wildlife officials to scratch their heads and worry about the effect this seemingly innocuous species would have on the local ecosystem as they were most definitely not part of the original design. Four thousand goldfish, of course, didn’t get there by themselves – that part of the scenario was figured out rather quickly with the thought being that someone thought – “what’s a few goldfish in a lake” and probably placed a few of them in there. From that point I’m sure the goldfish reproduced in what they may have felt was the largest goldfish bowl-type-container any of them had ever seen, albeit one without glass sides.
The dilemma according to humans involved was what to do, exactly, with all of these goldfish that were sure to disrupt the intricate balance of one lake in Colorado and similar to the original tangled web of deception held mostly not-animal-friendly solutions such as electrifying or poisoning the fish and removing them. Fast forward a month or so and Nature herself provided the brilliant and surprising fix – pelicans. Certainly none of the humans directly involved, those in charge of parks and wildlife could have ever anticipated that Nature herself had an eye on the situation and would manage to correct what had seemed to humans to be unfixable. Pelicans already nesting at the lake had begun to eat ravenously at what must have seemed to them to be a gourmet meal of an impossibly large number of goldfish. What a perfectly simple solution and a positively brilliant way to reset the ecosystem of this one lake within the framework of Nature herself and all of her truly miraculous diversity. I’ve no doubt that the humans involved at the end were somewhat bemused by the solution and perhaps even had a “huh, willya lookit that” perspective. From the pelican and goldfish point of view it was a continuation of the cycle of life and a seamless repair of the intricate web of life with which both species are so deeply connected. I am continually in awe of the ways in which Nature enfolds all of us in her loving arms – balanced, safe and prosperous – if we would just stop deceiving ourselves with thoughts of “humans know best” – it’s clear that we do not.
Photo credit: Ingrid Taylar