Our place in the food chain needs to be handled with care

Published: Friday, April 18, 2014 at 12:50 PM.

The phrase “Butterfly Effect” was coined by Dr. Edward Norton Lorenz (a mathematician and expert in chaos theory) and refers to the idea that a butterfly’s wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that may ultimately alter the path of a tornado or delay, accelerate or even prevent the occurrence of a tornado in another location through a chain reaction. This is an interesting theory and one I agree with. It means that any action one takes affects everything. We may think we are small and insignificant creatures in this huge universe, but we must remember that everything we do has cause and effect. This, in turn, means that our place in the food chain needs to be handled with great care. We are on the top of the food chain (usually), and with great powers come great responsibility.

Let’s assume for a minute that a single link in the chain we discussed for some reason disappeared. What if the glass minnows disappeared? This would mean that the bonita, Spanish and blues would either die of starvation or find a new food source. Either of those options could have devastating effects across the food chain. If there are no glass minnow,s the predator fish population would most likely decline. This means we would not have the opportunity to catch these fish and bring them into our diet. You say, “Oh well, I’ll just eat something else” so you start targeting flounder. This in turn drops the flounder population. “Oh well, I’ll just eat pork,” which in turn raises demand for pork and they have to be fed from our own corn supply to keep up with demand. Everything is connected. Even the lowly plankton at the very bottom of the food chain has effect on us as humans. The “Butterfly Effect.”

These are the things I think about when I am quiet, still, alone (not a bad thing) and at peace. Some of you are sitting right there, right now thinking “That Chris Medlin sounds like one of them Flower Children.” No, sir. If you care to look at my personal Facebook page you will see many of the meals I prepare for my family are of wild fish and game that my son, daughter or I have killed; yes, I used that word. You will see hundreds of different kinds of fish as well as deer, dove, snapping turtle, turkey, frogs, squirrel and rabbit. My son, daughter or I have killed all of these wild fish and game with care and compassion. I thank every animal for its sacrifice and have taught my children to do the same. Every chance I get I like to remind them of their place in the food chain and how important it is to balance themselves within it. As populations rise our impact is ever greater and thus the more care we need to take to ensure we have them for tomorrow.

Many of you know my wife is from southern California and a city girl. I did not hunt a lot when we were dating, but have done more of it since. At first she was not very comfortable with the taking of wild game. I did do a lot of fishing (more than I do now), but fish ain’t furry or cuddly looking. Upon arriving home one evening after school, my wife was appalled at the fact I was feeding our 2-year-old son Charlie some dove I had killed that morning. I think her exact words were “You don’t know where those doves have been!” I explained to her that the doves were organic, free of hormones and antibiotics; whereas, the chicken she had been feeding Charlie did not come with those guarantees. As time wore on, I explained that the hunters of N.C. have protected more habitat than any other group in the state combined. Our license fees, as well as excise taxes on sporting goods, have purchased to-date more than 2 million acres of land to be set aside for future generations. I think the impression some people have of hunters and fishermen is that we harvest our prey with reckless abandon and have disdain for our quarry. This is true of some, but the vast majority of us know that if we do so it hurts us in the future. I respect and love every animal I take. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to enjoy what nature has provided. I want that same opportunity to be there for generations to come.

Tight Lines and fair winds.


Capt. Chris Medlin is a third-generation tackle shop owner and charter captain. He makes his home on Topsail but loves fishing all over. Most of the time you can find him at East Coast Sports in Surf City or just contact him through his website at Eastcoastsports.com.

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