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Editor Under Fire

POWER to the People!

Now there’s a shout I haven’t heard since my days on the picket line many, many years ago. Don’t worry, we are not turning into a radical political rag, I’m talking here about power as in powerboats and the people who get their jollies by driving them.

Over the last few years there has been a surge in powerboating and many islands are introducing powerboat racing or at least adding themselves to the list of islands where poker runs in hi-speed boats are an annual feature. I’ve done my share of pounding along with my kidneys floating around at shoulder level and admit it was a whole lot of fun, although Mrs. Brown wasn’t that impressed. In order to keep things revving, this month we bring you an update of powerboating events and poker runs. If you have never experienced the rush skimming the waves, more out of the water than in it, and you get an invitation to try it, then give it a go. You might swear never to do it again, but you will have had a fun day and have one heck of a yarn to tell.

Editor Under Fire noxin-crosshairs-2400pxWe recently published an article about ciguatera poisoning and the damage done if you consume fish that may carry the toxin. We followed this up by posting the article on our Facebook page and on our website with a note asking readers to tell us if they had any experience of ciguatera poisoning. Your response was overwhelming. In some cases forcefully so. One irate reader in Dominica accused us of scaremongering, citing the efforts they are making there to control the growing population of lion fish by catching and eating them. It was never our intention to scaremonger and this magazine has done much to support Dominica by reporting positive stories and promoting the beauty of this delightful island. If people in Dominica are happy and healthy after eating lion fish then we think this is wonderful and will probably eat them ourselves on our next visit.

Some readers suggested a number of tests that they are convinced are a surefire way of telling if a fish is carrying the ciguatera toxin. These range from throwing a small piece of fish on an anthill and seeing if they eat it, or offering a morsel to your cat to see if it eats it and if it does, whether it dies on the spot.

I heard the same thing when first I arrived in the islands and believed then, as I believe now, that these are old wives tales. I certainly wouldn’t put my health on the line because of a group of moribund ants. A number of readers, quite a few in fact, reported that they had suffered from ciguatera poisoning and that the symptoms were most unpleasant. Tim Sperling emailed to say he got ciguatera in Crooked Island, southern Bahamas, after eating a six-pound tiger grouper and was sick for 33 days and lost 28lb in weight. He also suffered from itching under the skin, pains in his joints and a sensitivity to sunlight. Another person who was affected by the toxin said they were unable to eat fish for years. Someone I know personally also suffered the same symptoms but added hair loss to the list. We also had a reader who said he ate fish at a restaurant and was ill for hours afterwards but then suffered no further effects, which sounds more like food poisoning than ciguatera.

During my tenure as editor I have been accused of burying my head in the sand and now of scaremongering. You certainly need broad shoulders and a sense of humor to do this job. The fact is that ciguatera is out there and we don’t regret talking about it.

And yes, I do eat locally caught fish. This month, we are talking about the Zika virus. I already have my hardhat and bullet proof vest at the ready.



Every month Gary records a podcast.  The podcast is available on iTunes or you can download it to your mp3 player, tablet or computer by following the links on our websites: allatsea.net and: garyebrown.net/audiovideo.html

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