A case study for:Fish Poisoning: Ciguatera .
A strange occurrence happened in the Luzon, Philippine region. Having not seen my friends Manny and Luz, from Manila, in three years, I invited them to my boat Misty Moon. Manny is, what women consider to be, tall, dark, and handsome. He has a western education, majoring in anthropology. His wife Luz is petite with long black hair and fair skin. Her beauty and intelligence compliments Manny’s in every way. Manny became a preacher and a very enthusiastic one. The odd thing is, Manny is a televangelist.
He went into television because he didn’t want to hear about other people’s problems and got bored easily at funerals and weddings. Also, he isn’t terribly tactful when giving spiritual advice. If someone called requesting prayer for a dying relative, it would not be unusual for Manny to say, “They will be healed, have faith, and I promise you that in a couple of days I’ll take time to pray about it. I am very busy studying the word.”
Manny’s success was based entirely on his biblical knowledge, looks, and having a silver tongue. Picking Manny and Luz up at the marina, we took the dingy back to Misty. We exchanged formalities and I fixed lobster for dinner. Later, wanting Manny to feel comfortable, I asked, “Manny, abortion is a big issue in the US now. What is your view on the subject?”
In typical Manny political, circle talk, he raised his right arm, pointed to the roof and exclaimed, ”There is nothing in the televangelical bible that validates, pertains to, nor is relevant to this particular subject.” “Therefore, I can make no significant declarations, decrees, nor address any directives on this matter.”
I countered for fun, saying, “I admire your unique ability to elaborate on and authenticate televangelical scripture.” I continued rousting and riling Manny all afternoon.
Manny also enjoys the wine drinking part of the “last supper” ceremony more than breaking and eating the bread. He observes this traditional ceremony often. Interestingly, on about the third bottle of wine, his grasp of televangelical scripture and his enthusiasm seems to improve markedly to the untrained ear.
In the morning Manny said, ”I want to go ocean fishing.”
I replied, “Sure Manny, but a sailing vessel isn’t equipped for professional level fishing like you prefer.” I knew Manny had never caught anything bigger than a 12 inch mullet from a dock. Luz was smiling.
Manny said, “We’ll charter a large sport fisher. Come on.”
I negotiated with the captain of “Nuclear Fishin” who agreed to take us out in the morning. I continued to provoke Manny after dinner and Luz was getting a kick out of it.
Aboard Nuclear Fishin, Luz, Manny, and I were talking on the stern when the captain shut the throttles and said, “We are going to drift alone a ridge beneath us and bottom fish.” The first mate had been below all the time. I suspected he was fixing lunch to eat after a few hours of fishing.
Coming through the cabin door, the first mate was as pale as a Philipino can get and staggered markedly although the sea was calm.
Manny, immediately realizing what the problem was, raised his finger in the air and yelled, as if in his pulpit, “Repent my son. Satan and his liquid spirits have gotten hold of you. Repent.” He loudly quoted the first 4 chapters of the book of Revelations until sweat was running down his face. The poor first mate kept walking away from and around him.
I started to go up the ladder to the fly bridge and ask the captain why he had a first inclined to drink or be sea sick. That was when I noticed that every fishing rod the first mate would touch, he would quickly withdraw his hand from. It was like the rod was as hot as a branding iron. Knowing that only a few things cause this, I told Luz, as if I were talking to a dog trainer, “This is a serious medical problem. Pull Manny off of the first mate and make him comfortable. Leaping up the ladder to the fly bridge I told the captain, “We need to go back to shore. Your first mate has fish poisoning.”
The captain belly laughed for a few minutes unable to talk. I said, “It seemed like you cared about your customers and crew yesterday. What’s going on?” I was actually wondering if everyone on the boat had gone insane. Kind of a twilight zone thing.
The captain took a deep breath and said, “The first mate has peanuts for a brain. He keeps all the fish I don’t allow the customers to eat. Says it’s to fertilize his garden. I tell him not to eat them, but he does. This is the eighth time he has had ciguatera poisoning. Each time a little worse.” “You and your friends fish.” He began to belly laugh again.