Philosophical Encounter – 8/7

Professor Nakaoka of Hokkaido University’s Akkeshi Marine Station guided us through the collection of specimens from the eel-grass beds in Akkeshi Lake. The eel-grass occurs in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere in brackish or marine bodies of water and supports a wide array of species who use the grass for both sustenance and shelter. After sufficient specimens had been collected, we returned to Prof. Nakaoka’s laboratory and proceeded to sort them by type and species, including a dozen or so fish species, 5 distinct shrimp species, and many smaller animals. The foundation of the food chain that supports these creatures are single-cell plants, some of which grow directly on the eel-grass stalks themselves.

Professor Nakaoka dissects a mysid, a small shrimp-like creature, in order to examine its stomach contents. Many single-cell plants were readily discovered.

Very few of us would have expected our session at the Akkeshi Marine Station to provoke a debate that would ultimately continue back in Tokyo. It was one that struck at the heart of the motivations of our various members, at why we were all assembled and what we hoped to accomplish.

When is it moral to destroy life?
How should that life be destroyed?
How should the remains be handled?

Not much imagination is required to see that views would be rather fragmented on these questions, and this blog would prove a poor vehicle to represent the positions that were expressed, notwithstanding my own personal sympathies. Fortunately, the afternoon proved to be a great deal more peaceful.

Aikappu Cape, overlooking Akkeshi Bay.

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