Estelea's Blog

French Mum, humanitarian, restless explorer and doer on sabbatical in Cebu (Philippines): one Attila in each arm, I am exploring the “toddlers safe” corners of the region, while trying to keep some room for Me.

Would you fish sea horses?

We reached Madridejos in the wee hours, when fishermen unload their fresh catches on the beach. The giant blue crabs and obese squids got the kids full attention for a good 5 minutes, until they discovered The Bucket.

At first I really thought they were toys.

I had never seen let alone touch a sea horse before. The bucket was filled with hundreds of color mixed candies, shining red, bright yellow, lollypop pink. Beautiful? Not really when you know that they are endangered species protected by law. The fishermen know that too well, but “Chinese pay a lot of money for them Ma’am. They make medicine with dried sea horses“.


The fisherman makes just a few hundred pesos whereas the middleman puts a big mark up on the cost of the seahorse and makes a large profit. The seahorses are then sold to markets or factories for preparation into medicines notably to cure impotence!

Ms. Attila, the Dogmatic of the Family,  was shocked when I told her that the fishermen she’s been playing with could go to jail if the police knew they had caught sea horses. I explained her why those fishes were protected, and why we must obey the law. And for the first time Ms. Little Chief of Justice turned into a lawyer: But Mum they can’t go to jail. Who will make money for the family? Can’t they sell the fishes at a higher price? Can’t the Dad find another job? Maybe the mother can find a job where she can bring all her children? Why can’t Chinese take other animals?

Endless questions. What matters most? Respecting the law or feeding your family? What is fairness and what is justice? Who should be condemned?

See with your eyes and with your heart before you judge. Nothing is perfectly right nor wrong. Still, it drives me crazy to realize again that money can buy so much, even the precious heritage of a country… But what would you do if you were the sole breadwinner of a family of 10? With a job that can’t even guarantee that you’ll bring money tomorrow if the weather is bad.

Education, education! I so wish all the kids we saw this morning could go to school, the longest the best, to never need to dive in the middle of the night for sea horses – people believe that children are good “reef hunters” because their small body enable them to dive deeper. May they always have what they need and finally have the luxury to plan beyond the day.

(In response to WPC on Heritage)


19 comments on “Would you fish sea horses?

  1. Gaya
    May 22, 2017

    We have a long way to go. 😦 I hope we eventually have a good social services structure that can take care of those in most need and at the same time avoid developing in certain people the mentality of just relying on welfare.

    • estelea
      May 23, 2017

      That’s a huge challenge indeed ! But at least totally free and compulsory education would be a great start. There were mountains of shells there, no hard to guess how most kids are kept busy …
      I thought of you this week in Bantayan, the weather was so generous with you, I almost turned into an island girl who will certainly miss your incredible beaches 😉
      Now if I were a politician here, I would also create “environmental guards” to stop the crazy littering everwhere . And this place would be a real paradise !

  2. Education must come first.
    When people stop believing that mashed up animals and animal parts cure impotence, the demand for these beautiful creatures will stop.
    And the sea horse fishermen will have to find another job.

    • estelea
      May 23, 2017

      Totally agree with you ! Hope there’s a way to stop the demand or at least find decent alternatives for those fishermen …

  3. Snapshotsincursive
    May 22, 2017

    Oh. My. Gosh. 👁👁

    • estelea
      May 23, 2017

      How crazy is this fishing ? So shocking and sad 🙁

      • Snapshotsincursive
        May 23, 2017

        I find them beautiful but wonder how long the species will survive. 💫

  4. Green Global Trek
    May 22, 2017

    So sad. In Nicaragua poachers would catch endangered turtles to make soup and eat their eggs. The wildlife protection society turned things around by hiring the poachers to be the protectors of the turtles. The population of turtles went up dramatically in a few years.

    In Laos we visited a bear sanctuary where bears had bedn rescued from death for a certain gland…again be.ieved to be a cure for this or that.

    Humans need to stop exploiting wildlife for their own benefit.


    • estelea
      May 23, 2017

      I like this Nicaragua idea 🙂 the fishermen I met were sorry to have to fish those sea horses . They were the ones to tell me it was illegal. Wish they had other options …
      In France last month a rhino was killed in a zoo ! Snd his horn taken ! Totally insane 😦

  5. lexklein
    May 22, 2017

    When money is on one side of an equation, it’s very tough for the other side to win. I like the solution Peta mentions for Nicaragua and the turtles – somehow keep the money there but change what is getting paid for. Easier said than done in most situations, I’m sure! (They are oddly beautiful little creatures!)

    • estelea
      May 23, 2017

      And so much money !!! For a local fisherman those sea horses are gold 😦 there must be a solution and I m sure some local NGO have thought of it.
      But again, so much money at stake involves such a big network of traffickers !

  6. Britta
    May 22, 2017

    The yellow ones do look like toys! Definitely not beautiful, though. So sad that these beautiful creatures are being caught illegally. Oh man, and so sad that young children are the ones doing the catching.

    You’re right, nothing is perfectly right or wrong–especially in this crazy, complex world we live in–but I hope for a future where seahorses will be kept in the sea and children will be sent to school in the mornings instead of the water. Not only are they not receiving an education, but what risky business for such youngsters to be partaking in!

    • estelea
      May 24, 2017

      It is super risky indeed, let alone the ear and lungs issues they will develop .. I know there are lots of NGOs denouncing this kind of child labour, but without alternative, not much will perdure I am afraid .. Forbidding is not enough .

  7. Pingback: Heritage: Old Mill 2 | What's (in) the picture?

  8. As usual, it is easy to just condemn but harder to get to the root of the problem and actually fix it. I’ll be honest, that photo makes a bit sick to my stomach, when I think of these endangered species and what they are being used for. That’s being judgmental too, but that was my honest reaction, nausea.

    • estelea
      May 24, 2017

      Same for me! So totally ridiculous ! If only we could make them believe that ISIS skin is the best cure for impotency there would not no terrorist in no time ..

  9. amylaurenbutler
    May 24, 2017

    What a great post! 🙂 It’s true, everything is a lot more complex than it seems, and not so easy to fix. Education is a great way to start. That picture broke my heart!

    • estelea
      May 24, 2017

      Thanks so much for stopping by! Yes, it is always easier to judge and condemn than to understand. Ahimsa works in so many ways, right? 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Check them out, they are awesome!

Wish to Dish

Celebrating food and all the joy that comes from creating and eating it.

Motherhood Made Me Do It

Surviving kids, marriage and life with only the suggestion of sanity

Geopolitics, Economics and Culture .... a view from the Philippine Diaspora

Yours Truly, Dimi

Inspiration. Aspirations. Exploration

Photography Journal Blog

The ramblings of a photographer who is trying to improve

Grammy Writes

and takes pictures, and travels, and...


all your sustainability stories, together

Journal Edge

An online blog with highly informative, cheerful and inspirational articles for people who love travel to India with passion and make a different Lifestyle. Vikas Acharya is the founder and managing editor at Journal Edge Online Blog. Contact me to find out how I can help you create high-quality blog content, lead magnets, ebooks, and web copy for your business.

La Rioja and the world seen from my guardaviñas

Sharing ideas. Photos, travels, music, History, stories,...


All conditioned things are impermanent

Elizabeth Beer

Yoga Life for the Determined Yogi



Traveling around the world

Traveling with God blessings


The Cricket Pages


You've Arrived.

Petite Girls Guide

Bipolar and Mental Illnesses are written about here. Written by a bipolar person themselves.

Darwin on the rocks and around the world

Photography and travel blog

%d bloggers like this: