Malaysian Atheist

An avowed atheist living in Malaysia.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Don't mess with the Sea Dragon King

Let me first say that I'm not trying to ridicule this guy. After all, he didn't hurt anyone with his superstition. He is entitled to his beliefs, but I'd like to just talk about the grip superstitious beliefs still have on people today.

About a week ago, a fisherman near Ipoh caught a weird-looking fish that resembled a dragon. It had a long silvery body with red-tipped dorsal fins. It was of course, an oarfish, a frequent subject of cryptozoology, but to this fisherman and the rest of the village, it was a dragon - a family member of the Chinese Sea Dragon King. Some local rich man also believed it to be a dragon and offered the fisherman RM50,000 (about USD 14,000) for the carcass of the oarfish. The fisherman though, threw the body back into the sea believing that “If you kidnap the (Sea Dragon King’s) son, you are looking for trouble”.
To me, this just doesn't make sense. It is a fish, not a dragon. How can it be dragon? Where are its feet? I thought Chinese dragons have clawed feet? Where's the crocodile-like jaws? Where's the fiery breath? If it were a dragon, wouldn't the fisherman have figured that he'd be world famous, for being the first guy to capture a mythical creature? He would have proven the unprovable - that dragons exist. The world media would've descended upon him. He'd make a fortune for his story, pictures, tv appearances. He wouldn't need to fish anymore. But here he was fearing for his life and foregoing a handsome reward for a rare catch.

I think, traditionally, fishermen are the most superstitious lot, because of the risks they face each time they go out to sea. The weather may be unpredicatable, their haul from the sea may not be abundant, pirates may attack them, their boats may sink and etc. So, traditionally, the fishermen would worship a deity for blessings and protection. But blind faith can often stop people from thinking rationally, such as the case here.

For most of us, brought up in the age of computers, television, Internet and the Discovery Channel, we are more open to the idea that the ocean is so vast and organisms are so diverse that there are possibly many creatures out there yet to be discovered. Charles Darwin himself collected many of the weirdest specimen ever encountered, some of which can be seen at the Darwin Center in London's Natural History Museum. And so, if we were ever fortunate enough to catch a weird-looking thing like an oarfish, the last thing to cross our minds would be that this is the son of the mythical Sea Dragon King. This is simply because we are atheists to dragons, pheonixes, unicorns, krakens, mermaids and griffins. Yet I cannot understand why people cannot see the similarities of believing in dragons and believing in an old man up in the sky. Sounds like pots and kettles to me.

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At 2:26 AM, January 03, 2007, Blogger mingde said...

Amen to that!

At 11:17 AM, January 30, 2007, Anonymous Tony said...

hey, I have been looking for the picture about the sea dragon fish for while after I heard about it main cause the flood over there. o_o? I dont know about that if that is sea dragon king or not.

BTW is there any bigger picture for it? cuz i saw the newspaper picture were very blur and that same goes for the fish hold by the fisherman in your blog. I onyl know recently a new fillet shark were discover in japan

At 2:36 AM, March 04, 2007, Blogger Meursault said...

Hi Tony,

The flood happened in Sabah and Johor, while the sea dragon fish was caught near Ipoh. So if that sea dragon king caused the flood, then he's pretty lame. He should've flooded Ipoh, not Johor and Sabah.

Well the picture I posted was taken from the newspaper website, so can't help you there.

At 4:13 PM, June 11, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i dont think thats an oar fish they don't have snouts and the only other thing it could be related to is an eel the problem is an eel is frilled on both top and bottom so its hard to determine a species for this fish and take in to account there are a lot of creatures in the waters yet to be discovered and the man did the right thing not taking the money offered

At 11:06 AM, July 08, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

very simple- Regalecus glesne Ascanius


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