It soon became a fascination of mine to visit seafood markets. Through these prospective food groups, I became a tourist of a world I could never conquest. It was a sort of predatory thrill, to have the ability to munch away, in exchange for money, at a scary predator that I would cower away from in the ocean. The worst of these ‘monsters’ were the moray eel -the stuff that haunts my worst nightmare underwater. They have a second pair of pharyngeal jaws to specifically pull back their bitten prey into their throat. In certain places diving companies used to allow divers to feed these eels, at the risk of losing some touristic finger. Below is the moray eel I saw in the Berlin aquarium:


Next door, a large puffer fish the size of a computer monitor, with spines loaded with Tetrodoxin- 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide,  is rendered to a sad surrender while barely sustained in a polystyrene box.

puffy fish

It seemed a lifetime away when I last saw fish in temperature-controlled, carefully curated aquariums.


Back in the market, large prawns swim sprint into each other for artificially pumped air. I’d never seen red on prawns before cooking -this unfortunately for them, made them look more edible and popular.


But there is no doubt of power is between man and fish in either two contexts. Here, the venomous lion fish is a source of entertainment within the tank.


In a plastic basket, mantis prawn armed with smashers that have an acceleration of 10,400 g (102,000 m/s2 or 335,000 ft/s2) and speeds of 23 m/s from a standing start – the acceleration of a bullet, struggle for breathe as they waft oxygenated water over the gills on their legs at the courtesy of their dealer.

crayfish 2

Perhaps I returned to this story because I’m perplexed our combination of both a desire to interact as well as a desire to consume. The cuttle fish’s changing skin colour becomes a source of amusement for several potential buyers. Unlike the other spectators, I refused the invitation to scratch the creature for it’s display of colours.

cuttle fish

Charles Darwin in The Voyage of the Beagle (1860):

These animals also escape detection by a very extraordinary, chameleon-like power of changing their colour. They appear to vary their tints according to the nature of the ground over which they pass: when in deep water, their general shade was brownish purple, but when placed on the land, or in shallow water, this dark tint changed into one of a yellowish-green. The colour, examined more carefully, was a French grey, with numerous minute spots of bright yellow: the former of these varied in intensity; the latter entirely disappeared and appeared again by turns. These changes were effected in such a manner that clouds, varying in tint between a hyacinth red and a chestnut-brown, were continually passing over the body. Any part, being subjected to a slight shock of galvanism, became almost black: a similar effect, but in a less degree, was produced by scratching the skin with a needle. These clouds, or blushes as they may be called, are said to be produced by the alternate expansion and contraction of minute vesicles containing variously coloured fluids.

Written by Lisa Ma

Lisa Ma socializes activism. Combining ethnographic research and speculative design, Lisa creates platforms of engagement from surprising insights and processes that deeply resonate with the global technological community. The emergence of clicktivism – to protest at the click of a mouse – is trivializing activism. Lisa argues that although activism doesn’t necessarily benefit from technology, we need to evolve how activism contributes to technological societies. To illustrate this, she designs dilemmas and creates social events that are perceived as activism but function as services.

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