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An ir/rational fear

I don’t know when it happened. Maybe I was in elementary school. Probably.

I saw some video, some film, some something or other at school in which a moray eel, its size and strength hidden in a den, darted out and surprise-attacked a diver and then held on. At least that’s my memory of what I saw.

It was probably just a minute or so of footage, but it created in me a fear. A deep fear. One where I would, one day, be under water and would be attacked, latched onto and pulled underneath, unable to get free. I don’t know if I knew then the word “heebie-jeebies,” but I understood the concept. That video footage created in me some big time heebie-jeebies about eels, particularly moray eels, lurking, hiding, relentless once they get ahold of something.

You can probably imagine I’ve never taken up SCUBA and have a hard enough time even snorkeling, for fear of anything darting out at me.

In recent days, I’ve been on a self-induced dive into the world of octopi, eels and a few other carnivorous creatures of the sea. YouTube videos, various blog articles, photos and new accounts to follow on Instagram have been my focus and in my feed. And while I love the octopus videos, photos and facts; and while I know they are quite the carnivores, I find myself fascinated and wanting to move toward them, to know them better. (If anyone near me has a pet octopus, please speak up; I’d like to meet them.)

But the eel videos! Especially one where the fish (yeah, it’s a skin-breathing fish) attacks an octopus, and the twisting, twisting, twisting it does to break the octopus’s suctioning powers while it chomps into its tender skin! Makes me want to stop the video, stop watching and stop the horror! It’s difficult to witness. Visceral. It feels to me like a thug of the sea laying waste mercilessly to a most intelligent and profound creature.

Those teeth. That ferocity. That gotcha (and I ain’t letting go)!

I know it’s a fairly common thing for humans to have so-termed “irrational” fears about carnivores, especially small ones. That’s why, imo, people go all bonkers over spiders, snakes and bats, when, in truth (and at least in North America and the U.S.) 99.9% (guessing on that) of the insect/animal-human encounters present few true concerns.

So maybe that’s it. Maybe eels are my spiders: my irrational fear about a carnivorous animal that could/would do me in, in my mind’s eye.

Maybe that’s why I enjoy eating eel at sushi restaurants, and why, maybe, gross at it was conceptually, I rather enjoyed a plate of fried baby eels I ordered at some  shi-shi restaurant ages back.

But I also have to wonder because I feel as though I “feel” the eel’s attack; I feel and sense it more as an octopus. I feel the deep fear. The teeth. The strength. Hah, who knows? Maybe I was octo-pedal in some previous soul-life incarnation, and I’m having an ancient memory. Who knows? Who knows?

What I do know is the feeling I have when I watch an eel attack an octopus is visceral; whereas, when I watch a video of a shark eating an octopus, even though I don’t “like” it, per se, it doesn’t give me the heebie-jeebies the way an eel attacking an octopus does.

What creature gives you the heebie-jeebies, if any?



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