The Ocean is Dying, But Can We Still Eat It?

The dark matter of climate change

Marjan Krebelj
2 min readJul 12, 2022


Gosh, I don’t even know where to start this. It is just so baffling.

Yesterday a Croatian TV network aired the news that sardines are dying in the Adriatic sea because the water is reaching 30°C (86°F for my American friends). Temperatures like this are without precedence in this region, and marine life struggles to survive.

Croatia has or should have a significant stake in this issue. They have the longest coastline in the east, and most of their GDP comes from tourism or fishing. They practically own this sea and live from it.

They invited an expert, and the anchor basically had two questions for him:

  • will the more tropical species invade our seas, and
  • can we expect sharks to follow suit?

The expert said that it’s complicated. Adriatic sea is half-closed, having a small entrance only at the southern end, which means (a) that new species can’t quickly enter and (b) that current species have nowhere to escape up north. Long story short, the sea life can die off. But in terms of novel and more tropical species, yes, they are already invading the sea through large cargo ships, which bring them within their ballast waters. Sharks might come, but they are not as dangerous to people as one would think after watching Hollywood movies.

So there you have it.

But the anchor didn’t stop there because the reason why she was asking these questions wasn’t so much that she was worried for the sardines or the marine life in general; it was something else. What interested her was — and get ready for the shock — will the new fish taste good.

That’s right.

Will they taste any good?

Photo by Alyssa li on Unsplash

As the sea is dying from heat and overfishing, the culinary quality of the invading species is what interested her and (presumably) the audience. Which also why this topic is discussed in the first place. Note that it is the sardines that are dying, not some lesser-known species of fish, let alone any other organism with no culinary value.

Now, if a semi-educated TV person and an educated guest of her show are discussing an ecological catastrophe in these terms, imagine what level of ignorance must persist even among the more regular folks. And ignorance is the right word because, by and large, they don’t give a shit. They are just enjoying their vacations, swimming in the sea, and eating whatever is left of the sardines fishers caught.

It is beyond redemption. COVID was illustrative enough, but at least we tried in the beginning.

With this, I’m not so sure.

But at least some fish will look good on our plates. Even if it’s the last meal, we may have.



Marjan Krebelj

Once an architect, now a freelance photographer/filmmaker with passion for words.