Updated July,19, 10:30 am
On Sunday, July 15, $1,000 worth of lobsters were released at Memorial Wharf and swept out to sea by the current.
As part of a life-releasing ceremony held by Karma Trinlay Rinpoche and members of the Bodhi Path Buddhist Center in West Tisbury, around 100 lobsters were saved from shell-crackers and melted butter after being purchased from Menemsha Fish Market.
The 4th annual lobster release was open to the public, and donations to pay for the lobsters were accepted.
The lobsters were strategically placed in Edgartown Harbor, where lobster pots are scarce and the tide is strong enough to carry them away from harm.
According to Sharon Gamsby, a coordinator at the Bodhi Path Buddhist Center, notches were made on the tail of each lobster, similar to the way a lobsterman makes a V-shaped notch on the tail of egg-bearing females to restrict them from sale. This way, if the lobsters are caught, lobstermen would return them to the ocean, also.
According to the Bodhi Path website, Karma Trinlay Rinpoche is a Buddhist master and scholar, and was the very first westerner to be recognized as the reincarnation of a Buddhist saint.
He blessed the lobsters with special water and incense that would protect them, and said a prayer.
Gamsby told the Times the ceremony is inspired by Buddhist life-saving practices all over the world, and is meant to acknowledge the importance of all forms of life, however seemingly insignificant. “We respect the life force of every living creature,” said Gamsby. “Whether it is a cow, a mosquito, a tick, or a lobster.”
Gamsby said the life-saving ritual is an intensely personal experience, and from it she has gained a new appreciation for all living beings. One facet of Buddhism is to not unnecessarily harm another being — freeing the lobsters embraces that idea.
“I finally decided not to eat lobster anymore,” said Gamsby. “Choosing not to eat a specific food is just one small thing that I have chosen to do for myself.”
Gamsby said she has become more aware of the process her food goes through before it reaches the grocery store, as well as the impact it has on the world.
The reason the Bodhi Path Center chooses to save lobsters, according to Gamsby, is because of the amount lobster consumed on Martha’s Vineyard alone.
“There are so many eaten here,” said Gamsby. “When you can see the trajectory of giving the gift of freedom to an animal, it is very spiritual and beneficial.”
Fish market that sold lobsters corrected from Larsen’s to Menemsha