Get Jolted By Understanding Fish Better

9780374288211_custom-a8005fb568cedbbcdfa556084e27717de66bba19-s400-c85The morning walk’s provided a different sensation from the learning component of the morning walk a few days back, giving me a jolt of new appreciation for all that I have no clue about related to life underwater; the jolter was an ethologist, of all things:

…The knifefishes of South America and the elephant-nose fishes … [are] both electric-producing, so they have EODs, which are electric organ discharges, and they use those as communication signals, and they communicate in some pretty cool ways. They will change their own frequency if they’re swimming by another fish with a similar frequency, so they don’t jam and confuse each other. They also show deference by shutting off their EODs when they’re passing by a territory holder…

I had downloaded this podcast in June, and avoided it because I thought it would put me to sleep. Instead it brightened my day and got me thinking about all our water-oriented social entrepreneur counterparts. Now, all I can say is find out more. These are excellent places to start, and if you can’t get enough here then continue with the publisher’s book blurb (and then, of course, the book itself):

Do fishes think? Do they really have three-second memories? And can they recognize the humans who peer back at them from above the surface of the water? In What a Fish Knows, the myth-busting ethologist Jonathan Balcombe addresses these questions and more, taking us under the sea, through streams and estuaries, and to the other side of the aquarium glass to reveal the surprising capabilities of fishes. Although there are more than thirty thousand species of fish—more than all mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians combined—we rarely consider how individual fishes think, feel, and behave. Balcombe upends our assumptions about fishes, portraying them not as unfeeling, dead-eyed feeding machines but as sentient, aware, social, and even Machiavellian—in other words, much like us.

What a Fish Knows draws on the latest science to present a fresh look at these remarkable creatures in all their breathtaking diversity and beauty. Fishes conduct elaborate courtship rituals and develop lifelong bonds with shoalmates. They also plan, hunt cooperatively, use tools, curry favor, deceive one another, and punish wrongdoers. We may imagine that fishes lead simple, fleeting lives—a mode of existence that boils down to a place on the food chain, rote spawning, and lots of aimless swimming. But, as Balcombe demonstrates, the truth is far richer and more complex, worthy of the grandest social novel.

Highlighting breakthrough discoveries from fish enthusiasts and scientists around the world and pondering his own encounters with fishes, Balcombe examines the fascinating means by which fishes gain knowledge of the places they inhabit, from shallow tide pools to the deepest reaches of the ocean.

Teeming with insights and exciting discoveries, What a Fish Knows offers a thoughtful appraisal of our relationships with fishes and inspires us to take a more enlightened view of the planet’s increasingly imperiled marine life. What a Fish Knows will forever change how we see our aquatic cousins—the pet goldfish included.

2 thoughts on “Get Jolted By Understanding Fish Better

  1. We are attending D.C. Vegfest ( ) next week 9/24 and looking forward to seeing his presentation. He will be talking about his book which sounds very intriguing, I can only hope that many others will listen with empathetic hearts.

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