Summer Naturalist Series 4: Fish

Fish are Friends


Watching fish at the grotto near Dickson St.

Watching fish at the grotto near Dickson

Fish freak me out.  The bulging eyes, that fishy smell, the scales and slime…and fortunately for the fish, I think they taste terrible!  One of my biggest fears in life is deep water where large fish dwell, waiting to chomp on things which move (like my kicking legs) while they glide through a murky abyss.  And yet, water without fish would be like trees without birds.  I could spend hours (and have soaked up many a moment of free time) watching fish of all sizes.  Their swimming movements are hypnotizing and meditative, reminding me a little of the arm movements of hula dancers in Hawaii.  I wonder if the fish are telling their own oral tradition through their fishy dances, just like Hawaiian hula?

According to the Save Our Seas Foundation, there are 5 major threats to our oceans:

  1. Overfishing depletes stocks of fish beyond their ability to recover.  This disrupts the ecosystem and eliminates a valuable source of food and income.
  2. Predator loss releases prey populations from both the pressure and risk of predation.  Their removal can cause a potentially irreversible cascade of complex knock-on effects, destabilising marine ecosystems to their – and our – severe detriment.
  3. Climate change is warming the oceans and making them more acidic.  This will create vast dead zones as plankton and corals – the primary producers for nearly all marine life – struggle to survive under increasingly inhospitable conditions.
  4. Pollution can poison marine life and decimate entire marine environments.  Vast quantities of solid and chemical waste from human activities are continually dumped and leach into the oceans, including plastics, sewage, oil and toxins that accumulate in food webs.
  5. Habitat destruction physically limits the suitable living space available to marine life.  Coastal development, trawling, and aquaculture all destroy important marine habitats vital for supporting ocean health, such estuaries and mangrove systems that function as nurseries. Visit Save Our Seas
Play National Geographic's Animal Jam to learn about sea creatures! Click to visit website.

Play National Geographic’s Animal Jam to learn about sea creatures! Click to visit website.

Fish Trivia

(Answers Below)

  1. Name 3 kinds of movement that a fish’s body can be adapted for.
  2. How many species of fish are there in Arkansas?
  3. True or False: sharks have no bones.
  4. What is the function of a fish’s “lateral lines”?
  5. True or False: some fish have a highly developed sense of smell.

Organizations Protecting Fish

Wild Oceans (formerly the National Coalition for Marine Conservation)

Save Our Seas

Seafood Watch

Plastic-Free Seas

Play National Geographic’s Animal Jam to take your explorer’s journal into the deep and seek to find all the species to win a prize for each page you fill!

Lend a Flipper: Help Some Fish

One way to help is to switch to using soap and products which don’t harm aquatic life.  These brands include Burt’s Bees, Dr. Bronner’s, and other brands which exclude micro plastic particles or harsh chemicals.  According to CNN in June 2014, another way to help (if you’re not vegetarian or vegan) would be to eat this fish and do the planet a favor.  For more ideas from National Geographic, see their list of 10 Things You Can Do to Save the Ocean.  For reference, these are:

  1. Reduce Energy Consumption
  2. Make Safe, Sustainable Seafood Choices
  3. Use Fewer Plastic Products
  4. Help Care for the Beach
  5. Don’t Purchase Items that Exploit Marine Life
  6. Be an Ocean-Friendly Pet Owner
  7. Support Organizations Working to Protect the Ocean
  8. Influence Change in Your Community
  9. Travel on Waterways Responsibly
  10. Educate Yourself on Marine Life

Answers to Trivia Questions:

Accelerating, Cruising, or Maneuvering; 215 species of fish; True; lateral lines detect turbulence in the water helping a fish feel where something is moving; True

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