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message 1: by Becky (new)

Becky Norman | 791 comments Mod
Please add your comments about What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins to this thread.


message 2: by Neus (new)

Neus (neusfigueras) | 26 comments I finally got it from my library and will start right away!


message 3: by Neus (new)

Neus (neusfigueras) | 26 comments I think the prologue is very well thought. The author tells us about some experiences he had and confesses that like most people, he had no consideration for the living beings that ended up on his plate. It is a good way to say that he understands the average person, but also to say: if I have realized that they are beings with consciousness and that we must establish a different relationship with them, you can too.

I've enjoyed Part I. Fish are the most abundant and diverse vertebrates on the planet, so they are lots of curiosities about them.

Part II starts great: there are not only five senses, there are many more.


message 4: by Neus (last edited Sep 19, 2020 04:12AM) (new)

Neus (neusfigueras) | 26 comments Fish live in a different world from ours, a world in which our physiological capacities only allow us to visit for a few minutes, if only (hours if you use scuba gear). Part II of this book demonstrates how much more different the ocean is for fish than how we perceive it, since their capacities for vision, smell, hearing, and taste under water are much greater than ours, and they also have electrical impulses and pressure sensors that allow them to perceive a whole spectrum that it's out of reach for us.

Part III surprised me. It is so obvious to me that fish--equipped with a nervous system and brain like vertebrates that they are--are capable of feeling pain, that I find it hard to believe that, for instance, the American Veterinary Medical Association did not include it in their guidelines until 2013.


message 5: by Sam (new)

Sam | 49 comments Started tonight and I'm about 40 pages in. Liking the evolutionary history and expect I will appreciate the research on fish senses and consciousness. But very irritated by some of the premises and assumptions laid out in the intro.

I work on fishery and river restoration. I'm immersed in wild salmon and steelhead protection and restoratio every day. I work to remove 4 dams blocking salmon from returning to thousands of miles of habitat. I work with commercial and sport fishermen, conservation groups and Native American tribes in this effort.

I am opposed to destructive fishing practices and over fishing that are wreaking havoc in the world. I am not opposed to ethical and sustainable fishing.

I completely respect people who are vegan, do not eat meat or fish for ethical, dietary reasons. But the people I know who fish--commercial salmon trollers, tribal fishermen, subsistence fishers, people who fish like I do--have a deep connection to these fish. It's not just food. Both salmon and people would suffer in the long run if people quit fishing. I get the sense that the author thinks that people fish because they think that fish have no consciousness. With ethical fishermen, tribal fishermen, others, that is simply not true.

And without fishermen, many fisheries would be lost They are some of the strongest advocates for protecting rivers. I think of the commercial, sport and tribal fishers who have fought a giant gold mine in Alaska in Bristol Bay called Pebble Mine. That mine would be built today if it wasn't for the coalition of people who fish for them. We would be on our way to losing the biggest sockeye salmon fishery in the world.

In the Columbia-Snake River system I work in, the protections that have occurred would not have happened without the support and hard work of fishermen along with conservation groups.

Salmon are a little bit like Jesus (I'm a fisherman, not a Christian, to set the record straight). Salmon return to feed and sustain the ecosystem they were born in. They spawn and they die, giving their body to the river and place they came from. They feed bears, deer, eagles, wolves, other fish and humans. I've attended a few First Salmon Ceremonies held by Northwest Tribes, where they honor the returning salmon by blessing a fish and then having a communal dinner. Happens around Easter usually.

I do believe that fish feel and have senses. And I also believe that fishing, for many of us, is a vital connection to the natural world and our rivers, at least for salmon & steelhead. No, we shouldn't overfish endangered and threatened runs. But sustainable fishing builds support for protecting habitat, feeds people and connects humans to the natural world.


message 6: by Neus (last edited Sep 24, 2020 10:41AM) (new)

Neus (neusfigueras) | 26 comments Sam wrote: "Started tonight and I'm about 40 pages in. Liking the evolutionary history and expect I will appreciate the research on fish senses and consciousness. But very irritated by some of the premises and..."

Hi Sam,

Your work on fishery restoration sounds fantastic.

I personally have never fished, nor do I intend to, and I don't eat fish either. I get my connection with fish by swimming/diving with them and I love to recognise the same fish on different occasions. However, I support traditional and sustainable fishing because I believe it is the viable alternative to the fishing that is now being done globally, which by far makes fishing in its totality do more harm than good.

We need to change to a sustainable model, and I hope projects like yours can help, together with awareness campaigns among consumers, and alternative jobs for industrial fishermen.

I hope you enjoy the rest of the book. The author just makes personal statements in the prologue, I'm finding the rest of the book very well researched.


message 7: by Neus (new)

Neus (neusfigueras) | 26 comments Part IV and V are the ones I was most looking forward to and they haven't let me down.

The experiments and methods for testing the intelligence and behaviour of fish are fascinating and original, and it has been a great help to have references to land animals from time to time.

The culture part has been new to me and the social relationships that some fish have will never cease to surprise me.

I like the concept that intelligence is not a single general property, but a set of capabilities that can be manifested in different areas.

There are touching anecdotes that have no scientific basis, but as the author says, it would be great if both scientists and amateurs could share their observations to have a robust sample and detect if there are behavioural patterns.


message 8: by Sam (new)

Sam | 49 comments Neus wrote: "Sam wrote: "Started tonight and I'm about 40 pages in. Liking the evolutionary history and expect I will appreciate the research on fish senses and consciousness. But very irritated by some of the ..."

Neus, yes I am enjoying the book in terms of the research and science. Hope to finish it this week-end.


message 9: by Neus (new)

Neus (neusfigueras) | 26 comments During my studies in marine sciences, what we were taught most about fish was their physiology and reproduction. Yet part VI of this book has given me some curiosities that I didn't know about such as the splash tetra fish jumping out of the water to lay their eggs on leaves, and then having to keep them moist by jumping again, splashing the eggs every two or three minutes for two or three days.


message 10: by Neus (last edited Sep 27, 2020 04:28AM) (new)

Neus (neusfigueras) | 26 comments Sam wrote: "Neus wrote: "Sam wrote: "Started tonight and I'm about 40 pages in. Liking the evolutionary history and expect I will appreciate the research on fish senses and consciousness. But very irritated by..."

Nice! I'll finish soon too.


message 11: by Neus (last edited Sep 28, 2020 11:52AM) (new)

Neus (neusfigueras) | 26 comments The last part has been the one I have more fresh in my mind as I am devoted to conservation. But that didn't make it any less harsh. This book presents you with the facts, and the truth is that when fishing is driven only by economic benefits, atrocities were and are being committed.

The epilogue closes the book with a more optimistic feeling, showing that we are slowly moving towards moral progress. It is in our hands to accelerate this progress.


message 12: by Sam (new)

Sam | 49 comments An interesting read. I love fish: I work to restore them, I fish for them, and eat them if sustainably caught. When I eat a Northwest salmon, it feels like a connection to the river, to the natural world. I'm not a Christian, but salmon are like Jesus--they give their body to sustain the world--ecosystems, bears, other fish, people. I really appreciated the science in this book of fish cognition, and its discussion of impacts of unsustainable fishing practices. Hurrah for the discussion on impacts of salmon farming, a practice that should be outlawed. The author definitely goes beyond science to ponder on the thoughts and feelings of fish, which is very subjective.

I come down on the side of supporting sustainable fishing, both sport and commercial. It can be argued our NW wild salmon and steelhead would not still be surviving without the love, commitment and actions of fishermen. Sport and commercial fishermen have been some of the strongest advocates for restoring rivers and protecting fisheries. As I listened to the last of this book I was prepping sockeye salmon for the smoker, salmon purchased from a commercial fishing family who fish Bristol Bay and have been active in fighting the giant proposed gold mine in the headwaters which will destroy the greatest sockeye salmon fishery in the world. I feel great about eating the salmon and supporting that family.

Having worked for both traditional "environmental" organizations and sportfishing groups, the folks who fish--whether they be sport, tribal or sustainable commercial, have a deep, deep, love for salmon and steelhead that is unparalleled,

One problem I had with the author is that he assumes fishermen do not view fish as sentient beings with intelligence. That doesn't ring when it comes to sport anglers. I fly fish, which involves choosing an artificial fly/bug to match a hatch, tempt a fish in a river. Anyone who fly fishes knows how smart fish are!

I completely respect people who choose not to eat fish, or any meat. I'm very particular about the meat and fish I eat and the origins. But people who fish sustainably, interact with fish in that manner, have an equal love and commitment to protecting them, and where I live, they are the driving force behind protecting rivers and fisheries. Without them, it would all be lost.


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