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Podcasts

NPR Interview

Fishes Have Feelings Too: The Inner Lives Of Our Underwater Cousins:

John Facebook ImageWhen you think about fish, it’s probably at dinnertime.

Author Jonathan Balcombe, on the other hand, spends a lot of time pondering the emotional lives of fish.

Balcombe, who serves as the director of animal sentience for the Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy, tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that humans are closer to understanding fish than ever before.

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Book Reviews

Book Review in Nature

What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins

Jonathan Balcombe Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2016)
ISBN: 9780374288211

What A Fish Knows Book Cover - Small

More than 30,000 species of fish — about half of all vertebrates — roam global waters. And as ethologist Jonathan Balcombe notes in this engrossing study, breakthroughs are revealing sophisticated piscine behaviours.

Balcombe glides from perception and cognition to tool use, pausing at marvels such as ocular migration in flounders and the capacity of the frillfin goby (Bathygobius soporator) to memorize the topography of the intertidal zone.

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Essays & Articles

Fishes Use Problem Solving and Invent Tools

While diving off the Micronesian archipelago of Pulau, evolutionary biologist Giacomo Bernardi witnessed something unusual and was lucky enough to capture it on film.

An orange-dotted tuskfish (Choerodon anchorago) uncovered a clam buried in the sand by blowing water at it, picked up the mollusk in its mouth and carried it to a large rock 30 yards away. Then, using several rapid head flicks and well-timed releases, the fish eventually cracked open the clam against the rock.

In the ensuing 20 minutes, the tuskfish ate three clams, using the same sequence of behaviors to smash them.

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Book Reviews

Open Letters Monthly – What A Fish Knows

Closing The Buffet

Review by Justin Hickey on Open Letters Monthly (June 01, 2016)

What A Fish Knows Book Cover - Small

In 1949, Austrian ethologist Konrad Lorenz introduced his concept of the “baby schema,” which theorized that the large eyes, shorter snouts, and round wobbly heads of infant animals trigger caregiving urges in their parents.

That this phenomenon crosses species lines is irrefutable, considering how much time we spend cooing at puppies and kittens—true fur babies—and any adult creature possessing a hint of benign fluffiness.

If Lorenz were alive today, he’d nod in sage commiseration at our vast internet cache of videos and memes celebrating owls, raccoons, pigs, hedgehogs, rabbits, and ducklings (to name a few, in this reviewer’s order of Descending Cuddliness).

How about fishes?

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Book Reviews

Fangirl Nation On – What A Fish Knows

What A Fish Knows Puts Fish In The Limelight

Book Review on FanGirl Nation by Jessica Greenlee (June 01, 2016)

What A Fish Knows Book Cover - SmallJonathan Balcombe is talking about not only What a Fish Knows but how they know it, what they experience, and the question of whether or not they qualify as self-aware, sentient beings.His answer to that last is an emphatic “yes,” and he has the studies to back his conclusion.

Throughout the book, he examines fish senses, intelligence, social and family lives, and concludes with a chapter on fishing. He also points out that not all fishes are alike and we have not come close to studying the wide variety out there.

The book is fascinating, bringing to light an astonishing number of unexpected revelations about fish.

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Letters

Are We Really Nicer Than Vampire Bats?

The Opinion Pages – New York Times:

Published: May 19 2011

To the Editor:

David Brooks draws an unfair line between humans and other animals.

Virtue is widespread in nature. Studies have found that chimpanzees show spontaneous helping behavior toward humans and fellow chimps. They also console victims of violence and show gratitude for favors. Chickens, prairie dogs, songbirds and others sound the alarm at an approaching predator, heightening personal risk by drawing attention to themselves.

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