Tag Archives: fish

Trump ‘n’ chips


The Ig Nobel prize is awarded about a week prior to its more earnest and important Nobel cousin, to reward scientific research which fulfils that very thing which much of science fails to address: making people laugh.

I’ve never been one for laughing at science, as I’m too much in awe of all the binary code, genetic programming and brain-exploding universal theories. But I can appreciate the need for research into fish flatulence. So I thank you – Dr Bob Batty, Dr Ben Wilson, Professor Larry Dill and your assorted research assistants – for bringing this to public attention in your recent lecture at Dundee University.

Farting in company holds many horrors for humankind. The opposite appears to be true for herring. The British/Canadian team monitored these fine fish through the night with infrared cameras and underwater microphones, and Dr Batty revealed the following:

We heard these rasping noises, which sound like high pitched raspberries, only ever at night, whenever we saw tiny gas bubbles coming from the herrings’ bottoms.

And a further observational nugget from Dr Wilson:

We also noticed that individual fish release more bubbles the more fish are in the tank with them. In other words it seems that herring like to fart in company.

 I’m with the herring on this one, especially in the confines of a car in the early stages of the school run. Perhaps you can tell why I’m in my particular line of work.



Fish food for thought


We have acquired fish. Real live ones. There’s a lemon goldfish, an orange comet and a black moor now swimming happily on top of the chest-of-drawers in the boys’ room. Their names are Timothy, Allan and Sonic.

That assortment of names brings all manner of things to mind. Things that one doesn’t normally associate with living, swimming fish. Three men in a pub seems to be the front runner. Timothy and Allan have known each other for several years and are members of the same Angling Club. Sonic is a relative newcomer, whose attempts to blend in are hampered by his odd, boggly eyes and somewhat conspicuous name. I can hear the conversation now.

Timothy: Catch the game on Sunday?

Allan: No hands, mate. Just fins. Not catching much, to be honest. Pint?

Timothy: Lovely, son. Water for me.

Sonic (late and gasping): All right, lads. What are we drinking?

Timothy: What are you, an alien from Betelgeuse Seven?

I wrote a book about a fish once. It was a marvellously named Flame Angel, and was stolen from the SeaLife Centre in a fictitious US coastal state, snatched from the company of fellow water-dwellers with equally fabulous names: peacock wrasses, teardrop butterflies, turbo snails. I’m pleased to report that the fish was returned safe and well and wet by the end of the story. (The book was called VANISHING POINT, and was part of a series called The Pet Finders Club, in case you’re interested.)

I’ve liked fish ever since. They are lovely to watch, gentle and soothing and shiny. OK, Sonic is more amusing than shiny. I hope Timothy and Allan are being kind, and not muttering darkly about foreign weirdos taking all the jobs in the tank. Apparently, black moors can live up to twenty-five years, so perhaps Sonic will have the last fish flake in the end. (Assuming Crumble doesn’t eat him first.)