A lot of thinking goes on when you can’t speak immediately about what you see, especially if what you see is amazing. The fish, hundreds of different kinds, seem to have their own personality. Even though they can’t talk and all you can really do is observe, they are very interesting in their behavior and I found myself giving voice to them in my head.
Take the angel fish. Very shy and skittish they are. To get a photo of them, they have to be so absorbed in eating that they don’t notice you, or you have to sneak over the head of a very large coral where they are on the other side. Once they see you, they are off like lightening. I imagined they’d say something like, “Holy Cow! What are YOU? I need to swim away! Turn left at the coral! Turn right at the turtle! Hide in that crevice!”
The Parrot fish always swims very fast and frantic with a maniacal smile on his face. His teeth are always showing, and puts me in mind of something like Joker meets the Mad Hatter, sometimes attacking the hard, crusty coral for his dinner with single-mindedness.
The Lion Fish, and Scorpion Fish rarely swim away when approached, and they don’t need to. With their defensive protection of poisonous spines, they have little to fear. They remind me of people who stand their ground quietly, but are perfectly capable of defending themselves if need be. I imagine them saying, “Go ahead, poke me. I dare you!”
The Puffer Fish also has a great self defense mechanism. Much like a porcupine he inflates himself like a balloon and spines stick out all over his body. But they seemed pretty shy, as you couldn’t really get very close to them. I imagine they’d be saying, “Don’t do it! Don’t make me blow up! I just got through deflating!” This guy certainly didn’t have much to fear in life–he was huge at about 2 1/2 feet long!
The Damsel Fish is a curious little thing. He’s about the size of a dainty china saucer and knows no fear. They are very territorial and will not hesitate to peck at you anywhere they see fit if you invade their space. I was trying to get a picture of an arrow crab when one of these little things pecked my hand. I imagined him saying, “Get away! What do you think you are doing? I don’t care how big you are! LEAVE!” It was quite comical, because all I could think was that he had no idea how small he was.
Squid are like ballerinas. They glide gracefully through the water, and don’t really say much of anything. They communicate by changing color.
This last picture was something very unique. Frequently I’d see pairs of fish, and of course huge schools of fish. Always, they would be segregated. They didn’t really mix much within a school. I watched this odd couple swim together for probably five or six minutes, and upon talking with others after they dive, they all saw them together as well. They seemed quite close and content, and I imagined their conversation going something like this:
Parrot fish: “Dear, don’t push me! Dinner is this way!”
Trumpet Fish: “But honey, I wanted to browse among the coral on this side of the ocean. There’s a lovely Blue piece I think would look good on our table.”
Parrot fish: “All you ever think about is decorating!”
Trumpet Fish: “All you ever think about is food.”
Sounds familiar. One of my last thoughts regarding fish had to do with the Sail Fin Blinney. It’s amazing to see this tiny little creature poking out of a piece of coral. But to me, he looked just like one of the characters in a Dr. Seuss book.
Maybe that’s why I see people’s personalities when I’m watching and swimming with the fish. Too much Dr. Suess. But he really was a brilliant man when it came to knowing people.