Life sucks. Let’s not pretend to be one of those sickeningly sweet and optimistic people who say otherwise. We all have our bad days be it from a break up, a Judas level betrayal or just simply trying to eat an ice cream in the equator. So life throws you a lemon, it always does. Life’s a lemon farm. What do you do with it though? The cliche would be to make lemonade, but that’s rather unimaginative. Turning an astringent fruit into a sweet lemon pie would be better, and that’s what our aquatic friends are doing with their lives too.
Every so often you encounter a fish so handicapped and compromised that you turn a blind eye to it. That’s a terrible thing to do, because unlike your metaphorical nonchalance, they might literally be blind. Like people, fishes find themselves in precarious predicaments all the time. A bar brawl at the local feeding joint or a reckless accident often results in permanent damage, say the loss of an eye. Some suffer from unfortunate birth defects, which they have no control of; or in the words of Lady Gaga, they were born this way.
Despite the surmounting stack of adversities, it’s always remarkable how resilient and adaptive fishes can be. The eyeless six-line wrasse above for example continues to hunt amongst the corals with its one good eye, and the radiant wrasse with the missing upper jaw continues to scrape food off the surface like a well oiled tractor. Their disabilities don’t stop them from living their life, and that’s a lesson in itself that we can take home.
Some fish suffer a more unfortunate fate than a missing eye or a missing mouth part. The Stonogobiops above for example has a malformed eye that is embedded pretty deep in its head, encased in a membrane disallowing it from reaching the outside. The eye is the only organ that touches both the brain and the outside world at the same time, but in this case, it doesn’t. Look at it though. It’s a full grown wild caught individual that has survived the tumultuous ocean teeming with predators and nay-sayers. He’s a trooper and he needs someone that would love him as much as his Crinoid squat lobster friend.
A little bit more severe still is the complete evisceration of a swimming appendage, and in this scenario it usually involves the caudal fin. This can happen via predation or a birth defect in which the fish is born without a tail. Strangely enough many of such individuals seem unfazed by their handicap, and are able to go about their normal lives. Some are even capable of agility comparable to their normally formed brethren.
Not even the golden child is spared from the disappointment that life brings. So you’re born with perfect fins and dashing good looks, you’re level headed and keep out of nonsense fighting for fear of grave injuries. You mow your neighbour’s algae turf, and you baby sit their spawn when they go on holidays. A model citizen to the neighbourhood of Coralville. The Cirrhilabrus temminckii above probably fits this criteria but look, he’s dying. Or is he? Not even the failed lunch attempt can stop him from swimming and carrying on as per normal.
What is the point to all this banter though? In a light hearted way, fish are stronger than you think. They’re resilient and they bounce back. The next time one of your own suffers from an unfortunate accident, don’t flush him. Don’t give him away. Keep it, keep it as a reminder that when life gives you lemons, you take it, you make a delicious dessert and you sell it back for spare change. After all,
Here’s to all the broken fish out there. *Disclaimer* We are against making fish into beverages or baked goods.