One fish, two fish, red fish, nearly thirty thousand species of fish--or fishes, as they are properly called when speaking of multiple species. This is but one of many things the authors of this fascinatingly informative book reveal in answering common and not-so-common questions about this ubiquitous group of animals.
Fishes range in size from tiny gobies to the massive Ocean Sunfish, which weighs thousands of pounds. They live in just about every body of water on the planet. Ichthyologists Gene Helfman and Bruce Collette provide accurate, entertaining, and sometimes surprising answers to over 100 questions about these water dwellers, such as "How many kinds of fishes are there?" "Can fishes breathe air?" "How smart are fishes?" and "Do fishes feel pain?" They explain how bony fishes evolved, the relationship between them and sharks, and why there is so much color variation among species. Along the way we also learn about the Devils Hole Pupfish, which has the smallest range of any vertebrate in the world; Lota lota, the only freshwater fish to spawn under ice; the Candiru, a pencil-thin Amazonian catfish that lodges itself in a very personal place of male bathers and must be removed surgically; and, many other curiosities.
With over 100 photographs--including two full-color photo galleries--and the most up-to-date facts on the world's fishes from two premier experts, this fun book is the perfect bait for any curious naturalist, angler, or aquarist.
Gene Helfman is professor emeritus in the Program in Conservation Ecology and Sustainability Development at the University of Georgia's Odum School of Ecology.
A senior scientist at the National Marine Fisheries Service Systematics Laboratory, Bruce Collette has taught about the diversity of fishes at the Bermuda Biological Station and the Shoals Marine Laboratory in Maine. Helfman and Collette are two of the authors of "The Diversity of Fishes", the leading textbook on the subject.
This book is fun, accessible, and informative. In the 30 years that I have been teaching ichthyology and fish ecology, I have been asked almost all of these questions. Here are all the answers in one comfortable package.
- Dr. Larry G. Allen, director, Southern California Marine Institute