Part of something bigger

My current favourite past time in the uShaka Sea World aquarium is to watch a small school of anchovies Plus 1. The Plus 1 is a yet unidentified fish who is finding sanctuary with the band of anchovies. He is bigger than them. But fully accepted into the ranks.

I watched them for some time yesterday. Fascinating behaviour patterns began to emerge. Because he is easy to recognise it was easy to see his behaviour relative to the group. Anchovies usually swim too fast and erratically for me to be able to monitor one I individual. Plus 1 on the other hand is a stand out dude with his own look. So easy to follow.

Anchovies swim constantly and school.  When threatened they tighten their ranks.  Large schools look like symphonies when they behave this way. Dancing in a manner that inspired Disney's Fantasia and more. Why. Because there is safety in numbers.

Makes sense why Plus 1 would join the merry dancers. It is safer to hang with the gang. Makes for a large picture for predators to encounter when you see a group rather than a vulnerable individual. 

When I watched, I realised that Plus 1 would need to refuel more often than his adopted family due to his size. This was noted because Plus 1 was not hanging in the same area of the school. Upon close inspection it became clear that he was attempting to herd the group closer to any goods he could scavenge. He would then dart off. Pick up a scrap and the quickly rejoin. He never positions himself on the periphery. Always tries to guide from just left or right of the centre of the group.

These and other similar observations had me grinning. I was seeing adaptabity and intelligence (whether you agree or not is ok with me) in what many would discount and write off as nothing more than pizza filler or bait. 

Behaviour of animals is amazing. For too long we have claimed primary intelligence on this planet. Scientists have argued that we have self awareness which sets us apart from the natural world. I question this.

We must be the most unconscious species alive. We have habits that make no sense. We spend most of our lives working at the same thing over and over in  the hopes for moments of freedom and joy. We call this responsibile behaviour. And most of the behaviour we practise is detrimental to the greater good. Detrimental to our environment, those who share it with us and even us. 

Soap box moment over.

Back to Plus 1 and the amazing lesson. There is joy and awe and wonder in the smallest thing for us to experience. There is a smartness in such a tiny critter. There is shared intelligence that is miraculous to encounter.

Thank you Plus 1.

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.


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