Well- I can’t claim to be quite the piscophile that some of my friends are (I’ve got a pal who once kissed a sturgeon’s sucker-mouth on a dare).
However, fish are one of the most variegated, multi-hued and multi-formed expressions of ‘beauty’ in creation. The same process of evolution that yielded the austere grace of a king salmon also gifts us with the Hieronymus Bosch absurdity that is the blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus).
Fish have always been a source of mystery to us. They inhabit a cryptic, hidden world, only marginally opened to us with the advent of aquaria and SCUBA.
Anyhow, I’m going to start with one of my favorites.
However, nothing rears out of the deep with quite the impact of a lingcod. The things are enormous (we caught a six footer during the summer of ’90). They also have a howling, snaggle-hungry stare that makes a person very, very glad not to be a pollock.
They’re a wandering fish- females have been known to cover 500+ kilometers in a season. (Males stick closer to home… must be linked to the maternal instinct).
This photo (left) from Kawika Chetron’s coldwater images is a good example.
I work in a wildlife department at the University of Idaho. None of my fisheries colleagues have been able to steer me to a conclusive reason for the turquoise flesh. Apparently, it’s correlated to a diet laced with crustaceans… but the jade lings often live side by side with red and brown color variants…with no clear reason why.
I love to draw them, and I love to work them into my pottery… but most importantly, I love to think of them whispering beneath those cruel, azure tidal reaches off the West Coast.