He’s halibut on wheels

Fishing is huge up here … beyond huge … titanically huge.

As you’re well aware, it’s the reason many, many folks come to the North Country. And there are folks within the park who truly like fish. Not to eat. I mean really like them — appreciate their beauty, their grace, their smarts. Okay, not all, but a lot.

I don’t fish. I’ve tried in various lakes and streams but the only thing that ends up on my stringer is a string of bad words. The weeds, the knots, the attempts at pulling a hook out of a fish’s mouth without ultimately pulling its guts out … not for me. Plus, the time it takes! Waiting for fish to bite, to me, is torture. I’d rather be waiting for clothes to dry.

Of course, waiting for fish to bite is actually good for a writer because 90% of writing is thinking about what you’re going to write. And lord knows, with me holding the pole, there’s plenty of time to think. And one thought I had waiting to land the big one was about the activities in a fish’s life: Ever wonder what fish do down there all day?

After all, in a lake or ocean there are no cute little castles to swim through, no colorful gravel or fake little divers to trade aquatic jokes with. There’s only … water. Okay, there may be a sunken relic they can play around in now and again. Coral’s fun. Weeds are nice for hide-and-seek, but I’m talking about fish aspirations. Do they ever wish they could go bowling? Or go shopping in Plattsburgh? Or get together with friends for a game of Go Fish?

I only ask because I ran across this tidbit online the other day:

Fish can now drive cars.

Before you call the Enterprise offices and ask Ms. Izzo where she found such a chowder head of a writer, hear me out. Or, better still, check out this link (after you finish reading this fine piece of journalism, of course) and see for yourself: http://tinyurl.com/3pmc5nu7.

You won’t see a mackerel driving an F-150 or a carp parallel parking its Lexus. But you will see a little goldfish steering its “car” time and time again over to receive a reward in the form of a food pellet. So, not only can a fish drive a car, he or she can actually steer it exactly where they want to go! Shopping in Plattsburgh? Bowling? A game of Go Fish? Pile in, gang! And bring the school!

It is, of course, an experiment that simply proves that fish can learn. That if they point their car over to the right spot, they’ll be rewarded …like we do at a drive-thru window!

Now, I think we all knew that fish have brains. And, like most other animals, I think we all assumed that fish could learn. That’s why they’re so hard to catch!

Maybe that’s why they stopped hitting your spoon or your rubber worm … they’ve learned not to fall for that one anymore. So, to me, that’s not the only fascinating part of this experiment.

The fascinating part to me is less about the fish’s intelligence, and more about the intelligence of the humans who devised the experiment, then built a little fish car that can somehow travel in whatever direction a fish points to. Something about pulse laser light, remote sensing technology and other things I don’t understand make it possible. I just see a fish driving a car and I’m amazed … at the scientists.

So the next time you cast a line into Follensby Clear Pond or Hoel Pond or Lower Saranac, remember just how smart fish are. I mean, we’ve taught them to drive! Just like we’ve taught apes to understand and use language. We’ve taught dogs to sniff out diseases. We’ve taught cats to, well … taught cats to … to take all of the paper off a toilet paper roll! (Put the pens down, cat people … I own two cats, so I know they’re very smart as well.)

I could go on and on about our relationship with animals but I’m afraid I just don’t have the time. I’ve got a flounder waiting to drive me to my dentist appointment.


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