Sunday, April 29, 2012

Natural History Reading: Four Fish

So as I mentioned recently in my post about dolphin strandings I am finally beginning to see myself as not just a science educator but also a marine educator.  I've worked for a public aquarium for a little over two years now but until very recently I still strictly referred to myself as a "science educator."  The distinction is that my background is in neuroscience and my teeth cutting experience in the field of informal ed. happened a children's museum where I mostly designed experiences related to they physical sciences and my main interests related to animals are still evolution, classification and  the more nerdy, "sciency" topics rather than what I would consider "marine" topics.  However working at a public aquarium for two years can influence your thoughts and perspective and teaching and even though I still hold the belief that the most important way we as educators encourage stewardship, especially with young children, is by scaffolding appreciation and excitement about nature, I am coming to include the "marine" part of my work more and more into my self identity.

So why is this important?  Why the preamble?  Because the book I'm reading right now, Four Fish by Paul Greenberg, I think does a great job of showing how much fascinating natural history there is behind a modern marine stewardship problem like over-fishing.  The book is ostensibly about our (our meaning humanity) relationship with four fish, (hence the title) salmon, bass, cod and tuna.  It tells the historical story of their fisheries and why these four fish have become modern staples.  It deals with the idea of fishing being the last "wild" resource that humans consume and where we seem to be going and where, perhaps, we ought to be going (baramundi farming, spoiler alert!).

But the most interesting part of the book, for me, is the natural history (I know, huge surprise).  Greenberg writes eloquently on how the natural histories and life histories of these particular animals forged our relationships with them and are often counter to how we attempt to continue our modern relationships.  He also relates this concept to fishes he believes are indeed more suited to our continued consumption.

Overall this book is a great read and one of the reasons I'm enjoying it so thoroughly is that I see his writing as a bit of professional development, helping me remember that because I'm a marine educator I don't need to stop being a science educator.  His ability to present current policy and environmental issues through their natural history is quite inspiring and completely enjoyable.  If you eat fish, keep aquaria, love fishing or have any strong emotional ties with fish (read: if you are from New England) I highly recommend this book.

No comments:

Post a Comment