Lets assume that since you are reading this nature nugget that you learned to read in school or were taught by your parents. After a few basic lessons you might have been able to learn a little on your own. As you grew older your imagination grew and you learned even more about life. Let me ask you this: who taught you about danger or not to stick your hand in a fire? Most likely your mom or dad trained you in all the things that you needed to know about how to keep from getting hurt. When I was very young I saw my Dad drop a big ladder on his great toe. A few days later, while on the roof, he poured hot roofing tar on that same exposed toe. By watching him I have never jammed my toe with a ladder and have always been very careful with any hot liquids. Seeing him lose his big toenail taught me many valuable lessons.
Now lets pretend that you are a fish. Who will teach you about danger and when to run (swim) away from danger? Who is going to keep you from being shark bait and out of the tentacles of a man-o-war or an octopus? All things are very important if you are just a small fry of a fish. In fact it means if you donít learn quickly you are going to be in somebodyís food chain. You will be at the top of the food pyramid for some larger fish. So how does a little fish learn to fend for himself with no mother or daddy fish around to help? Lets think about one thing. Most little fish donít want their mom or dad around because many adult fish donít ever see their own little babies hatch out. As far as theyíre concerned any little fish is good to eat.
Lets take the Pompano fish for example. Their mom goes somewhere along the Gulf or Atlantic coast, and lays thousands of eggs on the grassy bottom. After thousands of mother Pompano lay their eggs, millions of little pompano hatch out all by themselves. Mom has gone back out to the open ocean leaving the little ones to raise themselves. How in this world is a little fish suppose to learn own its own. Well guess what? All these little Pompano break up into pods or little schools. Now instead of just one lonely little fish there are many little friends swimming together. They learn to swim in a tight, straight formation and how to turn very quickly and to go the opposite direction. Itís like follow-the-leader all day long. Nature has implanted into their tiny little brain cells what food to eat and how to run from enemies.
As these millions of babies grow they also join in larger schools and head for the open ocean. There they have to learn very fast how to avoid danger. They form their own little schools that swim so fast they are hard to see. The school stops only for food. As soon as a pod spots a colony of mole crabs, commonly known as sand fleas, they all break for lunch. With mouths made for crunching up crab shells itís not long before they are full of crab sandwiches then itís back to fast-forward. These little fish grow to be up to 15-20 inches long and travel the shallow waters just off the shoreline. Here they are able to spot the mole crabs as the crashing surf churns up the bottom where the little crabs hide. Many time as I have wadded out to surf fish and schools of Pompano dart past me. All these Pompano are moving in the same direction and all turning at the same time and all showing their bright silver sides.
The oceans of the world are full of many kinds of schooling fish. Large schools act as protection. There is safety in numbers most of the time. When a predator comes to get just one fish for a tasty bite, the whole school scatters causing mass confusion and many times the predator gets nothing. On the other hand, some large whales or dolphins would find it hard to get enough food if it werenít for the smaller fish in large schools.
There is balance in nature if man would only let nature takes its course. Our Creator has provided for even the smallest of creatures to have a means to survive, even without a mom or dad around to teach them. I am just very thankful that I donít have to stay in school all my life just to stay alive arenít you? Our moms and dads show us what we need to know, so learn well. Letís thank our Creator for moms and dads who take to time to teach us.
- Uncle Burney
("McDonald Manna" October, 2006)