Welcome to 2019 and welcome back to school. School can be challenging – with random things happening at times. The photograph above of Old Wife fish in Port Phillip (taken by Dave Reinhard) shows the fish in a ‘shoal’. This is the term used for a group of like fish moving together somewhat randomly, but remaining as a group. A bit like the beginning of term.
The salmon below (by Phil Wilson) are also swimming in a shoal, again in Port Phillip.
The salmon at the bottom however are swimming in a ‘school’ – they are moving in the same direction and at the same speed as a coherent group.
It is believed that almost 80 per cent of more than 20,000 of the known fish species will school at some stage. This can be as juveniles or as older fish.
Schools generally contain fish of the same species and of similar age/size.
There are ecological advantages for being in schools, besides “safety in numbers”. The risk of being attacked by a predator is reduced – it can’t eat them all. Schooling fish can also defend their territory more easily than solitary fish.
Swimming is easier as group by allowing slip-streams to develop between the fish, hence conserving energy. It also increases the chance of mating successfully.
Schooling for fish allows individuals to work together co-operatively, just as it does for us.
The Dolphin Research Institute hopes that all the students returning to (or starting!) school work co-operatively together like fish in schools, not shoals. Good luck to students, parents and teachers for 2019. Don’t forget our amazing education programs – there’s nothing random about them!