Although I’ve eaten flying fish before, I’d never actually seen them “fly” until recently (easily accessible to me but not something I’ve ever gone out of my way to find). The above video, filmed for BBC Earth, shows a glide of flying fish soaring through the air. Truly majestic.
They’re also a significant part of Bajan culture (I ate them in Barbados while visiting my dad’s family):
Many aspects of Barbadian culture center (sic) around the flying fish; it is depicted on coins, as sculptures in fountains, in artwork, and as part of the official logo of the Barbados Tourism Authority. Additionally, the Barbadian coat of arms features a pelican and dolphinfish on either side of the shield, but the dolphinfish resembles a flying fish. Furthermore, actual artistic renditions and holograms of the flying fish are also present within the Barbadian passport.
Charismatic clownfish, the coral reef fish made famous by the film Finding Nemo, are instantly recognizable by their white stripes. These stripes, which scientists call bars, appear as clownfish mature from larvae into adults in a process called metamorphosis, but how these distinctive patterns form has long remained a mystery.
Now, a new study has found that the speed at which these white bars form depends on the species of sea anemone in which the clownfish live. The scientists also discovered that thyroid hormones, which play a key role in metamorphosis, drive how quickly their stripes appear, through changes in the activity of a gene called duox.
Something else I didn’t know about clownfish is how they transition from male to female over time:
Anemonefish are sequential hermaphrodites, meaning they develop into males first, and when they mature, they become females. If the female anemonefish is removed from the group, such as by death, one of the largest and most dominant males becomes a female. The remaining males move up a rank in the hierarchy.
I’ve got an idea for a Finding Nemo sequel!
A Japanese entomologist has ventured from his area of expertise to delve into the taxonomy of these plastic fish and he has actually sorted them into distinct families and genera. You may wonder, why? Perhaps it is an ode to the humble soy sauce container, perhaps another outlet for a taxonomist to channel OCD, or perhaps just because.
The author of the book, Yoshihisa Sawada, is an expert in Japanese insect taxonomy and has worked at the Museum of Nature and Human Activities in Hyogo, having published several scientific papers in this field. He took his taxonomic expertise and applied it to an unlikely subject, seemingly below his expertise: plastic fish-shaped soy sauce bottles. He applies his same methodology and treats his subject with all the reverence and seriousness of an actual taxonomic study on living animals. The book was published in 2012 and, alas, is only available in Japanese. The rough translation of the title into English is “Soy sauce sea bream”. “Bream” refers to freshwater and marine fish from a variety of genera that are typically narrow and deep-bodied.
Tl;dr: yes, Danny DeVito ate a real fish in that scene from Batman Returns.
I like to look at what kind of things people search for to find the site or what Cultrface comes up for in general. One of the most interesting search queries was “did danny devito eat a real fish in batman returns” and it was something I’d wondered over the years. So I looked it up myself. And he did.
In an interview with Nicholas Fonseca for The Daily Telegraph in Australia in 2019, DeVito also revealed what kind of fish he was eating:
The Penguin eats fish, quite grotesquely, in that movie. What were you actually eating?
Oh yeah, that was real fish. Bluefish. Fresh, of course. Movie stars only eat fresh fish. Don’t try to pawn two-day-old fish on us. You bring that right from the market.
DeVito chowed down on raw fish as the Penguin in Batman Returns. Yum.
Surely that didn’t taste good after a while, though.
Well, in the middle of the action, I would squeeze a mixture of mouthwash and spirulina into my mouth — but that was because I needed to ooze this green, kind of black thickish liquid out of the corners.
(Sidenote: bluefish, known as tailor in Oceania, and elf or shad in South Africa, is a popular food fish but it is also a vulnerable species due to widespread overfishing)
So there you have it—The Penguin really did eat raw fish when Max Shreck announced he would help him run for mayor of Gotham City. Is it weird that, as a kid, it made me hungry? Is it also weird that, as an adult, it still makes me hungry?
Stream the scene below.
Last year, a Smithsonian marine biologist called Karen Osborn and her colleagues found a unique specimen while hauling deep-sea fish. But when she tried to use strobe lights to take a photo for cataloguing, she could only make out its outline. It was as if the fish was absorbing the light. Except it was.
But wait a second, Osborn figured. “I had tried to take pictures of deep-sea fish before and got nothing but these really horrible pictures, where you can’t see any detail,” she says. “How is it that I can shine two strobe lights at them and all that light just disappears?”
It disappears because the fangtooth, along with 15 other species that Osborn and her colleagues have found so far, camouflage themselves with “ultra-black” skin, the deep-sea version of Vantablack, the famous human-made material that absorbs almost all the light you shine at it. These fish have evolved a different and devilishly clever way of going ultra-black with incredible efficiency: One species the researchers found absorbs 99.956 percent of the light that hits it, making it nearly as black as Vantablack.
99.956% is as good as 100% to the naked eye so “Vantafish” seems like the perfect name.
(via Wired; photograph: Karen Osborn/Smithsonian)
There are certain ethical issues with leather but perhaps this is a better solution.
Steinunn Gunnsteinsdóttir is the sales manager of Atlantic Leather, an Icelandic company that owns the only fish tannery in Europe. They’ve been making leather from the skins of salmon and cod (amongst other types) since 1994 and produce nearly a tonne of leather every month.
If that sounds like a lot, consider the fact this is all done by only 19 employees and the whole process takes nearly four weeks. There are advantages to using fish skin rather than the cow or lamb hide, as Gunnsteinsdóttir explains:
Fish leather’s actually nine times stronger than lamb or cow leather of similar thickness. This is because the fibres in fish skin criss-cross rather than (go) just up and down… it makes it much more durable leather for products that have to be really strong like shoes, belts and bags.
Snake and alligator skin are used for leather before but fish is a new one on me and it helps reduce use of the endangered species. But not for fashion houses Jimmy Choo and Dior who Atlantic Leather supply.
They aren’t the only fish leather makers in the world. Kenya is home to Victorian Foods where perch skin is the main material, fished from the largest desert lake in the world. Of course, it’s important that this practice doesn’t contribute to overfishing which has a dangerous effect on the marine wildlife and food for the populations that need it. But right now, it looks like a great alternative.
(image credit: Ella Gordon)
Rush Hour was a great movie when it came out in 1998. Like many comedy films, it comes with some great bloopers and this particular one has stuck with me the longest. But what the hell is gefilte fish? I was never inclined to look it up. Until yesterday.
Gefilte fish is a seafood dish is made from poached ground fish, usually carp, whitefish, or pike. Until the 19th-century, gefilte fish was stuffed in the skin of the fish but nowadays you’ll find it made into quenelles or fish balls. It’s a popular Jewish holiday meal, given its origins, but the dish can be found around the world. Including planes as part of kosher meals no doubt. And Chris Tucker just couldn’t get his tongue around it. And I don’t blame him.