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Plenty of fish in the sea


This is not a dating metaphor.  It’s an appraisal of an ecosystem.

It’s officially summer, which means millions of people are busy planning their beach getaways.  Tens of millions, actually, in the U.S. alone.  This season, four million people will visit Myrtle Beach in South Carolina.  Another seven million are heading to Long Beach, California.  And attendance at Daytona Beach in Florida will even exceed ten million.

But, of course, the superfluity of life at the beach doesn’t stop at the shoreline.  The ocean itself is pretty populated, too.


There are approximately 32,000 different kinds of fish out there.  Unlike Nemo and Dory, a lot of them are neither cute nor whimsical, and you probably wouldn’t be too thrilled to find them.

So before you wade in, consider this:

Ever wonder why fish never blink?  They can’t.  They don’t have eyelids.  They do have teeth, of course, though many have teeth so big that their mouths can’t close completely.  Their taste buds are also not confined to their mouths and instead appear all over their bodies.  And their bodies are covered either in rough scales or skin that feels like sandpaper.

These are the locals you’ll be sharing the water with.

And that’s just generally speaking.  Specific types of fish are often not only unpleasant (like the hagfish, which can produce two and a half gallons of slime in less than a minute), but also dangerous to humans.  Carp, when agitated, leap out of the water and become projectiles that can harm people.  Piranhas have even been known to feed on human remains.

Many fish are poisonous.  Their toxins cause shock, paralysis and, in worst cases, death.  This is why it’s important to stay away from things like jellyfish and stingrays.  But even fish you’ve probably never heard of, like the stonefish or the boxfish, can do serious damage.  And the electric eel has enough electricity coursing through its body to kill a horse.

As an aside, I hope whoever discovered that didn’t do so empirically.


Now, it’s important to note that your chances of a potential run-in with any of the aforementioned sea creatures is extremely low.  Still, an abundance of caution is a good thing.

So, if you’re still deciding what to do this summer, consider all your options.  The movies are typically good this time of year.  Parks are lovely.  Museums are always nice.  And if you really need to be around water, you might want to just go to the pool.