Engbretson Underwater Photography

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News From Behind the Scenes at Engbretson Underwater Photo and Stories about the Freshwater Environments We Visit.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

What we Can Learn From Fish When We Spend Time With Them:

Do fish have individual personalities? I'm often asked this question and I have some definite thoughts about it. For me, the answer is unequivocally yes. I’ve been photographing fish underwater in their natural habitat for over 25 years. In that time, there are long stretches when I’ve worked with the same individual fish for years at a time. I think most would agree that just like the personality distinctions one could make between say poodles and collies, distinctions between different types of fish certainly exist. Northern pike have different personality traits than largemouth bass and bluegills. Each species possess their own “group personality identity”.  But I would also suggest that it goes further than that. Individual fish behave differently from their cohorts and exhibit what can only be regarded as unique personalities with as much depth and richness as those of our own pets. 

Epiphanies about fish like this one can easily escape the casual observer and are only possible when one spends an extended amount of time observing and interacting with them. But because fish live in a world separate from ours, it’s difficult to do this in the same way birdwatchers can for example.  To observe fish in their natural habitat, we have to go under the surface with masks & snorkels or diving equipment. 

On warm summer days, our lakes are filled with swimmers and boaters, but they’re largely unaware of the diversity of life that swims just below them. We’re deaf to a grand symphony in concert under the surface. In recent years kayaking has become a very popular way to enjoy our waters. I’d love to see snorkeling gain that same kind of popularity in our inland lakes and become something you do every weekend, and not just when you’re in Hawaii on vacation. 

I’d encourage anyone interested in animals, and especially those interested in fish specifically to explore snorkeling as a way to observe and enjoy fish. They’re so fascinating to watch and there’s much we can learn about them.

1 comment:

  1. I definitely attest to how awesome & addicting snorkelling wisconsin lakes is. Can't believe more people arent out there doin that. Theres an amazing unexplored world just below the surface!👍👍👍