Something I wrote in 2010 in the Pacific Ocean.

In 2010 I went to Australia and had a great time mooching around the rainforest around Cairns. One day I took a boat trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. It was incredibly rough and people were honking up left, right and centre.

I’m glad to say that the rich ecosystem and biological diversity of these waters inspired me to do some writing right then and there, on a platform rocking from side to side in the middle of the Pacific. It’s great to see that I really engaged with the local culture.

I was faffing around on an old memory stick the other day and I came across it again.

Fish Species Usually Left Out of the Documentaries
(And Usually for Good Reason).

1. The Angry Clown Lumphead Gumard . Which travels in threes, two males and a female. And if the female should die, the two males fight out a duel to the death to become the new leader of the trio. The winner then finds himself suddenly alone.
2. The Coleslaw Sucker Mixed Lettuce Cuttle Fish. When it reaches maturity, its eyes rotate round to the right. It is thought that this is where Picasso got his ideas from.
3. The Silly Trout. Like a regular trout but quotes Tim Vine jokes to strangers at bus stops.
4. The Looks Like Elvis, Sings Like Les Dawson Fish. Doesn’t really do anytlhing, but I just love the name.
5. The Scarlet-Breasted Maori Wrasse. Will attack snotkellers and scuba divers in a most vicious and unprovoked manner even though it is less than a millimetre long, and no-one really knows what it hopes to achieve by doing this
6. The Hurry Hurry Hurry Hurry Hurry Hurry Too Late Eel. The only member of the fish family to have eyebrows, hence its plaintive, downtrodden expression
7. The Mash Finned Ploop Groober: Marine biologists long argued why it should have what looks like an office hole punch balanced on its back Some wondered if this was for stability, others for defence while most conjectured that this strange growth helped to attract a mate. On closer inspection they realised that it was a hole punch. And that the same fish had been swimming past them in circles. And that the hole punch from the ship’s office was missing.
8. The My God It’s Boris Johnson Look How Close Its Eyes Are Together Fish. Just made that one up
9. The Amiable Cod. Lives a peaceful existence, but one day it’s going to snap
10. The Reverse Surgeon Fish. Instead of grooming the larger fish and removing algae and bacteria, it puts them back just for a laugh.
11 The X-Ray Ray. Can see right through you, and when it does, it emits a loud, ‘Boom boom’
12. The Hula, A-hula Hula, Alohal, Marlin Names after Captain Cooke’s Aunt Hilda, it has a pronounced frown and buck teeth. Consequently, mating is very rare.
13. The Thumbs-Up Punch-Drunk Monk Fish It’s lithe, mesmerising movements in the water hypnotise its prey into wanting them to dance with it. No one knows why, but both sides in the process seem to enjoy the process.
14. The Tiger Fish. With its elaborate coloured fins and tail with its exuberant plumage and its tassels and its decoration and its accoutrements, it is seen by many marine biologists to be something of ponce.
15. The Bullethead Parrotfish. Has a beak instead of teeth, and powerful lips that, every now and then, accidentally ingest coral and rock which it then grinds and swallows before excreting as sand. They have been doing this for so long that 70 percent of Australia’s sand comes this way. Out of a fish’s bottom.

Author: Robert Garnham

Performance and spoken word artist.

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