lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

F is for Fish


They are not what you’d think of immediately, if someone mentions endangered animals. And of course, keeping track of the  fish and sea creature populations is very hard. But sometimes it’s easy to know that a species is endangered – cod for instance, when fishermen catch fewer and fewer and smaller and smaller specimens.

Nevertheless, many sea creatures are suffering because of us – over-fishing, the type of fishing (trawlers scape up the sea bottom and indiscriminately kill all species in that area), nets that catch porpoise and dolphins as well as the tuna that they live on and we also relish…

Plastic is a major polluter and is a big threat. Some plastic breaks down in the sea quite quickly into nasty chemicals like bisphenol A, PCBs and derivatives of polystyrene.  Other plastics in the ocean break down slowly into smaller and smaller polymers. They do not biodegrade. The tiny polymers are there forever – in the air, on our land – and in the sea. In the sea, they absorb chemicals like the PCBs and DDT that are in the water.

These tiny polymers, which have absorbed poison, in some places exist in greater quantities than zooplankton. Small creatures take it in as food. Bigger creatures eat those creatures, and eventually, we eat creatures higher up the food chain that have these chemicals, concentrated, stored in them.

And,  thought by some scientists to be the greatest threat to all living creatures – CO2 absorption is causing the sea to become more and more acidic. This threatens many creatures that have a higher magnesium level than others – echinoderms, like starfish, but also corals which will just dissolve (corals may all have gone in 10 years due to many other threats).

Our fish are indeed endangered, as are we by our pollution of the sea.

So, after all that worrying stuff, I am going to post a poem about a little freshwater fish, that is not,  as far as we know, endangered. Except that it lives in many South American rivers, like the Amazon, that are subject to problems from forest clearing, over-fishing, pollution from mining…

Anyhow, these small 8cm fish live near the banks in these large slow-moving  rivers. When it is time to breed, the male and female swim side by side at the surface, leap high out of the water and cling together underneath an overhanging leaf.

The eggs are laid by the female and fertilised by the male before the fish fall back into the water after a few seconds or so. They carry on jumping out until about 50 eggs are on the leaf. Then the male chases away the female but stays himself for 3 days to splash the eggs with his tail fins to keep them wet.

The fry hatch and return to the water with the falling drops of their father’s splashes. Although their endangered status is unknown,  they are increasingly collected for aquaria.

If you’d like to read more about the plastic danger to our oceans some info is here: Great Pacific Garbage Patch. If you’d like to read more about the Splashing Tetra, Copella arnoldi click here: Splashing Tetra.

If you’d like to ‘blog hop’ to another blog doing the A-Z challenge, click here: A-Z Challenge.

Poem © Liz Brownlee

This post is copyright material with all rights reserved, please do not re-post elsewhere – you may link to it.


  1. I didn’t know that about the plastics breaking down and polluting the sea. Saw you on the front of Writers Online – Congratulations.


  2. They are also polluting the air we are breathing in, every lungful contains minuscule particles of plastic bag.

    And – really – what’s that then?


  3. Finally getting a chance to leave a comment on your blog, Liz.
    Have to say been really enjoying all your posts. They’re always so well written.
    Haven’t commented before due to lack of time mainly, will try to more for future letters.


  4. the homepage for Writing Magazine, it’s the way I go into Talkback.


  5. I have never been a great lover of fish. I just hate the taste and texture. I can just about stand the odd tuna sandwich, but perhaps it’s just as well if the sea is full of chemicals but then I guess most things are these days.


  6. Well, everything IS chemicals. The chemicals you don’t want though are ones which your body has not evolved to excrete in some way. You can cope with many poisons that your liver and various enzymes etc break down and get rid of, but the sort of things which are getting into fish and some foods are bio-accumulative. That means your body does not know how to deal with them, has no process to break them down, and they therefore accumulate in your tissues and cells. The sort of things that could be inside fish will not be in many foods in your supermarket. And the best fish to eat f anyone is wondering are things at the beginning of the food chain, which have not accumulated too many heavy metals etc., like sardines.


  7. Liz

    The information in your blogs is amazing, as are your poems, Liz.


  8. Hi Liz. Not many comments in the top any more. I hunted around and finally found where to leave it.

    Thanks for visiting/commenting and leaving a link. It’s very frustrating to click on a link and find 7 blogs like one dear lady has and then you have no idea which she’s A-Zing on.

    This is what I love about the blogosphere. It’s so random that you arrive unexpectedly and read my post and you live nearby. It must be so beautiful. Wells looks amazing, and swans ringing bells when they’re hungry – just magical.

    While I’m here I’ll follow you. Love your poetry! My relatives just toured across Australia on a fishing expedition, only to find virtually no fish! What a worry. And plastic in the ocean. Oh, there’s some terribly cruel stories…


    Now I’m sorry, but Word Press is currently making it hard to comment and leave a link. I’ll have to use my twitter account. I’ll add my link to my blog here as WP refuses to accept my email, grrrrr….


    • Hello, thank you so much for commenting – in the end you went to spam, so i have only just got this. Thank you! And i will visit you now!


  9. Christie Wright Wild

    Your poetry is lovely!


    • Christie, I don’t think I’ve replied, thank you. I do a lot of reading about the animals first.


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