This moving story of human/non-human friendship is one of the most unusual we have seen. It is the story of a Japanese Diver and his friend Yoriko, a humphead wrasse.
The wrasse is a large, diverse and remarkable fish. There are more than 600 species of wrasse, ranging in size from 20 cm to 2.5 metres, and they can live up to 50 years. The most well known wrasse, the ‘cleaner fish’, lives in symbiosis with larger, often predatory, fish, grooming them (sometimes swimming into their open mouths and through their gill cavities) and benefiting by consuming the parasites they remove. They can clean many hundreds of ‘clients’ every day, and as many visitors to Aquariums know, it is a sight to behold to see a line of fishes congregated at cleaner stations, waiting for their turn!
It has been well established that fishes feel pain, and it is thought increasingly likely they feel emotions too. Why then do we cause these sentient creatures, trillions of individuals a year, so much suffering? We happily teach our children to impale them in their sensitive mouths and haul them into a medium where they cannot breathe. Our appetite for fish means that cruel commercial and factory farming practices prolong their suffering and also risk depleting the ocean of its inhabitants. Is this not madness?
It’s time we called a halt to the carnage. It’s time we stopped eating fish.