Eye of the Shoal by Helen Scales

Eye of the Shoal - Helen Scales

TITLE: Eye of the Shoal: A Fishwatcher's Guide to Life, the Ocean and Everything

AUTHOR: Helen Scales


FORMAT: Paperback

ISBN-13: 9781472936820


"Wild fish hover in seas, rivers and lakes, out of sight and out of mind. But from the very first time Helen Scales immersed herself into their liquid world, she realized that fish are beautiful, mesmerizing, complex and exciting. The moment she sank down to eyeball a wild trout--the fish poised in front of her, expertly occupying the three-dimensional space in a way that she could only dream of imitating--sparked the ichthyologist within, and set in motion years of study and exploration in the fishes' unseen domain as she became a devoted fish-watcher.

In this book, Scales shares the secrets of fish, unhitching them from their reputation as cold, unknowable beasts and reinventing them as clever, emotional, singing, thoughtful creatures, and challenging readers to rethink these animals. She takes readers on an underwater journey to watch these creatures going about the hidden but glorious business of being a fish. Their way of life is radically different from our own, in part because they inhabit a buoyant, sticky fluid in which light, heat, gases and sound behave in odd ways. They've evolved many tactics to overcome these challenges, to become megastars of the life sun-aquatic. In doing so, these extraordinary animals tell us so much about the oceans and life itself. Our relationship with these scaly creatures goes much deeper than predator versus prey. Fish leave their mark on the human world.

As well as being a rich and entertaining read, this book will inspire readers to think again about these animals, and the seas, and to go out and appreciate the wildness and wonders of fish, whether through the glass walls of an aquarium or, better still, by gazing into the fishes' wild world and swimming through it.


This book provides a fascinating and enjoyable survey of the fishy world, from fish colours and illumination, what they see, to venoms, poisons, how and what they eat, their evolution, the sounds fish make and if they can think and feel (apparently this is an issue!!?). In addition, Helen Scales provides personal observations from her lifelong passion of fish watching, as well as interesting historical anecdotes and more recent fishy research. Each chapter is also followed by a fishy folk tale. The writing style is natural and easy to understand. This is a beautifully written and enjoyable book that celebrates the diversity of fish but minimizes the doom and gloom (e.g. conservation, pollution and over-fishing).

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