Yes, this tale is going to sound a little fishy to most people. Apparently, like Aussies everywhere, many of our fish have been feeling lonely, bored, grumpy and all-round fed-up with the whole lockdown experience.
According to marine experts in Queensland, fish who interact regularly with humans – such as those in public aquariums and tourist destinations like the Great Barrier Reef – have been down at the mouth of late due to most of their two-legged mates going walkabout during the pandemic.
Fish can form human attachments
Speaking to ABC News, James Cook University marine biologist Richard Fitzpatrick said fish are not just ‘mindless creatures’, but experience emotions and form human attachments, even from behind the glass of an aquarium.
“Some of the larger species like Maori wrasse, which are quite intelligent fish, can form social bonds with the people they see all the tim,e both in the wild and in captivity,” he told the ABC.
“They know the individuals that feed them and will react to them in different ways so I’m sure [with] the lack of people being on the reef, many of them will be wondering what’s happened. There is a lot more happening inside a fish’s brain than what most people would expect.”
‘Chang the lonely grouper’ captures hearts
Over at the Cairns Aquarium, it seems the problem has been particularly acute. Many of the fish are missing their daily entertainment from the many humans on the other side of the glass.
None more so than ‘Chang the lonely grouper’, as he has come to be known. But when word got out about his acute lockdown loneliness that even led to the fish refusing to eat for a while, a group of schoolchildren swung into action and drew pictures of themselves and sent them off to the aquarium.
You can watch a 7 News report here:
School kids come to lonely Chang’s rescue
The kids from Torbanlea State School on the Fraser Coast sent Chang letters and self-portraits to “make him happy”, they said.
Year One teacher Di McRae told ABC News that many of the children could identify with Chang’s sudden isolation, having themselves been away from their friends for weeks amid COVID-19 restrictions.
Drawings are now on the grouper’s tank
According to aquarium chief executive Daniel Leipnik, the children’s drawings have now been hung on Chang’s enormous tank. “We put them up and he came over; he was definitely looking at them,” he said. Leipnik added that the aquarium had received emails from all over the world asking about the grouper.