Cover for the book What a Fish Knows. Features a fish looking forward in an underwater scene.

What a Fish Knows

Last Updated: 21 July 2021Published On: 4 November 2015

What a Fish Knows takes us under the sea and to the other side of the aquarium glass to reveal what fishes can do, how they do it, and why.

Cover for the book What a Fish Knows. Features a fish looking forward in an underwater scene.

What a Fish Knows

Last Updated: 21 July 2021Published On: 4 November 2015

What a Fish Knows takes us under the sea and to the other side of the aquarium glass to reveal what fishes can do, how they do it, and why.

NOTES FROM THE FILMMAKERS

What a Fish Knows Overview

There are more than thirty thousand species of fish–more than all mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians combined. But for all their breathtaking diversity and beauty, we rarely consider how fish think, feel, and behave.

In What a Fish Knows, the ethologist Jonathan Balcombe takes us under the sea and to the other side of the aquarium glass to reveal what fishes can do, how they do it, and why. Introducing the latest revelations in animal behavior and biology, Balcombe upends our assumptions about fish, exposing them not as unfeeling, dead-eyed creatures but as sentient, aware, social–even Machiavellian. They conduct elaborate courtship rituals and develop lifelong bonds with shoal-mates. They also plan, hunt cooperatively, use tools, punish wrongdoers, curry favor, and deceive one another. Fish possess sophisticated senses that rival our own.

An illuminating journey into the world of underwater science, What a Fish Knows will forever change your view of our aquatic cousins–your pet goldfish included.

About the Author

Jonathan Balcombe is the director of animal sentience at the Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy and the author of four books, including Second Nature and Pleasurable Kingdom.

A popular radio guest, he has also appeared on the National Geographic Channel and in several documentaries, and he is a frequent contributor of features and opinions to The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Nature, and more.

Editorial Reviews

“Numerous books have shown me how utterly ignorant I am about most creatures I share this planet with, but none humbled me more than What a Fish Knows by Jonathan Balcombe.” – Cornelia Funke, The Observer

Books by Jonathan Balcombe

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