FAT 2: Concept Research and Shortlisting The Fish

Given the advice that my plot might sound like Finding Nemo, I decide to adjust my story better. Conducting concept research and re-examining the concept are important in this case.

Definition and Purpose of Shoaling 
According to Tony J. Pitcher’s (1986, p. 295) ‘Functions of Shoaling Behavior in Teleosts’, ‘shoals’ can be defined as groups of fishes which remain together for social reasons, in a way similar to ‘flockfor birds. Whereas, ‘schools’ refer to the synchronized swimming groups of fishes. Pitcher  (1986, p. 294) suggests that the purpose of shoaling is a synchronized co-operation to defeat the predators, like he mentions, “predators and food are the keys to understanding fish shoals.”

Fig. 1, Tony J. Pitcher, illustration from ‘Functions of Shoaling Behavior in Teleosts’, 1986

However, one of the articles published in the National geographic website gives me a new insight. According to author Ed Yong, the scientist Nicolas Makris observed the fishes’ schooling behavior with the help of Ocean Acoustic Waveguide Remote Sensing (OAWRS) technique. A good question had been raised, “without Facebook as a coordinator, what causes small groups of herring to take sociability to an extreme?” In accordance with the scientist’s records, the fishes normally start their schooling before the sunset. The schooling phenomenon takes place from several starting points towards a single center. The reason of these shoals to head south is mainly for traveling to shallower spawning grounds to breed.

Types of Shoaling Models
In terms of the fish grouping models, there are three typical types (Fig. 1): “swarming (high density, but uncorelated speed vectors), milling (turning around in donut form) and schooling (moving collectively straight ahead at maximal speed.” (Gautrais, Jost and Theraulaz, 2007, p416) Among these three models, I think either the milling or schoolings is suitable for my illustration for its dynamic path. While I was getting inspiration from YouTube, it was fascinating to see a video contributed by Animal Wire, in which it shows a huge shoal of fish swimming in a mill form.


Fig. 2, Jacques Gautrais, Christian Jost and Guy Theraulaz, illustration from ‘Key Behavioutal Factors in A Self-organised Fish School Model’, 2007

Choosing the Fish
My tutor Barbara Browines advised me to choose a stripy fish as main character for my illustration project since I am using ‘figure and ground’ as the project theme. I think this would be a good idea as the stripes of the fish could stand out alone without drawing out its contour. Basically, I have shortlisted two species, which are bluestripe snapper and banner fish. Bluestripe snapper’s yellow stripes stand out from the blue color ocean, however, banner fish’s body is uniquely and dynamically shaped. I think I will make the decision when working on my sketches.

Fig.3, image of bluestripe snapper, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoaling_and_schooling

Fig.4, image of bluestripe snapper, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoaling_and_schooling


FIg.5, image of schooling banner fish, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schooling_bannerfish

Pitcher, Tony (1986) ‘Functions of Shoaling Behavior in Teleosts’, The Behavior of Teleost Fishes. 12, 294–337

Gautrais, Jacques, Jost, Christian and Theraulaz, Guy (2007) ‘Key Behavioutal Factors in A Self-organised Fish School Model’, Ann. Zool. Fennici. 45, 415–428. Available at: http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4684-8261-4_12#page-2


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