Four Famous Fish


Throughout history, there have been many members of many different species who have made waves. We feel that the marine creatures of the world have at times been under-represented in this category and we’d like to change that. In this spirit, this article will introduce to you four ocean-dwellers who have pulled off remarkable feats in their lifetimes and have solidly earned their places in the annals of history.

The first of these history-making creatures we’d like to talk to you about is Hanako. Hanako was a koi who lived in Japan, most recently with her beloved owner Dr. Komei Koshihara. Koshihara often referred to Hanako as his best friend- the two certainly had a strong bond. Sadly, Hanako is no longer in this world, having passed away on July 7, 19771 at the astounding age of 226 years. This makes her not only the oldest fish in recorded history, but also one of the few animals to be alive both for the founding of our country as well as its bicentennial celebration.

The story of Hanako first came to light in 1966 when Koshihara appeared on a radio program in Japan to relate Hanako’s fascinating fish tale to the rest of his country. He explained that she had been passed down as a pet from generation to generation in his family, originally being owned by a relative who died several years before Koshihara was born.

As Dr. Koshihara obviously wasn’t alive when Hanako was born, he had to take her to ichtyology specialists to determine her age. By carefully examining the rings on her scales as well as other scale features, the scientists were able to place her at the age of 215 years. Her long life was attributed to the pristine waters of the Japanese mountains where she was born as well as the meticulous and tender loving care she received as a beloved pet and family member1.

If you’ve been reading our blog for a long time, then you might remember a story we did on Leroy the lobster back in 2011 and what a remarkable character Leroy proved to be. While lobsters can live to be older than the average human, few of them manage to do so as they are usually either caught by humans or snagged by other aquatic predators. In the somewhat rare cases where this doesn’t happen, a lobster continues to age and never stops growing.

Such was the case for Leroy, which was apparent when he was caught. His age was marked to be approximately 75 years and he weighed in at 18lbs.Upon being brought back to land, he was sold to the New England Lobster Company2 where he captured the heart of company employee Jennifer Vargas. Vargas couldn’t help but realize the sad expression and demoralized behavior Leroy was displaying. With some gentle prodding, she was able to convince the business’s owners to spare Leroy from the pot and let him move to the New York Aquarium.

As of the time of this writing, Leroy is still alive and enjoying life to the fullest. He has a large, spacious tank to move about in and is supplied with a 16 ounce shrimp feast on a daily basis. His story was so touching to animal lovers that he went on to become the star of a children’s book that was released shortly after his story hit the news.

Famous fish number three is Granddad, a lungfish who currently resides at Chicago’s famous Shedd Aquarium. The reason behind his notoriety? Simple – he is the oldest confirmed living fish in the world and has lived in an aquarium for a longer period of time than any other fish in history. He first moved into the Shedd Aquarium in 1933 and was already an adult at that point, making him at least 84 years old at the present time.

Lungfish don’t usually grow to be particularly large, so even at his advanced age, Granddad only weighs in at 20lbs3. He’s not so active these days, but remains in good health. He seems to have decided to take it easy and retire, spending the bulk of his days relaxing at the sandy bottom of his well-appointed aquarium tank. He does however rise to the surface both to breathe (lungfish, as their name implies, have lungs and breathe air) and to catch a bite of some of his favorite foods, which include lettuce, shrimp, grapes and clams3.

Granddad is a Queensland lungfish, one of six varieties of lungfish that are still in existence. The other varieties include the Spotted African lungfish, the West African lungfish, the Gilled African lungfish, the Marbled lungfish and the South American lungfish4.

The last member of this article’s star-studded sea creature parade is Paul the octopus. While he was a common octopus by species, this guy proved himself to be anything but common in the 2 1/2 short years in which he lived. Paul rose to fame by way of making eerily accurate predictions for many of the 2010 World Cup matches5.

Paul’s story begins in England, where he was born in 1998. Shortly thereafter, he was moved to another aquarium in the German city of Oberhausen5. Upon his arrival, Paul was noticed to engage extensively with humans and showed many signs of uncanny intelligence. This is saying something, as the octopus is believed to be the smartest of all ocean dwelling animals.

Among several experiments conducted to see just how much Paul could do, he was once presented with two boxes. One of these was adorned with the German flag and the other with the flag of the country Germany was next scheduled to play in the upcoming soccer tournament game. One of these boxes contained a mussel and the other held an oyster5. Trying to see if Paul could pick the winner, whichever flag was on the box he chose would be designated as his pick for the game. He picked Germany and he was right.

During the 2010 World Cup, the same test was given to Paul another 14 times, with Paul picking Germany 11 times (what a homer), Spain twice, and Serbia once5. All in all, Paul’s accuracy rate for his World Cup picks stood at 86%.

Sadly, Paul unexpectedly died in October of 2010. In his honor, an iPad app was created and called “Ask the Octopus”. He was also featured on the Google search home page on July 13, 2014, which was the day of the World Cup championship match. He was depicted as sitting atop clouds with a halo5 and when clicked, he would make his prediction for the winner of the game. In order to avoid posthumous pressure, Google simply had his pick for the winner changed with every other click.

So there you have it – four fish who have made history and have been recognized for their various accomplishments. We hope that as time goes on, more of our marine friends get similar recognition for the feats they manage to pull off.

Works Cited

1. Author Unavailable
Koi Hanako – Longest Living Fish Ever

2. Bush, Daniel
Maine Lobster Returns to Coney Island
The Brooklyn Paper, August, 23, 2011

Author Unavailable
Granddad, Shedd Aquarium Lungfish, Celebrates 80th Birthday, September 17, 2013

4. Author Unavailable

5. Author Unavailable
Paul the Octopus

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