A little fish can have a big impact.

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I'm a big proponent of the idea that the littlest of things often have the biggest impact. Today, in a brief debate about whether or not eating fish is socially responsible, a person told me that fish aren’t clever and that, presumably to them, if fish aren't clever (and can’t feel pain and aren’t self-aware (which they are)), why should we care about their existence? Of course it should be obvious that without fish there is no marine ecosystem, and without a healthy sea human beings would die. But it made me a little sad to know that there are some people out there who don’t know how important tiny little things like fish actually are. As though somehow being a bigger and stronger animal is better and more important.

Importantly, fish have amazing cognitive abilities and hold records for their relative brain weights (in vertebrates). Memory, use of tools, social structure, use of deception, numeracy and social learning are just a few of the super smart things fish use to survive in the wild. And they’ve survived millions of years, much longer than humans have. Not only that, but cyanobacteria (tiny little prokaryotic microorganisms that were first discovered in deep sea vents) first pumped oxygen into our atmosphere a couple of billion years ago and account for more than 40% of all oxygen in the atmosphere today. Any scientist worth their salt will tell you that cyanobacteria aren’t cute, they certainly don’t feel pain and they aren’t self-aware like a puppy might be. But without them, life on earth would likely be very different.

I suppose the point is that everything is important and everything matters in life's ecosystem, even if that something is tiny like a fish and microscopic like a cyanobacteria.

More often than not the littlest of things have the biggest impact.

Elissa SursaraComment