Prior to my visit, Jamaica was merely a word that all but aggravated my passion for ichthyology, and like anything else in life, lacked depth without a framework of experience. I’ve heard stories of Jamaica; of friends escaping to somewhere tropical during the colder months, and of all of the things I’ve never touched with my senses. Perhaps the biggest lesson that I learned, and keep learning with each new experience, is that I can truly never understand something without observing it for myself; without being able to feel it in my hands or see it in the sun’s natural light.
In spite of all that I just told you, please believe me when I tell you that there is not a single dumpier-looking fish than the Balloon Fish. I cannot explain how absurdly dumb this thing is. I absolutely refuse to believe that this species was able to outlive the dinosaurs. When the Balloon Fish and I first met, I was apprehensive, and it, a flailing idiot with a level of confidence that high school me could’ve put to good use.
It greeted us, a large group of human snorkelers, unyielding, and lacking any consideration for itself and for its wellbeing, as though the fish received pleasure from being digested—as though evolution worked backwards to this fish, and as though fitness was defined by how many people it could bring down with it.
To say that I love this fish is an understatement.
With love and grace,