When I was 5 years old, I was given a copy of a book called The Fishes by F.D. OMMANNEY (Time-Life Young Readers Library) – 1967. I will come to what reminded of this book, but I Googled it and up it came on a well-known shopping website. As soon as I saw the greeny-turquoise cover with the head-on shot of a colourful wrasse, I was transported back ‘a number’ of years and recalled the avid, all-consuming attention with which I repeatedly devoured the contents. I can still remember a picture of dozens of Portuguese fishermen wrestling to launch a boat through the surf, and a diagram of the specially adapted eyes of Amazonian fish that knock insects off branches by spitting.
A review says “This book is a concise overview of ichthyology. Fish habitat, anatomy and physiology, evolution and classification, reproduction, and migration are among the many topics covered.” Not exactly what I would consider gripping material for a 5-year old, but in the absence of competition from computers or video games, we took what we wanted from books, even if they weren’t ‘targeted’ at children.
It’s a reflection of our fascination for life in the sea that children can find interest in material that is aimed at an older audience, so I was very happy to see on Twitter a photo of a young boy reading a copy of issue 3 of The Marine Biologist magazine. His rapt attention reminded me of my own interest at that age, and of that book, which I think I still have somewhere …
We receive lots of queries from young people about how to become a marine biologist. In response, The Marine Biological Association has introduced the Young Marine Biologist category of membership for young people. This has generated even more interest than we anticipated.