This Friday marks the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Accordingly, in SprogCast #5, the elder Free-Ride offspring marks the change of season by describing a local release of trout-fry.
You can download the sound file and pretend that the bathtub sounds are the gentle tides of the lake. The discussion is transcribed below.
Dr. Free-Ride: So, can you tell me what you did on Saturday?
Elder offspring: Well, I went to the lake and I released fry.
Dr. Free-Ride: Fry?
Elder offspring: Yeah, Rainbow Trout-fry.
Dr. Free-Ride: I see. How old is a Rainbow Trout-fry? Like, how do I --
Elder offspring: I don't know. Like, three weeks? It doesn't have an egg sac like the alevins do.
Dr. Free-Ride: I see. Can you say that word again so I can spell it?
Elder offspring: Alevins. Spelled like "ALE-vins".
Dr. Free-Ride: I see. So that's an earlier developmental stage of --
Elder offspring: Yeah.
Dr. Free-Ride: -- the Rainbow Trout?
Elder offspring: With the egg sac.
Dr. Free-Ride: With the egg sac. So --
Elder offspring: But fry don't have an egg sac.
Dr. Free-Ride: Do they look like fish?
Elder offspring: Yeah. Well, they're starting to.
Dr. Free-Ride: In what ways do they still look not quite fishy?
Elder offspring: Well, they don't really have, like, a tail or fins yet.
Dr. Free-Ride: OK, they don't have a tail or fins yet, but they --
Elder offspring: Well, that's what it looks like.
Dr. Free-Ride: OK, so they --
Elder offspring: They might just have clear fins.
Dr. Free-Ride: Ah, they might be clear and kind of little?
Elder offspring: Yeah.
Dr. Free-Ride: So how big would you judge these fry to be, like, relative to your hand?
Elder offspring: Well, smaller than a matchstick in length, but about the width of a matchstick. The wooden part, not the big part on the end.
Dr. Free-Ride: Oh, OK. Of course, that has nothing to do with your hand, but that's OK. That's still a point of reference for people who are allowed to get near matches.
Elder offspring: They're smaller than the stick of the match, about.
Dr. Free-Ride: OK. So, in the lake where you released them, do they have any naturally occurring sources of food?
Elder offspring: Well, they have zooplankton and phytoplankton.
Dr. Free-Ride: Cool. OK, so they eat plankton of various sorts. Do they have any natural predators in the lake where you released them.
Elder offspring: Well, bigger fish.
Dr. Free-Ride: Bigger fish?
Elder offspring: Fishermen.
Dr. Free-Ride: Uh huh. Well, I think the fishermen need to wait until they're bigger before they're allowed to catch them, right? Isn't there a size --
Elder offspring: No. They have to release them if they're not a certain size.
Dr. Free-Ride: So, I guess, OK, on a technicality you can catch and release them. That's fine. Anything else you think we should know about the trout-fry?
Elder offspring: Well, let me tell you a bit about when they're in their eggs. You can see the eyes first. The eyes are the first part that develop. If you've got an eyed egg, you know that egg is going to hatch into a fish if someone doesn't use it for caviar first.
Dr. Free-Ride: Do people use trout eggs for caviar?
Elder offspring: I don't know! How am I supposed to know that?
Dr. Free-Ride: Well, I don't know. Maybe it got discussed in science class. I have no idea. You know I'm not much of a caviar eater. So, eyed eggs can hatch. Is there anything else we should know about them?
Elder offspring: Not really.
Dr. Free-Ride: Not really? OK. So, you think the fry were happy to be released?
Elder offspring: Mmm-hmm.
Dr. Free-Ride: They were big enough and the water was deemed warm -- is it even an issue whether the water is warm enough? Or are they pretty good with cold water?
Elder offspring: Well, in their tank in science class, the tank was about 52 degrees [Fahrenheit].
Dr. Free-Ride: Oh, well, that's chilly. That's chilly. OK, so probably they'd be fine in the water in the lake.
Elder offspring: Yeah.
Dr. Free-Ride: OK. Trout can handle colder weather than we can.
Elder offspring: Well, they're fish, and they're not warm-blooded.
Dr. Free-Ride: Uh huh. Well, if I were cold-blooded, I'd spend all my time on a hot rock.
Elder offspring: Well, fish can't crawl up onto a hot rock!
Dr. Free-Ride: I understand that.
Elder offspring: And they can't even borrow a hot rod or a hot dog!
Dr. Free-Ride: Yes, OK, fair enough. So, nothing else to say about the trout-fry?
Elder offspring: Well, no, not really.
Dr. Free-Ride: Do you think there's a good chance that some of the trout-fry will grow up to be fried trout?
Elder offspring: Yeah!
Dr. Free-Ride: That's sad, I guess, but you know, as long as they live a good trouty life first, that's probably fine.
Elder offspring: Yes, and did you know that big trout are sometimes cannibals and eat the smaller trout?
Dr. Free-Ride: I think I had heard that, yeah.
Elder offspring: No, but I didn't tell you -- I didn't specify that they were cannibals, I just said "bigger fish".
Dr. Free-Ride: Sure, OK, from you -- I think I had heard that from someone besides you. I do have other sources of information besides you. As much as that might surprise you.
I wonder if the elder offspring will be more interested in the extraction process next time we go fishing?
Yep, adolescence has struck. :)
ETD, Mom hasn't become dumber, it's just that you've become smarter and you notice when Mom is being dim. She'll do that to see what you know. Just let her know you don't like being treated that way, and she'll stop it. But, there will be times when she doesn't know, and she will be happy to learn something from you.
One more thing; if you haven't already, you'll start noticing hair growing where it didn't before. That hair was already there, and was growing there back when you were a baby. Now it's started to growing longer and thicker. Along with this your feelings will become more intense. Your affections, your angers, the way things feel on your skin. Your friendships will become stronger. It's all part of growing up.
Trout fry kind of go through it, though they don't go through all the things we do. We've got extra features they don't have to bother with, and they have a few we lost along the way. Not only that, but we are aware of things they can't be aware of, because they're not that smart.
So learn and discover, just because you can.