A story of how a fish that only looked big actually grew
Deep in the ocean, there lived a large and splendid
fish. His name was Swimmies. With a coat of scales
shining in seven colors, he had a sharp gaze and swam
with such composure that you would think he was king of
the ocean. Other fish felt that they could not approach
But if they had come close to Swimmies, surely they would have been quite surprised, because Swimmies would have suddenly become invisible. Swimmies, who looked like one large fish, was actually a school of many small fish!
The coat of shining scales with seven colors came from the different colors of the little fish. His sharp gaze came from a black fish, the leader of the school. The black fish would call out commands to the other fish: "Left!" "Right!" "Up!" "Down!" and as a school they would all swim as he commanded. This was a difficult existence, both for the fish moving in lockstep and for the one barking the orders. Yet by acting as a school, Swimmies could be so intimidating that whale shark and tuna would not approach. Eating plankton for its diet, Swimmies could live safely on the ocean floor.
But it so happened that, one day, a number of fish began to leave the Swimmies school. They would say things like: "I'm going to swim freely and live where I like." "I'm going to seek my fortune in this unknown sea!" "I'm find more delicious plankton to feast on." "The constant swimming tires me. I want to swim more leisurely, at my own pace." "I'm good at moving around deftly. I can make it on my own!"
These fish, each for its own reason, started to leave the Swimmies school in groups of one, two, or three. Gradually Swimmies ended up looking smaller than before.
The black fish and others who remained in the school began to feel forlorn. They would say: "If the school becomes any smaller, what are we going to do?" "One of those frightful whale sharks might come and attack us!"
Those fish that left the school, for their part, swam about freely. Some of them would saunter along the ocean bottom, while others would go clear up to the ocean's surface and frolic there in the glittering sunlight. They all found places that they liked and ate all the plankton they wanted.
Among them were some fish that ended up being eaten, but most of them fared well. If a whale shark or tuna approached, they would quickly find refuge in the shade of rocks or in a rustling forest of kelp. A lone fish could be especially lithe, and places to hide were aplenty.
Swimmies, as a school of fish, could not change direction mid-movement as easily as a single fish could. Even though Swimmies was somewhat smaller now, it was still limited in where it could hide undetected. Would Swimmies be eaten up by whale sharks or tuna?
One day, some fish that had left the school stopped by to visit. They had a lot to tell the fish in Swimmies. "The surface of the sea is a lot brighter than here. The light of the sun sparkles like a jewel up there." "In the sea to the south, there were a lot of fish with colors as brilliant as neon." "You can find food more delicious than plankton. And you can have all the plankton you want. They're so plump and full of nutrition." Swimmies was taken aback by all the talk about things it had never seen -- ocean scenery, plants and animals, food ...
One thing that the fish described really surprised Swimmies. "Some of our group were eaten by tuna, but we had no problem with whale sharks. They like to eat plankton and fish smaller than us. If you go to where the whale sharks are, you'll always find plenty of plankton. So much, in fact, that they'll let you have some."
All of the fish that had remained in Swimmies exclaimed, "We thought that all large fish would eat us!" "So you mean some of the larger fish won't want to eat us?" "That means that even if we aren't grouped together into a school, we can still survive!"
The fish that had remained in the Swimmies school now felt free to swim around at their leisure. They could now act as individuals. But if a large school of tuna started to approach, they could quickly assemble into a group and become Swimmies as before. And those whale sharks that had scared them so much -- now they became friends.
They no longer had to fear the big fish and try to look like a big fish themselves. Each individual might have been small, but the heart of the liberated Swimmies became much larger. Is it just our imagination, or does Swimmies seem to sparkle brighter than before?