Johnna Rizzo - A big, fat thank you to fish

Published on: 24 August 2017 Author: Johnna Rizzo

The dizzyingly fast, colorful, sometimes creepy, stunning, often surprising, and always awe-inspiring creatures that live and lurk and lunge beneath the ocean waves are some of the best co-conspirators a writer could ever ask for.

Ocean Animals: Who’s Who in the Deep Blue

We weren't always on the same side. Sharing stories of ocean animals' speed, stamina, marvelous adaptations, and predatory prowess in a book is the end result of an adventure that started when my dad first took me trout fishing when I was about 10 years old.

Yes, fishing. I know. It's a surprising start. Don't worry, my story has a happy ending for both me and the trout.

For me, peering into the deep and imagining what those wriggling fish were up to down there in the watery realms far outweighed my desire to bring something home for dinner. My dad wasn't upset—though he might have gone home a little hungry. He knew he'd sparked in me a fascination with those watery creatures that would last a lifetime.

Since then, I've been hooked. (I love silly puns almost as much as I love learning about animals!) I've peered over the banks of hundreds of rivers and streams, looked for long stretches into ocean waves, and sat mesmerized at aquariums where it always feels like I am visiting old friends that always have new things to teach me. Every time is different. Every time I do a deep dive into learning about some animal I didn't know (and even those I thought I knew), I learn something. That's what keeps me coming back again and again and jotting down more and more. I hold my breath, put my face under the surface, and look and listen. Then I write it all down.

Ocean Animals: Who’s Who in the Deep Blue

I like to think me and all those ocean animals are in cahoots. They whisper their stories, show me their stunts, thrill and delight me, and I put them on the page.

But nobody can know everything about everything that lives in all that water—scientists say there are a million ocean animals and plants that we know about, and probably 9 million more we haven't even discovered yet. I'm not even a marine biologist—can't even swim, truth be told—so I have so many smart and knowledgeable partners that help me tell these stories. They are the scientists, aquarium workers, and marine biologists that answer when I have those questions of how do these animals do all that. And for heaven's sake, why? We're in cahoots, too.

I can't wait to see what else there is to learn about the world beneath the waves and share it all with you. It's especially important to know all you can as our great big green—and mostly blue—Earth keeps changing. We just might be able to help our friends beneath the waves if we listen and learn well enough. At least, I hope so. Then you and I can be in cahoots too.


Bookbuzz is a reading programme from BookTrust that aims to help schools inspire a love of reading in 11 to 13-year-olds. Participating schools give their students the opportunity to choose their own book to take home and keep from a list of 16 titles.

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