How smart are fish?

Scientists and anglers will ask how smart fish are when they share research and fishing tales at an evening discussion set to paint a surprisingly complex picture of fish behaviour in Trinity on Tuesday April 18.

The discussion is sure to challenge the commonly held view of fish as robot-like animals that lack intelligence and possess 30-second memories. Such views often lead to fish conservation being ignored in favour of programmes that support more ‘charismatic’ animals.

Professor in Zoology at Trinity College Dublin, Nicola Marples, will chair the discussion. She said: “Our first talk will show this view is very far from the truth. Fish vary of course, but the group as a whole has a well-developed capacity for learning, a good memory, and the ability to perform many complex behaviours deemed “smart” in mammals.”

For example, we know that fish form mental maps, use tools, build complicated structures and develop traditions. Of course, recreational anglers spend a lot of time observing and interacting with fish. It is perhaps unsurprising that they have a lot to say about how smart fish are.

Anglers spend a long time observing fish and consequently have a lot of useful information to share regarding their intelligence and behaviour.

The discussion will feature insights from two expert visiting speakers – Professor Felicity Huntingford from the Universities of Stirling and Glasgow, and Professor Ken Whelan, a lifelong angler and Research Director of the Atlantic Salmon Trust.

As well as disseminating knowledge, the aim of the discussion is to promote creative engagement between people with different perspectives and to highlight the value of the traditional knowledge that anglers possess and that they pass on to successive generations.

Attendance at the discussion is free, but places are limited so people should register at:

Media Contact:

Thomas Deane, Press Officer for the Faculty of Engineering, Mathematics and Science | | +353 1 896 4685