Familia-r ~ Written By ©Diana Ring

Note:  I wrote this some time in 2002…

The little girl stands closely by her Mother in the kitchen of their home. As her

Mother lifts each dish out of the sudsy water in the sink and rinses it in the clear

water, the little girl takes each dish from her Mother and carefully dries it and

then places each one on the table behind them. She thinks about how she likes

the color of the tablecloth on the table. Blue is her favorite color. Isabella cannot

reach the countertop beside the sink without stepping up on her step stool, so

she always sets the dishes on the table instead. Isabella likes this time of the day

because everyone else in her Family is doing something else after supper, and

she can have her Mother all to her self.


“Isabella, when we are finished here, it will be time for you to do your reading and

writing lessons.”


“Yes Mama, but I don’t want to go to school tomorrow.”


The little girl’s Mother wipes her hands on her apron and steps away from the

sink and sits down at the kitchen table. Isabella sits down beside her.


“Why not Isabella? Do you feel sick?”


“No Mama, but tomorrow, I have to stand up in front of the class and talk about

what Papa does at work.”


“Do the other children have to talk about their Fathers as well?”


“Yes, Mama. My teacher, Miss Thompson, has been teaching us that every job is

important, no matter what it is.”


“Isabella, are you ashamed of what your Papa does at work?”


“No Mama. Never.”


“Then why don’t you want to talk about what your Papa does at work Isabella?”


“It’s not that Mama, but Papa has been different since we moved here.”




“Yes, Mama. When Papa walks with me to school on his way to work, Papa is

different now than he used to be. Before, Papa would always stand up very tall and

say ‘hello’ to everyone we passed on the sidewalk. Now, Papa looks down at the

ground when he walks. Mama, is Papa sad about his work?”


“No Isabella, Papa is not sad about his work. Isabella, do you remember how you

feel on your first day of school every year?”


“Yes Mama. I remember how we always talk about it too.”


“Well, I think that maybe your Papa might feel that same way here in this new

place; the same way that you always feel on your first day of school in a new place.”


“Papa? How could Papa feel unsure of himself? Papa has always been so brave

Mama, but now, he doesn’t seem as brave. Why not Mama?”


“Isabella, when you begin something new, it’s not familiar to you.”


Isabella tries to understand and then she asks her Mother,


“Mama, what does ‘familiar’ mean?”


“‘Familiar’ means, something that you are used to; like something that happens

to you every day.”


“It sounds and even means what the word ‘family’ feels like to me Mama.”


“Yes, it does”, her Mother assures her with a smile upon her face.


Isabella asks, “But Mama, Papa is used to walking along sidewalks, isn’t he?”


Her Mother smiles and reaches for Isabella’s hand and holds it while they talk.


“Yes Isabella, he is, but these are different sidewalks than your Papa is used to,

and there are also different kinds of people on these sidewalks.”


“And Papa is not ‘familiar’ with how to speak English yet, is he Mama? You are

because you help me with my school lessons.”


“That’s correct Isabella, but your Papa is also learning.”


“Do you think that Papa is afraid Mama?”


“No, Papa is not afraid. I think that because this is a new place, your

Papa is not sure about what is ‘familiar’ to the other people on the sidewalk.”


“You mean, Papa doesn’t know what these new people are used to doing with other

people when they walk down the sidewalk, right?”


“Yes my little one. When you don’t know what to expect from something that you’re

not used to, you might look different than when you know what to expect.”


Isabella stands up from the table and places both of her hands on it, as she boldly

tells her Mother,


“I understand now Mama. Tomorrow, I am going to help Papa look up and say ‘hello’

to everyone that we pass on our way to my school. Mama, all Papa has to do is smile.


He doesn’t even have to say anything Mama. Then Papa will learn to expect that

people will smile back at him. And if someone doesn’t smile, that doesn’t mean

anything really. Sometimes people have bad days. But if people do smile at Papa,

then maybe he will look up when he walks down the sidewalk and then, Papa will be

how he used to be.”


“Now Isabella, when you go to school tomorrow, do you think that you will want to

tell the other children in your class all about what your Papa does at work?”


“Yes, Mama. Tomorrow, I will.”

Is the beach your backyard? Is the beach the ocean’s front yard?

This view will depict the edge of the wall and its slope as viewed from the open water looking back at “the wall” towards the shallows, which is lit by the sunlight. This illustration will appear above the copy on pages one and two. It will curve slightly downward on the right side of page two. Reference Cayman Underwater Videos…

Have you ever thought of the beach as a common playground where land and sea can come together to play? Imagine the waves rushing up to tag the shore. Then watch them as they run away just as quickly. Do you have a favorite fish in the ocean? Is it a dolphin? Is it a whale? Is it a shark? Is it a turtle? Let’s pretend your favorite fish in the ocean has invited you to leave your backyard and play in the ocean today. Imagine that you are standing just beyond the surf zone where the ocean is rushing up to meet the sandy beach.

The waves are breaking around your ankles. Step by step you begin to back into the water. With every step that you take, you look down at your feet through the water to be sure that you are not stepping on anything. You are now waist deep in the water shuffling along a gradual sandy slope.

While you are playing in the ocean with the fish, pretend that you are looking through their eyes. Unlike a fish, your eyes need an air space to see clearly underwater and because you have lungs instead of gills, you are not able to breathe through water. Imagine that you are wearing a mask with a snorkel and that you are kicking across the surface with your face submerged in the water.

This curve will become the slope of “the wall” and will continue down the right side of page three with the copy to the left side of the page…

As you swim farther away from the beach, you notice more and more rocks and bushes that look like trees. You see little creatures playing in these bushes and fish swimming through these trees. From the surface, you are following a sandy path with rocks on either side of you. In about thirty-feet of water you come to the edge of a vertical wall. It reminds you of the Grand Canyon. As you look straight out you see nothing but blue, as blue as the sky is blue forever and ever. The edge of the wall is lined with different colored coral heads where a neighborhood of fish has settled. This wall beneath you is covered with red rope sponges (Illustration Creature 43), orange elephant ear sponges (Illustration Creature 53), purple azure vase sponges (Illustration Creature 25), deep water sea fans (Illustration Coral 63, Cayman Videos) and black coral bushes (Illustration Coral 179, Cayman Videos). It is Nature’s own work of art…

You have now left the ocean and returned to the beach. As you cross the white sandy beach, you notice more and more rocks and bushes and trees. You see little creatures playing in the bushes and birds flying through the trees. You continue to follow a sandy path with rocks on either side of you and you come to a wall. As you look up, you see a blue sky. On the other side of this wall, there is a neighborhood.

As you read this series of short stories, you will be able to observe the behaviors of many different marine creatures living in the ocean in your backyard. You may find that these creatures have a lot in common with you. Perhaps the marine creatures that you meet while swimming across these pages will help you understand more about what is happening in your world on the other side of the beach.

Stevie learns that not everybody speaks the same language…Written By ©Diana Ring

Set-up Illustration: Edge of wall fading into back shot with a star coral head in the foreground and a Spinyhead Blenny (Stevie) sitting atop of it.

I am a Blenny. There are many different kinds of Blennies that you will meet as you swim across the pages of this book with me. I am a Spinyhead Blenny (Illustration Fish 268-269) and my name is Stevie. I live on a star coral head (Illustration Coral 113, Pisces 4, Cayman Videos) in a hole that is just big enough for me to peek out of and check out my neighborhood in the daylight. At night, the coral polyps blossom (Illustration Coral 114, Pisces 4) around my hole and the corals feed on Plankton that float in the water. Plankton (Illustration Cayman Videos) are living microscopic organisms. Nature gives me this beautifully fragile and automatic front door of coral polyps for my home and I never have to remember to close it before I go to sleep at night. I live in a very safe neighborhood in about thirty feet of water along the edge of the ocean’s vertical wall. I go to school at Outer Reef Elementary.

I am a very small fish. As you can see, I am only about one inch long. I am not brightly colored. Proudly, I am a grayish brown and black color that helps to hide me from the bigger fish on the reef. I do not have any real enemies. If we Blennies get eaten, it is usually because a bigger fish did not see us when he was out to lunch. We Blennies eat microscopic nutrients that float in the water, just like the coral polyps do. That is why we live side by side so well. We can eat each other’s leftovers.

Star coral head in foreground dotted with many Spinyhead Blennies, resembling a condominium, with Stevie featured predominantly, looking in the distance towards a brain coral head.

I have many neighbors who are also Spinyhead Blennies. Sometimes my coral head looks more like a Blenny condominium. As long as no one tries to jump into another Blennie’s hole, we all get along wonderfully. I have a friend who just settled further west along the wall on an uninhabited brain coral head (Illustration Coral 125, Pisces 67, Cayman Videos). What a smart thing to do. It is a new Blenny frontier.

You are welcome to read along with me while I go and visit with him, but please try to not touch the corals on the reef as we go. The coral heads on the reef have a slimy skin layer that rubs off when it is touched. Without this protection, our corals are exposed to bacterial infections. Its skin protects it just as your skin protects you. If our corals die, then we have to move and find a new home in a different neighborhood.

I’m going to see my friend Elwood, and his coral head is just over there. I can see it from here. Of course it would be a lot quicker to swim in a straight line from here to there, but I do not like to swim in open water. It is safer to stay on the paths that I know in my own neighborhood.

Tri-montage illustration of a Spinyhead Blenny (Stevie) 1. Crossing over an algae pasture (Coral, Page 197); 2. Crossing over a rippled white sandy area; 3. Traveling through a bony lettuce-leaf shaped coral forest (Coral, Page 147).

Here is the route that I take. Follow along with me and please try to keep up. Out of my hole I go, swimming just above the star corals, without touching them of course; through some algae pastures; across a rippled white sandy area; zigzagging in and out of the bony lettuce leaf-shaped corals that have a lot of nooks and crannies for playing hide and seek; and when I come out of the coral forest, I find my way through another pasture of algae. I see Elwood peering out of a little hole atop of a beautiful brain coral head.

One Spinyhead Blenny (Elwood) sitting atop of a brain coral head, which was earlier seen from the star coral head, welcoming a second Spinyhead Blenny (Stevie).

“Hey Elwood!”

“Stevie! Welcome! Welcome to my new neighborhood. What do you think of it?”

“This is really great Elwood. You have the first hole on this coral block and what a view it is!”

“It’s great Stevie. There’s not much fish traffic here. I always have the reef of way when I’m swimming around my new home.”

“Traffic! Let me tell you about traffic! It took me such a long time to get here because I kept running into other Blennies. Of course I had to stop and chat. Of course they all wanted to know where I was going.

“Oh I can imagine Stevie, but please tell me who you saw.”

Quad-montage illustration of a Spinyhead Blenny conversing with animated creatures: 1. Roughhead Blenny (Oscar) at base of star coral head by reef rock, with a memory burst of hiding a bouquet of hydroids behind his back facing another Roughhead Blenny who is obviously female; 2. Saddled Blenny (Rosy) in equestrian attire in lettuce leaf coral forest with yellow and white striped seahorse; 3. Diamondhead Blenny (Ruby) in equestrian attire in an algae pasture with a red Seahorse; 4. A Yellowheaded Jawfish (Daphne) batting her baby blues, hovering
above a burrow in a white sandy patch area, with a puff of an angel’s halo above her, with little hearts steaming off of the Spinyhead Blenny (Stevie).

“On my way over here, I saw Oscar the Roughhead Blenny who lives at the (Illustration Fish 271) base of my coral head.”

“And how is Oscar?”

“Well, Oscar is no longer dating Myra. He is dating his next door neighbor now. He said that she caught him picking a bouquet of hydroids (Illustration Creature 77) for Myra from her garden and he was so startled that he unexpectedly gave them to her instead of Myra. They have been dating ever since.”

“Oh my.”

“I also saw Rosy the Saddled Blenny (Illustration Fish 263, Guide Plate 44) in the lettuce leaf coral forest. Rosy just got a new yellow and White Striped Seahorse (Illustration Fish 317, Pisces 67, Cayman Videos) and she will be competing this weekend to beat the record for the longest glide. Her closest competitor is going to be Ruby, who I also saw.”

“And where did you see her?”

“Ruby the Diamondhead Blenny (Illustration fish 261) was in the algae pasture.”

“Does she still have that same Red Seahorse (Illustration Fish 317, Guide Plate 23, Cayman Videos)?”

“Yes she does, and she is not at all worried about the match.”

“Good for her. Anyone else?”

“Oh yes. In the sand flats, I saw Daphne the Yellowheaded Jawfish (Illustration Fish 287, Guide Plate 43, Pisces 61, Cayman Videos). I think that she is so pretty. She looks just like an angel hovering above her rabbit-like burrow. Her eyes are as blue as the tips of a blue Giant Ball Anemone (Illustration Creature 89, Cayman Videos).”

“Stevie, she is a Yellowheaded Jawfish and is five times bigger than you!”

“Gee thanks Elwood. Did I ever say anything like that to you when you had a crush on Dionne the Red Lipped Blenny (Illustration Fish 281, Guide Plate 43)? She is the same size as Daphne.”

“Right you are. I apologize for poking fun at your gills.”

“Not to worry. Anyway, I told everyone that I was coming to visit with you and they all asked me to say, ‘Hello’, so ‘Hello’.”

“Thank you Stevie. It’s so nice to know that we have so many friends living in our little community.”

Illustration of two Spinyhead Blennies (Stevie & Elwood) sitting atop of a brain coral head.

“Elwood, is the wall on the other side of this coral head safe? Can you play safely in your neighborhood?”

“Everything seems to be okay, but it is funny that you mentioned Dionne to me. I saw her just yesterday. She still lives further north of us up in the shallows.”

“How are the neighborhoods up there?”

“Dionne said that there have been some scuffles with the Sailfin Blennies (Illustration Fish 267, Guide Plate 44, Photo) who live to the east of her in the sea grass plains.”

“They have always isolated themselves from the rest of us, and they can’t even get along with each other. I am so glad that we’re not like that. It would be awful to live like that, always scuffling.”

“Well Stevie, Dionne and I were thinking that maybe the rest of us Blennies who can live together peacefully should go to the plains to find out why they are behaving like this. There must be an explanation. What do you think about that idea Stevie?”

“Yes. Yes. That is a splendid idea Elwood. If we don’t, the fighting might spread to our community. We should send out a sound wave signaling for everyone to gather here. Together, on the count of three…”

Single page illustration of two Spinyhead Blennies (Stevie & Elwood) sending out a “Ballyhoo” with an abandoned hermit crab shell with Oscar, Rosy , Ruby and Daphne responding to the summons.

“One, two…”


“I think that it’s wonderful how sound travels four times faster underwater than it does on the other side of the beach…I mean up on land where the two-legged creatures live.”

“Yes I agree. We are very fortunate.”

“Look! Look! Here comes Oscar and Rosy and Ruby and oh, here comes Daphne too.”

“Here comes Dionne as well.”

“Great, now we are all here.”

Trailing illustration of Stevie, Elwood, Oscar, Rosy, Ruby and Daphne being led by Dionne, the Red Lipped Blenny across a sandy path and into a lettuce leaf coral forest.

After a brief meeting to discuss the purpose of our adventure, we are off. Dionne is leading the way up into the shallows to visit with the scuffling Sailfin Blennies. In convoy formation, we are traversing over the sandy paths and through the coral forests.

Illustration of Stevie, Elwood, Oscar, Rosy, Ruby, Daphne and Dionne being tossed a bit in the surge in the shallower water where pieces of the reef surround them.

As we climb the reef into shallower waters, the surge from the waves becomes stronger as the wind is blowing the water up to meet the shoreline. We are tossed back and forth until we round the corner and come into calmer waters in an enclosed bay area where there is no wind blowing across the surface of the water.

The convoy comes into calmer water with flat sands resembling deserts between sparse coral heads and a flat plain of seagrass (Pisces, Page 10). They are crouched down behind a solitary massive coral formation spying on a larger Sailfin Blenny (Perry) and a smaller Sailfin Blenny living in a piece of coral that is about four inches in total size. The smaller Sailfin is cowering from the larger Sailfin.

“Finally, no waves or surge. Whew!”

The coral heads are sparser here, and it is almost like a desert. As we climb shallower still, we arrive at the sea grass plains. We are wondering were these Sailfin Blennies live.

“How much farther?” asks Oscar.

Dionne answers, “We have arrived. They live over there in those broken pieces of coral and rocks in the protection of the sea grass where there is also plenty of food.”

We gather together behind a solitary coral head to watch and see if what we have heard is true. There are two Sailfin Blennies, one larger and one smaller, living in a piece of coral that is about four square inches in total size. The smaller Sailfin is crouched down inside his hole while the larger Sailfin repeatedly springs in and out of his hole. As he does, he simultaneously erects his dorsal or back sail-like fin. The little Sailfin seems to be cowering with fear from his more aggressive neighbor.

Why are they fighting? They live in the same neighborhood. Whoever wins, if anyone does, will not gain rights to his neighbor’s house.

Dionne explains, “I’ve heard that they are fighting for dominance and nothing more.”

This does not make any sense to us. We see this as abnormal behavior. Fish do not normally antagonize other fish of their own kind. It is more natural for us fish to stick together. There has to be a more logical explanation.

Face-off showing a line-up of Elwood, Oscar, Rosy, Ruby, Daphne and Dionne with Stevie one step forward from the group, with an emphasis on color, facing Perry with the smaller Sailfin behind him, observing from the piece of coral.

Together, we appear from behind the safety of the coral head to introduce ourselves to this estranged group of Blennies. The Sailfins look up to where we are standing in our spectrum of colors of gray, yeallow, red and green, red and black and yellow and white. We wear different colors but we are all Blennies and more importantly, we are friends who live in one community as neighbors.

A beautifully muted turquoise Sailfin Blenny approaches us. His dorsal fin is relaxed against his back. As my group’s spokes-blenny, I take a deep breath and move forward.

“Good afternoon. My name is Stevie and these are my friends Elwood, Oscar, Rosy, Ruby, Daphne and Dionne.”

For a moment, I think that he is not going to say anything. Maybe he speaks a different language, but then he says,

“I am Perry. Why are you here in this neighborhood?”

“We are curious.”

“Curious about what?”

“Curious about why you live here by yourselves.”

“We live here because the water is calm. You can see that we have larger dorsal fins than other Blennies. If we were to move around the corner where you live, we would be tossed in the surge that is caused by the surface wind. Our fins would catch the water like a kite in the air.”

“Oh. We did not think about that. We are curious about something else. Why do you fight amongst yourselves? If it is true that your fin is erect only when you are fighting, it would appear to us that you fight amongst yourselves.”

“It would appear to be so, but actually it is our nature.”

“It is your nature to fight?”

“You misunderstand us. It is our nature because it is how we communicate.”

“Can you not communicate without fighting? You are not flaring your dorsal fin now.”

“I am calm right now. When you observe our dorsal fins flaring, we are more excited. You misunderstood this to be aggressive. We are communicating with what Mother Nature has given us. I can understand that sometimes it appears that we are sparring because we talk with our fins, but we never take it so far that someblenny gets hurt.”

I think to myself that the movement of a Sailfin Blenny’s fin might be like the movement of an excited Human Being who is talking with his/her hands.

Illustration of a peace treaty where both sides are shaking fins.

My friends and I glance at each other and when our eyes meet, we know without saying a word
that we now have a better understanding about this behavior and agree that it is time for us to
find our way back to our own homes, before Night pulls its blanket up and over the ocean’s floor. We all shake fins and we begin our trek back across the sandy paths and through the coral forests.

We say good night to Dionne first and then continue on our way. Elwood and I see that Ruby, Rosy and Daphne arrive home safely for the night. Elwood and I stop to talk about what we have learned.

Closing speech by Stevie…

“It is important that when another fish communicates differently than we do, that it’s good to be curious about trying to understand why it is so, before we judge it. If we believe that something is abnormal or different than us, we must remember that in a different neighborhood, it might be necessary.”

Olly learns that a world with different colors is really a better place…Written By ©Diana Ring

My name is Olly and I am a Yellow Frogfish (Illustration Fish 308-309, Photo Guide Plate 14). I don’t look or sound like frogs that live around ponds and lakes in your neighborhood. I live underwater in the ocean on a barrel sponge (Illustration Creature 29, Cayman Videos). My barrel sponge is surrounded by yellow encrusting sponges (Illustration Creature 59) on the reef. The reef is my neighborhood. I have small holes on my body, just like those on the encrusting sponges where I live, and just like a sponge in your kitchen sink. My color and these holes help me to win at playing hide and seek on my reef. Usually, I can be spotted only when I move my fishing lure that reaches out from my nose when I am fishing for my dinner.

Set-up Illustration: Edge of wall fading into back shot with a barrel sponge nestled amongst the yellow encrusting sponges in the foreground and a yellow Frogfish (Olly) sitting in one of the grooves practicing fishing with her lure.

Besides Yellow Frogfishes, there are also Red Frogfishes (Illustration Fish 308-309) who live near red encrusting sponges (Creature 48-49), Orange Frogfishes (Fish 308-309) who live near orange encrusting sponges (Illustration Creature 51), and Black Frogfishes (Illustration Fish 308-309, Photo) who usually live near black reef tunicates (Illustration Creature 303).

I think that yellow is the prettiest color of all. I would never want to be red or orange or black. If I were, I would have to live someplace else on the reef and I would probably have to meet new friends. My friends would not even know me if I were another color.

Animated face-on illustration of Olly with her lure swaying behind a red bow, while she is proudly showing off her ruby slippers.

Have you ever seen the Wizard of Oz? I am playing the part of Dorothy. Of all the fish that you will meet while swimming across these pages with me, I will be the only one who can walk. I have eight fins. Two of my fins are on my belly and I use them for walking. I can actually wear Dorothy’s ruby slippers on these two fins on my belly.

This afternoon, we are rehearsing the scene where Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion are running through the red poppy field toward the City of Oz. Our red poppy field is a field of red encrusting sponges. In the Wizard of Oz, the poppies made them fall asleep, and the Good Witch made it snow, and they woke up and continued their journey down the yellow brick road to find the Wizard of Oz. We have to stir up the sand from the bottom of the ocean so that we can have snow for our school play. Our City of Oz is a pillar coral (Illustration Coral 97).

My friend Dudley, who is a Dusky Damselfish (Illustration Fish 113, Guide Plate 38), is the Scarecrow. Dudley is a perfect Scarecrow because he is an algae farmer who scares away Parrotfish, just like a real scarecrow scares away crows. Freddie, a Spotted Drumfish (Illustration Fish 351, Guide Plate 34, Cayman Videos), is the Lion. Claude is a Gray Angelfish (Illustration Fish 31, Guide Plate 37) and he is the gray Tin Man. My friend Elizabeth is a Queen Angelfish (Illustration Fish 27, Guide Plate 37) and she makes a beautiful yellow and blue Glenda the Good Witch. Josephine is a black and yellow French Angelfish (Illustration Fish 29, Pisces 70, Guide Plate 37, Cayman Videos), and she plays the part of the Bad Witch, but she is really not at all bad. Her broomstick is a piece of a brittle sea fan.

“Reef Stage” illustration of poppy field scene from The Wizard of Oz. The yellow brick road leading into the poppy field is a yellow encrusting sponge; the poppies are red encrusting sponges and the City of Oz is a pillar coral formation. The Yellow Coney (Stanley with his goatee) is directing the yellow Frogfish (Olly-Dorothy), the Dusky Damselfish (Dudley-Scarecrow), Gray Angelfish (Claude-Tin Man) and the Spotted Drumfish (Freddie-Lion) to excitedly swim over the red encrusting sponges towards the pillar coral city. The French Angelfish (Josephine-Bad Witch) and the Queen Angelfish (Elizabeth-Good Witch) are set back in the scene watching.

Our choreographer, Stanley, is a Golden Coney (Illustration Fish 155, Guide Plate 26, Cayman Videos) and he has two black dots on this chin that remind me of a beard. Stanley begins our rehearsal by saying,

“Okay everyone, I want Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion to start swimming across the red poppy field. Remember, you are excited because the City of Oz is just over the hill of coral on the reef.”

Off we go, moving across the red encrusting sponges, but I have to stop suddenly.

Illustration of Dudley stopped with Olly to discuss her newly developed red spots.

Dudley asks me, “Is something wrong Olly?”

“I have red spots.”

“Those are the ruby slippers Olly.”

“No, look, I have red spots all over me. I am turning red like the red encrusting sponges underneath us.”

“Is that your natural color Olly? Maybe you’re really red.”

“I don’t know. I’ve never been red before.”

“It doesn’t matter Olly. Even though you’re not yellow, you are still Olly.”

“Oh Dudley, will you still be my friend when I’m a different color?”

Stanley, Dudley, Freddie, Claude, Elizabeth and Josephine gather around Olly.

“Of course I will still be your friend.”

Everyone says, “We will all be your friends Olly.”

“Stanley, can I still play the part of Dorothy?”

“Of course you can. At least now, I’ll be able to find you on the yellow brick road Olly!”

I am learning that my body color changes when the colors around me change. It is Nature’s way of protecting me. If my body is red while I am sitting on a red encrusting sponge, a bigger fish that might eat me cannot see me. Because of the play, I have been spending more time around the red encrusting sponges and my color has changed to match them. My friends understand this because they have also changed their colors since they were baby fishes. Nature protects all baby fishes with special markings and colors that hide them until they grow strong enough to protect themselves in the ocean.

When Dudley was a baby or Juvenile Dusky Damselfish (Illustration Fish 112, Guide Plate 38), he had a black dot by his tail. This black dot was a fake eye that faked out bully fish that might have attacked Dudley. When a bully fish would snap at this dot on Dudley’s tail, he could escape by swimming away in the other direction.

As a baby or Juvenile Spotted Drum (Illustration Fish 112, guide Plate 38), Freddie had a long skinny back fin, and with his back and forth pacing behavior, he appeared to be a small sea whip swaying back and forth in the surge of the shallow water in the ocean.

Most juveniles live in the shallow water of the ocean close to the shoreline of the beach where there is more sunlight. Yellow stripes made it possible for Claude as a Juvenile Gray Angelfish

(Illustration Fish 31, Guide Plate 37) and Josephine as a Juvenile French Angelfish (Illustration Fish 29, Guide Plate 37) to blend in more with the rays of sunlight. Just like Claude and Josephine, most juvenile fish have bright colors that make it impossible for a big bully fish to see them until they are bigger and stronger.

Elizabeth, as a Juvenile Queen Angelfish (Illustration Fish 27, Guide Plate 37), had bluish white colors.

Stanley, Dudley, Freddie, Claude, Elizabeth, Josephine, Olly move stage left and the orchestra steps forward ready to play. Members of the orchestra are the Peacock Flounder (Gene) who plays the harmonica, the Spotted Filefish (Sebastian) who plays the bass fiddle, the Sanddiver Lizard (Jacques) who plays the saxophone, the Octopus (Sybil) with eight arms who plays the drums and the Sharpnose Puffer (Betty) who puffs the clarinet. They will each tell a story of a different color.

The members of our drama club’s orchestra, who have been watching us from the orchestra pit, join in with their own tales of being different colors too.

Gene, the Peacock Flounder (Illustration Fish 293, Guide Plate 35, Cayman Videos) who plays the harmonica, says that he can always change colors as fast as he can change tunes as he swims along the bottom of the ocean floor.

“If I’m sleeping on the sand, I can turn almost white. If I am on a green rock in a crevice, I can turn almost green.”

Sebastian is a Spotted Filefish (Illustration Fish 342, Guide Plate 59) who plays the bass fiddle, and he tells me that he can break out in white spots depending on the background of where he is.

“If I want to hide, I hide myself in between a cluster of sea whips and my white spots help me to blend in better with the color of the sea whips.”

Jacques plays the saxophone and he is a Sanddiver Lizard (Illustration Fish 313, Guide Plate 13). Jacques can blend in with the sand or the reef.

Sybil is an Octopus (Illustration Creature 261) who plays the drums and she loves to hug you with all eight of her arms. She tells me that she turns three different colors.

“I can be a light brown when I’m swimming across the reef close to the sand. I can be turquoise
Ring-Olly Page 4
when I am hiding on the reef. And I can even turn red when I am annoyed that someone is following me.”

Finally, there is Betty, the Sharpnose Puffer (Illustration Fish 327, Pisces 75, Photo) who puffs the clarinet.

“I will never be bigger than two inches. Being able to hide is very important for me at night when I am resting. I am two-colors of brown and beige, but when I stop to rest, I can become the color of whatever is underneath me.”

Closing speech by Olly…

“Thank you everyone. Thank you for helping me to learn that a world with different colors is really better.”

It really does not matter if I am yellow or red or orange or black. I do not have to move into a different neighborhood. There is a neighborhood of red encrusting sponges next door to my neighborhood of yellow encrusting sponges. There are many different colors living side by side on the reef in the ocean where I live.

Rudy learns that sometimes he needs to say no to his friends…Written By ©Diana Ring

Set-up Illustration: Split bi-level spread with copy set in middle section. Top level will illustrate a rocky shoreline with a rookery of Sea Lions and Seals with individual animated scene segments of social interaction: four young male Sea Lions playing game; family of Sea Lions; mother with her pup, etc. Bottom level of spread will be illustrated with what you see underwater as you would see while looking face-on: sloping (45 degrees) rocky shore covered with long sea grass, palm kelp, purple algae (Photo), and purple spiny sea urchins set behind the curtain of a dense forest of stalk of giant kelp with sunlight beams bursting through the openings in the trees onto a flat sandy bottom.

My name is Rudy and I’m a Sea Lion (Illustration Photos). I live at a rookery with other Sea Lions and Seals. Our rookery is beside the Pacific Ocean on the coast of California. The water temperature is much colder than your bath water, or the water in a swimming pool. It is cold like a glass of water that you drink on a hot summer day. I have extra body fat under a layer of thick furry skin so that I don’t get cold.

Shoreline to left full side of spread sloping to underwater scene (Spread) of palm kelp and giant kelp forest that extends to the right of the spread. A Sea Lion (Clarice) is entering water from shore line and younger Sea Lion (Rudy) at surface calling to her to hurry along.

When I’m swimming in the ocean, I always stay close to the Giant Kelp Forests (Illustration Photos) because it’s safer than swimming in the open water. There’s no place to hide in the open water. Our California kelp forests are like the forests that you have on land. Our kelp forests reach from the bottom of the ocean floor all the way to the surface where you swim. Just as you can hide behind trees in a forest, I can hide from Great White Sharks (Illustration Guide Plate 2) if I swim inside the kelp forests.

Every day after lunch, I go out to play in the kelp forests with my three best buddies. Tibber, Walt and Max have been my friends since before we were old enough to play in the water. Today, my sister Clarice wants to go with me to the playground because she has a ballet class to rehearse for her dance recital in the sand clearing next to our playground. I think she wants to give me one of her big sister lectures.

“Hurry up Clarice! Tibber, Walt and Max are waiting for me.”

“Okay. Okay. Here I come Rudy.”

“When is your dance recital Clarice?”

“Next Friday afternoon. Will you be there?”

“Of course I’ll be there.”

Okay. Here it comes. This is where Clarice tells me what she thinks is best for me.


“Yes Clarice.”

“I want you to remember how important it is to stay in the kelp forest when you are playing with your friends.”

“I know that Clarice.”

“I know that you do Rudy, but I remember when I was your age. We used to dare each other to swim outside of the kelp into the open water.”

“Did you ever take the dare?”

“No, but I had a friend who did.”

“Did anything bad happen?”


Set in a flat sandy patch that is surrounded by giant kelp stalks, a Sea Lion (Rudy) is caught between his sister Sea Lion (Clarice) and his three best buddy Sea Lions (Tibber, Walt and Max) who are swimming in a circle in the open water with no visible kelp for protection.

“Tell me later Clarice. There they are. Hey Tibber, Walt, Max!”

“Hey Rudy!”

“Hurry up Rudy!”

“See ya later Clarice. Thanks for swimming here with me. Good luck with your ballet practice.”

“Rudy, remember what I said.”

“What did she say Rudy?”

“Aahh…it was nothing. So Tibber, what are we going to do today?”

“How about exploring?”

“What are we going to explore?”

“The three of us were thinking about swimming outside of the kelp forest Rudy. What do you think Rudy?”

What would you do? Clarice never told me what happened to her friend who swam outside of the forest. I know what might happen if I swim into the open water. If I don’t go with my friends, I won’t be one of the gang anymore. If I do go and something bad happens, Clarice…

“Rudy, are you coming or not?”

“You know, maybe I should wait here just in case.”

“Rudy, nothing bad is going to happen.”

“Come on Rudy. Aren’t you one of us? If you’re our friend, you’ll come with us.”

“You have to come Rudy. We do everything together.”

“Maybe tomorrow guys. I promised my sister.”

“Come on Walt and Max. Let’s go. Rudy is going to wait here because his sister told him to.”

Sea Lion (Rudy) peering out through the kelp at his three buddies (Tibber, Walt, Max) who are swimming in a circle in the open water with no visible kelp for protection.

So here I am, doing as I was told. My friends are out there having fun and I’m hiding here in the kelp. My Family tells me that it’s dangerous to swim outside of the kelp, but my friends tell me that nothing bad will happen to us. Who should I believe?

“See Rudy. We told you that nothing bad would happen.”

“Yeah, you were right.”

“We’re going back out tomorrow if you want to come with us Rudy.”

“I’ll let you know. Thanks guys.”

Split bi-level illustration of Rudy and Clarice making their ways through the kelp stalks while they are talking. The copy is above them and above the copy is a memory cloud by Clarice of a Sea Lion at the surface and a Great White Shark looking up at him.

“Hey Rudy, here comes your sister.”

“Rudy, wait for me!”

“Clarice, you never told me what happened to your friend who swam outside of the kelp forest when you were my age.”

“We saw a big mean shark and then our friend was gone. We were all too scared to do anything. We swam back to the rookery as fast as we could.”

“No one helped him?”

“No, we knew that we shouldn’t have been there. It was the first time that any of us had ever seen a shark.”

It is now the next day and I said I’d meet Tibber, Walt and Max at the playground after lunch. I have to swim outside of the kelp forest with them today. If I don’t, they won’t be my friends anymore. Nothing happened to them yesterday. If I go with them just this one time, nothing will happen, and Clarice won’t even know, and I won’t have to do it again. What should I do? What would you do?

Rudy, Tibber, Walt and Max playing in a circle in the open blue water at the surface of the water and the page, with copy below them.

“Hey Tibber, Walt, Max.”

“Hey Rudy! Are you coming with us today?”

“Of course I am.”



“He’s back. He’s one of us again!”

Tibber led the way, then Walt and Max, and I was last. I stopped to peek out into the open water from behind the safety of the kelp. It looks clear. I don’t see anything bad. Okay. Here I go. Wow! I’m free!

“This is great. There’s a lot of open space out here. You can really pick up speed.”

“We told you Rudy.”

Again, Rudy is caught in the middle and he must make another decision. There are three bursts that represent his choices with Rudy illustrated below them: Walt and max swimming towards the kelp forest; face of Clarice; Tibber lying wounded at the surface with the Great White Shark below him.

Everything is okay. I’m thinking that maybe we can do this again tomorrow. Then, the most horrible thing happens. We are swimming in a big circle at the surface and suddenly, when I look down, I see a shark swimming right at Tibber like a torpedo. The shark’s mouth is wide open.


I’m too late. Tibber turns to see what I want and then he sees the shark. Walt and Max yell to me.

“Rudy! Rudy! Hurry up! Swim back into the kelp forest!”

I want to follow them. I remember what Clarice told me about what happened to her friend. I see Tibber and he’s too scared to swim for safety. And then, for the first time, I do what I think is right.

“Here I come Tibber. Don’t worry. The kelp forest is close. We can make it. I know we can. We can do it together Tibber.”

Rudy is pushing Tibber to safety with Walt and Max pulling back an opening in the kelp for him to enter.

My heart is racing faster than I can swim. I don’t even know where the big mean shark is. I get behind Tibber and push him towards the kelp. Walt and Max are waiting there and they help me push Tibber the rest of the way back to shore.

Back on the shore with Tibber sitting up, surrounded by Rudie, Walt and Max.

“Rudy, you saved my life.”

“You would have been there for me too Tibber.”

“I think that I might have been too scared Rudy.”

“I was scared Tibber. Believe me I was.”

“You were right Rudy. We are really sorry about everything we said to you yesterday. We should have listened to you.”

Closing speech by Rudy…

I think that I should have listened to my sister. I thought that she was hiding something from me. All she wanted to do was keep me safe from something that could hurt me. I didn’t believe that anything could hurt me. I’m beginning to learn that maybe the older Sea Lions know things that I still need to learn. Maybe it would be easier to learn some of these things from them, instead of learning everything on my own. I guess there will always be things that I need to learn for myself. I know enough to know what is bad for me and what is good for me. And I learned today that it’s okay to say “no”. I’ve learned that even if I do something different than my friends do, I am still a good friend and I can still be me, and just being me is okay.

Hansen learns to accept that different is not bad…Written By ©Diana Ring

Set-up Illustration: The Sun is low in the sky (4p). A Spiny Lobster (Jackson) is peeking under a ledge down on the wall with a set of eyes (Red Night Shrimp, Mickey) looking back out at him. A Manta Ray is flying overhead and has cast its shadow.

“Hey Mickey!” Come on out of there! It’s time for you to wake up. The sun is low in the sky and it’s almost time for dinner.”

“Grrr…Are you sure Jackson? I feel like I just crawled under my ledge to sleep.”

“Of course I’m sure. That devil fish just flew overhead and she’s been gliding past here ‘round about the same time every day.”

“Jackson, did you see Hansen with her again?”

“I sure did. What do you suppose it is that he likes about that devil fish?”

By now you are probably wondering, “Who is Mickey? Who is Jackson? Who is Hansen? And who is that devil fish?” I was not eavesdropping, but I just swam overhead with my friend Mollie and I could not help but overhear what Jackson and Mickey were saying.

Illustration of a Remora (Hansen) explaining his flattop dorsal-do.

I am Hansen. I am a Remora (Illustration fish 361, Guide Plate 42, Cayman Videos) and I am easily recognized by my flat-top dorsal-do. This flat-top is actually a suction disk that I use to attach myself to bigger marine creatures. I always show my gratitude by clearing away leftover scraps. This is called a symbiotic relationship. The larger fish is always called the host…my dinner host.

Slope of wall illustrated down the side of the page. Two ledges down from the edge, illustrate a Spiny Lobster (Jackson) and a Red Night Shrimp (Mickey) conversing.

Now I will tell you about Jackson and Mickey. Jackson is a Spiny Lobster (Illustration Creature 155, Pisces 34, Cayman Videos). The Spiny Caribbean Lobsters do not have claws like the Atlantic Lobsters do. Jackson lives two ledges down from the edge of the wall in a crevice at a depth of about sixty feet. Mickey is a Red Night Shrimp (Illustration Creature 153) and he lives under a ledge next door to Jackson.

Sand flat below with reef surrounding and Manta Ray (Mollie) in the foreground gliding by with her forward fins coiled showing her back view (Cayman Video 1994, 1407 minutes).

The devil fish that they are talking about is my friend Mollie. Mollie is a Manta Ray (Illustration Fish 393, Guide Plate 7, Cayman Videos) and as you can see, she is not a devil. She is perhaps the most beautiful and elegant host with whom I dine. She does not have a pitch-forked tail, but Mollie is a filter feeder and she does have horn-like fins that she uncoils to scoop up Plankton like a funnel. Plankton are the little itsy bitsy fish that you can’t see in the light of day. When she performs somersaults in the open water, we truly have a feast. It’s like Thanksgiving when she feeds under the lights of a boat. The light is like a magnet for the Plankton.

Sand flat below with reef surrounding and Mollie in foreground making a somersault in the water wither forward fins uncoiled, scooping up the plankton. Fingerprint underside angle (four dots visible ¾ down belly). Please see videos.

Mollie is eight feet from fin tip to fin tip, and she could grow to be twenty feet across. The black spots on her tummy are actually a fingerprint, which makes it much easier for me to identify her. I am having dinner with Mollie this evening, but before I rejoin her, I am going to visit with Jackson and Mickey.

Illustration of ledge setting along wall with Jackson and Mickey joined by Hansen…

“Hansen, we were just talking about you.”

“Really? And what were you saying?”

Gruffly clearing his throat, Jackson continues with,

“Why have you become so attached to that devil fish? You could be spending your time with a…an Angelfish…perhaps a French Angelfish (Illustration Fish 29).”

“Yes Hansen. I quite agree with Jackson.”

“Think about it guys. An Angelfish has a small puckering mouth and only nibbles at the reef. A nibbler never leaves any leftovers for some-fish like me. I would starve. A Manta Ray, however, gathers enough Plankton for itself and two of me, and it can, because of its ‘Horns’ that it uses to funnel the Plankton.”

Mickey leaning out from the ledge looking down over the wall into the deep…

Mickey leans out from the ledge and looks down over the wall into the deep.

“Well, why does she live way down there and come up here when the sun and the moon are trading positions in the sky?”

“Because more Plankton gather to feed when the sun is low in the sky. Mickey, don’t forget that you come out at night to feed.”

“But I don’t have horns, and I don’t live way down there.”

“Jackson has two antennae! I don’t’ believe that he’s a martian?”

“Don’t be silly Hansen.”

“Silly? How can you possibly think that Mollie is a devil? That’s silly. Come on. Come with me.”

“Where are we going?”

“Two ledges up. Mollie is up there and I want you to see more than her horned shadow.”

Illustration of Hansen, Jackson and Mickey trekking up the wall in convoy formation with Mickey hitching a ride atop of Hansen’s flattop…

Mickey hitches a ride on my flat-top and the three of us begin our trek up the wall.

“Mickey, I’ve never had anyone hitch a ride with me. Now I know how Mollie feels when I do it.”

“Yeah, but you’re not feeding me.”

“Mickey. Hansen. Shhh! That devil will hear us coming.”

“Jackson, we live in the same ocean in the same neighborhood. Why can’t we share the same beliefs?”

“You believe what you have to and I believe what I have to because of who we are and how we live. It’s our nature. It’s how we survive.”

“What do you need to believe Jackson?”

“Hansen, Mickey and I are preyed upon as food by predators who are as big as Mollie.”

“Mollie eats Plankton. She doesn’t want to eat you.”

“You don’t get eaten Hansen. You don’t know what it’s like to be preyed upon. You swim with the big fish like Mollie so that you can have big meals. I don’t want to be a meal. If I see something that big, it’s time for me to take cover.”

“Remember Hansen, it’s easy to be afraid of something that you don’t understand. Maybe we need to learn more about Mollie so that we can understand her. Then we might not be afraid of accepting your different beliefs.”

Hansen, Jackson and Mickey peering over the top of the wall with the open blue behind them and Mollie is in the foreground gliding over the sandy flats half-way through a somersault. See videos.

And there in the distance is Mollie. She is beautiful. Look how she glides effortlessly through the water. I believe that she soars like an angel. Watch. She’s doing it. I have seen her do eight somersaults in a row. She’s making her halo…seven, eight, nine! Wow! Nine!

“See ya later guys! I don’t want to miss this. There’s a feast out there and it must be a blessing. Mollie, wait for me!”

Hansen has just hopped aboard with Mollie and his is gliding with her across the sand flats with Jackson and Mickey in the background for closing dialogue and closing speech by Hansen. See Cayman ’94 Video.

Swish…swish…swish…I go, coming in for a landing…stick…and it’s a direct hit.

“Hi Mollie.”

“Welcome aboard Hansen. I’ve missed you.”

“Glad to be back. Hey Mollie, let’s go for ten somersaults! I’m ready to clear the scraps.”

“Hold on. Here we go Hansen.”

Mollie is a beautifully graceful creature. It is okay if Jackson and Mickey believe that she is a devilfish. There will always be those who have different beliefs than I do because they need to. Mickey is right though. If you do not understand something, sometimes it is easier to close a door and lock in something that you believe in that brings you comfort, instead of opening a door to an unfamiliar face that is distorted in the shadows. I think that it is important to always try to look at something that is unfamiliar to you in a new light. I do not have to agree with it, but I should at least try to understand it.

Illustration of a door left ajar…

Joanie learns that not being popular can be more popular…Written By ©Diana Ring

Illustration of five Bottlenose Dolphins (Nigel, Einstein, Franklin, Napoleon, Waldo and Grace) riding through a wave that is rolling into shore. This can be a split illustration with the Dolphins at the top of the page and the copy set mid-page; below the copy, there is an audience of little fish and starfish looking up from the sandy bottom to catch some of the excitement.

“Here comes the wave. Are they going to catch it?”

“Yep. There they go, but I can’t see if they’re all riding it.”

“It looks like they are. I can see Einstein and Franklin, and there’s Waldo.”

“There’s Napoleon and Grace.”

“I can see Nigel too!”

I haven’t told my friends that I like Nigel. I would feel really self-conscious if he found out. My name is Joanie and my friends and I are Bottlenose Dolphins (Illustration Fish 396, Whales 78-80, Talbot Video). We Dolphins are mammals like you and we are related to Whales. We have lungs like you do, and we can hold our breath for almost ten minutes before we have to come to the surface for more air. We breathe the air through a nose like you do, but it is our blowhole. We can get up to a cruising speed of almost thirty miles per hour. That’s faster than the speed limit outside of your school! And we don’t have to stop moving so we can sleep either. We are able to slow down one-half of our brain with the other half still wide awake, so that we can rest and still keep swimming.

Side-view illustration demonstrating a dolphin’s built-in radar…Animation of a Dolphin’s clicking sound bouncing off two children (Male and Female) who are playing in the water and re-sounding off the Dolphin’s forehead. The children will be illustrated as an x-ray that the Dolphin can see.

Did you know that we have built-in radar like you find on a boat? That clicking noise that you hear us make is how we talk, but it is also a signal that we send out to vibrate off an object. The sound vibrates back to our forehead, which is a built-in receiving station. This “out and back” is our echo-location. This radar system is so complex that we can actually see an x-ray view of you.

Surface illustration of two groups of Dolphins playing in the waves…Group one is comprised of the surfers (Grace, Nigel, Einstein, Franklin, Waldo and Napoleon). The second group is comprised of the cheering squad (Magnolia, Tammy, Emma, Joanie). This illustration will spread across the top of the left and right hand pages with the copy underneath. Close-up illustration of the cheering squad, with Joanie in the foreground hanging back from the crowd…

There’s a group of us from the pod surfing in the waves today. Grace, Nigel, Einstein, Franklin, Waldo and Napoleon are competing in the surfing championships to see who can catch the longest ride. Magnolia, Tammy and Emma are here with me to cheer them on.

“Does Nigel still hold the record?”

I know the answer to that,

“Yes he does. His record is fifteen seconds and that was on an eight foot wave crest.”

“Hey, why didn’t anyone catch that wave?”

I am hovering in the background and I cannot see beyond my girlfriends. Perhaps I should admit to you that I am shy. Sometimes I feel like my friends are more popular than me. They seem to be more comfortable around all of the other dolphins than I do. Because I’m friends with them, I can tag along and I feel okay with that. We have to swim a little bit closer so that we can hear what is going on with the surfers.

Close-up illustration of the surfers with Nigel surrounded by his peers as he tries to leave. Sub-copy bubble conversation of little fishes looking up from the sandy bottom placing a bet on whether or not he will leave… “I say that he’ll stay.” “I say that he’ll leave.”

“Nigel, you can’t go home now. We still have to ride one more wave in this round of the championships.”

“I have to go home and help my Father herd the school of fish that is passing through this week. I promised him that I would. If I don’t go now, he’ll leave without me.”

“That school of fish will be here all week, but these waves might not be. We have to ride them while they’re here.”

“I really need to go.”

“If you leave now, you’ll have to forfeit your record score.”

That doesn’t seem fair to me. What do you think? Would you stay because your friends wanted you to? Is scoring the best wave really more important than helping at home?

Close-up illustration of Nigel riding a wave as he sets a new record…

“There they go. They just caught another wave.”

“How does it look?”

“They’ve all caught it.”

“Well it’s going to be really hard to beat Nigel now. He just rode that one for twenty!”

“Twenty seconds! Wow! What a score!”

Illustration of six dolphins (Einstein, Franklin, Grace, Magnolia, Tammy and Emma) gathered around Nigel to congratulate him, with Joanie in the foreground at the surface waiting for the crowd to clear. One dolphin (Waldo) is doing a flip in the air, and one (Napoleon) is circling up from underneath, while the others are at the surface. Copy will be split on the one page around the illustration.

Twenty seconds is an all time record. I can’t even see Nigel from here. Everyone is gathering around him to congratulate him. I think that I should wait for a little while and then I can congratulate him…Tick…Tock…Tick…Tock….Finally. Okay, no one is around him now.

Nigel and Joanie talking at the surface… This illustration should run down the center spine of the spread because the relevant copy is in two segments. Segment one on the left hand page (Nigel feeling guilty for not having helped his Father) and segment two on the right hand page (Joanie offering to help Nigel and his Father the next day). Little fishes on the sandy bottom looking up. Sub-copy bubble conversation of two fish making a bet over whether she will have enough nerve to make a move. They have been watching how she has been shy. “She’s going to do it.” “She doesn’t have the nerve.”


“Hi Joanie…”

“You must be really excited about your record score. Congratulations!”

“Thank you Joanie.”

“Is something wrong Nigel? You don’t seem very happy about it. What happened?”

“I was supposed to help my Father herd the school of fish today, but I didn’t because of the surfing championship.”

“I had heard that, but I’m sure that your Father will understand when he hears how well you did.”

“My Father just swam by.”

“Was he angry with you?”

“No he wasn’t, but he didn’t have to be. I feel bad enough without him becoming angry. He told me that he was able to catch only half of the fish that we needed to catch, and that he would be trying again tomorrow.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to skip the surfing finals tomorrow and help my Father instead. That’s what I should have done today.”

Here’s the chance I’ve been waiting for. What am I going to say? Quick! Think of something!

“Nigel, I was thinking. Maybe I could help you and your Father tomorrow.”

“You don’t have to spend your day doing that Joanie.”

“I really want to. Who knows…maybe we can make up for what wasn’t caught today.”

“Alright. I’ll see you tomorrow morning. Thanks Joanie.”


I never thought that morning was going to come.

“Good morning Nigel! Good morning Mr. Dancer.”

“Good morning Joanie.”

“Thank you for coming out with us today Joanie.”

“Oh, it’s my pleasure Mr. Dancer. I’m happy to help!”

“The school of tuna should be coming around the point anytime now.”

“We’ll be ready for them Dad.”

Underwater illustration of Nigel swimming from the right hand page with the school of fish in front of him…Mr. Dancer is in the middle of the spread, funneling the fish toward Joanie on the left hand page and she is strategically positioned at the opening to a gorge.

We get into position and wait for the ambush. I send out a click and it sounds back through my echolocation, letting me know that the fish are approaching. Suddenly, there they are. Nigel is forcing them out and his Father is funneling them into the gorge. Okay, here’s my chance! I swim up to the neck of the gorge and seal it off. We did it!

“Great teamwork Nigel and Joanie, it looks like we’ve caught more than enough fish for ourselves and the entire pod.”

Underwater illustration set at opening to the gorge with the captured fish in the background. The pod has gathered around the opening. Most noticeable are the younger Dolphins who are there to congratulate their friends. Magnolia, Tammy, Grace, Emma, Einstein, Franklin, Waldo and Napoleon are upfront with Nigel, and Joanie is hovering back with Mr. Dancer. Everyone has opened up the circle to turn around and look at Joanie.

The news gets out quickly and soon the pod has gathered around the gorge. Magnolia, Tammy, Grace, Emma, Einstein, Franklin, Waldo and Napoleon all gather upfront. The boys are all congratulating Nigel.

“What a score Nigel!”

“Yeah Nigel. We must admit that this is much more impressive than the waves that you caught yesterday.”

I am standing back watching with Mr. Dancer.

“Well, it was really Joanie who headed off the school and sealed off the gorge. It’s because of Joanie that we were able to catch such a feast.”

Mr. Dancer nudges me forward. At this very moment, I do not feel very shy anymore. I feel like moving to the front of the crowd instead of hovering behind everyone. I really did prove to myself that if I do my best that I can to accomplish something and if my accomplishments make me feel good, then nothing else should be more important than that.

I have learned that I have to feel good about myself before anyone else can, and that if I want to be popular, I have to decide what it is that makes me feel popular. What makes me feel popular, might not make someone else feel popular. What makes someone else feel popular, might not make me feel popular.

When Nigel caught the fish with his Father, he was just as popular with everyone as when he caught a twenty-second wave. He felt more popular by catching the fish because he helped his Father and that made him feel good about himself.

Same setting as in illustration with Nigel and Joanie talking at the surface, however, in this layout, Joanie has moved forward to be beside Nigel as she nuzzles his nose with hers after her closing speech. The little fishes who were making the bet before high five each other at the happy ending.

Okay. Here I go. I swim up to Nigel and I nuzzle his nose with my nose.

“Thank you for saying what you said Nigel, and thank you for noticing what I did.”

Dudley learns that it’s okay to call for help…Written By ©Diana Ring

Set-up Illustration: Dusky Damselfish (Dudley) (Guide Plate 38) in twenty feet of water on the edge of the wall, surrounded by a brain and star coral head, diligently farming a pasture (with a rake) of algae. Sun rays are streaming through the water.

I am only four inches long from nose to fin tip, but no matter how big a trespasser is…even Scuba Divers!…I will let them know that he/she must move along the reef immediately. There are fish neighbors who are very respectful of my requests, but there are some who bully my rights and insist on eating the algae on my farmland. They think that they can ignore my warning because they are bigger than me.

Rainbow Parrotfish (Lobo-name chosen because interprets as wolf/the big bad wolf in Spanish) (Guide Plate 40) pecking at algae and corals along the edge of the wall. Use same back-drop as illustrated above. Dudley is hiding in the foreground.

There is one bully who immediately comes to my mind. Lobo is a Rainbow Parrotfish (Illustration Guide Plate 40) who is five times bigger than me. It is obvious to me that Lobo has never been taught that he should pick on fish his own size, and leave us little guys alone.

He is out here feeding on the reef every day, pecking at the algae and crushing the corals with his beak. His mouth looks like a beak that you would see on a wild parrot in your backyard. After a Parrotfish digests the good stuff from the algae and coral he eats, the stuff that passes through him is actually white sand. Did you know that a Parrotfish can produce almost a ton of sand in one year?

Lobo is overshadowing Dudley in same backdrop as above…

I am a very good algae farmer; therefore, Lobo trespasses into my personal space quite often, looking for something good to eat.

“Chirp! Chirp! Lobo, no trespassing allowed! Please get out of my personal space now!”

Lobo asks, “Did I hear something?”

“Yes, it is me, Dudley, and you are invading my space. I have worked very hard to farm my algae. It is not fair that you think that you can just eat it at your leisure without my permission Lobo. You are not welcome here. Please move along now!”

“Who do you think you are talking back to me like this? I’m five times bigger than you Dudley. I could gobble you up in one bite.”

“I don’t care how big you are Lobo. You don’t have the right to bully me just because you’re bigger than me. Your rights aren’t any bigger than mine just because you’re bigger than me. My rights aren’t smaller because I’m smaller than you.”

“Go away and hide in your hole while I eat in peace little fish. I can do whatever I want and you can’t stop me little fish.”

Dudley switching roles to overshadow Lobo in same backdrop as above…

“No! I will not! Chirp! Chirp! Chirp! Chirp! Chirp!”

“Dudley! Stop that noise! Everyone on the reef is going to hear you.”

“Good! I want everyone to hear me, and see how you are treating me. You’re not going to get away with this behavior anymore Lobo!”

Oh. Oh. I better duck. Lobo is going to throw a jab at me. Things are not going his way and he is becoming frustrated. That does it. I jab back with my entire body. I jab again. I think that Lobo is in shock because a fish of my size stood up for its rights against a fish of his size. He never thought that I would do it. He thought that he could continue to get away with his big bully behavior.

“Chirp! Chirp! Chirp! Chirp! Chirp!”

“Alright. Alright. I’ll leave you alone. I’ll stay out of your space.”

Close-up illustration of Dudley hovering in a bubble as he gives his closing speech…

I may be small, but my rights are as big as I believe they are. Size does not give a bigger fish the right to threaten or harm me. There will always be bigger fish who try to, but I will always chirp loud enough until I am heard. It is always okay to call for help.

Jado learns that some people can be happier by living apart…Written By ©Diana Ring

Introductory illustration of a Green Moray Eel (Jado) with half of his body exposed out of a cavity in the wall with an agape mouth exposing his three fangs (two forward and one middle roof of mouth)… There is a ledge overhead and Jado is surrounded by deep water sea fans, red rope and purple sponges.

My name is Jado and I am a Green Moray Eel (Illustration Fish 365, Guide Plate 10, Cayman Videos). I live along the wall in a narrow cavity under a ledge at a water depth of about sixty-feet. Presently, I am four feet long and I could grow to be eight feet in length. My mouth is continually opening and closing. It looks like I want to take a bite out of something, and this makes me look quite evil, but you have nothing to fear because this is how I breathe. Like most marine creatures that you meet here in these stories, I am not at all aggressive unless I am provoked. When this happens, I need to defend myself.

Build on illustration above and open it up slightly showing Jado in the background and a Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Jackson) in the foreground waiving his antennae tossing back some scraps to Jado with a shovel.

My closest neighbor is a Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Illustration Creature 155, Pisces 34, Cayman Videos) who lives at the entrance to my home. You met Jackson in “Hansen Learns to Accept That Different is not bad…” In that story, you learned about a symbiotic relationship between a Manta Ray named Mollie and a Remora named Hansen. Jackson and I have a similar type of relationship. Jackson and I occasionally share scraps, but I am actually Jackson’s bodyguard. When he feels threatened, he backs into the cavity on the wall. This is my cue to emerge from the darkness bearing my fangs as a signal for any predator to quickly retreat.

I have been adopted as a big brother by my little friend Susie who is a Four Eyed Butterflyfish (Illustration Fish 21, Pisces 70, Guide Plate 36, Cayman Videos). Suzie does not really have four eyes and she does not even wear glasses. Susie has two black spots on her back fin that look like a second set of eyes. Predators who attack their prey head-on are confused by which end is which, allowing Susie to safely escape in the opposite direction.

Revert back to first illustration of this story with Jado now fully exposed showing the entire four foot length of his body as it runs across both pages as he has a friendly conversation with a Four-Eyed Butterflyfish (Susie).

I was actually glad when Susie adopted me as her big brother. Susie’s parents are always together, and when they are swimming along the reef, they always stop and visit with me. I feel like I am part of a bigger family, which is very nice for me because my parents do not live together.

Here, you can meet Susie now. She is out looking for her early morning snack.

“Good morning Susie!”

“It is a good morning Jado! The water is calm, the sun is shining and there are plenty of nutrients on the reef today. Nothing could be better.”

“I almost agree with you Susie.”

“What could be better for you my friend?”

“I really like being part of your family Susie, but sometimes I wish that my family was more like yours. My parents live in two different holes on the wall and I have to visit with them separately.
Maybe if I talked with them, I could get them to change.”

Build on the third illustration and add to it Jackson in the right hand corner, Jado coiled slightly in the middle and Susie to the left.

I should have known that we were not alone. Jackson has been listening to what Susie and I have been talking about and now he is going to join our conversation. It is almost impossible for Jackson to stay out of any conversation that is not about him.

“Well good morning to you Jado and to you too my dear Susie. I couldn’t help but overhear what you have been talking about and I thought that maybe I could add a different perspective that perhaps you haven’t thought about yet Jado.”

“Jackson, I must insist that you stop listening in on the conversations of other fish.”

“How can I not hear what you’re saying when you’re only a human’s arm length away from me?”

“This is true. Maybe we should get you some ear plugs. Now what is it that you want to say Jackson?”

“I heard you say that you wished that your parents could be like Susie’s parents.”

“Well yes, I do.”

“Jado, some things are the way they are because they have to be; because they are better that way. Even though your parents’ behavior isn’t how you want it to be, you shouldn’t want to change something that is their natural behavior and is better for them.”

Susie and I both ask, “But what is natural Jackson?”

Two Butterflyfishes (Susie’s parents) swimming side by side along the edge of the wall…

“Susie, it is natural for your parents to always be together because Nature says that they can be. They survive better as a pair because together they can outsmart a predator.”

“Yes, that is true. My parents have taught me how one of them can lure a predator away from the other. The predator hesitates not knowing which way to go first, so that they both have time to escape.”

“How do your parents eat Susie?”

“They swim up and down the edge of the wall all day long nibbling on algae and nutrients from the corals.”

“That’s correct. It’s a big wall and there is plenty of food for two little Butterfly fishes to eat together.”

Two Green Morays (Jado’s parents) tumbling around in a scuffle in too close quarters…

“Now Jado, how many Moray Eels can fit into one little hole with one little opening?”

“One. There’s barely enough room in my hole for me to stick my head out so that I can breathe and eat your scraps Jackson.”

“Exactly my point! And how does an Eel eat?”

“We eat what we can find around our hole on the wall.”

“There would never be enough food in one place for both of your parents. Would there be? They don’t live together because they can live better when they are separated. If they tried to fit in one hole together, they would probably bicker all of the time. At least when you visit with them separately, they are happy.”

“Thank you Jackson. I do understand what you’re trying to tell me.”

Close-up of intro illustration to this story for Jado’s closing speech…

I cannot change what is better for someone even if I feel that it would be better for me. My parents behave as they do, so that they can survive better in Nature. In order for my Mother and my Father to survive well, they must live apart. They are not separated for any other reason than this. In order for Susie’s parents to survive, they live better together. Whether parents live apart or together, I understand that they do because it is what is best for them. They cannot change just for me. Even though they live apart, they do not love me any less, and it is not my responsibility to change any of this. They are happy, and when they are happy, I am happy.

Joanie learns how to help others who need help…Written By ©Diana Ring

Underwater full-body illustration of a Bottlenose Dolphin with a magnifying lens (Joanie)…

I would like to reintroduce myself. My name is Joanie and I am a Bottlenose Dolphin that you met earlier. I would like to talk to you about something that is a very serious concern for us Dolphins. Do you know what biological magnification is?

Illustration of a labeled equation….Pollutant is eaten by Plankton that is eaten by a little fish which is eaten by a bigger fish which is eaten by a bigger fish which is eaten by a Dolphin. The elements should be almost radiating to show that they are contaminated. This strip will spread across the bottom of the page with the copy stacked on top.

Biological magnification results from pollution in our food chain. This pollution may begin with Plankton, which are the smallest organisms in our food chain. If Plankton eat polluted nutrients, the entire size of their bodies is contaminated. A little fish then eats the contaminated Plankton and the entire size of its body is contaminated. A bigger fish eats the little fish and this process of magnified contamination continues through the food chain until we Dolphins eat the biggest contaminated fish in the food chain. If a Dolphin eats contaminated fish, the pollutants begin to infect and weaken the systems of a Dolphin’s body. There is a Dolphin in our pod named Neptune whose immune system has been weakened because of this biological magnification.

A group of ten young Bottlenose Dolphins have gathered together at the surface to talk in a similar illustration used in (Joanie learns that not being popular can be more popular…). The Dolphins will appear at the top of the page. At the bottom of the page, there will be an animation of a sick fish in a hospital bed with a doctor fish and a quarantine sign. The copy will be blocked in the middle. Any personalities that were developed in “Joanie learns…” should be continued here for Joanie, Nigel, Waldo, Einstein, Napoleon, Franklin, Magnolia, Grace, Tammy and Emma.

The group of Dolphins who you met at the surfing championship (Nigel, Waldo, Einstein, Napoleon, Franklin, Magnolia, Grace, Tammy and Emma) is here with me now. Together, we are trying to understand how we are feeling about what is happening to our friend Neptune.

The dialogue of these ten Dolphins will appear over a screen on all remaining pages of this short story…The screened illustrations will show the Dolphins living in their natural habitat swimming through the water, jumping in the air over a wave, swimming in a circle, etc.

“Did anyone see Neptune yesterday when the pod was cruising between the island and the mainland?”

“I did. I was hanging back with him because he kept falling behind. He’s been getting tired lately.”

“I’ve noticed that he’s been feeling sick more often.”

“Did you see the sore on his side?”

“He shouldn’t have eaten that contaminated fish.”

“It’s not his fault. Any of us could have eaten the contaminated fish. It looked like every other fish in that school of fish that we corralled.”

“He should have been more careful.”

“We all need to be more careful.”

“I’ve heard about this happening in other pods, but I never thought that it would happen to anyone in our pod.”

“Does anyone know if Neptune is still dating Minerva?”

“They’re still really good friends.”

“He’s not contagious is he?”

“I can’t believe you asked that!”

“What if one of us has eaten a contaminated fish and we don’t know it yet? We can’t live in fear.”

“We are living in fear because it is out of our control.”

“We have no control over how the fish become contaminated.”

“The water in some currents in the ocean is pure, but some ocean currents are polluted.”

“We need to find out which current the fish have taken to get here before we eat them.”

“That’s very true. If the water in the current has become polluted, then the fish in that current are consuming polluted nutrients.”

“That’s what happened to Neptune.”

“We really need to work together.”

“You’re right. We can’t ignore it and think that it’s going to go away.”

“If we do that, the problem will get bigger and bigger until we can’t control it in our own pod.”

“If you ignore something, it gets louder and louder until someone pays attention to it.”

“So what are we going to do?”

“We’re not responsible for the source of the problem.”

“We can’t stop it. The Humans on the other side of this beach have to control it first.”

“What did we ever do to a Human Being? Why are they doing this to us?”

“Don’t they know that their pollution is making us sick?”

“We have to work together to contain the problem so that it doesn’t spread in our pod, in case they don’t want to help us.”

“I don’t think that they realize how serious it is.”

“If we work to shrink it in our pod and other pods work to shrink it, then we might be able to stop its spread amongst all Dolphins, until Humans stop polluting the ocean.”

“If they stop polluting…”

“We can’t forget about Neptune.”

“Yeah. What about the Dolphins who are already sick?”
Ring-Joanie Help Page 3
“We have to let them know that we care and give them hope.”

“Hope for what? We can’t cure them. The problem is that there is no place for pollution in our food chain. We all hope that some day pollution will no longer contaminate our food chain.”

“We may not be able to cure Neptune, but we can nurture the hope in his heart. The pollution can’t contaminate his soul. We all have good souls and Neptune’s soul is still healthy. It’s his body that is sick.”

“You’re right. What if it were one of us? It is very important that we don’t exclude the sick Dolphins from the pod just because they’re sick. We have to remember that they are sick, not because of something that they did wrong, but because of something that is wrong in Nature. We are all Dolphins and we need to continue to live and swim together. When Neptune can’t keep up in a crossing, we have to help him along.”

“Yes, this is a crossing that we need to make together.”