FTT Prompt Due September 6th before 11:59pm

In the opening pages of Four Fish, the author Paul Greenberg describes his transformative event that sets him on his path to understanding the state of the world’s wild fisheries….

In a short post of at least 250 words, with proper grammar and full sentences, briefly describe what that event was for Greenberg, and share with us what drives you to learn (you are in university after all, so clearly you like to learn!). Have you had a similar life changing event that has sent you on your path? What is your motivation to keep going?

Post your answer by 11:59pm on September 6th and comment on at least two posts from your peers by 11:59pm September 7th.

58 thoughts on “FTT Prompt Due September 6th before 11:59pm”

  1. The transformative event that set the author Paul Greenberg on his path to understanding the state of the world’s wild fisheries was his mother’s sickness. Greenburg grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, and fishing was his passion. As a young boy, he first began fishing in a small pond where he discovered a large-mouth bass population. When the pond ran dry, he used his bar mitzvah money to buy himself a boat. He sailed his boat around Long Island Sound, following seasonal fish migrations: mackerel, blackfish, porgies, bluefish, menhaden, weakfish, flounder, and striped bass. As he grew older, his interests turned to women and the various excitements in the transition from boyhood to adulthood. He went off to school and work, living abroad and moving through different, often short-lived romances. He had become estranged from his mother until she became ill with metastatic lung cancer. Greenberg returned to care for her and make up for the lost time. His mom suggested he try fishing again to relieve the stress of caring for her, so he began a fishing trip from Connecticut through Florida. During this trip, fishermen told tales of fish population size, health, and range declines, shorter fishing seasons, and fewer species available for catch. This information led Greenberg to learn about the life cycles of fish, worldwide fisheries, fishing history, and human overexploitation/overfishing. This newfound knowledge led to his lifelong pursuit of understanding the past, present, and potential future of the state of the world’s wild fisheries.

    What drives me to learn is a curiosity to understand and grow, knowledge accessibility, the privilege of learning, the potential of education, and the world of opportunity it opens up. Knowledge is necessary for improving and aiding oneself and the world around you, both of which or worthwhile causes. Because the former are worthwhile causes, so must be the pursuit of knowledge. The life event that inspired my want to learn was growing up in an unfortunate living situation. Knowledge was my escape- I saw it as my chance to get out of the terrible situation and have a better life.

    1. I originally thought of the event as his mother dying, but I agree it is more of his mom getting sick and eventually coming back to fishing as a distraction, which led him to learn about the world’s fisheries. I must’ve been thinking more narrowly about a specific event rather than a set of events.

      I am also driven by curiosity, from learning in school to the mechanical work that I also do. My mom also had knowledge as an escape, she brought herself through undergraduate school through medical school to raising 2 kids on her own and now lives in Alaska as she has always dreamed of. She is one of the most inspiring people I know.

    2. Hey Elle! That is very well said; Greenberg did have quite the long pursuit in discovering the world’s fisheries. I’m thankful that we can read his stories and learn from his discoveries in this course.
      I really enjoyed you sharing what drives and motivates you when it comes to learning! I agree that so many doors and opportunities can be accessed when you have an expansive knowledge base. It’s very admirable to meet individuals who are able to turn negative experiences into positive outlooks and outcomes. Thanks for sharing!

    3. I really liked the way you perfectly described this event and even included so much info! Just like you, I am super curious and that is the best way to keep on learning. I feel that’s how you learn best.

    4. Hi Elle! I love how you described Four Fish. I feel like you really covered everything and why he wanted to learn. Also, I love that you want to learn due to the endless possibilities that can come from it. Like you said, “Because the former are worthwhile causes, so must be the pursuit of knowledge”. I am so glad knowledge was your escape.

    5. Pretty neat how you described the first part of the book. You described it way better than I did.
      Your part about wanting to learn is basically the same as mine, and it is good to see someone who has the same determination to learn, grow, and potentially utilizing the opportunities the world in fisheries has to offer.

  2. Paul Greenberg’s transformative event occurred over a span of 10-20 ish years. When he was a young teen he would go out fishing by himself (or his brother at times) and fish for days on end. He knew the fish patterns and migration routes by heart. He bought a boat and sold his fish to his teachers in order to afford his next fishing trip. In his later teens, he gave up fishing to explore other passions. After school and the start of his career he was summoned back to his home city to help with his dying mother. She suggested he fish again, to give him something to do besides watch his mother die. To his astonishment he found his fishing grounds to be monumentally changed. The fish that used to be in his river were no longer, and the migration routes he once knew no longer applied. He was shocked to find fishing so unrecognizable. Because of this he wanted to know why. Where had the fish gone? Why had things changed?

    My driving factor and motivation to learn is my passion to want to make a difference as well as discoveries. I want to do good in my lifetime. And I want that good to be something that helps preserve and protect this Earth. On a more personal level I want a job that keeps me outdoors and out of an office job. I also need a job that I can happily wake up to for a good 40 years of my life.

    My life changing event occurred on my 8th grade trip to Homer, Alaska. It’s more positive than Greenberg’s. My class and I left for a week to explore the tide pools in Kachemak Bay. It was my first memorable experience with marine life and the coast [I’ve been to Valdez prior, for fishing, when I was younger; but I was ten when I last went and hardly remember the experience]. In Homer, I was captivated by the new world I was discovering. Under every rock there was something new and wonderful to see and I wanted to know how it worked. Sense Homer I’ve always had a feeling that I wanted to work with the coast, ocean, marine life, fisheries, lakes/rivers, etc. I don’t know quite yet where my broad passion will take me but somewhere in that ballpark.

    1. I’m glad you brought up your own life-changing experience. Southcentral Alaska is so inspiring and is a big reason I’m doing everything I am here at UAF. I want to get down there, and fishery work is my one-way ticket there.

    2. Hi Gwendolyn! Your recap of the introduction and Greenberg’s reasons in wanting to understand the world’s fisheries is so spot on. I’m trying to imagine how it would feel to experience what Greenberg did in his discoveries. To have been away from fishing for a while, then come back only to find that the places that previously held abundant stocks of fish seemed barren – what a scary wake up call!

      I appreciate your enthusiasm and passion for wanting to play a role in positively impacting our world. I can also strongly relate to your desire to work outdoors and in the field. I personally find those to be the most satisfying job experiences. You mentioned your fond memories of Kachemak Bay. I have spent many a summer there myself and always appreciate coastal towns with a rich marine environment.

  3. Paul Greenberg’s transformation event was set by him going fishing as a young boy and learning that the fish population is depleting over the years and more and more as time goes on. What drives me to learn is I know that one day I will be able to help all the marine life I can. What also drives me is knowing I have a great support system. I would say I have had somewhat similar events happen. Being Able to study fish is one of my dreams I hope I get to accomplish. I love being able to continue my education beyond high school.

    1. Caitlyn,
      I think it’s beautiful you want to help marine organisms! Do you know what career you want to pursue in the field/how you want to help said ‘life’?
      I thought Paul’s descriptions of how he viewed the fish migration patterns and sea as a child were fascinating. What did you find fascinating about the introduction?

  4. Within the very first sentence, we learn that all the fish Paul cared about died. He wondered what caused this unfortunate event, leading him to go out and find new waters. Over the years he gets a boat and he learns to navigate and fish on the sea. He also learns the patterns of fish and learns to use his surroundings to help him find his next catch. The event that probably helped more in his transformation was his mother’s sickness. When his mother got sick he returned home after spending many years away. His mother told him to go fishing and when he attempted, he noticed how much the places had changed and how little fish were being brought up. This pushes him to go and learn. For me, my driving factor is my island and my people. There is so much that needs to be done for our waters and our wildlife. I want to be able to come here and study and learn about these things and help apply to places back home. I also wanna go to other places and learn newer kinds of things. My life-changing event was when I was around 13 when I had gone diving in one of my favorite places and noticed a lot of things missing, broken, and small amounts of fish. This made me realize that I needed to do something to help grow and protect our marine life.

    1. Hey Tatum,

      Which Island do you live on? Goodness your childhood sounds a lot different than an Alaskan childhood. I’m jealous! I wish I could go diving and enjoy warmer waters and see vibrant fish and scenery’s. What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen while diving?

    2. I have the same passion that I see average size of fish in my favorite fishing spots on the decline as well as the number of fish. It bugs me so I want to do something to conserve our trophy fisheries especially like the Naknek, Kvichak, even the Situk being some of the most popular. However, there’s so many amazing and stunning rivers out there with wild rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, Arctic Char, and our salmon runs that need our help to keep them safe and not destroyed by human activity.

    3. It must be so different to grow up on an island – I wish I had. The idea of isolation is very soothing to me.. Maybe I would’ve been a different kind of kid.

  5. In the first sentence of the introduction he describes the main transformative event that changed the way he thought about fisheries: “In 1978 all the fish I cared about died.” He goes on to describe buying a boat three years later and fishing other places, and then being unable to fish for years until his mother died in 2000. In the years that he was gone the fisheries near his home have become very diminished, which could also be the transformative event. He then describes his trip along the East Coast in the early 2000s where he fished everywhere he could. Along the way he notes that all the fisheries he sees are experiencing the same problems: fewer fish, smaller fish, shorter fishing seasons, and less variety of fish. Just as how when the fish in the pond by his house died he went to fish in the ocean, seeing this led him to explore deeper into the fisheries.
    If there was a defining event that motivated me to continue to learn it would have to be the diving program I did at UAS this spring. I had to graduate high school a semester early to do it but it was well worth it. It was the first school-related thing I had done since middle school that I actually had fun with, and it was the most fun class I’ve ever done. Before it I was not planning to go to college but it changed my mind because it made me realize that school could actually be fun (although most classes don’t involve driving around in zodiacs and going diving every day). While it was not exactly life changing, it definitely changed how I felt about going to college.

      1. It’s similar to the one they have here, it starts with the first basic certification then progresses to more advanced things like dive rescue and scientific diving. It starts in January and goes for about 4 months. There was also a section where we got to learn how to drive boats but I don’t think they have that here.

    1. Hey Rio,
      The first sentence stuck with me as I read the introduction. It was simple and profound.
      I plan to do the diving program and I am super excited to take it and use the skills throughout my life. I think it’s awesome how just that one program has changed your outlook on going to college. College is so different and, for me, way better than high school.

    2. I agree with you because I hated school growing up because most of it was boring and didn’t interest me till I got to do take some Biology classes and from that moment I knew if I could just make it to college I would actually get to study what I wanted to study and make it enjoyable.

    3. The class you took sounds like it was a very cool experience! I would say that it definitely could be considered a life changing experience since you ended up going to college as a result of it!

  6. To me, the event that caused Paul Greenberg to eventually understand the state of the world’s wild fisheries was when his mom died. He said that fishing was the lost thing that he clung on to. He drove up and down the east coast, in his mom’s car, going to markets and learned by the early 2000s the fish markets had changed shapes. He also analyzed the four kinds of fish as the four “discrete steps” that humans have taken to attempt to “master the sea.” The four fish are salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna; each with their own interpretation of humanity’s attempt to control the sea.

    I wish to study the ocean, and the organisms, restore ecosystems and protect the ocean and its inhabitants. In order to successfully make that happen, I need to complete many levels of higher education. I will finish my undergraduate degree, go on to my master’s, and likely try for my Ph.D., with internships and studies in between and connected. I would say my biggest motivation to learn would be to make my dreams and wishes come true, and of course, to help the ocean and the creatures within.

    I have not specifically had a life-changing event, but I grew up practically in the ocean and in a tourist destination that is focused on the ocean. I have loved the ocean for as long as I can remember. My motivation to keep going is to help the ocean as it has helped me throughout my life.

    1. Queenie,

      Where did you grow up, and what was it like living by the ocean?
      I grew up in a desert far from the sea, so the concept of growing up with it is a novelty. Did you find any similarities between Paul’s experience on the sea and your own? Differences?


    2. Queenie,

      I think your last point on your motivation is important as well. It doesn’t always have to take this singular “eureka” moment to find the things that start your interest, it could very well be a stretch of time and life experience that informs a passion. In a similar way, I think that is important in viewing the importance of ocean conservation beyond the economic or material reasons, but also in the cultural and even sentimental reasons that a lot of people have.

  7. There are two distinct life events that led Paul Greenberg to study fisheries and go on to develop the theory that four kinds of fish as the four steps of human’s attempt to control fish and the sea. The first of these life events is the disappearance of “all the fish he cared about”. As a child Greenberg grew up fishing in ponds and rivers in the Connecticut area. Over time, however, these fish suddenly disappeared. This life event on its own however is not enough to lead Greenberg directly to his studies. The second distinct life event was the sickness and eventual death of his mother. Leading up to this point in his life Greenberg had strayed away from fish and fishing. One day his mother suggests fishing. This sparks a renewed interest, where Greenberg finds out that the fish of his childhood home have completely changed. Less fish, smaller fish, different patterns that are different, and less diversity of fish.
    For myself my drive to continue my education comes from a general interest to keep learning. As an ACNS student with a concentration in environmental studies I want to learn more about how the arctic is specifically being changed through climate change and what can be done about it. I don’t have any specific point in my life that led to this, but I would say a general love for the outdoors led to this point.

    1. Taryn,

      I think your choice to focus your ACNS field with environmental studies is interesting. It’s pretty well established that the Arctic is experiencing climate change at a far faster and more impactful rate than most of the rest of the world. It stands to reason that the people of the circumpolar North are being disproportionately affected by those impacts, which seems to be that their physical and cultural security are being influenced and threatened by events they have no direct control over. It adds an important dimension to how we address the greater impacts of human caused environmental change to our oceans.

  8. Greenberg experienced 2 transformative events at different stages of his life that would provoke him to investigate the state of the world’s wild fisheries. The first event occurred when he was a child in 1978, when an especially cold winter killed off the group of largemouth bass he was fond of in the pond near his home. This would motivate him to branch out and find other places to fish, leading him to purchasing a boat and fishing out in the Long Island Sound. The time he spent here would lay the groundwork for his general interest in wild fish. Later in life, the second event occurred, that being the death of Greenberg’s mother. Before her death, Greenberg’s mother would suggest he go out fishing again, a request he would end up obliging. From here, he would regain his fascination surrounding the field of fishing, following a hiatus that had spanned several years. This time around, however, Greenberg would notice that the fishing scene he was used to had changed significantly. Seasons for specific fish were shorter, some fish hadn’t touched certain parts of the sound for several decades, and fishing hauls in general seemed to have gotten smaller. He also noticed that the fish market had become less diverse, with four fish (roll credits) holding a heavy dominance over it: Salmon, Sea Bass, Cod, and Tuna. Met with this reality, Greenberg would set out to assess the status of wild fisheries, and hopefully answer the question of whether or not humans have the capacity to fish sustainably and equitably.

    What drives me to learn is basically just a passive interest in wanting to know more about the topics that interest me, as well as the prospect of bringing positive change to subjects I hold dear. I wouldn’t say there was any lifechanging event that has definitively set me onto my current path, but an occurrence I do regard with sentimentality would be the first time my family had taken me out to fish in the Gulf of Mexico. There, I would (with a generous amount of help from my father) catch a black drum that was basically the size of me at the time. That catch gave me my first taste of awe towards the marine world, which I hope to get to continue feeling as I go forward with my time in this program.

  9. As others have noted, in the opening line of Paul Greenberg’s Four Fish, he recounts that, “in 1978 all the fish I cared about died”. This is obviously a very transformative event for Greenberg, as he describes his fishing experiences throughout his youth. It becomes apparent very quickly in his storytelling that fish were a focus for much of his life. One of the most significant transformative events we determine is that the disappearing of the largemouth bass in his local pond, leads Greenberg in search of fishes elsewhere. We see Greenberg experience a shift in priorities as he transitions from boy to man, focusing his energies on other things, and eventually renewing his pursuit for fish. Once again, Greenberg recognizes that he must search further than expected for fish and examines the ways in which fish have been overexploited throughout history.

    When it comes to fisheries, I am driven by the idea of protecting fisheries resources so sustainable exploitation is possible and can be passed down through future generations. As someone who has only scratched the surface of the many facets of fisheries, whether that be charter and commercial fishing, working at a salmon hatchery, or working for the department of fish & game – these experiences come together as driving factors in my desire to attain sustainability for the future of fisheries.

    1. It is so interesting how many people that seem to be pursuing fisheries are doing so because of seeing the need of fish being a resource on Earth that needs to be better cared for. I think it is also cool that you want to focus on where to go from our current place in fisheries management to create sustainable fishing habits, as what is currently considered sustainable fisheries does not seem to be working.

  10. I think that the transformative event that led Paul Greenberg to explore the state of fisheries was his re-introduction to fishing that occurred later in his life around the time his mother was dying. He describes the ways that fishing influenced his youth and as a way of his gradual exploration of the wider world he was living in. In his later life, he goes back to fishing seemingly expecting much of the same things he had learned as a kid to still hold true, but things have changed dramatically. He finds that the fish aren’t where they used to be, the seasons to catch aren’t the same timeframes, the catches are getting smaller, and the markets are different. Something obviously has happened, and Greenberg looks to find out exactly what.

    A life experience I had was during my time in the Navy. In 2017 my ship deployed largely to the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean, we spent most of the spring and summer out at sea on exercises. It was rather unusual at the time for us to spend so much time that far north, but it was a reflection of the changing climate and environment. Shipping was increasing in the North with the decreasing amount of sea ice, and that brought naval vessels around to patrol. To me it was rather eye opening, a moment where I could see how the changes in our world influenced our own behaviors. Since then I’ve had a huge interest in understanding the relationship that we (in a larger human sense) have had and continue to have with our natural world, how we influence it, and how in turn are influenced by it.

  11. Greenberg grew up in not the richest family with divorced parents. His mother used his love of fishing to find them new homes to live in near good fishing waters to put food on the table. As he grew older HIS spot died out due to a bad winter and forced him to find new spots and travel downstream from his beloved bass pond. This drew him to the ocean where the creek flowed into the saltwater. Then at the age of 13 he bought a boat and a 20hp motor to travel the bays. He spent his summers learning the good spots and then selling his catch to afford to go out again. He then goes on to travel and work until he’s told his mother has cancer which brings him home. He spends the next couple years taking care of her until she tells him to go fishing and get back into the hobby. When he tries to go back to his old stomping grounds he discovers how the fishery has changed and isn’t like it was during his childhood. He then travels to the fish markets to discover that at the core of every market there’s four main species being salmon, tuna, bass, and cod.

    I grew up fishing and it is my passion. I caught my first fish at the age of 4 being a grayling from the Tangle Lakes. So I understood his passion and claimed a specific fishing hole as “his.” I spent every chance I could getting out and fishing whenever and wherever I was. Funny enough I was also 13 when I got my first boat being a small 8’ layout duck boat with a small 2.3hp motor to cruise around the lakes. This boat led me to better fishing waters and taught me so much about fishing for specific species and how to target them and where and when just like Greenberg did in the bays. This passion has led me to where I am today studying for a major in Fisheries so that I can carry that passion onto my work in conservation and researching fish out west to protect those trophy waters and conserve their numbers.

    1. It’s cool that you are able to relate to Greenberg through your relationship with fishing spots and getting your first fishing boat. I’m glad to hear you’re able to pursue a career you’re passionate about– it seems like a rare story these days!

  12. Paul Greenberg started fishing as a young boy in Greenwich, Connecticut on a pond that his family did not own, only rented but he thought of the fish as his. When the fish died in 1978, it was as if the only thing he cared about was gone. He questioned what could have caused this. Was it the cold? Or was it the copper he pulled through the water that summer for the algae bloom. At this time, he sets out on his own adventure as do most people in life when bad things happen, to find a new path or adventure. He begins to look for new places to fish, he walked a stream to a river, then to the sea. Once he was at the sea, an idea struck. Paul decided he was going to buy a boat with the money he just got from his party from when he turned 13. By 1981, he was on the sea and fishing as much as he could ever want or need. His mom would drop him off early morning and pick him up in the evening, where he would have a day full of discovery. He no longer desired to kill them, he just wanted to be alone with them to study them. Sometimes he could even talk his brother into joining him.

    By the next year he began to note the patterns of the fish and when they would come back to Connecticut shore. He started selling his catch for the next day’s gas trip, after catching codfish.
    All this time on the water gave him a sense of resilience in nature until he was about 17, then he had more of an interest in females than fish.

    Paul’s transformation happens years later in his thirties, with a renewed desire to fish due to his mother getting diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer. His mother and him grew apart because he was away working. One afternoon, Paul’s mother tells him to go fishing, it was April and Forsythias were still in bloom and Dogwoods were coming which meant flounder, blackfish, and mackerel.

    He was suddenly surprised to find out that these fished have disappeared since he last went fishing many years ago. They in fact have different patterns and are much smaller. He wants to know why this is going on. How can he or we change this from reoccurring again and again.

    I don’t really have a life changing event, but I live in the Great Smoky Mountains, and it saddens me to see the damage people are doing to parks and the trash they are leaving behind for the wildlife to get into. I wish we could somehow make that better!
    My motivation(s) would be to make the world a better place than how you were born into it. Show more respect and kindness to one another. Let’s clean up the planet for the next generation.

    1. Hello Brittany,

      I share your sentiment of striving to improve the state of the natural world and the idea of “leaving it better than you found it. If our goal as a species is continuous improvement over time, then it is imperative that we leave the world in a state that the generations after us can thrive and grow even further in. I hope your time here provides you with the resources you need to become one of the people who can bring positive change to the current and future world.

    2. Brittany,
      That’s awful what’s happening where you live, it’s just the sad reality of people’s respect for nature. I agree that there needs to be more respect between humans and nature so the next generation is able to experience it. I once read an article that talked about how people pollute the planet, and a quote that has always stuck with me from it is, “If you wait for someone else to do it, it will never be done.”

  13. Paul Greenberg describes his transformative relationship with fish and fishing. Greenberg begins with his youthful fascination and passion for fishing and explains how one day, the fish he’d come to know and love disappeared. Greenberg adapted and learned to fish in new waters, but eventually began pursuing other interests. As time passed, Greenberg returned to fishing when he returned to the coast to care for his dying mother. Greenberg discovered that, again, the world of fishing that he once knew was completely different.
    I have a unique situation with my relationship with school and learning. I began college after I finished high school and dropped out after a couple of years. I had a hard time finding something I was interested in and felt like I was wasting so many resources (time, finances, effort, etc.) on something that I didn’t care about. A few years later, one day I decided to wander up to Alaska to spend a summer hiking and backpacking in the Alaska Range. Long story short, I unintentionally ended up in Fairbanks one day and haven’t left. I found out about UAF and it’s unique environmental/ research programs and decided to finish school. Now, I absolutely love school and am incredibly passionate and excited about learning and pursuing my education. I have the opposite problem that I faced before: there is so much that I am interested in that I am now having a hard time choosing which area to pursue. I am now motivated to keep going because I deeply care and am passionate about the skills I am learning and the subjects I am able to study.

  14. “Perhaps it was the cold that killed the fish, or the copper sulfate I helped the caretaker drag through the pond the previous summer to manage the algal blooms, or maybe the fishermen I’d noticed trespassing on the estate one day, scooping out my grounds.” (Greenberg, Page 2). While many of my peers may go into the experience of him learning to deal with the grief surrounding his mother’s cancer experience, I believe this to be more impactful to his work with fish. Even at such a young age, he is learning the many effects that can decimate a fish population in, say, a lake. He saw that human activity, chemicals/minerals, and weather changes can brutally kill off any significant life in a waterway.
    What drives me to learn is my love for Valdez. There are 3 main jobs down there: Commercial fishing work, engineering/power plant work, and hatchery work. I’m not interested in engineering and commercial fishing work is a bit too manual-labored for my speed, so instead, I’m taking the scientific route. I’ve always loved science, so to have this opportunity right at my feet is hard to pass up! My motivation to keep going is mainly that I hope to not only begin my lifelong career down there, but I also hope to have my family down there in order to give them the best, purest life I can raise them with. Alaska is truly the most amazing landscape I’ve ever seen.

    1. I appreciate your point about how his process of overcoming grief is very important to his work with fish.
      It’s so great to hear about someone that loves where they are and is passionate about their career and home! I can relate to loving science. I can also relate to Alaska being the most incredible place I have ever seen. I feel really lucky to be here!

    2. Kerra,
      I have been to Valdez many times throughout my life and even this summer. I think the scientific route would be an exciting way to learn more about fisheries. Another interesting opportunity you could do is go on a commercial fishing trip to study the fish they catch.

  15. Greenberg begins his book, Four Fish, at age ten with possibly his first tangible impression of impermanence. He experiences this through the disappearance of his favorite fish out of a pond he treated as his own. This experience of losing not only the largest largemouth bass he’d ever seen, but also that it happened to be in a space he considered his own, truly impacted his life. I would say the most life changing and transformative experience that Greenberg goes on to describe would be when he bought his boat at age thirteen. His mention of only being able to do so through his bar mitzvah money clearly illustrates the literal coming of age moment that this was for Greenberg. His boat unlocked the world for him; without the experiences he had as a child out fishing on the open ocean, he would be unable to notice the changes in various fish migrations and species behavior that he later witnessed as an adult.
    When I consider my own character arc there are certainly moments that have been pivotal when it comes to my relationship with water, my education, and at this point fish. I suppose one of the beginnings of my hunger for research/ wanting to know more, and the internal drive to help the situation happened around five years ago. I was interning in an aquatic biology lab at Samford U mostly doing the unpaid grunt work of classifying macroinvertebrates. I was lucky enough to go along on a field visit to the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River where the professor and some students were sampling for a research project. We started at a community swimming hole and slowly made our way upstream a short section of the river. We sampled DO, temp, TP, etc. at several spots along the way before finally making it to a tributary creek. We climbed over a maybe beaver dam at the confluence and into a giant cesspool of green sludge and duckweed. Luckily we were wearing waders, but we had reached our final destination of the confluence of a Tyson chicken processing plant’s waste field and the Locust Fork. On the drive back I talked with the professor a lot more about all of the data and the project and how Tyson was able to do this. She told me about how she hoped that the research she was doing/ data she was acquiring would help do something about it, which I suppose in turn has inspired me. Additionally I feel like there have been many examples since then where science doesn’t necessarily win in these types of situations but I do hope that my education will help land me a job that works towards making a difference.

    1. Hello Lillian,

      I also am in part inspired by the hope of being able to change corporate practices in the interest of protecting natural environments. The situation you recounted with Tyson definitely seems like a complex issue with multiple other problems that need solving before any noticeable change could be made. I feel that policies surrounding how industrial waste can be distributed definitely need upheaval and revision, and as you said, I hope the education we get here can help us make a difference and inform others of the necessity of changes such as this.

    2. I like how you described his boat as “unlocking” a new world for him. That is an amazing description because that’s what the boat truly did for him.

  16. Urged on by his mother, one of Paul’s favorite pastimes was fishing: he went out so often that committing the ecological patterns (migrations, species, etc) of his fishing grounds was only a matter of time. He went so far as to use his Bar Mitzvah money to purchase a dingy, following the annihilation of his “own” pond’s fish population – making it downstream and confronted with the plenty of the ocean, he went hog-wild, enamored with the simple pleasures of providing for oneself. (“The ocean provides, therefore I fish.”)
    However, Paul lost focus after his own hormonal bloom: he only returned to fishing after an ailing of his mother, and it was to find that the fish he loved were dead.

    I’d rather not die in a world monochromatic in it’s species- everything is so beautiful it’s a wonder that none of our eyeballs have exploded. There’s no moment of transformation for me. Just the simple fact of being born, here, now, in this place, at this time, is significant. Our fossil record heralds to the plenty I was born too late for – late seral forests used carpet Europe and the Caribbean has suffered a biodiversity loss of up to 94%. I care about snails, and if the ocean surpasses enough benchmarks of acidity, they will not be able to spin their shells.
    My ancestors were killed by wild animals. I hope to witness enough substantial growth at the top and bottom of food chains to bask in the pleasure that the blinking, breathing parts of the Earth can be beyond our control once more.

    1. I appreciate acknowledging the world as a mind blowing place despite the amount of diversity that has been lost. Do you know where the statistic of up to 94% of biodiversity being lost comes from/ maybe more context as in just aquatic or terrestrial or since when?

    2. I like your point about how he used up the money from his bar mitzvah to purchase his first boat. I glanced over that section but you make a great point about how it truly made him feel like it was his ponds since he was able to explore and fish even more with it.

  17. Mr. Paul Greenburg transformative event happened when his mother died and how he viewed the fishery since then. Page 6 of the book says “The ocean provides, therefore I fish. During my childhood I was often reminded how wealthy my neighbors and schoolmates were and how insecurely my family lived by comparison. The sea meanwhile was a great leveler. No fisherman, no matter how rich, had any more right than I did to a huge expanse of territory and resources.” That is a very meaningful statement, and this tells me how determined he was to study fisheries.

    In my high school years I always wanted to know what is going on with out fishery in the Kuskokwim River. I wanted to know why the fish and game and the fish and wildlife service heavily restricted the fishery. After my first year of college I interned with the Orutsararmiut Native Council in Bethel on an Age Sex Length (ASL) and otolith sampling on chinook salmon. I was a biology major then and after that summer I leaned heavily toward fisheries. But I didn’t change my major until last spring and I am determined to finish this degree and hopefully do work on the Kuskokwim River where I grew up fishing. All these fishery issues we are facing today are making me more motivated to get educated in the fishery field and use that knowledge to try my best to learn what is going on.
    It is an important problem and very possible for the fish numbers to decline year after year.

    1. That quote from page 6 is true to an extent, at least for small-scale recreational fishing, but not really in the case of IFQs (Individual Fishing Quotas). They’re extremely expensive, and you still need an even more expensive permit to fish in some areas. I do like the first sentence of the quote though.

  18. Paul Greenberg grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut with his mother; he would fish in the streams, ponds, and lakes of the places they would rent when he was growing up. The event that transformed Paul’s life and changed the way he thought about fisheries was his mothers sickness. He described early in the chapter how when he was younger he clung onto fishing and would call ponds or streams his. One day he noticed how all the fish in the lake had disappeared so he had to find a new spot. He then goes on to talk about his boat and how he began to understand “the flow of fish” without a GPS to navigate him. Then when he found out his mother was sick he came home to be with her. After she passed away in the 2000s he traveled to the eastern seaboard. He began to notice differences and similarities in fish he saw in the different places he had gone. He then got the idea “to pursue the wider world of the ocean.”

    When I was younger my grandma would teach me about whales and had different figurines in her house. She passed away when I was young but after that I have always had a deep appreciation for the ocean and all marine life. I was not only interested in whales but I wanted to know why so many bad things were happening to the ocean; climate change, pollution, the oil spills, etc. I didn’t like how all of these defenseless creatures had no control over what was happening to them or their environment.

    1. I am sorry to hear of your Grandmother passing, I also had one who lived on and loved the ocean before she passed. I am glad you were able to bring out the positive light and appreciate being able to have the opportunity to learn more about how to help the environment.

  19. At the beginning of the book Four Fish, the author Paul Greenberg gives us his personal story and connection to the world of fish. Within his younger years, he grows up fishing, not only fishing but learning about the environment through countless hours alone in creeks, rivers, and even the ocean. He learns every trait he can about the types of fish and when they are best spotted. Although it ends at that point, his tuned sense of his fish was lost with time and distance. He began a new journey until his mother got sick which placed him back at his home. While in a state of grief and lonesome he went back to the comfort of the currents. While a majority of the creeks, rivers, and waves remained the same within their short timeline, the fish that surpassed many generations were altered. From a psychological he experienced a traumatic event, he lost the person who represented his entry and reintroduction into the vast world. With that, we can assume the looming thought of the passing followed him out to the waters and warped itself into his mindset. The once therapeutic fishing resulted in his realization of how his once comforting area had underlying issues with fish. I believe his largest realization was when he noted that the fish being sold to unknowing patrons no longer retained the quality it once had. At that point, he accepted the pain the fisheries experienced.

    I personally have experienced similar to that. I grew up going to nature centers, out onto lakes, and wandering foothills, until the point where life got busy and it all was no longer easily accessible. I actually experienced a similar situation at the point where Greenberg came to a realization. My dad was diagnosed with cancer about two years ago and since then nature has become my therapeutic relief. I took up skiing, hiking, and anything else to get me out of the house to avoid facing mental health issues of my own. Fishing quickly joined my list of hobbies and similar to Greenberg I wanted to know how I could help the dwindling numbers. I began my internship with fish and game and worked with local conservation groups and found that just learning about what I have so far has helped me become so much more open and accepting of learning more. I love the idea that I might be able to help even in a small way and I know that the greatest way to help is to learn more about all that I can.

  20. Great comments and replies everyone, and remember – don’t be shy about replying to the replies in the future! This is all about making connections within the class and investigating our connections with our world through a fish and fisheries lens. You guys are super inspiring, your level of curiosity is phenomenal, and the diversity of your life experiences is broad.
    You are all right about Greenberg’s transformation experience – there’s no one answer to this question (bet you saw that coming). Whether you thought it was an acute event like the bass in ‘his’ pond disappearing, to his mothers sickness or death, or a slow transformation of life and loss that culminated in his realization that “All the fish he cared about died”. No matter how he got there, Greenberg’s curiosity infused his life and changed his path.
    We have all taken different paths to get here, and it shows in the myriad or both acute and slow transformative life paths that you have all been on. Some of you have had the joy of living by the ocean or even the awe of experiencing the ocean for the first time, others have endured great loss like Greenberg. Most of you wrote about an insatiable sense of curiosity, and a driving urge to learn in order to help the world be a better place. Motivation is a tricky thing. What motivates us can be a highly personal and sometimes very specific thing or it can be a nebulous sense of ‘this is what I think I should be doing”. We can be motivated by people and places we’re connected to – our support system, our familys, our peers. Or we can be motivated by a sense of duty, responsibility, or accountability to the world we live in. And these are not mutually exclusive! Thank you, great job everyone, I’m looking forward to our discussion today and to reaing next week’s comments and replies.

  21. Paul Greenberg’s transformative event lasted about a decade. For several days at a time, Greenberg would go fishing, either alone or with his brother, as a young teen. Knowing the fish patterns and migration routes was like knowing his own name. At this age he even bought a boat and in order to fund his fishing trips, sold his fish to his teachers. Several years later, as a late teen, he gave up fishing to pursue other passions. After completing school and the start of his career his mother became terminally ill and thus, he was called back home. She is the one to suggest he fish again, to give him something to do besides watching his dying mother. What he found was bewildering, his fishing grounds had significantly changed. His river, once filled with fish, was empty; the routes that were once known by second nature did not seem to work. The knowledge of fishing seemed so alien. Because of this his curiosity was sparked. Where has his fish gone? Most importantly, why were things changing?

    There are many things that drive me to continue learning: the thirst for knowledge, family, and genuine curiosity on the subjects I expose myself to.

    My father died when I was 13 years old, and it was traumatic, but I always remember how driven he was to complete school and his PhD. He would always say that he would attend school until someone called him “Dr. Flores,” so accomplishing his goal is a big motivating factor for me.

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