Sixteen Tons

Subject: The Striped Catfish (Plotosus lineatus) is one of the very few catfish species that is found in saltwater. Schools of these fish are known to swim up rivers on Africa’s east coasts. The spines of the first dorsal and of the pectoral fins are venomous, and can be lethal, a good reason for the Convict Blenny (Pholidichthys leucataenia) to mimic this species. While juvenile Striped Catfish swim in dense ball-shaped schools, the adults hide in smaller groups under ledges and overhangs during the day. Here in this video we see how a school is deepening out a ledge and turning it into a suitable day-shelter. Fun fact: after observing and looking several times at the footage used in this clip we’ve noticed that there are some individuals in this school that are pretending to move sand but that are actually faking their work efforts and they, in contrast to most of them, spit out nothing.

Technique: “Sixteen Tons” was written by Merle Davis in 1946 and released for the first time a year later. This song based on the life of American coal miners broke through in 1955 with Tennessee Ernie Ford’s version of it. More than 70 different versions were made over time by diverse musicians and artists in various languages. We preferred to use an instrumental version of this folk song to accompany this short clip.