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Out of the many fishes in the ocean, there are only three fishes that can climb trees. They are the Mangrove killifish, Climbing Catfish and the Climbing Gourami. But how do they manage to do so?

The Mangrove Killifish can adjust their gills to live out of the water, such that when the water around the mangroves becomes dry, the Killifish scrambles up the tree and hide until the water comes back.


The Climbing Catfish can grip with its pelvic fin.  Samples of its pelvic fin has been found clinging to rocks, but it’s not stretched enough to think that they could climb trees too. However, the assumption is that they can climb trees.

The Climbing Gourami comes out when the water it lives in dries out and looks for a new home.  As it’s gills are spikey, it is believed it can use them to climb up a tree.

These fishes can therefore be referred to as aqua terrestrial because they can survive under and over waters.  But, does that make them better than the other fishes in the ocean? Do we then fail to acknowledge the existence of the adaptability skills of the other fishes in the ocean because they can’t climb trees? What impact will this have on science and research?

We must remember that these fishes were uniquely formed for a purpose.  For some of them, to be able to survive when the waters they live in dry up and for others, to live in bigger waters that never dry up.  The skills required for these levels of waters therefore differ – hence the ones that can climb trees.

This applies to human beings.  Whilst some humans can climb trees, others cannot. This does not make them less skilled; they’re just not shaped for that purpose.  We were formed differently, with skills and abilities that helps us to adapt to our environments.  It’s no wonder we have musicians, doctors, lawyers, artist, designers, gamers, mathematician, scientists and many more.  So, why should we all be able to climb trees when there are more to do than just climbing trees?

Imagine what would happen if we try to force a solely aqua fish to climb a tree. This is what we do to people, every time, we fail to recognise their uniqueness.   They find it hard to make ends meet or achieve anything.  Their weakness begins to define them because they were forced to climb a tree, when all they know how to do is swim.

It’s about time that we stopped forcing people to climb trees and allow them the freedom to find their own niche. Let’s introduce in schools a more robust curriculum that incorporates subjects showcasing more strengths and career paths.  Employers should become more aware of individual strengths and focus on them than their weaknesses.  The society should allow humans to showcase their talents without feeling stupid.

As Albert Einstein puts it, “everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

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