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  • Writer's pictureMako

What’s in the name?

We get excited when we spot animals underwater. But how do you describe what you saw? For example, do you refer to a group of fish as a shoal, or a school? Both words come actually from the Dutch “schole” meaning a crowd or a troop.

Most experienced divers know that a shoal of fish is simply fish grouped together, but it can contain a number of different species all grouped together. A school of fish, on the other hand, is made up of fish that are all from the same species.

But what about describing a group of specific fish, or marine mammals or reptiles? English is a strange language, and nothing is stranger than the variety of collective nouns assigned to groups of particular underwater animals. We all know that a group of dolphins is a pod, but what about some of the lesser knowns?

  • Barracuda - a battery

  • Dogfish - a troop

  • Eels – a swarm

  • Flying fish – a glide

  • Herrings – an army

  • Jellyfish – a smack

  • Narwhals – a blessing

  • Salmons – a run

  • Sardines – a family

  • Seals - a harem

  • Sharks – a shiver

  • Stingrays – a fever

  • Toads – a knot

  • Trout – a hover

  • Turtles – a bale, a turn, a dole, or a nest

  • Whales – a pod, a school, a herd, or a gam

So, next time you see some interesting groups of animals under water, you will know exactly how to describe them. It is OK to sound nerdish when it comes to the underwater world.


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