The Marlin's Fiery Eye

and Other Tales from the Extraordinary World of Fishes

Apart from the fortunate few who snorkel or scuba dive, the daily lives of marine fishes are a mystery to us. We know more about orangutans and giraffes than almost all fishes. Did you know that marlin's have a heating blanket wrapped around each eye? This amazing adaptation allows them to see better in the cold depths where they routinely hunt. Or did you know that damselfish sing to each other? Or that male anglerfish attach to females during mating, and remain there like parasites?

The oceans are home to half of all vertebrate species on the planet, and the sea is full of extraordinary stories and species. Fishes live in the shallows, where sunlight encourages bright colors and extravagant patterns. They roam open waters far from shore, where a premium is placed on speed and predatory ruthlessness. They flourish in the abyssal depths, where the dark, cold, and enormous pressure are countered with unique and bizarre adaptations.  Each fish has a story to tell, and each tale is made all the more entrancing because it unfolds in a submerged and mysterious realm.

This book takes readers on an extended exploration of the oceans and introduces the wondrous behaviors, remarkable adaptations, and complex life histories of marine fishes. Chapters gather the sprawling diversity of fishes into broad groups: small schoolers like sardines and anchovies; big predators like marlin and tuna; giants like whale sharks and manta rays. Natural history traits also are linked to how key groups are fished. Scientists who are discovering new fish interactions using novel techniques and infectious curiosity, are featured. A final chapter examines the past and present of the world’s fisheries, and ends with hope for the future of fishes and our planet.

Available soon from Comstock / Cornell University Press


Fish are amazing animals, yet far less well known to us than colorful hummingbirds, delicate butterflies, or fierce leopards.

Chapters reveal surprising behaviors and remarkable adaptations of 10 groups, from tiny anchovies to giant whale sharks.

Readers gain a deep understanding of how fish live, what they do under the waves, and how they evolved.

Lovingly illustrated with over 35 gorgeous pen-and-ink drawings.

Fisheries are studied, from small artisanal boats to giant commercial enterprises, and how their catches are limited by basic fish ecology.

Aquaculture, fish farming, and other modern techniques are investigated for their ability to sustain the world's fishes. Spoiler alert -- solutions are well within our reach!

Includes an extensive list of sustainable seafood sources and ocean conservation organizations and resources.

An expedition into the world of marine fishes delivers countless surprises and delights, and might just make a fish your new favorite animal!


Dr. Joe E. Meisel is the author of Orchids of Tropical America: an Introduction and Guide. As vice-president of the Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation, he has worked for over 25 years in Latin America leading conservation and research projects, and teaching tropical ecology and marine biology.

Joe E. Meisel



Cornell University Press

Orchids of Tropical America
CUP Website

Marlin's Fiery Eye cover

"The Marlin's Fiery Eye includes many fascinating stories about how people have discovered, used, and come to understand fish over the centuries. But it also contains stories about people caring for the ocean and its life, as well as the amazing stories of the fish themselves. These are the plot elements of a new story about a reciprocal relationship with nature, one in which we are responsible for repairing the damage that we have caused. A story in which fish are food but also our partners on this planet, inspiring respect, awe, and a sense that we part of something larger than ourselves."

- from the Foreword by Rod Fujita

bluecheek butterflyfish


  • Foreword by Rod Fujita
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. All Together Now: Anchovy, Sardine, and Herring
  • Chapter 2. Hot Blooded: Tuna and the Open Ocean Predators
  • Chapter 3. The Oldest Fishes in the Sea: Sharks and Rays
  • Chapter 4. Greats of the Great Blue: Whale Sharks and Other Giants
  • Chapter 5. An Oasis of Abundance: Life on a Coral Reef
  • Chapter 6. Weird and Wonderful: Where Horses Swim and Bats Walk
  • Chapter 7. Slow Food: Cod, Haddock, Pollock, and Halibut
  • Chapter 8. Into the Abyss: Barreleyes, Tripodfish, and More Deepwater Oddities
  • Chapter 9. Flowing River, Pounding Surf: Tarpon and Other Coastal Cruisers
  • Chapter 10. Sweet and Salty: Eels, Salmon, and Alewives
  • Chapter 11. Fish to the Rescue: Feeding a Hungry Planet
  • Epilogue
  • Marine Conservation and Sustainable Seafood Resources

long-snouted seahorse

For more information or to pre-order your copy, please contact the author.