Beel den Stormer Presents the Only Fishery Blog You Need

Fish, Fisheries and Queryomics

Presidential Fishes. Part II. A Fish Named For Richard Nixon

Please let Beel present a fish that surely must have been named after a Republican president.

As Beel sees it, surely the slippery dick Halichoeres bivittatus must have been named for former President Richard Nixon. 

Actually, though, it wasn’t, but you gotta wonder.


The slippery dick is a colorful inhabitant of inshore waters from the Western Atlantic and can be found from North Carolina to Bermuda and Brazil.

It gets the “slippery” part of its name from the abundant mucous it secretes as a defense mechanism. The “dick” part of its name is subject to debate, but please let Beel present a speculative hypothesis. The slippery dick is known to drag its tail behind while swimming (see the figure above), in which orientation the fish looks like a limp dick.

The slippery dick feeds on benthic invertebrates, including crabs, sea urchins and ophiuroids, polychaetes, and gastropods. Yummy. It is a protogynous hermaphrodite. Slippery dicks are born as females, but then change sex and become males.

Except, perhaps, from other members of its own species, the slippery dick gets no love. For example, the American Fisheries Society, that fishery machine of political correctness, saw fit to change the names of various species of “squawfish” to “pikeminnow” to prevent any possible insult to native Americans.

Beel believes the slippery dick also deserves a classier name. Slippery dick sounds more like a former president or a venereal disease than a fish.   What do you think?  Should the American Fisheries Society be petitioned to change its name- but to what?

Beel likes “slippery Johnson.”    A name a little less penile in implication, but which still honors a former president.  Alternatively, Beel could support the unimaginative “slippery wrasse,” which is pretty inocuous.

Please share your thoughts.  If Beel can get some agreement on this, Beel will petition the mighty American Fisheries Society to do right by the slippery dick.


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This entry was posted on December 24, 2012 by in Commentary and tagged .
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