The Life Aquatic with Christopher Plummer

christopher_plummer“This is not good for publicity (but) I’m going to say it anyway – the crowd that surrounds a film festival are kind of the piranha fish that follow the shark and you never see them for the rest of the year, thank God,” Plummer, 77, said Friday in an interview.

“They’re the entourage, the hangers-on, the people that suddenly a festival attracts, and they’re a whole other group. I’m not talking about the deal makers (or fans), I’m talking about the crowd that surrounds them, and that’s depressing because it can ruin places like the South of France (where the Cannes Festival is held).”

— “Christopher Plummer not a fan of ‘the piranha fish’ at film festivals“, Canadian Press, September 14th, 2007.

[emphasis mine]

Christopher Plummer is a highly-skilled actor, but I have my doubts about his marine biology credentials.

Piranhas, old chap, are freshwater fish.  They live in South American river basins like the Amazon and Orinoco—a few hundred miles from the open ocean, where your typical pelagic sharks live.  There’s only one shark that can osmoregulate to survive in fresh water, and who shares some of the piranha’s turf: the bull shark, Carcharhinus leucas.  As far as I know, though, piranhas do not trail migrating bull sharks looking for scraps and handouts.

The fish you meant to name is the remora, a well-known freeloader of the sea.  Remoras don’t have a fearsome reputation, but they are famous for hitching rides on every other type of large pelagic animal (and, occasionally, boats).  Not only do they constantly bum rides from sharks, but they eat scraps of the shark’s meals, too.  A pretty apt descripton of star-watchers and paparazzi that congregate at these things.

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