I had lunch this week with a man who has personally traveled to 207 countries over his 70 years on this earth. The United Nations only officially recognizes 192! What could possibly compel anyone to spend on average nine months of every year traveling to the earth’s remotest, and often inhospitable, regions? Fish! Heiko Bleher is the world’s (go figure) leading authority on freshwater fish. His life’s purpose has literally been to find and catalog as many of the earth’s freshwater species (28,000 and counting) as humanly possible. Cool!
If you’re wondering what you talk about over a chicken salad with a man who’s the world’s foremost authority on a subject and has literally been everywhere (and then some) I will tell you. Flipboard. That’s right, I shared with him how the Flipboard App on my iPad works for me to curate content and even create my own online magazine (76 magazines and counting at Aquascape, Inc.) He might have documented 28,000 fish around the world, but we discussed Flipboard for the first time at a hotel restaurant in good old Schaumburg, IL.
We got on the discussion of Flipboard after I purchased his book (Bleher’s Biotopes) and I asked him if he ever considered distributing his content digitally. He was repulsed by the idea and I, being me, was fascinated by his repulsion! Social Media, electronically adept, Heiko is not. What could one expect of a man who’s spent more years in the Amazon than I’ve even been alive?!
But as I leafed through his tome, itself the size of a coffee table, and page after page of his life’s journey were unveiled, I was left wanting more. Primarily, I wanted more people to see this man’s incredible life work! More people need to be exposed to his overarching goal of “getting people to value our freshwater rivers, streams and lakes.” As Heiko so eloquently stated “Freshwater rivers are the artery of all life.” What Jacques Cousteau was to the oceans, Heiko is to freshwater ecosystems. What an honor I had to have an hour of his time and now I feel a responsibility to help the world hear what this environmental pioneer has to say.
If this man travels on another expedition without a GoPro chronicling his every discovery it will be nothing short of highway robbery for generations to come! As Heiko duly noted, many of the places he’s been, sadly, don’t even exist anymore. If indeed his goal is to educate the “youts” on the value of preserving these places then he needs to connect with them, the way they connect with the world. They won’t buy his $120.00 book; they will read his tweets from the field though. But the last thing Heiko needs to be encumbered with is tweeting from the Amazon. That’s why he’s just gotta do himself, you and me, and for that matter the world a favor and bring one or two of those “youts” with him on every expedition he takes here on out! And besides tweeting their experiences for the world to read, and Instagraming their pictures for all of us to see, and blogging about his discoveries for us to learn, all of it should be captured and shared on YouTube for us to experience! Heiko’s book is the bible for fish lovers worldwide and he’s truly a living gem. I want everyone I know, and even those I don’t know, to have an opportunity to hear his wisdom over lunch just like me. So enjoy a video of the man himself courtesy of my iPhone and the cloud. Amazing what opportunities technology provides us all. Who knows, maybe my next post will be from one of his expeditions. I’ve got a GoPro and a passport and I even know how to tweet! Want to go with me? If so great, let’s meet on Facebook!