“This is Sqeeeck-Chirp, a Common Dolphin and the greatest mind of his generation. Of dolphins.” Professor Ettinger gestured to a harness about the creature’s blowhole. “We use that device to translate Sqeeeck-Chirp’s thoughts and vocalizations into speech understandable to us and vice-versa.

“What observations have you to share, Sqeeeck-Chirp?” asked Brigadier Curnow.

The dolphin received the question as a series of underwater clicks, and responded in kind. A moment later, a synthetic human voice translated his words in an even monotone. “The tuna is a true fish dwelling in salt water, which is a member of the mackerel, or Scrombridae, family–specifically the Thunnini tribe. Its nearest living relatives are the aforementioned mackerels, Spanish mackerels, and bonitos.”

Brigadier Curnow nodded. “Very impressive, Squeeck-Chirp. I see you know your stuff. What about the strategic situation?”

“The tuna is able to maintain the temperature of its body above that of the surrounding seawater, a process known as endothermy,” Squeeck-Chirp continued gravely. “The bluefin tuna has been known to hold a core body temperature of 75–90 degrees Fahrenheit even in waters as chilled as 40 degrees Fahrenheit, though unlike most typical animals capable of endothermy, like myself, the tuna does not and cannot maintain its core body temperature within a narrow range.”

Curnow looked at Professor Ettinger, confused. “What’s he on about?”

“Oh, God, not this again,” the professor muttered.

Unfazed by the reaction to his elucidation, Squeeck-Chirp continued to expound. “The tuna is able to display such endothermy by using a structure called the rete mirabile, the ‘wonderful net,’ which is an interwoven network of veins and arteries in the tuna’s extremities. This allows the tuna to warm the colder arterial blood with heat from the warmer venous blood, which helps to conserve the tuna’s metabolic heat even in a chilled environment.”

“What do you mean, ‘not again?'” demanded Curnow.

“As a result of its endothermy, the tuna is able to heat its aerobic muscle tissues,” Squeeck-Chirp said. “In addition to faster speeds and increased energy efficiency, this leads the tuna’s lean and delicious flesh to have a reddish-pink hue quite distinct from the pale white flesh of most true fish. This is one of several factors that has led tuna to be considered a delicacy amongst many peoples and cultures despite the relative difficulty of catching one without a trawling net.”

“Well, I had hoped to avoid this, but dolphins like Squeeck-Chirp represent a bit of a tradeoff,” said Ettinger. “On the one hand, they possess a vast and keen intellect that is capable of approaching problems in ways that we humans are simply not wired to. On the other, it is extremely difficult to get them to shut up about tuna and other finfish, since that has been, for centuries, the sole topic upon which their vast intellects have ruminated.”

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