Henri LeCoq, Ph.D., was a Staff Scientist at the National Fish Hatchery and Research Institute. He had spent a long career studying the physiology of fish, and was recognized as THE international expert in the oxygen transfer process through the gills.
Much of his research was actually carried out by a flock of assistants, graduate students, and technicians. An entire section of his laboratory was supported and staffed by private industry which used his research results in the development of commercial films for osmosis and transpiration.
The research areas included not only the biological and physical mechanisms of breathing, but also the genetics of the organs.
Which brings us to the “sorting room” wherein the fish (guppies, in this case, due to a quick life cycle) were being categorized by gill size. An assistant was removing a couple of guppies from each tank, taking a few critical measurements, and returning the fish to the tank. She quickly noted that the fish were “mixed up” — in the wrong tank. A quick look at the records indicated that Ralph was doing the sorting that week — and it was not the first time he had erred.
At this moment Dr. LeCoq happened by and inquired as to the problem. When told what had happened, he slapped his forehead. “Mon Dieu,” he said, “that boy can’t follow directions!” They summoned Ralph to the lab, and all LeCoq could say to him was,
“Tank Seven for Little Gills!”