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If you should ever happen to approach the dark and silent ocean depths just off Santa Monica’s famed boardwalk and pier, you would be virtually certain to encounter this roly-poly business-clad piscine. Good ol’ Ollie is quite easy to spot among the other sea creatures, what with his distinctive bulbous nose, lacquered bangs, baleful blinking stare, bowler hat and moonpie face.
What is rare is to spot this inhabitant of the brine alone, for he most often travels about in the company of a certain silly and slight eel with tufted hair and an occasionally high-pitched whine (bearing just a bit of a British accent).
Spawned long ago in the warm waters off the coast of the state of Georgia, this Tetraodontid migrated around the Cape of Good Hope all the way to the southern California coast in his youth to seek fame and fortune (like oh so many other toadfish, puffers, limpets, sea squab and suckers before him). Though originally christened Norvell — one of an egg clutch of roughly 1450 or so — he later took the name of his father, Oliver Q. Blowfish, III, as a preferred moniker under which to perform.
And perform he indeed does! Ollie just loves an audience! For a time confined with his sidekick to merely a modest Hollywood aquarium, Ollie and friend would spend hours up against the glass, performing frantic antics, mugging, and making ever-more-comical faces and pratfalls for the passersby. As a result of such hard work, the duo became quite popular with an entire generation of pisciphiles, and still today their performances may occasionally be found among the various late-night nature shows and documentaries.
But why not experience Ollie and his sidekick first hand? Just head to where Colorado Avenue meets Ocean Front Walk in that oceanside stretch of the City of Angels, and keep heading west by southwest until you reach the looming edge of the Continental shelf. As your toes submerge beneath the lapping water, look deep into the simmering shoreward surf for a strong stream of bubbles, and prepare to be amused like never before!
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