Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 About remarkable fishes
 The Brighton aquarium
 The whale
 The muraena
 The hassar
 The climbing fish
 The flying fish
 The sword fish and the saw...
 The box fish
 The globe fish
 The sturgeon
 The pike
 The grey mullet
 Crabs and lobsters
 Shrimps and prawns
 Back Cover

Title: Aunt Lizzie's talks about remarkable fishes
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00084081/00001
 Material Information
Title: Aunt Lizzie's talks about remarkable fishes
Physical Description: 96 p. : ill. ; 13 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Scholes, S. E
Woolmer, Theophilus, 1815-1896 ( Publisher )
Hayman Brothers and Lilly ( Printer )
Publisher: T. Woolmer
Place of Publication: London
Manufacturer: Hayman Bros. & Lilly
Publication Date: [1896?]
Subject: Fishes -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Whales -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Flyingfishes -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Shrimps -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Natural history -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Bldn -- 1896
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
Statement of Responsibility: by S.E. Scholes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00084081
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002237192
notis - ALH7676
oclc - 231833439

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Title Page
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Table of Contents
        Page 5
        Page 6
    About remarkable fishes
        Page 7
        Page 8
    The Brighton aquarium
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
    The whale
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
    The muraena
        Page 41
    The hassar
        Page 42
        Page 43
    The climbing fish
        Page 44
    The flying fish
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
    The sword fish and the saw fish
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
    The box fish
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
    The globe fish
        Page 69
        Page 70
    The sturgeon
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
    The pike
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
    The grey mullet
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
    Crabs and lobsters
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
    Shrimps and prawns
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
Full Text

The Baldwin Library
q Unmcmnq
R m~ u~n'%ocnrua'l)



\ I

/t~ ~i6~

//- A/O


iij: jj ll!i,'l






I I, t 1, 1' :




RAYS ... 30
EELS . 38
SHARKS .. .. 50


A DDISON, that famous writer who lived more
than a hundred years ago, said: 'There
is a great deal of pleasure in prying into this
world of wonders, which nature has hid out of
sight and seems desirous to conceal from us.'
This is perfectly true; and the more we look with
humility and reverence into the secrets of God's
creation, and notice how beautifully every creature
is exactly fitted for its work and place in the
world, the greater will be our pleasure.
Many people who admire the birds and animals
they see around them appear to feel little interest
in the fish of river, lake, and ocean. But,
'between you and me,' I believe this is simply
because they know little about the inhabitants
of the watery world. Had they studied the great


Whale, the Pike, the tiny Sticklebaek, and other
swimming creatures, generally hidden from us,
they would at once be interested and filled with
I will not detain my readers with a long pre-
face, but let them at once become acquainted
with my Climbing Fishes, brightly glowing
Sticklebacks, and a few queer creatures that, not
only cast off their old jacket when it becomes
too tight for them, but even throw away their
limbs if they get injured.


P~BROBABLY many of my young friends have
1_ never been to Brighton, that fashionable
seaside town on our southern coast; but if in the
future they happen to be within a few miles of
the place, I advise them to go there on purpose
to see the Aquarium, with its many strange and
beautiful occupants. It is a long building, close
to the sea; and as I entered it one bright spring
day I saw on either side a succession of large glass
tanks full of water, with a supply of fresh air
coming in at the top to keep the water good for
the fishes that live in them. Two or three kinds
are often kept in one tank, and it is great fun to
see them darting up and down in the clear water,
chasing each other, gambolling over or under one


another, scarcely still a moment. Some, however,
are lazy enough, especially the Dog Fishes, which
leaned in a corner as though anxious for a nap,
and kept breathing heavily through their great
mouths; for they do not respire through the gills
like most fishes, but entirely through the mouth,
which they keep opening f i_.l I -. I t r;-. ,i I- 1 L. time,
and which is neither small nor pretty.
The King Crabs are very queer-looking objects;
for instead of their body being defended like that
of most 'crabs by the hard shell in scales or
separate pieces, it is protected by one large cir-
cular piece of armour, black in colour, and look-
ing like a rather flat saucer turned upside down.
This is all you can see of the creature, except the
trunk or narrow scoop, five or six inches in length,
which it uses to catch up the small creatures upon
which it feeds.
There are some fine specimens of the Sea Horse,
or Hippocampus, so called because its head
resembles that of the horse. Our little friend looks
as though clothed in armour, its dark brown body
being covered with what appears like dull steel
dots or beading. It seems as if propelling itself by
means of a wheel on the neck, which keeps turn-
ing rapidly, and the tail turns under and under
like a number of rings one inside the other. The


Ilippocampus is only from three to five or six
inches in length, but moves and rises in the water
with no small amount of kingly dignity.


Many people like much to watch the Seals;
they are so fond of play, chasing and tumbling



over each other in the liveliest fashion possible;
and they have dark, soft eyes and kindly, intelli-
gent faces. I am so glad to tell you there is to
be a law made to prevent the old seals in northern
seas being killed while the young seals are tiny
babies; for the cries of the latter when their
mothers are slain are very piteous, and many of
them die from grief and hunger, as they are not
old enough to take care of themselves. So, if
the old seals must be killed, it will be, not only


A -r .........-

kinder, but wiser to wait until the young creatures
are six weeks old, and thus better able to do
without their mother's care and provide for
There is a sly old Porpoise at the Aquarium,
but it always darts out of sight the moment you
come near and hope to see it. It has four or five


tanks in which to roam, and before you can turn
round from the first, it has darted off to the last,
evidently imagining its only business is to play
at hide-and-seek with you.
The Sea Anemones are very beautiful: some
pure white, and so feathery-looking; others pink,
one or two green, and some mauve; but I think
the prettiest is a large white one just tipped with
mauve. These flowers of the sea have life, but
they are almost the lowest things in the animal
creation, and I was surprised to see they were
quite uninjured by the fish or other creatures in
the same tanks.
The Sterlets, from the Volga, in Russia, in-
terested me much. They are the first imported
into England, and are long and curious fish, with
a snout-like head. Near the mouth, but under-
neath, are four little white feelers an inch or an

inch and a half long; and the two principal fins
are near the gills, though there is one also'on the
back, near the tail, and underneath the body are
two small ones. In colour the Sterlets are a
sober grey or light brown, though, like all fish,
much lighter underneath than on the back. The
top of the back is slightly ridged or indented,
and on each side of the fish is a long straight

i _

--- : -- i-* : *: ,

'. ,.o ... -_ ,- .,,


line of pure white in a kind of pattern, looking
as though some lady had been neatly overcasting
it with white wool. Even the fins have all a
narrow white border; and I must say the Sterlet
is, on the whole, the neatest and most Quaker-
like fish I have ever seen. Its eyes are small,


and it floats here and there in the quietest and
most dignified manner possible.
I must not, however,- stay to tell you of all the
fish in the Brighton Aquarium-of the beautiful
Salmon, the Gold and Silver Fish, the Wrasses
with their brilliant colours, and others-as I want
to talk chiefly of creatures which this building
does not, contain. So the sooner I begin, the

CAN my young readers guess how many different
kinds of fish have been .i;:-..-.,1 in seas and
rivers? 'One thousand,' you say. No; more than
that. 'Three thousand ?' Wrong again; so I
must tell you. Thirteen thousand is the number
already known. Only think of so many different
sorts of creatures ;ib i'Il i]_ _"the world of waters !
but in all probability there are many more, which
have not yet been discovered. It is difficult to
know of which to tell you among so many; but'I
will select those that appear to me especially
curious or interesting.
First, then, we will talk of the Whale, which,
as you know, lives in the sea, and is generally
spoken of as a fish, although in strict truth it is


not one, for it has warm blood like ours and can
breathe in the air, while other fish have cold
blood, and very few of them can breathe except
in the water. The Cetaceans, or Whale family,
are more like human beings in their body than


any other inhabitants of the sea; for they breathe
through lungs, have a heart much like ours, and
a kind of hand too, besides which they resemble
human beings in their affection for their young
ones. Yet in appearance they are unpleasing

monsters, the Whale being the largest animal in
the world.
There are two principal kinds, the Common or
Whalebone Whale, and the Spermaceti Whale.
As to the former it is difficult to comprehend its
immense size; but perhaps you will better under-
stand it if I relate a few facts. A moderate-sized
man can stand upright inside the Whale, and 150
children have been able to stand in its mouth; 100
strong men have been unable to turn one over, its
weight being about 200 tons. The amount of
oil procured from one is three, or sometimes four,
thousand gallons. The head is twenty feet long;
the tail about fifteen, and twenty-fouracross: so,
you see, the latter has much more width than
length. The total length of the animal is eighty
or ninety feet, and its breadth eighteen.
You remember the whalebone used for ladies'
dresses and umbrellas comes from the Whale;
but perhaps you do not know that it is in the
upper jaw only that these curious lengths of bone,
or baleen, in number 760, are found. The lower
jaw is covered by a hard, firm gum, smooth and
polished as mahogany. The baleen is not really
bone; for, if you examine it, you will find it is
of a fibrous nature; that's, stringy, hairy. These
fibres come off or separate in the creature's


mouth, and hang together like masses of long
white hair inside, appearing somewhat like a flow-
ing white beard. When the lower parts of whale-
bone are worn away, more grows in its place, and
very useful it is tc the owner, as it prevents the



many small creatures caught from slipping out
of the big mouth. When the Whale is hungry
it opens its mouth, and causes by its movements
such a current in the water that at once num-


bers of small soft-shelled creatures are drawn into
its mouth, including the Clio Borealis, various
Medusse, &c. These all fall into an immense
bag or pouch in the animal's mouth, and are
swallowed at leisure. When the long tongue has
no work to do, it rests in this deep pouch, but at
other times it is useful in crushing these small
creatures. I dare say it seems strange to you
that such a monster, weighing a hundred tons or
more, should live upon such very tiny things: so
I must tell you why it does so. The gullet, or
passage in the throat for food, is very small in
proportion to such a large animal, for it will only
just admit a man's hand; and this shows us that
it was probably not the Whale, but some other
fish, that swallowed Jonah-the Shark, it is now
believed. Round the gullet are strong muscles,
with which the Whale can make it still smaller,
contracting or squeezing it up closer, as it were.
The skin, which is an inch thick, seems like
india-rubber extremely well oiled, and is said to
make very good boots; beneath the skin is a
layer of fat, fifteen inches thick, which must prove
a capital coat for keeping the owner warm, and
also increase its buoyancy, or ability to swirm.
The form of the Whale is certainly not much to
be admired, but its glossy black skin, marked


with whitish rays, has a beautiful appearance in
the sunshine.
As a rule, the Whale moves slowly, about four
miles an hour; but it can go much more rapidly
when wounded or alarmed. As you may guess, its
movements often cause great foamy billows to rise
andfallonevery side ofit; or sometimesit willraise
its immense head so high that the sailors fancy it
is some black rock looming out of the water, until
they see it suddenly turn and disappear; or, whip-
ping the ocean with its powerful tail, it causes a
noise to be heard like thunder; then they know
what it is. Strange to say, the giant Whale is
such a coward that even a bird resting a moment
on its back gives it a terrible fright.
Thousands of large disagreeable insects prey
upon the Whale, adhering fast to its back, gnaw-
ing the poor giant in anything but a pleasant
fashion; and in summer numbers of aquatic
birds accompany him in order to feed upon these
small tormentors. Sometimes barnacles cover
the Whale in such masses that his black skin
disappears under a whitish mantle, and even sea-
weeds fasten to his great jaws and float like a
The heart of a Whale will fill a good-sized
washing tub, but the eye is very small. On


either side of the huge animal is a fin,. and in
each fin are five fingers, like yours, only not
separated, but enclosed in the skin or membrane
of the fin. It not only serves as a kind of oar,
propelling the Whale, as its tail also does, through
the water, but it serves the mother Whale to
guide and shield her young. The Whalebone
Whale has two blowholes on the top of his head,
through which he breathes; and the breath appears
like a column of steam rising into the air: it has
often been mistaken for water.
The Sperm Whale, or Cachalot, is quite as
useful in its way as the great smoothbacks I
have just been talking of; but it is a strange-
looking object, and, if it were not for the tail and
pectoral fins, you would, at a short distance, sup-
pose it to be the trunk of some giant tree or a
dark rock. It is from sixty to eighty feet in
length, and has a square-shaped head, with a
small and slender under jaw, which, when the
mouth is closed, is quite concealed by the soft
parts of the upper jaw. The teeth are ivory,
weighing from two to four pounds each, and are
in the lower jaw only, while in the upper jaw are
sockets into which they fit. As you may imagine
from the rind of teeth, this creature has very
different food from the first Whale; its diet con-


sists chiefly of cuttle-fish. The Sperm Whale has
only one blowhole, from which it sends up a thick
white mist to the height of six or eight feet,
making a noise like the rushing of the waves upon
a smooth beach. On the upper jaw of the Cacha-
lot are two or three tons of soft yellow fat, which
is useful for various purposes; but the spermaceti,
which is far more valuable, is a clear, oily fluid
contained in delicate cells in a case on either side
of the spouting canal: 500 gallons have been
sometimes obtained from one Whale.
TheWhalebone Whales roam in solitary couples,
but the Cachalots in large societies, which the
sailors and others call 'schools.' How odd it
sounds A 'school' consists of from thirty to
fifty Whales; and sometimes several schools will
unite and sail together rapidly in the same direc-
tion, so that a large extent of sea is covered with
these huge creatures, all spouting leisurely or
eating the fish near the surface of the water; yet
so timid are they that a shoal of dolphins leaping
near speedily puts them to flight. Next to man,
the worst enemy of the Whale is the Grampus, a
fish twenty-five feet long, which lacerates its flesh
with its dreadful jaws or strikes it with terrible
force in the ribs. The poor Whale does not
attempt to defend itself, but tries to save itself

by flight; and now the active Grampus cuts off
its retreat and drives it into narrower waters,
forcing it to bruise itself on the sharp rocks or
to become stranded upon the shelving sands.
The Spaniards were the first civilised people
who engaged in the Whale fishery, about the end
of the fourteenth century; but at the close of the
sixteenth the English, and soon after the Dutch,
engaged in the same trade. Whale catching is a
very exciting and anxious business. As soon as
the monster is perceived a number of boats are
silently rowed off, and quietly surround him.
Then, while all wait in breathless suspense, the
man who is the cleverest harpooner hurls the
harpoon, or spear, into the animal's side. This
makes the Whale plunge or else swim right away
with lightning speed, and away with him goes the
line to which the instrument of his misery is
fastened. He cannot, however, breathe below the
water, so is obliged again to show himself; and
now more harpoons are quickly plunged into his
side: his blood crimsons the water, and, mad
with pain and terror, he lashes it into foam. His
movements at length become slower, and now
he breathes no more. The Whale is then lashed
by chains to the ship's side; and when the
sailors have cut off the valuable fat they leave


the carcass to float on the billowy deep, until
Sharks, Saw Fishes, and other fishes make an
end of it. Sometimes, alas! the line becomes
entangled, and drags a boat down, or the tail of
the Whale, giving a sudden bound, carries away
some unfortunate sailor that happens to be stand-
ing in the way of it. So, you see, Whale fishing
is not altogether an occupation to be coveted.

OF all our fresh-water fish the Stickleback is the
smallest, being only an inch or two in length, and
it is also the most common. If you look at the
picture you will see a number of sharp spines or
small pricking weapons on the back and in the
fins of the little creature; but all Sticklebacks
have not the same number of spines on the back :
some kinds having three, others four, ten, or even
fifteen. The cheeks-and indeed most of the
body-of the little fish are clothed in mail armour,
so that it has altogether a warlike appearance;
and a fierce warrior it is in truth. If youwereto
put some of these small creatures into a tub of
water, you would soon see each taking possession
of some particular corner; and if one of the
others should dare to come near it, a pitched battle


would immediately ensue. They would swim
round each other rapidly, bite and tear each other
with their spines, and then the conqueror would
chase his victim from one part of the tub to
another, until it was quite exhausted. I ought
to say, however, it is only the male Sticklebacks
that are so fond of fighting; the ladies are quiet
enough, and are left unharmed.


There is another difference between the two:
the male often changes colours, the female does
not. The former shows beautiful changing hues,
especially when victorious in fighting; it is then
no longer speckled and dull green, but in two or
three minutes has assumed the prettiest colours
imaginable, the back having become bright green,
or sometimes cream colour, and the under part
and jaws a deep crimson. The defeated Stickle-


back, on the contrary, loses its bright hues, and
again becomes dull and speckled. It is difficult
to understand how such sudden variations of
colour are effected. I believe they are caused, not
only by passion, but by the colour of the vessel
in which they are placed or the bed of the river.
Sticklebacks put into a white basin have quickly
lost their bright tints, but have regained them
when removed to a black glazed jar; and when a
dark covering was placed over the jar they have
become dark. So great is the change, you would
scarcely believe them to be the same creatures.
When the Stickleback, or any'other creature whose
colours change, is dead, nearly all the beauty
vanishes, and the skin looks dull and grey,
though, while dying, the brilliant tints come and
go in quick succession.
'It dies like parting day,
each pang imbued
With a new colour, as it gasps away,
The last still loveliest, till-'t is gone, and all is grey.'
These variations are probably caused partly by
the flowing of the blood in the numerous fine
vessels and membranes beneath the skin, and
partly by some of the scales being thinner than
others. I dare say you have often noticed the
pretty streaks and colouring of the mackerel, yet


;i I, --
-~ = -----



they are much brighter when alive; so also are
herrings, eels, &c.
Although so small, Sticklebacks eat a great
quantity of food; one has been known to devour
seventy-four young dace in five hours. Certainly
these were very small-only a quarter of an inch
long, and about as thick as a horsehair-but
think of their number, as well as the smallness of
the devourer. The Stickleback is greedy, and, at
the same time, very sharp, energetic, and indus-
trious in seeking for its prey, which is the fry of
most other fishes; and this makes it exceedingly
injurious to any fishpond. Some have said they
live about three years; this, however, is uncer-
tain. These small folks are very agile, and can
spring more than a foot straight up from the
water, if any obstacle is in their way, or more in
a slanting direction.
The Rough-tailed three-spined Stickleback, one
of the largest of these creatures, is two or three
inches long, and will dart about with great speed;
and if in danger from an enemy will hide an inch
under the sand. In the south of Lincolnshire
immense shoals of Sticklebacks have been seen
in the river Welland once in seven or eight years,
and used for manuring the land. On one of these
occasions a man got ninety-six bushels of them

every day for some time, receiving four shillings
per day for them.
The fifteen-spined Stickleback builds a nest
upon our shores, which is pear-shaped and eight
inches long. It is made of branches of common
seaweed, which-the Stickleback binds well to-
gether with a thread like white sewing silk, sup-
plied from its own body. In this curious nest
may be seen numbers of eggs, of various sizes,
which are watched over by the Stickleback with
the greatest care and anxiety for weeks together.
And woe to the intruder upon this nest, for he
will probably be made to feel the sharpness of
the teeth and prickles of its brave defender. But
what do you suppose the small creature does if
some large, fierce enemy come too near P It darts
forward, and pretends to be eagerly searching for
some prey at a little distance, and so by this
trick makes the dreaded enemy leave the nest in
the hope of finding something better farther
away. All Sticklebacks make snug little homes
for themselves and their young; yet these are
seldom discovered, for the sly things take care
to construct them of straw, or grass, or some-
thing very similar to the vegetation of the locality
they have selected, the better to hide the nest in


TALKING of Sticklebacks and their spiny weapons,
I am reminded of the Baia, or Ray, which has
been considered to belong to the sea only, but
some kinds are now known to inhabit the rivers of
Guiana. In form both the sea and the fresh-water
Rays are flat, have five spiracles, or breathing
holes, on. each side of the mouth instead of gill
covers, and a long, narrow tail, furnished with
two or three broad fins, and generally armed with
one or more rows. of sharp spines down its whole
length. It is of a dirty colour, and is covered
with a thick coat of slime, which renders it any-
thing but a pleasing object. The spine or prickle
in the fresh-water fish is quite as dangerous as
that of the sea specimens, and causes serious pain
and inflammation; for it is serrated on each side
with barbs and hooks, so that it cannot be ex-
tracted from the flesh without tearing it sadly.
It is thought by the Indians to contain poison.
At any rate, after being wounded by these spines
the flesh will often mortify and come off. These
fish are generally of a yellowish colour; and as
they are fond of the sandy bottoms of rivers, in
order the more easily to catch their prey and dig
round holes in the sand in which to lie partly




concealed, it is very difficult to see them; so
the Indians, when obliged to draw their canoes
over the shallow parts of the rivers, use a pole,
with which they feel before them in order to be
sure that no Rays are lurking near. Should there
be any the Indian kills them with his pointed
pole, and then cuts off the long and dangerous
tail, and preserves its prickles for arrow points.
Rays have smallbut prominent eyes and double
nostrils, while their skin is ornamented with
curious marks, something like shorthand writing
or hieroglyphics, but sometimes with stars instead.
They are caught by the arrow, or sometimes the
hook, and are said to be pretty good food. In
shape they remind one of Skates.
As to the rivers in South America which con-
tain them, they are found chiefly in the river
Tacutu, and cause terrible pain and torture to
any person whom they happen to attack with
their long saw-like and barbed sting. An Indian
who accompanied that famous traveller Richard
Schomburgk through Guiana was hit by a Sting
Ray while fording a river. The poor man
tottered to the bank, where he fell upon the
ground and rolled on the sand with tightly shut
lips in an agony of pain; yet no tear was visible
in the eye and no cry of misery was uttered by the

A~Ourt iEMAE ~ABLE PISnfES. 33

stoical savage. An Indian boy was wounded in
the same way, but, not having learnt to conquer
his feelings, he howled fearfully, and,.. having
flung himself on the sand, bit it in the greatness
of hig misery. Both of these poor sufferers had
been bitten in the foot, yet the pain was felt all
over the body, and most severely near the heart
and in the armpits.. A strong man in Demerara
was wounded by a Sting Ray, and soon died after
dreadful convulsions. Thus you see every one
has good reason to fear this terrible creature; and
we may well feel glad that it is not found in our
English rivers. It is a very hungry fish, and will
devour almost any fish, mollusc, or crustacean
that it can catch; and so powerful are the muscles
and jaws that they can easily crush the strong
shell of a crab.
The Rays found in European seas are large,
weighing a hundred pounds or more, and from
.their skins shagreen is made. But their size
seems nothing when compared with the Rays
found in the Pacific, which are called Sea devils,
or, properly speaking, Raice Banesiance; and are
twelve or fifteen feet broad, with tails four or five
feet long. I have read that one of these monsters
required seven pairs of oxen to draw it on shore.
It swims very quickly, and may often be seen like


a rough, huge stone above the surface of the water.
The Society Islanders catch this unpleasing
creature with harpoons, and use its rough skin as
rasps or files in making various wooden vessels, &c.
What a blessing it is that these much dreaded
animals have only one young one at a time, while
the harmless and useful Cod has a family of some
thousands together Besides, so many fish feed
upon the tiny codfish that, if the number of the
latter was not very large to begin with, there
would be none left for us.

THE common Eel is found chiefly in rivers and
lakes, but also inhabits salt water, and is some-
times caught in the Baltic in great numbers. In
size it varies from a foot or less to six feet. It
does not'like extreme heat or cold, but can live
longer out of the water than any other fish. It
often creeps upon meadows and marshy grounds
to catch snails and worms, or to reach a better
supply of water when the stream it has been in
is exhausted. It is able to creep because of its
thick and oily skin, which preserves it from injury
in rubbing on the ground; and it can live out of
the water because it has a small opening'in its


gill covers through which it can breathe. In some
countries the skin is used as tackle for carriages,
it is so strong; and in Tartary it is employed
instead of glass for windows, as it lets the light
through, though not quite so well as glass.
Eels often travel to the sea to spawn, and soon
after, strange to say, the young fry leave the sea
and start upon a journey in search of fresh water,
perhaps because not strong enough to battle with
sea dangers, or because they grow faster in the
former; for the next year they follow their
parents' example and return to the sea. Eels are
covered with small scales, which assist them much
in travelling over the ground; and they always
choose either night or a rainy day for their
journeys, as there are then so many more worms
about, on which they feed. Eels have been found
alive in all kinds of odd places-inside a dead
horse and other animals, in a bottle which had
been thrown into the river, and even in the small
leaden pipes which convey water from the main
pipes to the houses in London; but, to prevent
this, there is now a grating, through which, of
course, the intruders cannot pass. They will
climb up walls, and sometimes floodgates, in the
canals, &c., rather than be checked in their pro-
gress. Indeed, I have read of some, in a park


near Bristol, that had a very bright plan indeed
of getting to water which they wished to reach.
They usually lived in a stream near this pond,
and between the two was a tree which overhung

the pond; so, in order to reach the latter with
as much ease and speed as possible, they climbed
up the tree, and then dropped from it into the


Eels have been known to live in a garden without
water for a month. They so dislike the extreme
cold that none are to be found in Siberia or in the
Volga; neither are there any in the Danube or its
tributaries, or the Caspian or Black Seas; yet
they abound in the Mediterranean. They travel
slowly, about a yard and a half in a minute, and
are very restless during thunder storms; which
may perhaps show that they have more electricity
in themselves than many animals, and so feel it
quickly in atmospheric disturbances.
There are three kinds of Eel in Great Britain:
the Sharp-nosed, which is the most common,
and the best as food; the Broad-nosed, which is
smaller, not often exceeding three or four pounds
in weight; and the Conger Eel, which is a large
fish, sometimes more than ten feet long, but
usually about five or six, and from fifty to a
hundred pounds in weight. Eels, when kept in
ponds, will often become tame; but they are very
.voracious, devouring all kinds of fish, except
those that are quite too large to overcome, and
often vegetable substances also.
Eels are so slippery that it is difficult to catch
them; and they have so much vitality, or life,
that, when caught, it seems almost more difficult to
kill them. They grow slowly, but have a long life


and when, as I told you, the young Eels come
from the sea to the rivers they appear in such
immense numbers that 1600 or 1800 will pass you
in one minute. The larger ones are taken in
various ways-sometimes with curious wicker
baskets or with spears; or, again, they are dug
out in heaps from marshy ground, &c.
The skin of the Eel in some distant cities has
been the object of quite a brisk trade; and it is

occasionally worn round the arm or finger as a
cure for rheumatism. Eels may sometimes be
seen in clear water with their tails coiled round a
piece of rush or flag, like snakes, when they easily
seize upon all insects, small fish, or frogs, that
come near them. These creatures-half snake,
half fish-are very muscular, or strong, for their
aize, and will not only break a new fish line, but


fasten like a bull-dog upon a carp until it is quite
The Conger Eel may be distinguished from
others by its darker colour and short under
jaw, and also by its large eyes and much greater
size. With its powerful jaws it easily grinds
to pieces the strong shells of molluscs; and
no unfortunate crab that comes within its
reach has the least chance of escape. The
Conger even devours its own relations; andin the
stomach of one was found an unhappy Eel, three
feet long, besides three common Dabs.
In the river Orinoco, in the north of South
America, a strange kind of Eels abounds, called
Gymwoti, or Electric Eels; and with these you
and I would not at all like to come into contact,
for they are able to give severe galvanic shocks.
If you have ever taken hold of a galvanic wire,
and felt that strange force which we call elec-
tricity dart up your arm in a sharp, gripping pain,
you will have some idea of the misery an Electric
Eel can inflict. This creature resembles an
aquatic snake, and is from four to six feet long,
in colour olive green, with two rows of small
yellow spots on the back. It swims at the sur-
face of the water, and is extremely nimble in its
movements. Very few fish are found in the

Orinoco or other rivers inhabited by Gymnoti;
for, of course, they don't like the shocks any
better than we should, and so have to remove to
more peaceful localities. The poor horses are
terribly frightened and pained when, in fording
a river, they are attacked by these Electrical Eels,
and are sometimes drowned through their fright.
While speaking of the Orinoco and its tribu-
taries, I must tell you that two other creatures
increase their dangerous character; namely, the
Alligator and the small but most impertinent
Caribe. The latter, although only four or five
inches long, has very sharp, pointed teeth, with
which it steals great pieces of flesh from the legs
of those unfortunate people who happen to go
into the river. If you threw in some meat, you
would quickly have an immense congregation of
these small Caribe fish; and unless you could
keep at a respectful distance from them, you
would find yourself all the worse for their visit.
There is, houiever, a fish in the Orinoco which
Humboldt declared to be the most beautiful he
had ever seen in fresh water. It is the Cycla,
from one to three feet long, of a very pretty
green colour, with four brilliant stars (dark blue
centres, but golden rings) on each side, decreasing
in size towards the tail, and possessing graceful


fins. I ought to have told you that in the river
Nile is a fish called the Sly, or Silwrus, which,
though not an Eel, has the power of giving
galvanic shocks; and so the Arabs have given it
the name of Baasch, or 'lightning.'

NEARLY two thousand years ago the old Romans,
w'jose tastes were a little different from our own,
used to make a great fuss about the Murena,
which they regarded as an indispensable dish of
fish for a grand dinner. The most famous species,

the Murcena helena, or Sea Eel, is a beautifully
marked serpent-like creature, and abounds in the
Mediterranean. It has a voracious appetite, and,
when other food runs short, will try a nibble at a


companion's tail. The Italian fishermen, in catch-
ing it, are very careful to avoid the bites of its
sharp teeth, and we do not blame them. But no
one now-a-days thinks of making magnificent
ponds for their accommodation, decorating them
with jewels, or weeping over them, as did Licinius
Crassus when his large stock of savoury friends
died prematurely from some disease, and so could
not be killed and eaten.

SOME fish do not swim, but walkl; or, perhaps I
should say, they manage to travel on dry land;
and when the water of their own pool or river is
dried up they set off on terra firm in search of
another, just as our Eels do. For instance, some
fish in the north of South America, known among
the Indians as flat-headed Hassars (Doras Costata)
march in large droves to another pool, moving
something like a two-footed lizard, and getting
over the ground almost as quickly as you and I
would on a warm day, when we were in no par-
ticular hurry. They are about a foot long, and
covered with strong plates, which preserve them
from injury in their journey, and rather help
them on; and because of this hard, shining coat of


mail Europeans call them Hardbacks. But it is
chiefly by means of the first ray of its pectoral
fin and its strong, elastic tail that the Hassar
travels along so cleverly: the former serves as a
kind of foot or support, and with the latter it
pushes itself on. The Indians say it has a suffi-
cient supply of water in itself to last during the
journey; and this is probably true: for, if you
rub the fish quite dry with a cloth, it immediately
becomes wet again. In colour it is green brown,
and it is very fat: it is plentiful in the muddy
streamlets that cross the sugar marshes, and is
much enjoyed as food by the people of Guiana.
Strange to say, this fish makes itself a nest of
grass blades, straws, and leaves, in shape like a
hollow ball flattened at the top, and with an
opening just large enough for the mother to go
in and out. This it places in a muddy hole just
above the water: in this nest the young are
hatched, and it is guarded most carefully by the
anxious parent until the little family is ready to
be committed to the waters. The :1,i.. li.i. t.-
mother fish is sadly deceived by unsympathising
men, who hold a small basket before the opening,
then slightly beat the nest with a stick, which of
course alarms the poor Hassar, who darts out
furious with extended fins, with the sharp points


of which she hopes to inflict a painful wound on
the intruder; but, alas! she is a prisoner in the
fatal basket. In rainy weather the Hassar delights
to be in the water; but when, through excessive
heat, this is dried up, it tries to get into the cool
by burrowing in the mud. So of course the
natives have sometimes to fish and sometimes to
dig for the little creature, according to the
Another kind of fish, called Swampines, abounds
in the fresh waters of Carolina; but these travel
from one pool to another by leaping; and though
they cannot see the water they long to reach,
they always go in the right direction towards it,
which I think very wonderful; do not you P They
are furnished with a membrane which closes the
mouth and enables them to live out of the water
for a while.

BUT, still stranger, there is in Tranquebar, in
Hindustan, a fish, called the Anabas, which climbs
the trunk of a palm tree in search of crustaceans,
on which it feeds. Its body is covered with an
oily kind of substance, which helps as well as
protects it in getting over the bark; and its gill
covers are armed with numerous spines, which it


uses as hands to suspend itself on the tree. It
supports itself on the little spines of the hind-
most fin and pushes itself upward by the expan-
sion of its body, keeping the gill covers carefully
closed all the time, that they may not come in the
way. It also bends the spiny rays of the dorsal

fins to right and left, and, fixing them in the
bark, continues to mount. I ought to tell you
that these fins can be folded up, andreceivedinto
a cavity, or hollow place, in the breast.

FoB fishes to fly in the air seems at first sight
-almost as unlikely a performance as for an oyster
to walk upstairs. But we have just seen that


there is a fish which can climb up a palm; and
the Flying Fish (Exocoetus) you would be pretty
sure to meet with, if you voyaged on the Mediter-
ranean, or the Atlantic, or in tropical seas, and
kept your eyes open for all the strange sights of
the world of waters.
The Flying Fish is remarkable for the great
length of its pectoral, or breast, fins, which serve
the purpose either of wings, or of a sustaining
parachute or sails, when it has leaped up out of
the water. It is a very pretty little fish. Its
surface is for the most part of a dazzling silvery
splendour; but its back and sides and the top of
its head are of an azure blue or a brilliant purple.
On a clear day, under the intense sheen of a
tropical sun, it is a lovely sight to watch a shoal
of them as they rise, with a rustling sound, out
of the sea, and spread their large, transparent
wings, or fins, in the air, rushing along, a few
feet above the water, like a flight of birds fashioned
out of gleaming silver.
Marking their gay dress and their marvellous
feats in two elements, we might suppose that
Flying Fishes had a happy time of it. But un-
fortunately, both in air and in water, their enemies
are numerous, and their brilliant colours attract
the attention of foes who like the taste of them,




and to whose mercy their beauty makes no appeal.
In the sea the Shark, the Bonito, and the Dolphin
are the greatest annoyances to this little fish;
and if it rushes forth from the water for a flight
of a few seconds out of reach of these and other
finny persecutors, it is quickly spied by the
voracious gull or other sea birds, which dart on
it with the rapidity of lightning, and seize it
before it can drop into its proper element.
Of course the Flying Fish has not the flying
properties of a bird. It cannot, when in the air,
rise above the height to which its first spring has
carried it, and it always continues its course in
the same direction as that in which it started.
Usually it rises four or five feet above the surface
of the water, but sometimes it gains a height of
eighteen or twenty feet. Some years ago Captain
Basil Hall witnessed the adventures of a troop of
these dear little fishes, and he gives this interest-
ing account of their peril and, mishap:-
'Two or three dolphins had ranged past the
ship in all their beauty. The ship in her pro-
gress through the water had put up a shoal
of Flying Fish, which took their flight to wind-
ward. A large dolphin, which had been keeping
company with us, no sooner detected our poor
dear friends take wing than he turned his head


towards them, darted to the surface, and leaped
from the water with a velocity little short, as it
seemed to us, of a cannon ball. But though the
impetus with which he shot himself into the air
gave him an initial velocity greatly exceeding
that of the Flying Fish, the start which his fated
prey had got enabled them to keep ahead of him
for a considerable time. The length of the dol-
phin's first spring could not be less than ten
yards; and after he fell we could see him gliding
like lightning through the water for a moment,
when he again rose and shot upwards with con,
siderably greater velocity than at first, and, of
course, to a still greater distance. In this manner
the merciless pursuer seemed to stride along the
sea with fearful rapidity, while his brilliant coat
sparkled and flashed in the sun quite splendidly.
'The group of Flying Fishes, thus hotly pur-
sued, at length dropped into the sea; but we were
rejoiced to observe that they merely touched the
top of the swell, and instantly set off again in a
fresh and even more vigorous flight. It was
particularly interesting to observe that the direct.
tion they took now was quite different from the
one in which they had set out, implying but too
obviously that they had detected their fierce
enemy, who was following them with giant steps


along the waves, and was gaining rapidly upon
'It was soon plainly to be seen that the strength
and confidence of the Flying Fish were fast ebb-
ing. Their flights became shorter and shorter,
and their course more fluttering and uncertain,
while the leaps of the dolphin seemed to grow
more vigorous at each bound. Eventually this
skilful sea sportsman seemed to arrange his.
springs so as to fall just under the very spot on
which the exhausted Flying Fish were about to
drop. This catastrophe took place at too great a
distance.for us to see from the deck what hap-
pened; but on our mounting high on the rigging,
we. could discover that the unfortunate little
creatures, one after another, either popped right
into the dolphin's jaws, as they lighted on the
water, or were snapped up instantly after.'

Or all the creatures in the sea none are more to
be dreaded than the Shark, it is so strong and
voracious; and, having a very large passage in
the throat, it is able to swallow whole many
creatures quite easily. Yet you must not imagine
all Sharks to be the same in size and disposition;

there are several different kinds, and some are
comparatively harmless. The Blue Shark (Car-
dcarias Glaucus) is found chiefly in the Mediter-
ranean, and is from five to seven feet in length;.
its back is a slate blue and the under part almost
pure white. Like most of the Sharks, its body is


thick near the head and gradually decreases in
size, ending in a long tail, and the pectoral, or
chest, fins are very large. The Blue Shark has
.several rows of sharp, pointed teeth, the largest
being those of the front row. It is often seen
on the coast of Cornwall and Devon, much to the


vexation of the fishermen there; for, though this
Shark does not hurt the men themselves, it proves
a sad hindrance to them in their fishing. It will
hover round the boat and cut with its sharp teeth
one hook after another from the line. Sometimes
the fisherman thinks he has caught the great
tease at last, and that his troubles are over: he
is mistaken, however, for it will roll and tumble
about so as to twine the line round and round its
body, from head to tail, until there is no length of
line left free. Occasionally the man, by means
of much time and patience, succeeds in unrolling
it; but he often has to leave it after all.
On the same coast many pilchards are caught
in drift nets, and the tiresome Blue Shark will
cut out, as though with a pair of sharp scissors,
the fish and a piece of the net, and swallow both
together. Some people say this fish is very fond
of its young ones, and will let them, when in
danger, swim down its mouth and hide in its
inside. They have certainly been found alive
there, but it is possible the Blue Shark swallowed
them when hungry, and thus showed its cruelty
and want of love: still it is difficult to say which
motive is the more likely.
The Pilot, a pretty little fish about a foot long,
may often be seen accompanying a Shark. Some-


times the latter will be surrounded by four or
five Pilots, all following a vessel. The sailors,
if near, throw a hook overboard with some bacon
or pork upon it, and then up come one or two of the
Pilots to smell the tempting morsel; after which
they rush back to the Shark, swim and splash
round and round his snout, as though to tell him
what a feast there is a little in front of him, and
then lead him forward to the right spot. If the

Pilot is a true little friend of the Shark, it seems
a pity it does not know ahook is concealed there;
but, we know, people with the kindest intentions
possible may make mistakes sometimes. Some
have supposed the Pilot does this on purpose to
deceive the Shark, but I cannot think so: how-
ever, I will tell you an anecdote, and then leave
you to judge for yourself.


SCaptain Richards, R.N., when stationed in the
Mediterranean, saw one fine day a Blue Shark
following his ship. In a little while he had a
Shark hook baited with pork flung out; the
Shark again and again approached the bait, and
every time he aid so, one of the Pilots preceded
him, and was distinctly seen from the ship to run
his snout against the side of the Shark's head to
turn it away. After this had lasted some time
the Shark swam away in the wake of the vessel,
his dorsal fin being long distinctly visible above
the water. When he had gone some distance, how-
ever, he suddenly turned round and darted towards
the vessel again, and, before the Pilot fish could
overtake him and interpose, snapped at the bait,
and was taken. In hoisting him on board one
of the Pilot fish was observed to cling to his side
until he was half above water, when it fell off.
All the Pilots then swam about awhile, as if in
search of their friend, with every apparent mark
of anxiety, and then darted suddenly into the
depths of the sea.'
The White Shark is a far more terrible creature,
being not only much larger, but very cruel, so
that the French give it the name of Bequiim or
Bequiem, which means 'the rest or stillness of
death,' thus reminding us of its dangerous


character. White Sharks are often seen of
fifteen or twenty feet in length; indeed, some-
times twenty-five feet. Only think of a fish more
than eight yards long The upper parts of the
body are of an ashy colour, the lower white.
The pectoral fins and the tail are very large and
powerful, and enable this Shark to swim with
wonderful swiftness. It has large nostrils, and can
scent its prey a long way off. It abounds in the
Mediterranean and in tropical countries, but very
seldom visits Great Britain. It seems to delight
in the horrors of a tempest, being then most
likely to make its appearance; and out of its
huge body it emits a phosphoric light, which the
terrified sailor now sees spreading in many chang-
ing hues on the black and stormy sea, while the
Shark's open mouth and rapid movements show
its eager longing to devour the poor man.
It is extremely unwise to swim in water occupied
by such Sharks as these, for many a man has
had his leg snapped off by them in a moment.
In the West Indies a boy was swimming at a
little distance from a ship, when, to his terror,
he saw a White Shark rapidly coming towards
him. He implored help, and a rope was instantly
thrown to him; but just as the men were draw-
ing him up the ship's side the monster darted


after him, and with one sharp snap cut off his
leg. But worse still was the following occur-
rence: 'In the reign of Queen Anne a merchant
ship arrived from England at the island of Bar-
badoes. Some of the crew were bathing, in happy
ignorance of all dangers, when a large Shark
appeared and swam directly towards them. They
were now warned of their danger, and hurried on
board, with the exception of one poor fellow, who
was bit in two by the Shark almost within reach
of the oars. A comrade and warm friend of the
poor fellow, who had witnessed the dreadful
occurrence, vowed vengeance against this White
Shark. The latter was soon seen hastily crossing
the waves in search of the other half of the body,
when the brave friend plunged into the sea. He
held in his hand a long sharpened knife, and the
rapacious animal pushed furiously towards him.
The Shark had turned on his side, and opened his
enormous jaws, when the youth, diving dexter.
ously, seized him with his left hand, somewhere
below the upper fins, and stabbed him repeatedly'
The animal, enraged with pain and streaming
with blood, tried in vain to free himself. The
crews of the surrounding vessels saw that the
combat was decided; but they were ignorant
which was slain, till the Shark, exhausted by


loss of blood, was seen nearer the shore, and
along with him his gallant conqueror, who, flushed
with victory, tried his utmost, and, aided by an
ebbing tide, succeeded in dragging him to the
beach. Presently he ripped open the stomach
of the fish, and, taking froi it the half of his
friend's body, buried it with the other part in the
same grave.'
The Basking Shark is much larger than any
other found near Great Britain; and my young
readers will readily believe this when I tell them
it will sometimes measure thirty feet. Although
its tail and fins are rather small, it can swim very
quickly indeed; but generally it prefers moving
lazily along, with the dorsal fin above water.
Sometimes it will rest perfectly quiet half out
of the water, as if to enjoy the warm sunshine;
and this is how it has obtained the name of the
Basking Shark. It even turns itself over occa-
sionally and lies with its under parts uppermost,
as though it wanted to warm itself thoroughly.
Its love for the light and heat has long been
known, and it was on this account formerly called
the Sun Fish. Itis also sometimes named the Sail
Fish, because, when a boat comes after it, it does
not move any more quickly, or get into a fright,
but steals quietly on, until at last overtaken,


and then a man in the boat strikes his harpoon
into the creature as near the gills as possible;
but it seems scarcely able to feel pain at all, and
the harpooner is obliged to call another man to
help him with all his might to drive in the weapon.
Bullets have been fired through this Shark with-
out its appearing to suffer at all, and it has con-
tinued to feed upon a White Whale, caught in a
net, while a long knife was thrust again and
again into its head. It is necessary to tow-it
quite away from the nets, or it will certainly
return to feed, in spite of all the stabs it has
The Basking Shark, when wounded, flings up
its tail, plunges headlong to the bottom, and, like
the Blue Shark I told you of, coils the rope round
itself by rolling on the ground. Presently, seeing
all his efforts are vain, he tries another plan, and
swims off with such wonderful speed and strength
that he has been known to tow away against a
fresh gale a vessel of seventy tons burden. In
these instances a fisherman is sometimes twenty-
four hours before he can obtain a victory over
the creature. I am glad to say, however, the
men do not get devoured by these Sharks, for
they have small teeth, and feed upon the roe of
fish and marine plants. They are common in



Greenland, and are captured for the sake of the
liver, from which a large quantity of oil can be
extracted. Spermaceti may also be obtained
from the carcass by means of screw presses.
The Fox Shark is thirteen feet in length, but
only a little more than half this is the body, the
rest being the famous tail, which is as long as a
tall man, and curved upwards, much like a scythe
in shape. The sly c.. atii-.:- knows well how to
use this famous weapon, and attacks other fishes
so violently with it that voyagers can often hear
the sound of the strokes at a considerable dis-
tance. It will approach a company of dolphins
playing happily on the surface, and with one
splash of its wonderful tail make them all separate
in a twinkling.
The most common of all the Sharks is the
Picked Dog Fish, which measures only three or
four feet, and is of a slate grey colour above and
yellowish white in the under parts. The young
are spotted with white. It is common on our
coasts, and, although not very large, is much
dreaded by the fishermen; for, when caught, it
will thrust itself round the man's hands, and
wound them near a joint with the sharp spines
it has on its back; the flesh then swells, becomes
much inflamed, and is often slow to heal. For


the purpose of using its spines well, the Picked
Dog Fish bends itself into the form of a bow, and
by a sudden motion causes them to spring asunder
in opposite directions. The fishermen, who fear



these dreadful weapons, as soon as they have
hooked the fish, catch it by the tail, and, with a
sharp rap against the edge of the boat, disable it.
The Spinous Shark is seven or eight feet long,
of purple colour, and almost covered with spines
resembling the sharp prickles'on the stem of a
rosebush. It is slow and awkward in its move-
ments, and not dangerous. But I fancy the fish
you would think most curious is the Hammer-
headed Shark. Its very; name makes you think
it must have a differently shaped head from the
other Sharks; and so indeed it has, for it is
exactly like the heavy part of a hammer; only
the body joins it in the middle, and thus the
head is as much beyond the body on one side as
on the other; and at the extremity of each part
is an eye.




IF the shark is a foe to be dreaded on account of
its cruel mouth and murderous jaws, the Sword



Fish (Xiphias Gladius) is to be feared by reason
of its formidable nose, which runs out from its
upper jaw horizontally to the length sometimes
of four or five feet, and has a resemblance to a
very long sword blade. With this nasal weapon
the fish can inflict a terrible wound; and as it is
of a highly pugnacious disposition, it darts with
fury at all large moving bodies which attract its
attention, and is a special enemy to that harmless.
monster, the whale, whose immense sides present
a mark which it can scarcely miss. Often, too,
has the keel of a ship been perforated by the
sharp snout of this unseen enemy, which has
sometimes been found buried deep in the timbers
of a gallant vessel.
Its body, which attains, at times, a length of
fifteen feet, is covered with tiny scales, and is
bluish black on its upper surface, paling into a
silvery hue beneath. Its flesh is white, firm, and
tisty; and in the Straits of Messina it is the
centre of an important fishery It is a brilliant
and exciting scene when, in the dead of the night,
a fleet of boats, lit up with blazing torches, rush
on the Sword Fish with their harpoons, while the
men sing a peculiar 'song without words,' and the
sea reflects in a thousand sparkles the lurid


- -i

- - -

____ s

Of a similarly warlike character is the Saw
Fish (Pristis Antiquorumi), which is armed with
a long sword-like prolongation of its muzzle,
flat on both sides, but furnished with a bristling
array of strong teeth. It is usually from twelve
to fifteen feet long, and, being thus martially
equipped, it is ready to attack any of the greater
indwellers in the sea, being a match even for the
whale itself. Sometimes it dashes against a vessel
with such force that its sword, or saw,' is driven
deep into the wood, and broken off; a relic of
which kind of exploit you may see in the British

THE Box Fish (Ostracion) is not adapted for
attack, like the Sword and the Saw Fishes, but is
remarkable for the defensive armour with which
it is provided. It is to be found only in the
warmer seas-the Red Sea, the-Indian Ocean,
and the waters which wash the shores of Inter-
tropical America. It leads a quiet, inoffensive
life in the mud or sand at the bottom of the sea,
where it finds its food. Not being a rapid
swimmer, and having no weapons to fight with, it


is exposed to the attacks of a host of enemies,
who would very much like to taste its quality.
But against these it possesses an admirable pro-
tection, being covered not only with scales, but
with a strong, stout coat-not of mail, but-of




bone, which serves as a cuirass, defending the
whole of the body, and leaving only the fins and
the end of the tail exposed to the foe. We
may therefore congratulate it on being safely
bowed in.




AxTOTHER well defended fish is the Globe Fish
(Diodon and Tetraodon), which, though slow in its
movements, like the Box Fish, is able to hold its own
against its hungry assailants, bristling as it does
all over with large, sharp, strong spines, which
serve as spears to be levelled at pleasure against
its foes, and which inflict a severe wound on the
mouth of any fish that attempts to snap it up.
Besides this wonderful provision of defensive
armour, it possesses the power of so swelling it-
self out with air as to resemble a ball, or 'globe,'
of spines, and thus to rise and float on the sur-
face of the water, where it is carried along upside
down. When it wishes to descend again into the
deep, it has only to contract, or draw in, its sides, so
compressing the air, and resuming its elongated
form; and then it sinks gradually down, to feed
on its favourite molluscs, and to live in peace till
another attack is made upon it, and it has to
swell out its bristling battle array again.


_cz '



AMOxG the larger fishes the Sturgeon must not
be forgotten. What would our Russian friends
think of us if we left out of our little book the
famous fish which is such a favourite article of
food with them, and which furnishes employment
to so many hardy fishermen on the Volga and
other rivers ? What would they say if we didn't
mention the fish from whose eggs, or roe, they
prepare that costly dish, caviare, which, I am
afraid, we should pronounce very nasty, till we
got used to it P
The Sturgeon is a sea fish, but visits and goes
up the larger rivers of Europe in the spring of the
year. Its prevailing colour is yellow, with a
white belly; and its body is covered with plates
or scales of bone, which look like so many shields
or bucklers, and give it a warlike appearance.
Usually the Sturgeon is six or seven feet long,
but sometimes it reaches the length of nine or ten
feet. But, though it is large and formidable-
looking, it is a very peaceable fish; that is to say,
it does not wage war with any of the larger in-
dwellers of the sea, but quietly sucks in, with its
toothless mouth, herrings, mackerel, and other


fishes of moderate size; varying its repast with
some salmon, when ascending the rivers, and
sometimes lowering itself so far as to root in the
mud for worms and molluscs. Its flesh is deli-
cate, and is held in special esteem at the present
day; though we do not hear of so much fuss being
made over it as in the days of the old Roman
emperors, when the Sturgeon was brought in to
the feasts in triumph to the sound of music, and
was given the place of honour on tables decked
with flowers.
In the Volga and other favourite resorts of the
Sturgeon great preparations are made for its
capture. The fishermen place stakes across the
river, leaving between the piles only just enough
space for the mighty monarch to pass. An angle
is formed, and at its point there is an opening
which leads into an enclosure, or reservoir, in
which the poor Sturgeon finds himself entrapped:
for the fishermen, taking their post on a scaffold
over the opening, let down a gate which prevents
the return of the fish to the open water. In the
estuary of the Volga, near Astrakhan, Sturgeon
fishing is carried on during the winter on a large
scale. A fleet of fishermen assembles in front of
the caverns and hollows of the river banks to
which the fishes have retreated, large nets are


arranged all around, and then the fishermen join
in a terrible outcry, which so frightens the poor
Sturgeons that they rush from their hiding
places and are captured in the nets waiting for
The Sturgeon is one of the most useful and
profitable fishes that can be caught. From its
' sounds' the best isinglass is produced; its skin
is made into a sort of leather, or is prepared for
use instead of window glass; its flesh is firm and
white, like veal, and forms a staple article of food;
and its roe is transformed by skilful hands into
the pungent caviare. So we may venture to apply
to it the words of Shakespeare:-
SThere is nought of him doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea change
Into something rich and strange.'


I HAVE already told my readers how curiously
the colours of some fish change according to the
place in which they live, although for a brief time
only; and among these we must include the Pike,
which, when in muddy ponds, becomes a muddy
colour, while those in a clear stream with a
gravelly bottom are beautifully speckled or
variegated. Look at this picture of the Pike, and
you will see it is of the same depth from the head
to the beginning of the dorsal fin; and that this
fin, which we call 'dorsal' because it is on the
back, is much farther from the head than usual;
indeed, it is quite near the tail. This fish has very
sharp teeth, quite alarming to see. A gentleman,
Colonel Thornton, says: So dreadful a forest of
teeth or tusks I think I never beheld.' It has
also a projecting snout, and the upper jaw is
protected by small bones; which is fortunate for
the Pike, as it often seeks its prey among stones
and in awkward places, where it would otherwise
get hurt.
How very fierce it looks, does it not ? I do not
wonder that it is sometimes called the shark of
the fresh waters,' or 'the tyrant.' Many tales

might be told of its bold and savage nature. A
gentleman one day saw a Pikein a shallow creek, and
stepped into the water to prevent it getting back
to the river, and, if possible, to throw it on the
land. The fish, finding it could not escape, seized
one of the gentleman's arms and wounded it
seriously. A gamekeeper happened to be washing

his hand at the side of a boat in a large pond,
when a Pike made a spring, and the hand was
only just drawn out of danger in time. Pikes
have been known to fight with otters for
the possession of a fish, and even to attack a cub
fox which had come to drink; and so well were the


fox and the fish matched that neither could free
itself from the other : so both were taken alive by
a young man who had watched their battle.
This pugnacious fish has sometimes seized the
head of a swan, while feeding under the water,
and greedily eaten so much of it as to kill itself
as well as the swan. One day a man went to a
pond, that his thirsty mule might drink, when the
unfortunate animal had his lips bitten by a hungry
Pike; and so tenaciously did the latter cling to
the poor animal that when the mule walked out
of the water the fish was still hanging from his
lips. The Pike is indeed famous for his voracity,
or hunger, and will quickly devour, one after the
other, four or five small roach, and in the course
,f three weeks five or six hundred gudgeons.
Now I dare say you are ready to exclaim, What
a pity that any Pike should be in a pond or river
when they destroy so many fish!' It is not so
much 'a pity,' however, as you might suppose;
for it is the small fish it attacks chiefly, and if all
these were to live, there would not be sufficient
food for the larger ones, and a really fine fish
would seldom be seen. The various inhabitants
of fresh water seem to know quite well who are
their enemies; and no sooner do little roach see
a Pike dashing after them than away they scamper


as fast as possible in all directions. The Pike,
though not afraid of swans, otters, foxes, or even
men, is afraid of a large trout; for this fish can
swim with surprising speed, and so comes upon
the Pike with more force than it can well resist.
Pikes often swallow fishing tackle, yet they are
seldom found deadin consequence of this, but on the
contrary have been seen in capital condition with
a piece of strong wire projecting from their side.
They digest food very rapidly, so that if you were
to kill and examine one two or three hours after
it had eaten a roach, not a bone of the latter
would be visible. Sometimes it will keep a fish
in its mouth for a quarter of an hour, waiting
until the other food it has eaten is digested.
These hungry fish grow very quickly, gaining
about five pounds in six or eight months. They
are often seen from two to three feet in length,
and weighing from twenty to thirty pounds; and
I have read that about a hundred and ten years
ago one was caught near Newport weighing one
hundred and seventy pounds, supposed to be the
largest ever seen.
In some of the Irish and also the Scotch lakes
these fish grow to a great size, while in Lapland
they have been taken six or eight feet in length:
they are very plentiful there, and are dried and

exported in great quantities. When small fish
are scarce the Pike will prey upon frogs, water
rats, moor hens, ducks, &c. The longevity, or
long life, of the Pike is remarkable; it has been
known to attain the ripe age of ninety or a hun-
dred years. Savage as the Pike is to the various
fish on which it preys, it is often affectionate
towards its own relations, and has been known even
to refuse its food and pine away because its com-
panion Pike had been taken away; and its appetite
and cheerfulness have not returned until the
friend has been restored. This fish is also much
attached to certain places, and will keep near a
particular tree or some other object for a whole
summer. Pike appear able to smell; for they
much prefer paste and worms that have been
prepared by particular perfumes to others that
have not.

i./ ..- ,- ; -, -;--

i .-- : ;-



THE Grey Mullet is about fifteen inches long, but
occasionally as much as two feet, and is rather
peculiar in appearance; for on its sides or flanks
are six or eight lines of rose brown colour; its
eye is partly covered with a semi-transparent mem-
brane, while the gill-covers are broad and pro-
jecting, for they enclose a strange apparatus or
contrivance which prevents any food of a coarse
or improper kind from reaching the gullet down
a very winding passage. The teeth are very small
and delicate, scarcely visible. The back of the
fish is a steel grey, with bluish and partly yellow
reflections, while underneath the colour is silvery
It is a salt water fish really, but often comes
with the tide into rivers, and then retreats again
to the sea; and this change of water is said to
suit it best; yet it has been known to grow fast
in a fresh-water lake. They are chiefly found on
our southern coasts, but also occasionally on the
east coast of Scotland and the west of Norway.
The Grey Mullet never wanders far from land,
and may be taken most easily in shallow water.


It enjoys warm, bright weather, and may then be
seen darting here and there in the shallows on
the coast in search of any oily substance that
happens to be floating on the surface; for it
prefers food of a soft, fatty nature, and even likes
it best when it has begun to decay. It may often
be seen thrusting its mouth in the mud in search
of this kind of food,


I have read that the Grey Mullet is the only fish
that refuses to eat any living fish or other crea-
tures; yet even it sometimes swallows the common
sandworm. It is especially careful not to swallow
anything large or hard; and so, if you were fish-
ing for it, you would get rather out of patience,
for again and again it might come up and
cautiously take the bait into its mouth, but would


immediately reject it. Sometimes the bait is
caught in the lips, but even then by plunging
and struggling it can often free itself. Often, too,
it escapes the line by leaping over it into the air and
then down again; and when one does this, other
Mullets near will follow like a flock of sheep.
Quick and cautious, however, as the Mullets are,
they cannot always prove victorious; for the
fishermen use, instead of a line, a peculiar kind
of net, which completely entraps them in spite of
their leaps and plunges. It is to their leaping
power that the poet refers in the following lines:-

SThe Mullet, when encircling seines enclose,
The fatal threads and treacherous bosom knows;
Instant he rallies all his vigorous powers,
And faithful aid of every name implores;
O'er battlement of cork up-darting flies,
And finds from air the escape which sea denies.'

A gentleman in Cornwall had a pond of salt
water in which he kept some Grey Mullets : these
he fed at a certain spot every evening, and they
became so tame that a knocking noic. like chopping
would instantly cause them to assemble in the
hope of seeing their benefactor. Sometimes,
after entering water with the tide, this fish
stays too long, and then finds to its sorrow the


gates are closed,land it cannot return to the sea.
In this emergency it tries, when the water is
pretty near the top of the gates, to leap over;
sometimes it succeeds, but often it is stranded on
the other side, and thus meets with an untimely
end. 0
The Thick-lipped Grey Mullet is common on
the Devonshire coast in September and October.
The head and back of this fish are of a greenish
colour and the rest silvery. It has very large
fleshy lips, and the teeth penetrate them like so
many hairs. There is also the Short Grey Mullet,
but it is very rare in this part of the world.

y -^.:-'

i _--_--<.;-:_-d ---; "__ --z.--*- 1--



THOSE who have studied natural history
thoroughly have divided the various creatures


in the animal world into orders or families, each
order consisting of those that are similar in
nature, habits, appearance, &c. Under this
arrangement Crabs and Lobsters belong to the
order of Crustaceans.'
All Crustaceans have a shelly kind of covering,
and grow larger every year; and not one of them
has fewer than ten legs. Nearly all are armed
with claws, which are generally hooked and fur-
nished with teeth, so that a nip from them is not
at all a laughing matter. Many species have no
distinct head to their bodies, but a pair of tiny
eyes show whereabouts the thinking and govern-
ing process is carried on. They live chiefly on
the sea coast, hiding themselves in the sand, or
under stones, or, as the common Crab, taking up
their abode under some nice cool, damp cliff.
There are one or two very odd things about
this family. One is that, if a leg be taken off,
another will grow in its place. They are very
pugnacious, and have many fights, not only with
their enemies and with the prey they eat, but with
each other. Often they lose a limb in battle, but
in this respect they are better off than our two-
legged soldiers; for though, when maimed, they
are sick and weak for a time, yet, after being in-
valided a few months, they re-appear with A NEW


LIMB, strong, active, and ready for a fresh cam-
Some of the Welshwomen know this well, and
so they take off all the claws of the Crabs they
catch, and sell those, but throw the Crabs them-
selves back into the water, to get fresh claws,
which they also hope to sell some day. Do you
not think this may be considered a sharp way of
doing business Lobsters and Crabs will shoot
a claw if it is injured; for they know a new one
will grow much more easily than the old one can
be mended. They will do the same thing if
alarmed by thunder or annoyed by being handled
too much. The tail of a Crustacean cannot, how-
ever, be replaced; indeed, sometimes when it is
injured the poor owner dies. So it is not sur-
prising that the Hermit Crab, whose tail has no
covering, should try to screen himself in some
other shell.
These Paguri, or Hermit Crabs, are found
chiefly in New Guinea and many of the South
Pacific islands. The fore part of the body is, like
other Crabs, armed with shelly claws; but the
other part ends in a long, soft tail, quite unpro-
tected. This Crab can neither swim nor run well;
so it has to look for shelter, which it soon finds,
generally in a large snail house, but sometimes in


other shells; into one of which it inserts its long
tail, and, by means of one or two little hooks,
clings firmly to its new home. You must not
suppose, however, that these little Hermits never
take a walk; for as soon as the cool evening hours


come they sally forth in thousands, carrying their
homes with them. While young and weak, they
content themselves with such shells as they may



chance to find empty; but when grown up they
attack and devour the living inhabitants of the
shells, and then without any ceremony quietly
take possession of a home. Of course the Hermit
grows, and so sometimes has to change his shell


for a fresh one, allowing him a little more-' elbow
room,' I was going to say, but I mean -'tail
The edible Crab, that is, the one we eat, cannot
swim; but, when first brought out of the water,
it sometimes pretends to be asleep; a plan not
adopted by other Crabs. One of the largest Crabs
is nearly a yard long, and has its head and
several parts covered with sharp spines; so some
people call it 'the Thorny Lobster,' others 'the
Cray Fish;' but the French, who like it much
as food, call it l'angouste. It has a fan-like tail,
and can move very rapidly in the water. We
English people think the real Lobster nicer to eat.
The Lobster grasps so firmly what it seizes
that you cannot take it away without breaking
the claws; and another odd thing about it is that
a very good bait for taking it is an oyster shell
with the dark part scraped away; or, funnier still,
a bit of looking-glass.
Some of the great men in Japan have their
embroidered silk robes thickly adorned with silver
Crabs, the Crab being regarded there as a sign
or emblem of aristocracy; so all who wear it are
supposed to belong to the nobility.
Lobsters and Crabs are obliged to ast their
shell' once every year; for they grow fast, and


their hard jacket becomes too tight a fit to be
comfortable, so they have to go to their burrow
and get out of it as well as they can. The large
shell across the back is cast pretty easily, but to
get the legs out of their cases is a difficult business;
and young ones often die in consequence of the
vigorous efforts they have made in the undressing
process. The older ones are so tired that they are
glad to remain quietly resting for two or three
days, until the new shell has grown, and they can
once more venture with comfort and safety to
mingle with their fellow Crabs. There are two
stony substances called 'Crab's eyes' inside the
Crab; and it is from these the new shells formed,
which in two or three days becomes quite hard.
The Land Crabs are found in various parts of
the world, especially in the West Indies, and are
considered great dainties by Europeans as well as
natives. They run very quickly, and burrow in
the ground, sometimes two or three miles away
from the sea, which they only visit once a year
for the purpose of having their eggs washed away
by the waves. The Land Crab of Jamaica is
more or less of a dark blue colour; so it is called
the Violet Crab (Gecarci6us Buricola). It
remains in its burrow all day, in the shade often
of some damp forest, and at night runs about


fast in search of food. When taken it will seize
a person's finger with its claw; and if it manage
to escape will leave its claw behind, which con-
tinues to give the finger a friendly squeeze for
some time after. But the most famous of the
Land Crabs is the Ocypod, or 'Swift-footed,'
sometimes called the Horseman and sometimes
the Racer, from the wonderful speed with which
it runs. You might be on horseback with gun in
hand, but would find it a most difficult thing to
shoot one of these Racers, so swiftly do they run.

ARE also very nice to eat, though not very nice
in their eating. If we want to enjoy them with
an undisturbed mind, perhaps it is best not to
inquire too particularly into their diet. It is
quite enough to be told that they are very useful
as the scavengers of the sea, picking up and-to
use an American phrase-putting themselves out-
side of all sorts of dead matter.
The Prawn is usually about four or five inches
long, but in tropical climates attains a much
greater length. On the South American coast
it reaches the size of nine or ten inches, and we

ii :





can quite believe that three Prawns are there con-
sidered enough for a decent meal.
As to Shrimps I need not say much. The
supply of them is so great that one almost won-
ders where they can all come from day after day.
To most of my readers they are familiar either
on the table at home, or at the seaside in their
native element. It is a pretty sight to watch the
shrimper or his children, in the shallow water,
scouring the sands withthe pole-net pushed before
them, and catching the semi-transparent little
creatures amongst a miscellaneous collection of
seaweed and small shells. Very likely some of
you have indulged in this pleasant occupation
and hope to do so again.



OuR space will not allow us to bring before you
any more samples of the curious and beautiful
inhabitants of the deep. In our short survey we
have seen enough to enable us all to join heartily
in that eloquent passage of the Psalmist: '0
Lord, how manifold are Thy works! in wisdom
hast Thou made them all: the earth is full of Thy
riches. So is this great and wide sea, wherein
are things creeping innumerable, both small and
great beasts.' In the depths of ocean and in
the shallows of rivers are to be found an almost
endless variety of fishes of graceful forms, bright,
gem-like hues, or uncouth and unearthly appear-
ance. We have here dealt with but a tiny por-
tion of them.
It would be very interesting to study the
amount of sense and sensibility which the finny
tribes possess. One thing is certain, they appear
to know their friends; and the following facts
seem to prove that even a Pike-a fish principally
noted for its voracious appetite-is capable of


A few years ago Dr, Warwick, of Liverpool,
was walking one evening in Dunham Park, and
came to a pond in which fish intended for the
table were kept. He took notice of a fine Pike,
about six pounds' weight, which, whenit observed
him, darted hastily away, and in so doing struck
its head against a tenter-hook in a post and frac-
tured its skull, turning the optic nerve on one
side. In terrible agony it rushed to the bottom,
and, burying its head in the mud, whirled itself
round with such velocity that it was almost
lost to sight for a time. Then it plunged about
the pond, and at length threw itself completely
out of the water on to the bank. The doctor, on
examining it, found that a small portion of the
brain was protruding from the fracture of the
skull. This he carefully replaced, and with a
small silver toothpick raised the indented portion
of the skull. The fish remained still for a short
time, and he then put it again into the pond. At
first it appeared a good deal relieved, but in a
few minutes it again darted and plunged about,
until it threw itself out of the pond a second
A second time Dr. Warwick did what he could
to relieve it, and again put it into the water.
Several times did it throw itself out of the water.


With the assistance of the keeper, the doctor made
a kind of pillow for it; and it was then left in the
pond to its fate.
When the doctor visited the pond the following
morning the Pike came towards him to the edge
of the water, and actually laid its head on his foot.
After examining the fish's skull, and finding it
was going on all right, he walked backwards and
forwards along the edge of the pond for some
time, and the fish swam up and down, turning
whenever he turned; but, being blind on the
wounded side of its skull, it always appeared
agitated when it had that side towards the
bank, as it could not then see its benefactor.
The next day he took some young friends to see
the fish, which came to him as usual; and at
length the Pike had advanced so far in civilisa-
tion as to come at the doctor's whistle and feed
out of his hands. Yet with other persons it
continued as shy and suspicious as fishes usually
Instances such as this prove that some fishes
are not only endued with a great amount of intelli-
gence, but are also susceptible of the pleasing
emotion of gratitude. In fact, several good
lessons, of virtues to be cultivated and evil habits
to be avoided, might be illustrated and pointed


by some clever disciple of old iEsop from the
manners and customs of the finny people that
inhabit the world of waters.

\ (---



University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs