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 Flying Fish and Other Wild Visitors 
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From John M. Brooke's Pacific Cruise and Japanese Adventure, 1858–1860:

"Two flying fish came onboard. The cat and dog seise [sic] such visitors the moment they touch the deck and seem to be very partial to them. The black Albatrosses are about; these birds seem to haunt us."

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susan


Sun Feb 10, 2008 7:32 am
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timoneer wrote:
Mil Goose wrote:
" ....and we often observed a large kind of flat-fish, jumping at a considerable height out of the water, which we supposed to be the fish that is said frequently to destroy the pearl-divers, by clasping them in its fins as they rise from the bottom....we were told that the divers, for their security, are now always armed with a sharp knife, which, when they are entangled, they stick into the belly of the fish, and thereby disengage themselves from its embraces...." *

Has anyone idea what the fish was?


Many large rays (including mantas) are known to breach.

Leaping rays in the Sea of Cortez (excellent photos of airborne rays):
http://www.malbertphoto.com/mobulas1.html

Unique video of a beautiful eagle ray breaching - taken from underwater!
http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-5452

As for "grasping them in its fins" - sounds like an understandable myth. An average-sized 12-foot manta ray is an awesome sight.
http://psrc.mlml.calstate.edu/elamon_jul06.htm

The cephalic (oral) lobes curl ominously towards its huge gaping maw. Just the right raw material for myths about a deadly embrace.

One day a pearl diver fails to surface. Huge black beasts are seen nearby. The conclusion is obvious.

Myths about animal behaviour are very tenacious - even in our own scientific age.

...On the other hand, could be that the locals, then as now, loved to tell a good fish story to visiting gringos!


Mon May 19, 2008 4:06 am
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susan wrote:
More from Mackinnon's Steam Warfare in the Parana. This is from a section ("Sketches of South America") derived in part from a work by naturalist Felix Azara:

"The Curiyu is a large snake of frightful appearance, heavy on land, but not in water; it is gentle and inoffensive. This reptile generally lives in rivers and marshes. It gets on board sailing vessels, by clinging to the rudder, and devours poultry and even biscuit; I have heard that it will follow vessels for days together."


Photos of the Curiyu, a type of (relatively) small Anaconda:
<a href="http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/cgi/img_query?stat=BROWSE&query_src=photos_fauna_sci-Reptile&where-lifeform=Reptile&where-taxon=Eunectes+notaeus&title_tag=Eunectes+notaeus">Eunectes notaeus</a>


Mon May 19, 2008 4:28 am
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From Account of a Voyage to the Western Coast of Africa; Performed by His Majesty's Sloop Favourite, in the Year 1805 (1807) by F.B. Spilsbury, who was the ship's surgeon:

"On the 14th [November 1805], uncommonly large bats flew on board—their heads like that of a fox, and their teeth very large; but, on account of the cruelty of the sailors, we were obliged to throw them overboard."

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Thu Jun 26, 2008 7:12 am
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From the Life and Letters of Robert Clement Sconce - Volume I (1861):

"Birds of all sorts often come to us. The other day, a little fellow, something like a robin, only with a yellow breast instead of a red one, came on board. They called him a fly-catcher; and so he proved himself to be, for he soon cleared the cabin of all the flies....One day one of the sailors caught a goldfinch that had settled upon the ropes and gave it to Robin; but we did not like to keep it, so we gave him to the carpenter's wife, who is taking care of him, and he sings famously. And one day they caught a hawk, a most noble fellow...He has got quite tame, and eats as much beef for his dinner as you could. But the most beautiful of all our visitors was a hoopoo, a large handsome bird, with a fine high crest of bright-colored delicate feathers: he came from Marseilles, and flew on shore again. The hawk came when we were quite out of sight of land."

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Sat Jan 03, 2009 6:31 am
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Sad bit from the Naval Chronicle (1804):

"The eldest son of Sir S. Chambers, a Midshipman on board the Glatton, lately fell from the main chains while in pursuit of some small birds which had flown on board from the Texel, and was lost."

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Wed Feb 04, 2009 6:00 am
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