G. Brown (George Brown) Goode.

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quoted by Do Kay 1 in a misleading manner, it should here be stated that in discussing this fish this
author had also in mind other fishes belonging to the genus Phyci*, which are known by the name
of Iluke all along the coast.

THE MERLUCCIO OR CALIFOKNIA HAKE. MKRLUCIUS PBODUCTUS.

The California Hake, writes Professor Jordan, is most commonly known along the coast by its
Italian name, " Merluecio", pronounced merlo6ch. At Sequel and elsewhere it goes by the name
of Horse-mackerel, a name used on our coasts with the greatest carelessness, being applied to Elops
.iurus, Anoplopoma Jimbria, and Merlucius productus, as well as to various scouibroids and carau-
noid fishes. It reaches a length of about thirty inches and a weight of ten pounds, its average
weight being five or six. It is found from the Island of Santa Cruz to Alaska, being very
irregular in its appearance, some years very abundant and at other times wanting altogether.
It is exceedingly voracious, feeding on all sorts of small fishes and squids. The stomach is always
tilled almost to bursting.

It spawns in the spring, and its arrival near the coast always precedes the deposition of the
spawn. It probably then retires to deeper water.

Its value as a food-fish is very little. It is scarcely salable in the market of San Francisco.
Its flesh is very soft, and it is always ragged-looking when shipped. Nothing was learned as to the
quality of its flesh, but it probably differs little from M. bUmearis.

73. SEVERAL UNIMPORTANT FAMILIES RELATED TO THE GADIDJE.

THE CONGROGADUS FAMILY (Congrogadidee). This family, which in some respects resembles
the eels and in others the Codfishes, contains, in all, three species: one from Australia, one from
the Red Sea, and the third, a small eel-like fish, of great activity, Seytalvicus cerdalis, which lives
among the rocks on the coast of Washington Territory.

THE FIERASFER FAMILY (Fierosferidce). These are never of very large size, and are eel-
like in shape. As far as is known, they live parasitically in the cavities of other marine animals,
i-sjiecially in the respiratory cavities of star-fish and sea-slugs. Not nnfrequently they attempt to
live in animals less suited to their habits, as, for instance, bivalves, and cases have been known
where they have been imprisoned below the month of the mollusk or covered over with a layer of
the pearly substance secreted by it. They are perfectly harmless to their host, and merely seek
for themselves a safe habitation, feeding on the animalcules which enter with the water the cavi-
ties inhabited by them. 2 Three or four species of this family are known to occur on our Florida
and Gulf coasts.

THE SAND CUSK FAMILY. The family Ophidiidce is represented on the Atlantic coast by a fish
so rare as to have no common name, the Ophidium marginatum, which is found burrowing in the sand
banks near Beaufort, North Carolina, occasionally at other places, and on the coasts of our South-
ern and Middle States, 3 and by several rare deep-sea forms. On the California coast is a similar

'New York Fish Fauna, p. 82.

"GONTHBK: Study of Fishes, p. 549.

"We dug two spocimens ont of the sand near low-water mark (Great Egg Harbor, April, 1871), where they
burrowed to the depth of a foot or more. When placed upon moist sand, they burrowed into it, tail foremost, with
surprising rapidity, disappearing in an instant. The species appears to be rare. VERRELI. : American Naturalist,
v. 399.



244 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

species, OpJiidlum Taylori, about a foot in length. This species occurs from San Francisco to the
Santa Barbara Islands. It is rare, and only brought into the market by accident.

THE BED CUSK FAMILY (Brotulidce). This family, which is composed of fishes belonging in
the deeper regions of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, is not represented on our Atlantic coast,
save by certain obscure deep-sea forms. A single species is known in California, the so-called
Red Cusk, Brosmophycin marginatus, known to the Italians of that region by the names Mustct or
Mnsteta. This fish reaches the length of eighteen inches. It has been noticed only in the neigh-
borhood of San Francisco, where it occurs in waters of considerable depth. On account of its
bright colors, it meets with a ready sale in the San Francisco market, but is too rare to be consid-
ered as of any great economic importance.

THE GRENADIER FAMILY (Macruridw). The Grenadiers, or, as the fishermen frequently call
them, on account of the size and shape of their eyes, "Onion-fishes," inhabit the deep parts of the
ocean. They are particularly abundant in the Western Atlantic. They are occasionally eaten,
but are chiefly important to the fishermen on account of their habit of stealing the bait and taking
possession of the hooks, which would otherwise be free for the capture of more useful fishes. The
largest species, .and the one best known to the fishermen, is Maerurus rvpestrit, called ''Rat-tail
Fish" as well as "Onion-fish". It is exceedingly abundant on all of our off-shore banks, attaining
a length of three feet and a weight of four or five pounds.

A smaller species, Macrurus Bairdii, is found everywhere along the coast where the depth is
greater than eighty or ninety fathoms. It is probably an important article of food for the larger
fishes of these regions, such as the halibut. At least four species of this family occur on our coast,
all of which have been brought to light by the explorations of the United States Fish Commission
within the past four years.

74. THE IANT, OR SAND-EEL AMMODYTES AMERICANUS.

HABITS. Of all the small species of fishes occurring in the North Atlantic there is probably
none more important to man than the Lant Launce, as it is called in Europe, frequently also the
Sand-eel both in Europe and America, Tobias-fish in Germany, and Smelt in Holland. The
American and European species, though similar, are quite distinct forms.

Although it is never used for food in this country, it is of great economic importance, since it
constitutes one of the chief articles of food for the codfish, the halibut, and other flesh-feeding
species, such as the bonito, bluefish, squeteagne, flounder, and mackerel, and in Europe the turboh

The Lant is a slender species, with a rounjled body, the height of which is contained from
eleven to twelve times in its total length ; the largest individuals grow to be about sixteen inches
long, but they are usually much smaller. They swim in immense schools at the surface, and fre-
quently imbed themselves in the sand, where they often remain above the low-water mark while
the tide is out. Why they do this is not well understood, for in their habits they are wanderers,
sometimes appearing in immense numbers at certain points upon the coast and disappearing as
rapidly as they came. With their sharp noses and slender muscular bodies they have little diffi-
culty in imbedding themselves in the soft sand several inches deep. I shall never forget my sur-
prise when, many years ago, unfamiliar with the habits of this fish, which, indeed, was at that time
entirely unknown to me, I was digging up shells in one of the sandy- beaches in Provincetown
JEIarbor, when suddenly, as I struck my hoe into the earth, a great section of the beach became
jilive with glancing forms of dozens of these agile little fishes.

"On the sands of Portobello, near Edinburgh, and at other places, people take advantage of

L



HABITS OF THE LANT. 245

this well-known habit, and when it is discovered that a shoal of Sand-eels have hidden themselves
in the Hand they sally out, armed with spades, rakes, shovels, and forks, and dig them out. When
.\trirateil from the sand-beds the fish leap about with singular agility, and afford much sport in
. -apim-iMg them. Perhaps the fun in catching them has originated the saying, 'As jolly as a sand-
boy.""

They are captured in a similar manner on the coast of Holland. It is Buckland's idea that
they go into the sand to take refuge from fish which are pursuing them.

Captain Atwood, writing to Dr. Storer during 1847, said: "On last Friday night they ran
ashore in such quantities in Provincetown Harbor that they covered the ground from one to two
inches deep, and when the water covered the flats the whole bottom looked like an immense sea of
silver." "When thus situated," continues Storer, " they are readily devoured by their enemies,
among whom are the cuttle-fish," or squids.

Various authors have stated that they feed upon the very young fry of other fish and upon
small worms.

Speaking of a closely related species, Ammodyten tobianvn, which has not yet been found in the
\\ t-stern Atlantic, but which may yet very probably be discovered here, and whose habits are doubt-
less very similar, Oliver writes that they follow the young fry of the coalfish, or pollock, into the
harbor, and are frequently caught with the same bait. They swim rapidly and dash at a shoal of
fry with the voracity and swiftness of a pike, and they even feed upon the young of their own kind.

As has already been stated, they constitute a favorite bait for many other species of fish. They
an* very conspicuous by reason of their bright silver color, and their swift motion is easily imitated
by trawling them behind the boat in rapid motion. Their form has been imitated in India rubber
and metal for use in angling. In England they are a favorite bait for the bass. Couch states that
i hey are frequently followed by mackerel, and that their presence is a sure sign of good fishing.
' On a calm evening it is an interesting sight to see the surface of the water broken by the repeated
plunges of the voracious fishes as they break upon the little school of Launces from beneath.
Thrii only certain place of refuge from these pursuers is the sand."

Owing to the confusion between the two species of Ammodytes, European naturalists have not
\ 1 1 come to a definite decision as to their time of spawning, but the observations of Benecke indi-
cate that this takes place, in the Baltic at least, in May, the fish being most abundant in those
waters from July to September. No one has observed these habits on our own coast.

DISTRIBUTION. The distribution of the Lant in the Western Atlantic appears to be limited
at the south in the vicinity of Long Island Sound, although it is stated by Uhler and Lugger to
occur on the coast of Maryland. Northward it is found at least as far as Sloop Harbor, Labrador.
On the Scandinavian coast it has not been found north of Trondhjem Fjord, latitude 65, though
the other species is found up as far as North Cape. It enters the Baltic, occurs everywhere
throughout the British Isles, is abundant in Holland and along the.northern coast of France. In
summer they are frequently seen in immense schools on the southern coast of Massachusetts.
Captain Atwood gives the following account of their movements in Cape Cod Bay:

* ; Lauts are common, and sometimes they are plentiful. Some winters there comes on a cold
spell, and if the wind is just right they drive ashore, and you may pick up bucketfuls, while
sometimes winters have passed away when I have not noticed but a few. One year, before 1847 I
should think, the Lant came in in immense quantities. The whiting drove the Lant in, and they
began to run ashore at high water, and ran ashore till low water, and they covered the whole
ground so I should thiuk they would be one and a half or two inches deep. There was not a place



'BucKLAND: Familiar History of British Fishes, p. 198.



246 NATURAL DISTOEY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

on the whole inside of the point the next day but was sheeted over with these Laiit. On the day
after the wind came on and blew heavy from the westward, and it swept the beach off as clean as
you could sweep a floor. They come in winter and in summer, and are quite common on the coast,
and on the Banks of Newfoundland there are immense numbers of them. I have frequently seen
them in the stomachs of codfish."

The Lant is found in spring or early summer in the open sea, in the neighborhood of banks
and shoals remote from land, as is also the sprat in Europe and the "brit," "eyebait," or small
herring in America. Professor Sars has given a detailed description of the manner in which the
vast schools of young herring to the Norwegian shore in summer not only attract the large cod
and many other fish from the deep sea towards the shore, but also draw the yearling and two-year-
old cod from the shore to meet the incoming schools.

USES. As has already been stated, this fish is not used for food in the United States. Its
importance is well understood by our fishermen who go after cod to Labrador and Newfoundland.
They are said to be common in the Edinburgh market in summer, while in Southern England they
are salted and dried for winter use. In Edinburgh, too, the other species, called the Horness, or
Horned Eel, is brought to the market in August and sold by the thousand. Parnell states that
this species spawns in September, and that their flesh is wholesome and palatable.

Captain Atwood has also recorded some curious observations concerning the manner in which
these fish, with their sharp snouts, penetrate through the stomach of the codfish which has eaten
them, into the walls of the body, and there become encysted in the flesh, forming hard, black masses
which are very inconvenient to the fishermen, because they dull their knives which they use in
dressing the fish before drying them.



WOLF FISI IKS. SCULPINS, AND WKASSES. 247



K._ WOLF-FISHES, SCULPINS, AND WRASSES.

75. THE LYCODES FAMILY LYCODIDJE.

This family is represented on onr Atlantic roast by eight or teu species, and on the Pacific coast
by three others. They are large-headed, elongate fishes, with eel-like bodies, covered with a lax,
thick, slimy skin, and for the most part inhabit very deep water, and are seldom seen except by
the naturalist, and by the fisherman, who counts them among the refuse products of his lines.

Mt'TTON-FlSH. The Mutton-fish, Zoarcex anyuillariii, called Congo Eel and Ling, and also
Lamper Eel, especially by the Maine fishermen, is often seen near the shore north of Cape Cod,
ami in winter especially is frequently taken with hook and line from the wharves. This species
occasionally attains the length of three feet and the weight of six or seven pounds.

The Mutton-fish feeds upon crustaceans and mollusks, and spawns in July and August in the
dec] i waters of Massachusetts Bay, its eggs being as large as buckshot and not very numerous.
The young fish are frequently taken in the Fish Commission trawl-nets. This species has been
recorded as far south as Fort Macon, in North Carolina, where Dr. Yarrow claims to have taken
two specimens, fishing from one of the wharves; and II. It. Storer found it in Southern Labrador,
at Bras d'Or, where he obs- rved that it was frequently taken in the herring seines. In Northern
K u rope is an allied species, Z. viviparus, which brings forth its young alive, the embryos attaining
a length of four or five centimeters before leaving the mother, and in the Baltic making their
appearance in August or later. Malm records the capture in Southern Sweden, November 17,
1S73. of a female with three hundred fully developed young, about forty millimeters long. It is
not yet definitely determined whether or not our species is viviparous, but it seems somewhat
improbable, although one taken iu Gloucester llarbor, at a depth of eight fathoms, in a tempera-
ture of 41 F., July 30, 1878, contained eggs which seemed almost mature enough to be deposited.
This is known in Germany as the Aalmutter, or Mother of Eels; in Holland. Puit Aal; in Scot-
land a-s the Bard or Maroona Eel; in England as the Gnffer. Eel-pout, or Green-bone; and in
Southern Sweden as the Aolkussa; the distribution of which is limited on the south by the
English Channel, on the north by the North Cape and Varanger Fjord, latitude 71. It enters
the Baltic, where it is frequently taken on the Prussian coast, especially about Memel.

The Mutton-fish, like the Wolf-fish, or Sea Catfish, is one of those species which, while possess-
ing excellent qualities as a food-fish, is not generally eaten. Mitchill speaks of having seen them
in considerable numbers in the New York markets in March, 1813, and De Kay in 1842 wrote: " I
have noticed this fish is most abundant in the New York markets in February and March. It is
caught on the coast in company with the common cod. It feeds on various marine shells and
affords a very savory food."

In Gill's paper on the " Fishes of New York Markets," written in 1856, this fish is not men-
tioned a one of the kinds at that time sent to New York.

btorer writes: "It feeds upon the mollusca and testacea, and the flesh of the young fish is
sweet and very palatable. It is seldom met with in Boston market ; occasionally, however, it is
brought in by the cod-fishermen of Massachusetts Bay."

It is occasionally eaten by the Cape Ann fishermen, by whom it is known as the Mutton-fish,



248 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

the name referring to a supposed resemblance of its flesh to mutton ; and I can myself testify to
the delicacy of its flavor. The European species is also on the border-line between food and refuse
fishes. Parnell writes : " In the Firth of Forth it exists in great plenty, hiding under sea- weed
in rocky situations. They are even taken with lines in the winter mouths and brought to market,
where they fetch a ready sale at the rate of three a penny. Some people consider the flesh as very
fine and wholesome, while others, again, announce it as dry and of a disagreeable flavor. The
bones of this fish when boiled assume a green appearance, from which circumstance the fish oft-
times receives the name of Green-bone." '

Mr. Neill says: "Though not a delicate morsel, this fish is often brought to the Edinburgh
market."

In Holland aud Germany they are not often eaten; there is a general impression, however,
that they are edible.

PACIFIC LYCODIDS. This family is represented on the Pacific coast by Lycodopsis paucidena
(Lockington) Jor. & Gilb., and L. microstomus Lockiugton, small fishes, scarcely a foot in length,
living in rather deep water from San Francisco northward. They have no economic importance,
being only brought into the market when mixed with the tomcod and "soles."

76. THE WOLF-FISHES OR SEA CATFISHES ANARRHICHADIDJE.

SEA CATFISHES. The Wolf-fish family is represented on our Atlantic coast by three species
all large, voracious, and frequently taken by cod and halibut fishermen. The best known, and
in fact the only species definitely ascertained to occur in the Western Atlantic until the other two
were recently brought to light by the labors of the Fish Commission, is the common "Catfish" of
the fishermen, Anarrhicas lupus Linnaeus, and which is found throughout the northern parts of the
Northern Atlantic, ranging upon the New England coast south to the region of the Nantucket Shoals,
where it ever breeds in deep water, young specimens having been obtained by the Fish Commission
at a depth of over one hundred fathoms in the summer of 1880, while in 1874 several specimens
were brought to Noauk, caught by the New York smacks on the Nantucket Shoals, the largest four
feet or more in length. De Kay records the capture of a specimen four feet long off Block Island,
and states that they are not unfrequently taken off Rock Beach in company with the common cod.

In the Eastern Atlantic it is found in the German Ocean, on the south coast of Great Britain
and in the Channel, and along the shores of Holland. 2 According to Uichardson it is somewhat
common on the French coast. Though it does not appear to enter the Baltic, it is found on the
coast of Norway and in the Cattegat. Yarrell records the capture of this fish on the coast of
Yorkshire, in the Frith of Forth, and in the Orkneys. Collet records its presence everywhere
along the Norwegian coast up to the North Cape and Varanger Fjord in Eastern Finmark, while
it is known to occur in Iceland and Greenland and along the entire eastern coast of Northern
North America. This is the best known species, and until recently all others have been con-
founded with it. It is readily distinguished from the others by its general color of gray slate, or
light brown, marked with from nine to twelve transverse bauds of darker hue. By many of the
nations of Northern Europe it is called the Catfish; and this name is still in general use among
our own sea-fishermen, although the fishes most generally known in North America by this name
are fresh-water species of the family Siluridae, closely related to the sheet-fish or wels of Europe.
To an untrained observer there is some resemblance between these fishes and the Catfish of the



1 There is no evidence that the tones of the American species ever become green. The name Green-bone is also
applied iu Europe to the silver gar-fish.

"SCHUSGKL: De Dieren van Nederland. Visucheu, p. 68.



HABITS OF WOLF FISHES. L>49

sea, ti which resemblance they doubtless owe their common name, bestowed upon them by the
early English settlers. They are also called in this country "Wolf-fish," this being the common
book -name. In the Orkneys the name is "Swine-fish," professedly on account of a peculiar
movement of the snout which has been observed; while in Scandinavia the name "Stone-biter" ia
also common. Another species, which may be called the Spotted Cat-fish, or the Wolf-fish, is
on Msiniially olitained by oar cod-fishermen on the off-shore banks, and has been taken near the
shore in the Bay of Fnudy. In form and general appearance it is similar to the species just
deserilied, but instead of transverse bands of brown or black it is marked with numerous circular
spots and blotches; sometimes several of these are confluent, forming a large, irregular blotch.
This species, Anarrhicas minor, Olafsen, has been observed on the coast of Norway throughout
nearly its whole extent, north of latitude 58; it occurs in Iceland, whence were received the first
specimens, and on our own coast has been seen in the Bay of Fundy and on several of the banks
north of Georges.

Besides these two, there is the " Blue Oat-fish ", A. latifrons, which is much smaller, rarely exceed-
ing three feet in length, with a very soft and flabby body, and of a uniform blue-slate or mouse
color. This is a resident of the deep waters, in two to four hundred fathoms, on the outer edge of
the off-shore banks, and has also been observed in the northern parts of Europe. Dr. Beau has
recently described a species from Alaska somewhat resembling Anarrhicas lupm, but without the
cross bands; the color of the alcoholic specimens is dark brown without bands or spots, and with
1 telly of light brown or gray clouded with very dark brown. To this he has given the name
Anarrhicatt lepturus. The types were obtained at Saint Michaels.

The Wolf- or Cat-fishes are, emphatically, lovers of cold water, their range corresponding
closely to that of the halibut, though perhaps not extending quite so far southward. They are
almost invariably found upon the same feeding-grounds, where the Cat-fish devour the heavy-
siicllcd crustaceans and mollusks which are too strongly protected to be eaten by other fisLes.
According to Fabricius it migrates from the coast to the deep sea in the autumn and returns again
in the spring, being associated in these movements with the common lump-fish.

It is impossible to imagine a more voracious-looking animal than the Sea Cat fish, with its
massive head and long, sinuous, muscular body, its strongly rayed fins and its vise-like jaws,
armed with great pavements of teeth, those in front long, strong, pointed like those of a tiger,
closely studded, re-enforced in the rear by others rounded and molar-like, adapted tor crushing the
objects which have been seized by the curved teeth in the front of the jaw. The character of
their food has already been mentioned. Professor Verrill found in the stomach of one of these
fishes over a quart of spiny sea-urchins, and it is believed that upon these and upon hermit-crabs
they depend very largely for food. They are pugnacious in the extreme, and have been known to
attack furiously persons wading at low tide among the rock-pools of Eastport, Maine. When one
is lifted into a fishing-boat, which is a not unfrequent occurrence, it is necessary to kill it at once
to prevent it from injuring the fishermen, by biting or stabbing them with its sharp spines. They
are quickly killed by blows upon the head.

The only record of the spawning time of the Anarrhicas lupus in Europe, which I can at



Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 44 of 146)