G. Brown (George Brown) Goode.

The fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) online

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present find, is in Schlegel's "Fishes of the Netherlands," where it is stated that it occurs in May
and June. It is probable that on our own coast the period is approximately the same, since young
fish of one and two inches in length have been several times taken by the fishermen in August
and September. DeKay states that they spawn in May. According to Fabricius, it spawns on
the Greenland coast in May among the largest seaweeds, a short way from the shore. The largest
individuals of this species are six or seven feet in length, and would probably weigh forty pounds.
The specimen mentioned by Richardson, three feet long, weighed twenty pounds.



250 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

It caunot be said that they are at present of great economic importance. Storer, writing in
1807, said: "By many of our fishermen it is considered very delicate; the smallest specimens, from
five to ten pounds, are quite palatable when fried or broiled, the skin having been previously
removed; it is also occasionally split and salted or dried ami smoked, and is said to be, when thus
prepared, very good." '

Parnell wrote: "It is quite common in the rocky parts of the Firth of Forth, and also found
on the- haddock lines, and is occasionally taken in the same nets above Queen's Ferry. About
June the young are about two feet in length, and are sold in the market for sixpence each. The
appearance of this fish is not very prepossessing, and the natives are not aware of its quality as
food; but if properly dressed and disguised by the head being cut off, it is considered equal to
many of the marine fishes."*

Yarrell says: "According to Mr. Neill, specimens of small size, about two feet in length, are
frequently brought to the Edinboro' market; and those who are able to overcome the prejudices
caused by its appearance find it good food. Mr. Hoy and Mr. Low have borne their testimony to
the excellence of its flesh, and Mr. Donovan states that it is delicious. It may be observed here
that this is the general character of the flesh of those fishes that feed on crustaceous animals. It
is eaten by the Greenlanders and Norwegians, as well as by most of the inhabitants of the northern
part of Europe, the head and skin being first taken off. The skin is converted into very durable
bags and pockets. 11 Malm writes : " They occur along the whole coast of Bohuslan, and are caught
most frequently of all from March to May."

Frank Buckland remarks : " Notwithstanding the ugly appearance of this fish its flesh is said
to be of a very good flavor. It is sometimes seen hung up in the shops of London fish-mongers,
and I can, for the most part, say that it is very good ; I can compare it to nothing but a nice veal
chop." DeKay also bears testimony to their excellence, saying that "when smoked their flesh is
very similar to that of salmon." Schlegel says they are not eaten on the coast of Holland.

On the Pacific coast there is a fish of a closely-related genus commonly known as the Eel,
Anarrichthyg occllatus. This species is commonly known as the "Eel," or "Wolf-eel," the latter
name proltably having been given by some one familiar with the Atlantic Wolf-fish, The name
" Azia" is given to it by the Dalmatian fishermen on Puget Sound, and that of " Morina" by the
Italians at Monterey. It reaches a length of eight feet and a weight of about thirty pounds.
The average length is five to six feet. It ranges from Monterey to Puget Sound, lurking among
the rocks, and occasionally left by the falling tide. It is not rare about San Francisco, but
becomes much more abundant northward. It feeds on crustaceans, echinoderms, and fishes. Ac-
cording to Mr. Lockiugton the broken shells of Echinarachnius excentricus are often found in its
stomach. Nothing special is known of its breeding habits, enemies, or diseases. As a food-fish
it meets always with a ready sale.

77. THE BLENNY FAMILY BLENNIID2E.

The Blenny family is represented on the Atlantic coast of the United States by two species
of insignificant size and absolutely without value. Upon the Pacific coast they are represented
by numerous atnall fishes, mostly living about the rocks between tide-marks, and often exceedingly
abundant. A few of them live in the kelp, and some of them swim freely in shallow water. Large
individuals are occasionally brought into the markets, especially of XipMater mucosus, Cebedichthys



Fishfs of MassaolniBotts, p. 100.
'Fishes of the Firth of Forth, p. 240.
3 British Fishes, 18:, vol. 1, p. 248.



Till: 15LEXNY FAMILY. 251

violaceus, and Ileterostichu* rotitratus, often selling as "eels," at thirty ceiits per pouud. In
-cm Tal these (islics .in-, from an economic point of view, entirely insignificant, ami probably not a
hundred pounds a year of t hem are sold on the whole coast. The Lumpenm anguillari* is often
taken in large numbers in the seines, but a prejudice seems to exist against it and no one will eat it.
The following is a list of the Bleunioid fishes: Lumpenux anguillaris (Pallas) Gill, from Cape
Meiidocino northward; abundant. Apodichthyg violnceus (Ayres) Grd.; Xiphister rupestris Jor. &
Gilb.: Xipkutter mucomu (Urd.) Jor.; Xiphutter chirus Jor. &Gilb.; Apr -oplarchus at 'ropurpureus (Kitt-
lit/) Gill; Apodichthys Jlaridus Gnl.; Apodichthyn fucorum Jor. & Gilb.; all these living among
rocks and ranging from Monterey to Alaska; Mnranurides ornatus Girard, from Cape Mendocino
noi tli ward; Gremnobates integripinnis Rosa Smith; Qibbontria elegans Cooper, and Hypleurochilu*
tilix (Girard) Gill, among rocks, chiefly from Point Coucepciou southward; and finally Neochnw
Grd., Keoclinus Blanchardi Girard, and Heterostichus rostratus Girard, living in the kelp
along the shore from Monterey to Lower California.

78. THE TOAD-FISH BATRACHUS TAU.

The Toad-fish, Batrnchus tax, called also on the coast of New Jersey and in some parts of the
Southern States "Oyster-fish," is one of the most repulsive looking fishes upon our coast, with its
dark, slimy, almost shapeless body and its mud- wallowing habits. In general appearance it resem-
bles a sculpin without prominent spines upon its head or upon its fins. Although it is armed
with by no means insignificant spines, which are capable of inflicting serious cuts, when touched
they show no disposition to bite, but erect their opercular spines in a very threatening manner;
these are so covered by the lax skin that they can scarcely be seen. 1

Species of this family inhabit the roasts of nearly all the tropical and temperate regions of the
world. The American species was the first brought to notice, specimens having been sent about
1701 from South Carolina by Dr. Garden to Linnaeus, by whom it was described under the name
Umlii* tau, the great Swedish naturalist considering it to be a kind of codfish. The name which
he gave it refers to a character not discernible except in dried specimens, the bones of the upper
surface of the scale forming a group of ridges which leseinble in shape the Greek letter T.

Our species is found in shallow waters from Cape Cod south at least its far as to the mouth of
tht Mississippi Eiver. In the Gulf of Mexico, however, it is found in deep water, and many large
ones are token on the snapper grounds at a considerable distance from shore. In the South it
would appear to be somewhat more active in its habits, though frequently found on the oyster-
beds, hiding between the valves of empty oyster-shells.

There are at least three distinct forms : (1) The northern variety, rarely exceeding ten, twelve,
and even fifteen inches in length, the general color of which is brown coarsely marbled with darker
marks. (2) The southern variety of Giiuther, which is found on the Florida Keys and in the Gulf,
though often associated with the northern variety, which is similar in color to this, but has the
body and the fins dotted and spotted with white. (3) A form found only in the Gulf, Batrachu*
piintus, which is much larger and of , light-yellow color spotted and blotched with brown. This
form is known to the fishermen as the " Sarpo" and the "Sea-robin," the former name being doubt-
less a corruption of the Spanish word sapo, meaning toad. This form is said by Mr. Stearns fre-
quently to attain the length of eighteen inches. The color of these fish usually corresponds very

'A closely related form, Thal<uiophry*e maculota, which occurs on tho Atl.intic side of the isthmus of Pauamo,
baa true poisoning glands at the base of its opercnlar spines, by means of which it can inflict injurious wounds; this
being almost the only fish which possesses weapons of this character.



252 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

closely to that of the bottom upon which they are resting, and, like many other muddy-water
species, they have the power of changing their color to lighter or darker shades when exposed to
the light in shallow vessels with dark or light-colored bottom. They are very voracious, feeding
upon small fishes of all kinds, especially upon anchovies and sand-smelt, and upon shells, crabs,
shrimps, and marine worms. "It secures its food rather by strategy and stealth than by swiftness
of motion," writes Mr. Stearns, "hiding under or behind stones, rocks, or weeds, or stealing from
one cover to another it watches its victim until the latter is near by, when it darts forth with a
quickness quite astonishing, considering its usual sluggishness, and back again to its hiding
place, having one or more fish in its stomach and on the alert for others."

On the south coast of New England it is found chiefly in the shallow bays. "The sandy or
muddy bottom of these," writes Storer, "is overgrown with eel-grass, under cover of which it lives
in secui ity and finds abundant sources of food. Where the coast, on the contrary, is more or less
rocky, we meet with it chiefly under stones. Examining the places where the water is but a few
inches in depth at low tide, ve see that under many of the stones and smaller rocks the sand on
one side has been removed, leaving a shallow cavity perhaps a foot in width and extending back
beneath the stone. If we approach this cautiously we shall probably distinguish the head of a
Toad-fish very much in the position of that of a dog as he lies looking out of his kennel. The fish
is at rest, and might be overlooked by a careless observer; a closer attention, however, readily dis-
tinguishes the curve of its broad mouth and delicately laciniated tentacles with which its jaws
and other parts of its head are ornamented. Its eyes, and sometimes the anterior portion of its
body, are truly beautiful. At the slightest alarm it retreats beneath the stone, but presently reap-
pears; it is lying here merely as in a safe resting-place, perhaps on the watch for its prey. But
during the months of June, July, and August we shall in many instances be able to discover
another purpose; it is apparently guarding its eggs or young; we shall then find on the interior
surface of the stone the young Toad-fish adhering, to the number of several hundreds. They will
be in different stages of development, according to the season of our examination. We may see
the eggs not larger than very small shot ; a little later they are increased in size, the young fish
plainly visible through their walls; a little later still the young have made their escape, but are
still attached to the stone. The attachment now, however, is accomplished in a different manner;
the yolk not being yet absorbed, occupies a rounded sac protruding by a narrow orifice from the
abutment, and the part of this sac near its outer border being constricted leaves, externally to it,
a disc, by means of which, acting as a sucker, the young fish adheres so firmly as to occasion diffi-
culty in detaching it. They remain thus until they have attained the length of one-half or threo-
fpurths of an inch, or until the yolk sac is entirely absorbed. During this period the adult fish
occupies the cavity beneath the stone, and if driven from it speedily returns. The fish is in all
cases the mother of the young ones, but that she is there for the purpose of guarding them we
have no means of determining; we can only infer it."

At Noank, Connecticut, in 1874, I had an opportunity of watching the progress of the spawn-
ing season. July 14, numerous eggs were found clinging to the stones in water one to two feet in
depth; later in the season, July 21, young fish, half an inch long, were plenty, and September 1
these had attained an average length of one inch. Individuals, apparently of the second year's
growth, were also common, and would average three-fourths of an inch in length. 1

'Silas Stearns writes: "In the Gulf of Mexico the Toad-fish spawns in April or May. When iU young have
been hatched, the older fish seem to guard them, and teach them the devices of securing food in much the same
manner that a hen does her chickens. I have spout hours in watching their movements at this time, and was at first
mnch surprised by the sagacity and patience displayed by the parent fish."



HABITS OF THE TOAD FISH.

The bottom temperature of the water frequented by these lisli would appe.u to range t'rotn
54 F. to 90 F. In tin- more northern regions throughout which they are distributed they up|x>ai
to become torpid, or nearly so, in winter; and it is stated by Storer that they are frequently found
in tin- mud by men spearing eels. They are very hardy, and when taken from the water will lie
lor many hours, and soon recover their ordinary activity when restored to the water. When
handled they litter a loud croaking sound.

The Toad lish is very abundant throughout the whole extent of its range, and is easily captured
with hook and line. In the Gulf of Mexico many are taken in seines. Mr. Stearns states that its
tlcsli is highly esteemed by many of the Gulf fishermen. Dr. Storer writes: "The Toad-fish is not
commonly employed as an iuticle of food. Its generally repulsive aspect causes it to be looked
iil><pn rather with disgust. That its flesh is delicate and good, however, can scarcely be questioned,
though the small size which it attains and the fact that it never is taken in any large quantities
prevent it from being of any economic value." Professor Baird also bears testimony to the fact
that its flesh is very sweet and palatable.

The Toad-fish may be regarded as constituting one of the undeveloped resources of our waters,
and it can scarcely be questioned that in future years it will be considered as much more important
than at present. No estimates can be given as to the quantity now yearly entering into consump-
tion, and. since it is almost never offered for sale, no price quotations can be presented. It has still
another, and at present more important, relation to the fisheries than this; on account of its great
abundance and its pertinacity in taking the hook baited for nobler game it is regarded by the
fishermen as one of their worst pests.

The BatrachiAa: are represented on the Pacific coat by the "Singing-fish," or "Toad-fish,"
I'orii-hthy* porosutftimux. This fish lives on muddy bottoms from Alaska to Panama, and is every-
where extremely abundant. It reaches the length of eighteen inches, but being never used for
food has no economic importance.

The family Trichodontidte, which follows Batracbidas in the classification of Gill, is represented
on the California coast by the species Trichodon Sielleri, an estray from Alaska, rarely seen. On the
Atlantic coast this family is entirely absent.

79. THE LUMP-SUCKERS: LUMP-FISH AND SEA-SNAILS.
THE SEA SNAILS LIPARIDID^E.

The three families Oobiesocidce, Liparidida; and Cyclopteridce are represented on our coast
1>.\ M-veral species, most of them minute and of no economic value; all of them characterized by
the presence of a peculiar suctorial organ upon the belly, a modification of the ventral fins, by
which they are able to cling to rocks and shells and to retain their positions in currents of water.
The Lamp-Bucket*, Liparis lineatus and L. vulgarin, which are found on oyster and scallop beds and
among the roots of the kelp, and along the New England coast, are interesting from the fact that
thev are often parasitic, living within the shells of the large scallops, in company with a small
crab resembling the oyster-crab. From the Chesapeake Bay southward, and in the Gulf of
Mexico, allied forme belonging to the genus Gobienox occur, especially among the oyster-l>eds, but
these also are of no economic value.

THE LUMP-FISH CYCLOPTKEUS LUMPUS.

To this group belongs a iish which, though of little value, is often seen in our markets, ano
is so conspicuous, on account of its grotesque form and striking colors, that it is worthy of passing



254 NATURAL HISTORY OP AQUATIC ANIMALS.

mention. This is the common Lump-fish, Cyclopterus lumpus, known in England by the names
" Lump-sucker," " Sea-owl," " Cock-paddle," and by numerous local appellations. This fish is widely
distributed throughout the entire North Atlantic, ranging on our coast from the mouth of the Chesa-
peake to the Straits of Belle Isle, abundant in Greenland and Iceland, along the entire western
coast of Scandinavia, from the North Cape to the Cattegat, entering the Baltic, and not rare along
the shores of East and West Prussia, well known in Holland, Northern France, and everywhere
in the British Isles. The largest English specimen recorded weighed eleven and a half pounds;
the largest on our own coast, as observed by Storer, eighteen and three-quarters pounds.

"The Lump-fish," writes Benecke, "lives on the bottom of the sea, swims slowly and with diffi-
culty, and in May and June conies into shallow water to spawn. The male makes pits in the sand,
between the stones, in which the female deposits its eggs. The male watches over the eggs, and
later over the tender young which cling to its body with their suckers. The number of eggs ranges
from 200,000 to 400,000. It is a voracious species, which preys upon small crustaceans, mollnsks,
and fish-spawn."

Benecke's observations were made in the southern part of the Baltic; the spawning time is
recorded by him as probably not very different from that in Southern New England. Young speci-
mens from one-fourth to one inch in length are very abundant in Southern Massachusetts and Con-
necticut in July and August, swimming at the surface. They have not yet assumed the ponderous,
unwieldy shape of the adults, and swim much more rapidly and gracefully. In Sweden, according
to Malm, the spawning time is in June; "In England," says Yarrell, "in April and the beginning
of May" dates which correspond precisely to those given by Fabricius for Greenland.

The male Lump-fish is said to be very fierce in defense of its young, and to be able to protect
them from much larger fish than themselves, even from the wolf-fish. It is, in its turn, a favorite
prey for the seals and wolf-fish. At the time of the spawning season the ordinary translucent
green color of the body becomes much brighter, and the under parts of the fish are of a brilliant
red. After spawning, the red disappears and the general color of the body becomes dull. When
in the season of the brightest coloration they are frequently shown in the fish markets, where their
remarkable appearance attracts much attention.

"If the authority of Sir Walter Scott is to pass current in gastronomy," writes Richardson,
"Lump, or Cock-paidle, as it is named in Scotland, is a fish of good quality, for he makes Mr. Old-
buck give the same price for one that he does for the bank-fluke or turbot."

Parnell states: "On the west coast of Scotland sometimes as many as two dozen are taken in
the salmon nets at almost every tide, principally in the month of June, when they seek the sandy
ground to deposit their spawn. The fishermen boil them down with vegetables for their pigs, and
consider them to be fattening food. The flesh, when cooked, is soft and very rich, and is considered
by some of the inhabitants of Edinburgh as a luxury ; but there are few stomachs with which it
agrees, in consequence of its oily nature. The males are considered the best for the table." In
Scotland it is also sometimes eaten in a salted state.

Buckland also has an opinion on record : " So great is the difference between the different
specimens that our fishermen consider them to be distinct species and call them the "Red-lump"
and the "Blue-lump," but the difference in color and flavor is. only the effect of the season. I do
uot like the flesh at all myself; it is like a glue pudding."

It is stated that the Greenlanders eat the flesh either cooked or dried and the skin raw, while
they eat the roe, which is remarkably large, after having reduced it by boiling it to a pulp.

Perley records that " In the spring the Lump-fish approaches the shores of New Brunswick



HA p. ITS or TIIK j, KM p- FISH. 255

;m<l Nova Scnti:i lo deposit it^ spawn. It is then taken in considerable numbers near the harbors
;it ll:ilit':i\. the largest weighing almiti live pounds. They are takeu there of two different colors,
the one lieinj: a dark l>luc approaching to black, and the other quite red. Those of a red color
only an- used as loud; they are considered good by many, although very lilt and somewhat oily ;
the dark -colored is considered very inferior and is not eaten."

On the Pacific coast the Uobiesocida; are represented by Gobiesox reticulatus (Grd.) J. & G., a
small fish four or live inches long, adhering to rocks by a sucking disk on the breast. It is found
from Monterey northward, and has no economic value. The Cyclopterida; are represented by the
rare Ci/flo/itfrus orbis occasionally takeu in the Straits of Fuca and northward. The lAparididte
are represented liy Lipnris pulehelliw Ayres, aud Ifeoliparis mucosu* (Ayres) Steiudachner, small
lishes occasionally taken about San Francisco and Monterey, of no economic importance.

80. THE GOBIES GOBIIDJE.

The (loliy family is represented on the Atlantic coast by several species, none of which have
i-\er heeii found north of Cape Cod, and none of which are or ever can be of the slightest impor-
tance. rhief among these are the scaleless Goby, Gobonoma alepidotum, which is found between
i 'ape Cod and Texas; the Chubby Goby, Gobiwt soporator, common along the Gulf coast, and several
species belonging to the genera Eleotris and Dormitator. They are not even abundant enough to
lie worthy of consideration as food for other fishes. On the Pacific coast there are several small
-pccies. which may be seen lying on the bottoms entering the lagoons. They reach the length of
t luce to si\ inches, and are of no economic importance, though the Chinese eat the Long-jawed
liy. <;ilticlithi/n mirabilUt, and its flesh is said to be very good. The other species are Gobiux
-Hiim (Gill) J. & G., in Puget Sound; Lepidogobius granite (Girard) Gill, from San
Francisco northward; Eucyclogobiu* Newberrii (Girard) Gill, rarely seen about San Francisco, and
ilillii'hthys miraJrili* Cooper, found the entire length of the coast, but abundant only from San
Francisco southward. The latter species burrows in the muddy bottoms of the lagoons.

81. THE SEA-ROBIN OR GURNARD FAMILY TRIGLID2E.

This family is represented on our Atlantic coast by several species, some of them being quite
abundant. The most striking of them all is the Sea-bat or Flying Gurnard, Dactylopterus rolitans,
which is remarkable on account of its enormous spreading fins, larger than those of a flying-fish
wings which, however, are not sufficiently powerful to lift the body above the surface of the water,
though useful in maintaining the equilibrium of the heavy-headed body swimming through the
water. The colors of the body and of the fins are very brilliant, and the fish is often exhibited as a
curiosity. It is found along our entire coast south of Cape Cod, and in the waters of Brazil; also
in the Mediterranean and in the neighboring parts of the Eastern Atlantic.

The genus Prionotm. of which we have five specimens, resembles Daclylopterus in general
form, but the wings are much smaller, while two or three of the lower rays of these fins are devel-
oped into finger-like appendages which are used in stirring up the weeds and sand to rout out the
small animals upon which they feed. In Southern New England there are two large species, P.
piilmipes and P. evolans, the latter distinguished by the presence of dark stripes upon its sides.
These attain the length of fifteen to eighteen inches and the weight of one and a quarter to two
pounds. They have excellent food qualities, but are eaten, so far as we have record, only in the
vicinity of Hartford, Connecticut, where they are known as "Wing-fish." They are takeu in great



Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 45 of 146)