G. Brown (George Brown) Goode.

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feed also upon dead animal matter, and are among the most important scavengers of our harbors.
Numbers of them may be taken by lowering a net containing a piece of meat or fish and quickly
raising it to the surface. Like the tautog, Gunners are local in their habits, only moving from
the shoal water in extreme cold weather, and, though adapted for living in colder water, rarely
retreat except in the severest weather. In winter, however, they rarely are caught with the hook.
The first of the season of 1881 at Gloucester were caught May 8. A very cold season sometimes
destroys them. It is recorded that in January, 1835, great quantities were frozen and thrown up
on the shore between Gloucester and Marblehead. 1 In June and July they spawn on their feeding
grounds in Southern New England, and in July and August young fish three-quarters of an inch
or more are taken abundantly along the shores. They appear to become adult and to breed when
three inches long. The largest I have observed was taken at Wood's Holl, in July, 1875: its
weight was twelve ounces, its length ten and a half inches, and it was spawning freely. Storer
claims to have seen them fourteen inches long, and I am assured that they sometimes attain a
weight of two pounds. From Eastport, Maine, to the vicinity of Boston, the Gunner is a favorite
article of food. Elsewhere it is rarely eaten and is usually regarded with disgust afoolish prejudice,
for it is one of the most agreeably flavored small fishes on our coast. Immense quantities are taken
with the hook from the rocks, bridges, and boats, especially in the vicinity of cities like Boston and
Portland. They are also taken in immense quantities in nets. The Irish market-boats of Boston
make a special business of catching them, using circular nets three or four feet in diameter which
are baited and set among the rocks. Dr. Storer records that on the occasion of his visit to Lab-
rador, in 1849, he found them so plentiful in the Gut of Cansothat, by sinking a basket with a salt
fish tied therein for bait, he continually caught them by the score, and by putting a few hundreds
in the well of his sloop kept the crew well supplied with fish while at sea on the way to Labrador.
The people of Nova Scotia, like those south of Gape Cod, rarely, if ever, eat the Gunner. Mr. J.
Matthew Jones informs me that in the summer of 1863, when the French fleet was anchored in
Halifax Harbor, the sailors caught them for food in great numbers. About Saint Margaret's Bay,
according to Mr. Ambrose, they are given as food to pigs: since, however, the pork of these
fish-fed pigs always tastes oily, they are generally fed on some other food for a short time before
being killed, and well dosed with sulphur. It was formerly customary in Boston to keep these fish
alive for market in large cars, described by Storer as three feet deep, twelve to fifteen feet long,
closed beneath and latticed at the sides, and anchored in deep water. Storer states that sometimes
as many as five thousand fish were kept in a single car, and that these cars were replenished every
week or fortnight. It is impossible to estimate with any degree of accuracy the quantity of Gun-
ners annually taken. The catch of the Irish market-boats of Boston cannot fall much short of
300,000 pounds, and that of the other towns and States on the coast of New England is certain to
be from 200,000 to 250,000 pounds.

88. THE PAEROT-FISHES AND SOME OF THEIR ALLIES.

Several of the Parrot-fishes occur on the Florida coast, notably the Blue Parrot-fish, Platy-
!/U>xsu8 radiatm (Linn.) Goode, sometimes, according to Jordan, seen in Key West market, and /'.
bivittatug, known in Bermuda as " Slippery Dick," recorded by Jordan from Charleston market.
They are gorgeous in color, but the flesh is so dry that they are held in slight esteem for table use.

'Qloucenter Telegraph, January 14, 1835.



TEE PARROT-FISHES AND THElIt ALLIES. 275

THE RED-FISH, OF CALIFORNIA.

This species, Trochocopus pulcher, writes Jordan, is everywhere kuowu as the "Red-fish": the
name "Fat-head" is occasionally used, and it is very rarely called " Sheepshead." It reaches a
weight of twelve to fifteen pounds. It is found from Point Concepcion southward to Ce.rros Island
in enormous numbers in the kelp. It is taken chiefly with hook and line. It feeds ou crustaceans
and mollusks. It is taken chiefly by the Chinese, who salt and dry it. It forms half of the total
catch of the Chinese south of Point Concepciou. It does not rank high as a food-fish, its flesh
being coarse. The fat forehead is said to make excellent chowder.

THE SENORITA-FISH, OF CALIFORNIA.

At Monterey, California, this species, Paeudojulis modestus, is known as, " Pescerey " ; south-
ward it is called " Seflorita." It reaches a weight of less than half a pound. It is found in the
kelp from Monterey southward to Cerros Island, and is generally common. It feeds chiefly on
Crustacea. It is used chiefly for bait, although the flesh is said to be of excellent quality.

THE KELP-FISH, OF CALIFORNIA.

ThJs species, Platyglossus semicinctus, bears in company with Heterostichus restrains, and
perhaps others, the name of "Kelp-fish." It reaches a pound weight, and a length of nearly a
foot. It is found in the kelp about Santa Cataliua Island and southward, and is not very abun-
dant. It feeds ou Crustacea, and spawns in July. Its flesh is said to be of good quality.

THE HOG-FISH LACHNOL^IMUS FALOATUS.

This fish is, according to Mr. Stearns, abundant at Key West and among the Florida coral reefs,
although he has not observed it north of the Gulf of Mexico. It there attains a considerable size,
and a weight of twelve or fifteen pounds, although the average size is not more than one-fourth
that size. In the Key West market it appears almost daily, and is much esteemed for food. This
species occurs throughout the West Indies, and is one of the favorite food-fish of Cuba, although
its sale is forbidden by law, on account of the supposed poisonous nature of its flesh. In the
Bermudas it is one of the most important of the food-fish, attaining sometimes the weight of
twenty pounds. It is caught by line-fishermen among the reefs, at a depth of five to forty fathoms.
Like the other members of this family, it feeds upon small fish and upon bottom crustaceans and
mollusks. Its brilliant red color renders it a conspicuous object in the markets. During the
different stages of growth its species undergoes many changes of form, and has been described
under several different names. The large adult male is remarkable on account of a heavy black
blotch over the forehead and over the eyes. The name " Hog-fish" refers to the swine-like appear-
ance of the bead, jaws, and teeth. At the entrance to the Great Sound, in Bermuda, is a reef called
Hog-fish Shoal, which is surmounted by a beacon bearing an enormous effigy of a Hog-fish in metal.

89. THE DEMOISELLE AND THE CICHLID FAMILIES.

Among the reefs of Florida two or three species of the family Pomacentrulas are abundant.
Most prominent among these is the "Sergeant Major," OlypJiidodon saxatilis (L.) C. & V., called
in Bermuda the " Cow-pilot," from an alleged habit of being always found in the society of the
"Cow-fish," or Ostracion. This fish sometimes attains the length of ten inches and the weight of
a pound or so, but is usually of a smaller size and is not highly esteemed for food. It is found
throughout the tropical waters of the entire world.



276 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

There are several smaller species of this and of allied genera in the Gulf of Mexico, and on
the western side of the Isthmus of Panama and in the Gulf of California. On the California coast
occurs a species, Pomacentrus rubicundus, conspicuous by reason of its uniformly deep crimson or
orange coloration, which is usually known as the "Garibaldi" among the Italians. The names
" Gold-fish" and "Red Perch" are also used, all of them referring to its brilliant orange colorations.
It reaches a weight of three pounds, and a length of less than a foot. It is found about the Santa
Barbara Islands and southward to Lower California. It lives about rocky places, and is generally
abundant. Its food is largely crustaceous. It is a food-fish of low grade, and has little economic
importance. Another somewhat noteworthy species is known in California, on account of its dusky
colors, as the " Blacksmith." Chromis punetlpinnis, Cooper.

"This fish," writes Jordan, "is known as the 'Blacksmith' from its dusky colors. It reaches a
weight of about two pounds. It ranges from the Santa Barbara Islands southward, living about
reefs of rock, and is locally abundant. It feeds on shells and Crustacea. It is considered as
inditt'erent food."

The family Cichlidce is large, and is composed chiefly of fresh-water fishes occurring in the
tropical parts of Africa and America. Among its members is a South American species, Ueoplictfim
surinamensis, which is often mentioned by writers on the instincts of animals on account of a
peculiar habit of the males which carry in their mouths the eggs until they are hatched, and
which are even said to allow the young fish to seek refuge within their jaws. We have no repre-
sentatives of the family on our Atlantic coast, though one or two species of the genus Heron occur
in the brackish waters of Texas.

90. THE SURF-FISH FAMILY EMBIOTOCID-ffi.
By DAVID S. JORDAN.

This remarkable group of fishes forms the most characteristic feature of the fauna of our Pacific
coast. Of the nineteen species now known, all but one (Ditrema TemmincJci of Japan) occur on the
coast of California, and most of them in very great abundance. The species are most of them very
similar in habits and economic value, and the following general remarks are proffered before pro-
ceeding to the discussion of the different species.

NAMES. The general name "Perch" is applied to these fishes everywhere along the coast.
This unfortunate misnomer came about from their resemblance to the sun-fishes or " perch" of the
Southern States, and to the " white perch," Roccus americanus, of the East. On the coast of Oregon
the large species (especially Damalichthys argyrosomm] are called "Pogy" or "Porgee," in allusion
to their undoubted resemblance to the scup or porgee of the East. The names " Minny," " Sparada,"
and "Moharra" are also applied to the smaller species northward. About San Francisco, the name
"Perch" is given to them all, as well as to Archoplites interruptus, and separate names for the
different species are seldom heard. From Monterey southward, the name "Surf-fish" is in common
use, although the name " Perch" is still more common.

HABITS, &c. The largest Bhacochilus toxotes, reaches a weight of four pounds; the smallest,
Abeona minima, a length of four or five inches. So far as we are able to judge, the growth of the
young is quite rapid, as the specimens are about half grown the first winter, and probably reach
full size in two and a half to three years perhaps, in some cases, in the second year.

The center of distribution of this group is from Santa Barbara to Tomales Bay. Northward
the number of species decreases, while the number of individuals is, perhaps, equally great as far
as the Gulf of Georgia. Southward both individuals and species rapidly diminish in number.




HABITS OF THE SIUT KISIIKS.

Their range probably extends from < Yrros Island to Sitka; certainly no farther. Most of them live
in shallow water, on a sandy bottom, both in the OJMSU sea and in sheltered bays. A seine drawn
in the surf will often be filled with the silvery speeies (Amiiltixtichu/t: //o/cwiof ), and a seinedrawn
in a bay may l>e equally lull of Ditrema laterals, Ditrema Jacknoni, etc. One species is confined
to the fresh waters. Nearly all of them feed chiefly on Crustacea, together with such small fish as
they ean swallow. The species of Abeona are chiefly herbivorous, feeding on seaweed.

The Kmbiotocoids are all oviparous. The youug are fifteen to twenty in number, and are
brought forth in summer: when born, the little fish are from three-fourths of an inch to two and
a half inches in length, according to the species. They are closely packed together in the uterus,
the inner surface of which forms folds partly separating the young from each other. The young
are at first excessively compressed, with the soft parts of the vertical fins excessively elevated. As
their development proceeds they resemble more and more the parent, and when born their form is
quite similar, the body, however, more compressed, the fins higher, and the color usually red.

Impregnation probably takes place in the fall. In January most of the species have the young
half grown as to length, and when the parent fish is caught the youug readily slip out from the
ovary. From January to June the fish-stalls where these fishes are sold are littered with these
foetal fish. Little is known of the place of spawning, but I suppose that the young are simply
extruded in the water just outside the breakers and left to shift for themselves. As to the mode
of impregnation, we have made no observations. Dr. Blake thinks that the fleshy thickening on
the anal fin of the male is to give the female something to hold to with the ventral fins, and that
the two sexes approach each other, ventral surfaces together, and with their heads in opposite
directions. They have 110 special enemies except the larger predatory fishes and the fishermen,
who destroy great numbers at the breeding time. No diseases have been noticed.

The species are all, with the exception of two or three of the smallest, used as food. Their
flesh is watery, flavorless, and much inferior to that of the Scorpaeuoid, Seia-uoid. and Percoid
fishes, and only their abundance gives them value. Great quantities of them are consumed by the
Chinese.

ALFIONE Rhacochilus toxotes Agassiz). This species is called "Alfione" at Soquel, "Sprat"
at Santa Cruz; elsewhere it is simply "Perch." It reaches a length of eighteen inches and a
weight of five pounds, being mnch the largest of the group. It ranges from San Pedro to Cape
Mendociuo, and is generally common, although not nearly so abundant as some of the others. A -
a food-fish it is considered the best of this very indifferent group.

POEGEE (Damalichthys argyrosomus (Girard) J. & G.). On the coast of Oregon and Wash-
ington this species is known as "Porgee"; elsewhere simply as "Perch," or "White Perch. r> It
reaches a weight of two and a half pounds. It ranges from San Pedro to Vancouver's Island, its
abundance steadily increasing to the northward so far as traced. At San Francisco it is rather
common, but south of Point Coucepciou rather rare. As a food-fish it ranks next to the preceding.

WHITE PEBCH (Ditrema furcatum (Grd.) Giinther). This species occasionally reaches a weight
of a pound, but is usually smaller. It ranges from Cape Mendocino to the Mexican line, being
everywhere exceedingly abundant. It lives in sheltered bays. It is always present in the markets
and is held in low esteem.

Ditrema atripes Jor. & Gilb. This 8|>ecies reaches a weight of one and a half pounds. It
has been noticed only in the Bay of Monterey, where it is generally rather common, being taken
in seines near the shore.

BLUE SURF-FISH (Ditrema lateralc (Agassiz) Giinther). This species is known as the "Blue
Perch" or "Stirf-lish.'' It reaches a weight of about two and a half pounds. It ranges from Santa



278 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

Barbara to Vancouver's Island, and is everywhere abundant. North of San Francisco it is the
most common of the larger species. It is au important food-fish, although not of very good quality.

BLACK SURF-FISH (Ditrema Jacksoni (Agassiz) Giinther). This species is known as "Perch,'
"Surf-fish," "Black Perch," etc. About San Diego it is called ''Croaker," which name, however,
belongs properly to the Sciaenoid fishes. It reaches a weight of two pounds. It ranges from San
Diego to Puget Sound. North of Cape Mendocino it is scarce. From San Francisco southward
it is probably brought into the market in greater numbers than any other species. It is but an
indifferent food-fish.

Sypsurus Garyi (L. Agass.) A. Agass. This species is knowu as "Moharra" to the Portuguese
at Monterey; elsewhere it is a "Perch." It reaches the weight of a pound. It ranges from
Tomales Bay to Santa Barbara, and is rather common, being sometimes taken in great numbers
in spring. It is used chiefly as bait for rock-fish, the larger individuals only being sent to market.
It is the most brightly colored of its family.

SILVER SURF-FISH (Amphistichm argenteus Agassiz). This species is kuowu as " Surf-fish" and
" White Perch." It reaches a weight of three pounds. It ranges from Tomales to San Diego, and
is locally often very abundant, especially along sandy beaches.

EOSY SURF-FISH (Holconotus rhodoterus Agassiz). This species has no distinctive name with
the fishermen. It reaches a weight of one and a half pounds. It ranges from Cape Mendociuo
to Santa Barbara, being often locally abundant, especially at Soquel, but it is not one of the more
common species.

Holconotus Agassizi (Gill) Jor. & Gilb. This species reaches a weight of but half a pound. In
distribution and abundance it agrees with the preceding.

WALL-EYE SURF-FISH (Holconotus argenteus (Gibb.) Jor. & Gilb.). This species is usually
known as the "Wall-eye," in allusion to the great size of its eyes. It reaches a weight of half a
pound. It ranges from Cape Meudocino to the Mexican line, and is generally abundant, especially
in the surf. It is taken in large quantities, and is little esteemed.

Holconotus analis (A. Agass.) Jor. & Gilb. This species reaches a weight of a quarter of a
pound. It is found from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco. It is only locally abundant, and is
not purposely sent to market. At Soquel, where it is abundant, it is used for bait.

Brachyistius romceus Jor. & Gilb. This species weighs less than half a pound. It has been
taken only in deep water off Point Eeyes.

Brachyistius frenatus Gill. This species rarely weighs more than a quarter of a pound. It
ranges from Catalina Island to Vancouver's Island, living in water of moderate depth, and is
locally exceedingly abundant, as at Monterey, Point Reyes, etc. It comes into the market only by
accident, and is used chiefly for bait.

SPARADA (Cymatogaster aggregatus Gibb.). This fish is usually known as the " Shiner." On
Puget Sound the Americans call it "Minuy," and the Italians "Sparad" or "Sparada." It is found
from Vancouver's Island to the Mexican line, everywhere in great numbers, and is perhaps the
most abundant species on the coast. It is rarely used except for bait.

Abeona aurora Jor. & Gilb. This species reaches a weight of nearly half a pound. It is
abundant in rocky places from Monterey to San Francisco, often frequenting rock-pools. It feeds
ou plants, and is occasionally sent to market.

SHINER (Abeona minima [Gibbous] Gill.). This little fish is usually known as the " Shiner." It
is the smallest of the group, rarely weighing a quarter of a pound. It ranges from Tomales Bay
to San Diego, and is generally common, although not one of the most abundant species. Its
appearance in the market is accidental.



TIII: SII;F FISH FAMILY. 279

"EiVEH PERCH" (ni/st,-r<-arpu* Trattki, Gibbous). This s]>ecies very often reaches the weight
of about h:ilf:i pound. It is confined to the fresh water, being found in the Sacramento and San
Jou<|iiin Ilivers, and other streams as Car southward at least as San Luis Obispo. It is sent in
small numbers to the markets of San Francisco, and is chiefly eaten by the Chinese.

91. THE MOHARRA FAMILY GERRIDJE.

Tliis family is represented on our eastern coast by four species, all of which are very small
and of little consequence except as food for larger fishes.

Qerre* argenteus, first discovered by Professor Baird at Beesley's Point, New Jersey, appears
tn ] common from North Carolina to New Jersey, and has been, within two or three years,
observed at Wood's IIoll, Massachusetts.

<;. harengultu and O. homonymuii occur in the Gulf of Mexico. In the Bermudas there are
three species of this genus; these are known by the names "Shad" and "Long-boned Shad."
They are seined in great numbers, and constitute an important article of food.

92. THE THREAD-FISH FAMILY POLYNEMID-E.

The family Polynemidce is remarkable by reason of the elongate filaments which are developed
in connection with the pectoral fin. Giinther has remarked: "Their eyes are large, but generally
obscured by a filmy skin, so that these feelers must be of great use to them in helping them to
find their way to their food. It is evident, from the organization of these fishes, that they live in
thick water or muddy bottoms, such as are found near the mouths of great rivers."

There are two or three species upon our coast, one of which, the " Thread-fisli " of Peusacola,
I'<iliinimu octonemus, is the subject of the following interesting observations by Mr. Stearns:

"The Thread-fish is rather common at Pensacola in summer, and has not been observed else-
where in the Gulf by me. My first specimen was taken at the surface of the water in Peusacola
la.\ . May iM, 1878. Later in the season I saw large schools of them in shoal water along the sea-
beach swimming towards the harbor mouth. On June 14 a very large school of them came into the
surf near Fort McRae, and large numbers were thrown ashore by the waves, until perfect wind-
rows of dead fish were found upon the sands. Sharks and other fishes were preying upon them in
the water, and vast numbers of sea-birds and buzzards awaited them on land. The individuals
composing this school were of various sizes, the majority being adults. (Several of these were
sent to the National Museum.) They were evidently moving towards the bay. Small schools
were seen during the months of July of that and the follow ing year."

93. THE SURGEON-FISH FAMILY ACANTHURLD-E.

On the coast of Florida, as well as through the West Indies and in the Bermudas, occur two
species of this family, Acanthurus cceruleus and A. nigrican*, generally known as "Doctor-fish" or
"Surgeon-fish." They are distinguished by slight differences of proportion and color. Each side
of the tail is provided with a sharp, lancet-Like spine, which, when at rest, is received into a sheath,
but it may be thrust out at right angles to the body, and used as a weapon of offense; sweeping
the tail from side to side as they swim, they can inflict very serious wounds, and I have seen, in
the Bermudas, large fishes, confined in the same aquarium tank with them, covered with gashes
inflicted in this manner. They are available for food, but are more worthy of consideration on
account of their power of wounding the fishermen. The "Bone-fish" of Key West, according to
Stearns, belongs to this family and genus. It is quite common about the coral reefs of the South
Florida coast.



280 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

94. THE ANGEL-FISH FAMILY CH-ETODONTIDJE.

This family contains numerous species of fully-formed, beautifully-tinted fishes, usually of
small size, which abound in all tropical seas, especially among the coral reefs. Their teeth are
very small and feeble, and they feed upon minute invertebrates. To this group belong the beau-
tiful " four-eyed fish " of the West Indies ; also the Angel-fish, Holacanthus ciliaris, a lovely species,
familiar to the residents of New York, specimens having been brought from the Bermudas at vari-
ous times during the past thirty years for exhibition in the aquaria of that city. This species is
found also along the Florida coast, and as far north as Charleston, South Carolina. It is con-
sidered the most delicious food-fish of the Bermudas.

Stearns writes: "The 'White Angel-fish,' the 'Yellow Angel-fish,' and the 'Black Angel-
fish' are reported as common about the Florida reefs, the two first as being abundant and the last
as rare. I did not secure a specimen of either."

The Black Angel-fish is probably the species known under this name in the Bermudas, Hola-
canthus tricolor.



TIIK MACKKIIKL AND ITS ALLIES. 281



L. THE MACKEREL AND ITS ALLIES.

95 THE MACKEREL SCOMBER SCOMBRUS

GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION The common Mackerel, Scomber ncombrun, is an inhabitant
of the North Atlantic Ocean. On our coast its southern limit is in the neighborhood of Cape Hat-
teras in early spring. The fishing schooners of New Hngland find schools of them in this region
at some distance from the shore, but there is no record of their having been taken in any numbers



Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 49 of 146)