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THE EUROPEAN SWORD-FISH.
that it would be impossible, with a hammer of a quarter of a hundred weight, to drive an iron pin of the same form and size into that wood, and to the same depth, by less than eight or nine strokes, whilst this had been effected by only one.
And about sixteen years ago, a letter was written to Sir Joseph Banks, as president of the Royal Society, from the captain of an East Indiaman, and was accompanied by
SWORD OF SWORD-PILL, PIERCING TUBER. account of an. other instance of the amazing strength which this fish occasionally exerts. The bottom of this ship had been pierced through in such a 'manner, that the sword was completely imbedded, or driven through its whole length, and the fish killed by the violence of the effort.
The Sword-fishes and the Whale are said never to meet without coming to battle; and the former bas the reputation of being always the aggressor. Sometimes two Sword-fishes join against one Whale; in which case the combat is by no means equal. The Whale uses his tail only in his defence: he dives down into the water, head foremost, and makes such a blow with his tail, that, if it take effect, finishes the Sword-fish at a stroke: but the other, which in general is sufficiently adroit to avoid it, immediately falls upon the Whale, and buries his weapon in his sides. When the Whale discovers the Sword-fish darting upon him, he dives to the bottom, but is closely pursued by his antagonist, who compels him again to rise to the surface. The battle then begins afresh, and lasts until the Sword-fish loses sight of the Whale, who is at length cornpelled to swim off, which his superior agility enables him to do. In the Sword-fish piercing the Whale's body with the tremendous weapon at his snout, he seldom does any great damage to the animal, from not beiny able to penetrate much beyoni. the blubber.
The European Sword-fish has sometimes been found on the British coasts; and is very common in the Mediterranean.
OF THE COD TRIBE IN GENERAL
This is a numerous tribe, the animals of which inhabit only the depths of the ocean, and seldom visit the fresh waters. They are in general gregarious, and feed on the smaller fish and other marine animals. The flesh of most of them is white, firm, and good eating.
THE COMMON COD.
These fish are on y found in the seas of the northern parts of the
world; and the great rendezvous for them are the sand-banks of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and New England. These shallows are their favorite situations; for here they are able to obtain great
quantities of worms, a food that is peculiarly grateful to them. Another cause of their attachment to these places is their vicinity to the polar seas where they return to spawn. There they deposit their roes in full security, and afterwards repair, as soon as the first more southern seas are open, to the banks for subsistence. Few are taken north of Iceland, and the shoals never reach so far south as the Straits of Gibraltar.
The vessels frequenting these fisheries, are from a hundred to two hundred tons burthen, and will catch thirty thousand Cod or upwards each. The hook and the line are the only implements employed in taking the fish; and this in a depth of water from sixteen to sixty fathoms. The great bank of Newfoundland, is represented to be like a vast mountain, above five hundred miles long, and nearly three hundred broad; and the number of British seamen employed upon it, is supposed to be about fifteen thousand.
The best season for fishing, is from the beginning of February, to the end of April; and though each man takes no more than one fish at a time, an expert fisherman will sometimes catch four hundred in a day. The employment is excessively fatiguing, from the weight of the fish, and the great coldness of the climate.
As soon as the Cod are caught, their heads are cut off; they are opened, gutted, and salted: they are then stowed in the hold of the vessel
, in beds five or six yards square, head to tail, with a layer of salt to each layer of fish. When they have lain here three or four days to drain off the water, they are shifted into a different part of the vessel, and again salted. Here they remain till the vessel is
loaded. Sometimes they are cut into thick pieces, and packed in barrels, for the greater convenience of carriage.
In the Newfoundland fishery, the sounds, or air-bladders, are taken out previously to incipient putrefaction, are washed from their slime and salted for exportation. The tongues are also cured, and brought in barrels containing four or five hundred pounds weight each. From the livers a great quantity of oil is extracted.
Cod feed principally on the smaller species of fish, on worms shell-fish, and crabs: and their digestion is sufficiently powerful to dissolve the greatest part even of the shells which they swallow.
They are so extremely prolific, that Leuwenhoek counted more than nine millions of eggs in the roe of a middling-sized Cod-fish, The production of so great a number will surely baffle all the efforts of man, or the voracity of the inhabitants of the ocean, to diminish the species so greatly, as to prevent its affording an inexhaustible supply of grateful provision in all ages.
Haddocks migrate in immense shoals, which usually arrive on the Yorkshire coasts about the middle of winter. These shoals are sometimes known to extend, from the shore, nearly three miles in breadth, and in length from Flam borough Head to. Tinmouth Castle, fifty miles, and perhaps even much further. An idea of the number of Haddocks may be formed from the following circumstance: three fishermen, within a mile of the harbor of Scarborough, frequently loaded their boat with these fish twice a day, taking each time about a ton weight of them. The large Haddocks quit the coast as soon as they are out of season, and leave behind them great abundance of small ones. The former are supposed to visit the coasts of Hamburgh and Jutland during the summer.
It is principally near the bottom of the sea, that the Whiting resides. Here it feeds on various species of Crabs and Lobsters, on molluscæ, and young fish. In its stomach there are often found both Sprats and young Herrings. With these the fishermen frequently bait their hooks for the catching of Whitings: they also occasionally bait with marine Worms and Muscles.
Whitings are generally caught off certain parts of the French coast, in the months of January and February ; but, in Holland and
England, during the
the summer season. They sometimes approach the English coasts in such numbers, that their shoals have been known occasionally to ex
tend three or four miles in length, • and upwards of a mile in breadth.
They are sometimes caught by
means of nets, but lines are gene. rally preferred. Where a fishery is well conducted, these lines are of immense length, and furnished with as many as from a hundred and fifty to two bundred hooks. One vessel will put out twenty of these lines, having in the whole nearly four thousand hooks. Whitings pursue the shoals of Herrings with great eagerness; they are, consequently, ofteu caught in the Herring-nets.
THE LING, AND HAKE.
After the Herring, the Pilchard, and the Cod, the Ling may, in
a commercial view, be e considered as the most
important of all fish. Nine hundred thousand pounds weight of Ling are annually exported from Norway. In England these fish are
caught and cured in somewhat the same manner as Cod. Those which are caught off the shores of America, are by no means so much esteemed as those which frequent the coasts of Great Britain and Norway.
They are in season from February till about the end of May. During this time the liver is white, and yields a great quantity of fine and well-flavored oil. A kind of isinglass is made from the airbladders. The tongues are eaten either fresh, dried, or salted.
Hake are found in the Mediterranean, in the British Channel, and in the North Sea. On some of the shores of Ireland, particularly those of Galway and Waterford, they are very abundant. They are also caught in vast quantities near Penzance in Cornwall, and on some parts of the coast of Devonshire.
There are few animals more voracious than these. They pursue, with great eagerness, the shoals of Herrings and Mackerel; and; when other prey is not easily had, they attack and devour even their own species
THE Sucking.fishes have a naked, flat, and oily head, surrounded by a narrow margin, and marked with several transverse streaks or grooves. They have also ten rays in their gill-membrane; and their body is destitute of scales.
There are only three known species; these are occasionally seen in the Mediterranean Sea, and the Pacific Ocean.
THE COMMON REMORA, OR SUCKING-FISH.
From the time of Aristotle to the present day, this fish bas been an object of constant attention and surprise. The ancient naturalists, not satisfied with imputing to it wonderful qualities, and very extraordinary powers, proceeded so far as even to regard its properties among what they denominated the occult qualities of nature. The Remora, in almost all ages, has ranked high in the writings of poets, in the comparisons of orators, the narrations of travellers, and the descriptions of naturalists.
The ancients absurdly believed that, small as it is, this fish had the power of arresting the progress of a ship in its fastest sailing, by adhering to its bottom.
It inbabits most parts of the ocean, and is often found so strongly adhering to the sides of Sharks and other fish, by means of the process on the upper pırt of its head, as not to be separated without great difficulty. Five of these fish have been taken off the body of a single Shark. St. Pierre says, he has put some of them on an even surface of glass, from which he could not afterwards remove them.
The Indians of Jamaica and Cuba formerly used the Sucking.fish in the catching of others, somewhat in the same manner as Hawks are employed by a falconer in seizing birds. They kept them for the purpose, and had them regularly fed. The owner, on a calm morning, would carry one of them out to sea, secured to his canoe, by a slender but strong line, many fathoms in length; and the moment the creature 80 \V a fish in the water, though at a great distance, it would dart away with the swiftness of an arrow, and soon fasten upon it. The Indian,