Garfish

Abstract

HAVING been absent from England for some time, I have only just noticed the two letters published in NATURE for July 5 and 12 (pp. 226 and 245), on “Garfish.” I have little doubt that the fish described by Mr. S. Archer as having cut a slit ia a felt hat was, as he believes, a garfish, a large Belone, not a Hemirhamphus, and not a swordfish or sawfish of any kind, as suggested by Mr. Goodsir. It is the constant habit of large Belones, some species of which attain, acording to Dr. Günther, a length of five feet, when startled to move along the surface of the water by a series of rapid bounds for thirty or forty yards at a time, with astonishing rapidity. I have often seen them thus spring out of the water when scared by a boat. I was told that in some of the Pacific Islands these fish not uncommonly cause the death of the natives, who, when wading in the water, have their naked abdomens speared by the sharp snoats of the fish, with the result of causing peritonitis. The fish appear to bound blindly away from danger, and strike any obstacle in their way haphazard. As a good many natives wade in together in many of their fishing operations, as at Fiji, for example, where one party drives the fish into the nets held by another, such accidents may easily occur. I do not think a sawfish could possibly jump over a boat. I have described the jumping habits of the large garfish, and alluded to their fatal effects in “Notes by a Naturalist on the Challenger”, p. 480.

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MOSELEY, H. Garfish. Nature 28, 436 (1883). https://doi.org/10.1038/028436a0

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