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Fishing with Captive Sucking Fish

Nature volume 130, page 340 (03 September 1932) | Download Citation



MORE than four centuries ago, Columbus observed the strange custom of catching fish and turtles by means of captive sucking fish in the “Jardinellas de la Reina”. The general impression has been that these islands were near Haiti and Jamaica, but C. Ralph de Sola points out that a more likely place is the archipelago in the Bight of Manzanillo on the south coast of Cuba (Copeia, p. 45, 1932). If this be so, Gudger is wrong in concluding that the original site of the discovery of Columbus “no longer witnesses the exploits of the fisherman fish”, for the Siboneyes of southern Cuba, a people of Carib extraction, still practice remora-fishing to a considerable extent. De Sola describes a fishing trip from Matanzas, Cuba. To the under-planks of the boat two sucking-fishes were firmly attached by their discs, and when a turtle was sighted basking on the surface, the fishes were detached and cast as far as possible towards the turtle. The sucking-fishes were themselves held captive by a long thin rope of majuga bark, attached in front of the tail, and so soon as they had fixed upon their quarry, the lines were drawn in and the captured hawk's-bill turtle taken aboard. Throughout the proceedings the lines had to be kept taut, and the author states that owing to the arrangement of the lamell of the sucker, it is impossible for the remora to relax its hold when tension is placed on its horizontal axis. It is curious that so peculiar a mode of fishing should be found in many distant parts of the world, but Gudger's records from various localities in Africa, Asia, Australia, South America, and the West Indies show that it is almost cosmopolitan in tropical seas.

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