Raining Fish?!

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As a portly individual, I have been trying to take up running to lose weight. I was going to run today (and actually felt like it for once) but it now looks like this is not going to happen. As I type, rain is pouring down so hard that I almost can’t see out my window. The storm can be heard roaring in the background. As I sit here, though, I can only imagine what it would be like to hear a sudden -THUMP- against my window. To go outside to see what in the world it is, and then to behold it – a silver fish flopping wildly for life out on the lawn! Then something slimy and wet bouncing off my head. Another fish! Personally I would run back inside to wait this odd weather out. This scenario sounds crazy to imagine, but for many around the world it has happened! Yes, it can actually “rain” fish.

Fish rains have been recorded throughout history from as early as  the first century AD6 to the present era 10, and have been observed all over the world2. During a windy storm with precipitation, fish are seen to start dropping with the rain.  Sometimes the fish are dead, sometimes alive16. The fish can then be found littering the ground once the weather has passed, sometimes to be collected as food.  These fish rains have been witnessed many miles from water 2.

“In a heavy shower of rain, while our army was on the march, a short distance from Pondicherry, a quantity of small fish fell with the rain, to the astonishment of all. Many of them lodged on the men’s hats (Harriot, 1809, quoted by Gudger, 1921)” reported James Harriot of a fish rain that he experienced while in the military. “when we came to our ground, they were dressed; making a small dish that was served up and eaten at the general’s table (Harriot, 1809, quoted by Gudger, 1921)6.”

1555 depiction of a fish “rain”

Interestingly enough, not only fish have been spotted falling from the sky. In the first century AD, Pliny the Elder recorded a frog rain6. Charles Hoy Fort, in fact, gathered approximately 60,000 newspaper articles of various rains of substances, objects, and creatures in the first half of the twentieth century1. Some other things reported to have descended upon us throughout history have included coal clumps, tomatoes, maggots, hay, stones, snakes, seeds, nuts, meat probably torn up by vultures, and golf balls. In addition, people have witnessed colored rains. An example of this is a red rain that once fell on India’s southwest coast. Scientists studying the makeup of this bizarre rain discovered that it contained small particles resembling cells17.

Rains of fish alone, however, have been quite widespread. Reports have come from northern areas such as Knighton, a village in Wales16, to the tropical setting of Yoro, Honduras1. Other locations where fish rains have been witnessed lately include Kerala State, India8 , Northern Territory, Australia9 , Ethiopia10, and Mexico 11.

A waterspout.

So  now that we have all of these strange reports of fish falling from the heavens, the question that naturally arises is – WHY? One widespread theory as to how fish fall from the sky is that waterspouts pull these fish up from from bodies of water and then drop them further inland. As John Knox – an atmospheric scientist – puts it in an interview by Sarah Zielinski, “it seems that it has to be that somewhere there’s a waterspout or a tornado…something must have gone over a lake, sucked up a bunch of fish and let it drop to the ground further along its path 1.”  In fish rains, the most likely culprit is called the tornadic waterspout. A tornadic waterspout is basically a tornado that travels over water – a spinning column of air and aquatic mist. A tornado might form on land and then move out to sea  to become a waterspout, or begin over water and then move to land. When a tornadic waterspout does move from sea to land, the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning for wherever the storm hits5.

Some believe that disturbances called whirlwinds are also capable of carrying objects such as fish over land. A whirlwind is a miniature tornado which, as it moves over a body of water, can pick up light objects from near the surface of that water such as small fish. These fish, as with the waterspout theory, are carried by the whirlwind over land for up to several miles and then dropped2.

This map depicts Yoro’s location in Honduras – near the upper border of the highlands, center.

In Yoro, Honduras, where or near where a fish rain is reported to fall annually (resulting in a holiday referred to as Festival de la Lluvia de Peces) there is a belief about what is behind the fish rains arising from religion. In the mid – 19th century, a Spanish Catholic missionary is recorded to have prayed to God that the prevalent hunger problem in Yoro’s region be diminished. The annual “fish rains” are said to have begun soon after and to have continued “for generations (Semple 1921)4“. Other residents of Yoro ascribe to the more scientific belief that perhaps fish in the area are living in underground waters and are washed out above the surface with the flooding from heavy rain. Once again, still others prescribe to the waterspout theory. These people believe that the waterspout causing the annual rain of fish comes from a body of water such as the Atlantic Ocean (45 miles from Yoro). Still, however, this would not explain why the rain of fish reportedly happens every year4.

 

Atlantic Seafood is the Next Freshest Thing to Fish Landing in Your Yard!

Waterspouts do indeed occur on Long Island Sound at times12. So maybe someday…..? I, however, certainly have never seen it rain fish in all of my 35 years in Connecticut. Consequently, you could wait however long it takes to pick a fish up from your lawn, or you could achieve the next best thing today and make the trip to Atlantic Seafood for incredibly fresh seafood. Of the many positive things that Atlantic Seafood is known and publicly recognized for, freshness of its products is likely the most lauded.

Atlantic Seafood’s making a point of obtaining all of its seafood very fresh is important from a safety and a quality standpoint. “Post – harvest handling, processing, and transportation of fish require particular care in order to ensure proper quality and safety13,” reports the United Nations Fisheries and Aquaculture Department. Having sat for too long can also affect the taste and / or texture of seafood, so much so as to make it inedible. An example of this is the bluefish – which the previous post pointed out can become gamy tasting and greasy if eaten more than three days after harvest. 19

Atlantic Seafood’s products are also free of all of the artificial coloring, dyes, and preservatives that can be commonplace in the offerings of other seafood markets3.

Some producers of certain species of farmed fish realize the lack of appeal that their product would naturally have, as the flesh of their fish is dull grayish whereas that of a wild – caught specimen would be pink. Their solution? To feed these fish a chemical that will artificially turn their flesh to the normal color! The fish farmers can select ways to feed this chemical to their fish in order to produce their preferred shade of pink – much as we would select a shade of paint for our living rooms! A problem with this is that Canthaxanthine, one such color – altering chemical fed to farmed fish, may lead to gold dust retinopathy – a condition where the coloring agent crystalizes at the back of the eye and can become harmful15.

In order to keep long – ago – harvested fish from looking their age or from decomposing, many seafood vendors also practice biopreservation – a technique to block growth and spread of microorganisms in their seafood. The two main forms of biopreservation are to increase the acidity of the fish’s flesh by various means, and to add various antimicrobial chemicals to the fish14 . No need to worry about any of this at Atlantic Seafood!

Atlantic Seafood bypasses all of these remedial steps by making a special effort to obtain its seafood locally. A large percentage of the product sold at Atlantic Seafood comes directly from Point Judith, RI. Other selections are harvested from Long Island Sound.  Clams, lobsters, and oysters are harvested from Connecticut waters. Much of what Atlantic Seafood sells goes from the dock to their door over the course of just one night3! When people come to Atlantic Seafood they notice how different it is from other seafood vendors –  and the proof is in this website that teems with articles and reviews recognizing it for the freshness of its food. Christopher Brooks of The New York Times even proclaimed that, “to find fish any fresher, you’d probably have to throw out a line and catch them yourself3“. That says it all.

As the holidays approach, Atlantic Seafood offers a variety of scrumptious platters and other dishes that you can depend on to make your holiday dinner unforgettable.

One of the many varieties of appetizer platter prepared by Atlantic Seafood.

Lobster bisque freshly made at Atlantic Seafood.

Works Cited

1. Zielinski, Sara (2015). Strange Rain: Why Fish, Frogs, and Golf Balls Fall from the Skies.
Smithsonian.com.
smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/strange-rain-why-fish-frogs-and-golf-balls-fall-skies-180956527.

2. Green, Edward (2004). How can it rain fish?
BBC News.
news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/3582802.stm.

3. www.atlanticseafoodmarket.com Retrieved on November 2, 2017.

4.Semple, Kirk (2017). Every Year, the Sky’Rains Fish’. Explanations vary. The New York Times.
nytimes.com/2017/07/16/world/americas/honduras-rain-fish-yoro.html.

5. National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Department of Commerce.
www.oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/waterspout.html. Retrieved on October 15, 2017.

6. Gudger, E.W.(1921).Rain of fishes.
Natural History.
naturalhistorymag.com/picks-from-the-past/271577/rains-of-fishes?page=2.

8.  Fish rain takes Kerala villagers by surprise. (2008). The Financial Express.
Retrieved from financialexpress.com/archive/fish-rain-takes-Kerala-villagers-by-surprise/272219.

9.It’s raining fish in Northern Territory (2010, February 28). 

Retrieved from  news.com.au.

10.”Fish rain in diredawa Ethiopia”.
http://mereja.com/news/1080799. Retrieved on October 29, 2017.

11. No lo has visto todo aun: llovieron peces en Tampico (2017, September 27).

Retrieved from http://www.excelsior.com.mx/nacional/2017/09/27/1191115.

12. Waterspouts form on Long Island Sound (2013, September 13).
Retrieved from https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Waterspouts-Spotted-on-Long-Island-Sound-223686371.html.

13.© FAO 2001-2017.
Fisheries and Aquaculture topics. Utilization and trade. Topics Fact Sheets.
In: FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department [online]. Rome. Updated 6 January 2016. [Cited 31 October 2017]. http://www.fao.org/fishery/utilization_trade/en.

14.Fish preservation 
Wikipedia.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fish_preservation. Retrieved on October 29 2017.

15. Greger, Michael, M.D., F.A.C.L.M.(2009).
Artificial Coloring in Fish.
Nutrition Facts.org.
nutritionfacts.org/video/artificial-coloring-in-fish.

16. Rain of Animals.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rain_of_animals. Retrieved on October 14, 2017.

17. Barnett, Cynthia (2015).
Rain – A Natural and Cultural History.
Crown Publishers.
United States of America.

18. Brooks, Christopher (2007). QUICK BITE: Old Saybrook; For a Clambake, Just Add the Fire.

The New York Times.

19. Clark, Melissa (2015).
Don’t Fear the Bluefish.
The New York Times.
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/10/dining/bluefish-recipe-cooking-tips.html.

 

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