Sketches of Natural History of Ceylon eBook

J. Emerson Tennent
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 472 pages of information about Sketches of Natural History of Ceylon.
that the fish did not fall here and there irregularly over the ground, but in a continuous straight line, not more than a span in breadth.  The vast multitudes of fish, with which the low grounds round Bombay are covered, about a week or ten days after the first burst of the monsoon, appear to be derived from the adjoining pools or rivulets, and not to descend from the sky.  They are not, so far as I know, found in the higher parts of the island.  I have never seen them, (though I have watched carefully,) in casks collecting water from the roofs of buildings, or heard of them on the decks or awnings of vessels in the harbour, where they must have appeared had they descended from the sky.  One of the most remarkable phenomena of this kind occurred during a tremendous deluge of rain at Kattywar, on the 25th of July, 1850, when the ground around Rajkote was found literally covered with fish; some of them were found on the tops of haystacks, where probably they had been drifted by the storm.  In the course of twenty-four successive hours twenty-seven inches of rain fell, thirty-five fell in twenty-six hours, seven inches within one hour and a half, being the heaviest fall on record.  At Poonah, on the 3rd of August, 1852, after a very heavy fall of rain, multitudes of fish were caught on the ground in the cantonments, full half a mile from the nearest stream.  If showers of fish are to be explained on the assumption that they are carried up by squalls or violent winds, from rivers or spaces of water not far away from where they fall, it would be nothing wonderful were they seen to descend from the air during the furious squalls which occasionally occur in June.”

* * * * *

NOTE (B.)

CEYLON FISHES.

(Memorandum by Professor Huxley.)

See Page 324.

The large series of beautifully coloured drawings of the fishes of Ceylon, which has been submitted to my inspection, possesses an unusual value for several reasons.

The fishes, it appears, were all captured at Colombo, and even had those from other parts of Ceylon been added, the geographical area would not have been very extended.  Nevertheless there are more than 600 drawings, and though it is possible that some of these represent varieties in different stages of growth of the same species, I have not been able to find definite evidence of the fact in any of those groups which I have particularly tested.  If, however, these drawings represent six hundred distinct species of fish, they constitute, so far as I know, the largest collection of fish from one locality in existence.

The number of known British fishes may be safely assumed to be less than 250, and Mr. Yarrell enumerates only 226, Dr. Cantor’s valuable work on Malayan fishes enumerates not more than 238, while Dr. Russell has figured only 200 from Coromandel.  Even the enormous area of the Chinese and Japanese seas has as yet not yielded 800 species of fishes.

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