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Sunday, August 14, 2011


I always hope The Marine Observer journal will turn up something strange and today I was fortunate – please read on. (This is an extract from vol. 36, 1966)

The Marine Observer publishes extracts from mariners logs from all around the world, astronomical, meteorological data and news of weather observers, etc. As far as I know it is still published. I`ve been looking through my back issues from the 1950s and 1960s for reports of seals in the S.China Sea and Indian Ocean.


North Atlantic Ocean

m.v Hauraki. Captain E.F.H Allen. London to Curaçao. (1) Observers, Mr J.Thomson, Chief Officer and Mr T.Wright, 2nd Officer.

13th June 1965. Between 20 °N, 49 ½ ° W,and 24°N, 53°W (2) many fish were seen in the surface water. They were about 1 ft long and had large square heads with the body tapering to the tail, the general appearance being rather like that of a very large tadpole, and having the same swimming motion. The colour was a mottled grey and no fins were seen. The eyes were on the flat of the head rather than at the sides. Sea temp.77°F rising to 80°

Note. This is a most unusual observation. Dr P.H. Greenwood of the Department of Zoology, British Museum, comments:

“I have puzzled over this, my marine colleagues have also puzzled over it and none of us can come up with an answer. The only tadpole-like fishes which we know are either fresh-water (and certainly never likely to occur in the sea except as corpses) or are deep-sea fishes and unlikely to be swimming at the surface in an apparently natural way. Thus, regrettably for the moment I am afraid we will have to record these as unidentifiable.” (3)

So there we are, it`s over to you!

1. A Dutch island dependency off Venezuela
2. Roughly several hundred miles north-east of the Caribbean.
3. The Marine Observer April 1966 vol 36 no. 212 page 60.


Peter said...

Angler fish! I have seen the same thing with juvenile specimens swimming around on the surface. They swim exactly like a tadpole, and fit the description very well.

Richard Muirhead said...

Thanks Peter!

Richard Muirhead said...

Thank you Peter.Richard