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  • Monday Mermaid: Singing Florida Mermaids October 16, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    This was published in The Orchestra in 1870. It is a curious account of singing fish in the US… It is very tempting to connect these phenomenon and others like them to the mermaid tradition: in the same way as that the rhino is presumably somewhere behind the unicorn.

    ‘One day as I was returning to Tallahassee from a hunting excursion in Florida’, says a recent traveller, ‘we were rowing along by the shore, about sunset, when suddenly a strange, grave, and prolonged sound struck my ear. At first I thought it must be a drone, or fly of extraordinary magnitude; but seeing nothing, I questioned my guide to what it could be. ‘Oh, massa,’ replied he, ‘dat is de fish what sings. Some call it siren, or mermaid fish, and others musico [love this name].’ A little way on we heard a greater chorus of these strange voices, reminding me faintly of the music of church organs. I stopped the canoe the better to study this strange phenomenon; when, at my request, my sable oarsman threw a net into the water, and soon laid at the bottom of the boat about score of little fish, each about two inches long, resembling the grey mullet very closely outward form. ‘Dese be mermaids, massa,’ said the negro; ‘but, in the name of hebben, don’t eat dem!’ ‘Why not?’ quoth I. ‘Because they hab de lub [love] poison.’ ‘Lub poison’ and pray what’s that?’ ‘Yes, massa; when you eat one ob dese fish, you fall so deep in lub you can neber get out again.’ I tried to laugh my black friend out of his notion, but in vain. In spite of what he said, however, I had my musicos fried that evening, and found, as expected, that I was none the worse for the experiment. The musician fish is white, with few blue spots near the belly. It is about sunset when these fish begin to sing, and they continue their music during the night (Anon 1870).

    What is this mermaid fish: should it be connected from the many other claims for singing fish or crustaceans from the Indian Ocean, drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com