The Tang and Yellowfish - Volume II - Catesby Collection


Mark Catesby's Description of
the Tang and the Yellow Fish

TURDUS Rhomboidalis

The Tang

The figure shews the common size of this Fish, though some are twice as big: the body is covered with small scales of a dusky blue; a large prickly fin reached from over the eyes the length of the back almost to the tail; another grows out from the fore-part of the abdomen, and a third beginning about the middle of the abdomen reaches likewise to the tail. The fins and tail were of a brighter blue than the body; the tail broad, both sides shooting into sharp points, the mouth of a singular structure, very small, and without teeth, and consequently of no defense; but Nature has supplied that deficiency by arming in a singular manner the tail on each side with a strong sharp-pointed bone, which in defence of himself he extends when danger approaches. This weapon with the prickly fins seem to deter the voracious Fish that prey on others from attacking him. Yet I have seen a Barracuda pursue and bite off a third part of him behind; which when he had swallowed he deliberately bit off half the remaining part, and devoured the whole Fish at the third mouthful. These and such like accidents I have often been diverted with in the shallow seas of the Bahama Islands; where the water is so exceeding clear, that the smallest shell may be distinctly seen at several fathom depth, when the water is smooth. It is accounted a good eating Fish.

TURDUS cauda convexa

The Yellowfish

Some of these Fish were a foot in length: this had small thin scales of a reddish yellow colour, the mouth wide, the under mandible longer than the upper, and with a double row of small teeth: at the end of the upper mandible were fixed three large teeth, with some very small ones within the roof of the mouth; the iris of the eyes red. It had five fins, a long prickly one on the back, two behind the gills, one under the abdomen, and another behind the anus, to which is joined by a thin membrane a sharp-pointed bone. The tail rounding or convex.

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