Goatview Farm - The Saint Report www.goatview.com

 

September 8
The Ratfish

I don't know what has come over me of late. I will end this series of Saint Reports featuring creepy crawlies right after this one...

Saints o' the Day include Saint Adrian (patron saint of soldiers and butchers), Saint Natalia, Saint Eusebius, Saint Nestabus, Saints Zeno and Nestor, Saint Disibod, Saint Sergius I, and Saint Corbinian. It is also the Feast Day for the celebration of the birth of Mary.
Sharks may be fairly ugly and one might be tempted to cut one's line rather than attempt to remove a shark from one's hook, but for sheer just-shoot-me value, nothing can top attempting to extract a hook from the so-called mouth of its cousin the ratfish, otherwise known as a rabbit fish.

Ratfish are part of the Chimaera family of cartilaginous fish. The Chimaera, in Greek mythology, was a creature made of a lion, a goat, and a snake. The ratfish could have been made out of rubber cement in the shape of a rat, a cow, and a rabbit. To say a ratfish is perhaps the most grotesque creature that a normal fishing trip can score is a little more accurate than merely saying it is ugly.

Ratfish can get as large as 30" in length but I personally haven't seen one even half this size, thank God. Believe me, they are nightmare material at a third the length.

If you do have the misfortune of catching one, be careful when you handle it because it has a sharp dorsal spine that is somewhat poisonous. It won't kill you, but if you spear yourself, the cut will be festering by the time you get to shore. Another thing to watch out for is what it feels like when you try to grip it firmly enough to remove the hook: the non-ossified skeleton pretty much collapses on itself so you just sort of squish the fish around the middle until your fingers meet. I hate it when that happens.

Then comes the part where you have to look into the animal's mouth to find the hook. Its mouth is revolting, too, since instead of teeth it has sort of a fused chewing ridge. Added to all this horror are its eyes--huge green marble eyes. (Incidentally, my sister has complained that the photo of the ratfish shown above is a ratfish Glamour Shot. When I find a photo that does the creature justice, I will make a change.)

There are people who truly believe that everything on the earth has a purpose larger than simply existing but I maintain that there are animals like the ratfish and tapeworms and fleas that exist because they can exist. My theory is that getting into the gene pool and remaining there, even if, like cockroaches, you just tread water, doesn't involve a usefulness screening, and it certainly isn't a beauty contest either. Which reminds me:

Today is the 81st anniversary of the crowning of the first Miss America: Margaret Gorman of Washington, D.C.

 

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Marilyn Jones 2000-2008