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Tilefish

fish, dead and lucas

TILEFISH, a large oceanic fish (Lophala tilus chameleonticeps), allied to the cods, and belonging to the family Malacanthida, repre sented by the blanqtiilla and other well-known food-fishes of the Pacific Coast. It weighs from 10 to 40 pounds and is big-headed and brilliantly colored, with a curious triangular fatty protuberance on the top of the head in advance of the long low dorsal fin. Its flesh is excellent and it is caught in the same manner as are cod. The curious story of this fish is thus sketched by Lucas: ((This fish, belonging to a tropical family having its headquarters in the Gulf of Mexico, was discovered in 1879 in moderately deep water to the southward of Massachusetts and on the edge of the Gulf Stream, where it was taken in considerable.num bers. In the.spring of 1882 vessels arriving at New York reported having passed through great numbers of dead and dying fishes, the water being thickly dotted with them for miles. From samples brought in, it was. found that the ma jority of these were tilefish, while from the re ports of various vessels it was shown that the area covered by dead fish amounted to some where between 5,000 and 7,500 square miles, and the total number of dead was estimated at not far from a billion. This enormous and

widespread destruction is believed to have been caused by an unwonted duration of northerly and easterly winds, which drove the cold arc-tic current inshore and southward, chilling the warm belt in which the tilefish resided and killing all in that locality. It was thought pos sible that the entire race might have been de stroyed, but, while none were taken for many years, in 1899 and 1900 a number were caught, showing that the species was beginning to re occupy the waters from which it had been driven years before.* Consult Lucas, 'Animals of the Past' (New York 1902) and 'Reports' and 'Bulletins' of the United States Fish Com mission, especially for 1884 and 1899.