[Three Hundred Animals Contents]
IS from three to four feet in length, and some have been caught much longer. The body is long, the head flat, the teeth in the upper jaw small and numerous, and a small beard on the chin; it has two dorsal fins, two pectoral ones, and one ventral.
They abound on the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland, and great quantities are salted for home consumption and exportation. On the eastern coasts of England they are in their greatest perfection from the beginning of February to the end of May. They spawn in June; at this season the males separate from the females, who deposit their eggs in the soft oozy ground at the mouth of large rivers.
This, as well thousand other kinds of fish, has been freed by Nature, from the trouble of rearing up their young; but in compensation they have been deprived of all the pleasures of maternal endearment and affection. The eggs once deposited in some small nook, or against a rock under an immense depth of water, are left to chance and their own internal spark of life to hatch out, and when hatched to seek for food. Whether the mother, in her ramblings through the waves, visits again the eggs, or, lurking at a distance, watches their bursting into life, has not been ascertained, and can never be observed closely enough to enable the most enlightened ichthyologists to give a positive answer to this question. As this observation applies to several other classes of animals in the whole chain of nature, we shall not repeat it in any other articles, but leave it to the reader to make the application.