Rains of Fishes

A compilation of the evidence that fishes occasionally fall from the sky

He states that concerning the phenomenon of fish falling from the sky, he was absolutely incredulous until “I once found a small fish, which had apparently been alive when it first fell, in the brass funnel of my pluviometer at Benares, which stood on an isolated stone pillar, raised five feet above the ground in my garden.” He then records a similar happening on a much larger scale, which was communicated by a Mr. Cameron, who took the pains to have the depositions of ten native witnesses taken and attested before a magistrate. The shower of fish referred to took place on February 19, 1830, near the Nokulhatty factory, Zillah Dacca, Jelalpur, India. All agree as to the place, month, day, and hour; the discrepancies in the individual recitals are such as are to be expected from ten witnesses who were not in collusion. These accounts, omitting all irrelevant statements, will now be given seriatim. Two of the ten witnesses reported jointly, their statement being embodied under 1:

  1. “That on Friday, in the month of Phalgun [on the ninth day], at 12 o’clock P.M., the sky being cloudy, there was a slight rain, and a number of fish of different kinds and sizes fell from heaven; we took some of these fish and retired home.”
  2. “. . . I perceived a boduli fish, large about one cubit, fall before me from the sky; after which I went further and found another fish of the same size, lying upon the ground. I picked up these two fish and proceeded forward; and as soon as I arrived at home, I found, to my great surprise, that many persons had likewise collected fish, and carried along with them.”
  3. “. . . the clouds gathered together, began to rain, and a little after, many fish, large and small, began to fall from the sky. I picked up some of them and carried to my house, but I did not like to taste any of them.”
  4. “. . . while I was sitting in the front part of my cottage, I observed a mirgal, and some other fish, bodulis, etc., ...of different size, fall from the sky. I picked up about five or six of these fish to satisfy my curiosity, but afterwards threw them away, and did not eat them at all.”
  5. “I had been doing my work at a meadow, where I perceived at the hour of 12 o’clock, the sky gather clouds, and began to rain slightly, then a large fish touching my back by its head fell on the ground. Being surprised, I looked about, and behold a number of fish likewise fell from heaven! They were saul, sale, guzal, mirgal and boduli. I took 10 or 11 fish in number, and I saw many other persons take many—then I returned home, I looked at heaven, and I saw like a flock of birds flying up, but these my perceptions were not clear enough. Amongst these fish, many were found rotten, without heads, and others fresh and perfect; and amongst the number which I had got, five were fresh and the rest stinking and headless.”
  6. “While I was sitting in my own house, I perceived a number of fish fall from the sky, some of them on the roof of my cottage; one of them was large, about one cubit, and three seers in weight.” (A seer, or ser, is a little over two pounds.)
  7. “When I was at work in a field, I perceived the sky darkened with clouds, began to rain a little, and a large fish fell from the sky. I was confounded at the sight, and soon entered my small cottage, which I had there, but I came out again as soon as the rain had ceased, and found every part of my hut scattered with fish, they were boduli, mirgal, and nouchi, and amounted to 25 in number.”
  8. “. . . as I was coming from the fields, I saw a number of fish spread on the bank of a nálá. I picked up six of them, viz. two boduli, two mirgal, and two nouchi, besides these there were many other fish of numerous kinds, and they were witnessed by many persons who were there. Some of these fish were fresh, but others were rotten and without heads.”
  9. “I sat down near the door of a workman’s cottage; it was then precisely 12 o’clock, when a drizzling rain began to fall; and at the same time, two boduli fish fell down from heaven. I soon got up and marched on, and in midst of the road, saw several other fish fallen before me. I picked up some of these fish—but one named Banchha Ram Chung forbade me, saying, ‘Do not touch these fish; you do not know what fish they are, and how they have fallen here.’ Listening to him, I threw away all the fish, and went away.”

In the following year a writer signing himself “S” records in these words a fall of fish at Futtehpur, India, on May 16 or 17:

“At noon. . . a blast of high wind, accompanied with much dust, . . . came on; the blast appeared to extend in breadth about 400 yards. . . . When the storm had passed over, they [the zemindars and others, who reported it to him] found the ground, south of the village, to the extent of two bighas [a bigha is about one-third of an acre], strewed with fish, in number not less than three or four thousand. The fish were all of the Chalwa species (Clupea cultrata) a span or less in length, and from one to one and one-half a seer in weight; when found, they were all dead and dry. Chalwa fish are found in the tanks and rivers in the neighborhood. The nearest tank in which there is water is about half a mile south of the village. The Jumna runs about three miles south of the village, the Ganges 14 miles north by east.”

The next account is found in the “Extracts from the Minute-Book of the Linnæan Society” of London. The account was read before the Society on June 15, 1830, but was printed in 1833, in Volume XVI of the Transactions. Verbatim it reads:

“[There was] Read an extract of a letter from Mrs. Smith, dated Moradabad, July 20th, 1829, to a gentleman in Somersetshire, giving an account of a quantity of Fishes that fell in a shower of rain at that place. Many were observed by Mrs. Smith from the window of her residence, springing about on the grass immediately after the storm. The letter was accompanied by a drawing taken on the spot, which represents a small species of Cyprinus, two inches and a quarter in length, green above, silvery white below, with a broad lateral band of bright red.”

At the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1840, Colonel Sykes read a letter from a Captain Ashton located at Kattywar, government of Bombay, India, referring to the fall of fishes recorded by Harriott in 1809.

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