Rains of Fishes

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

Furthermore, the fishes might have been left behind by overflows as alleged by Eglini, but there is nothing in the accounts given to lead one to such a conclusion. More plausible is the conjecture that the fish may have been æstivating and have been awakened by the coming of the rain. This might apply to Ceylon, India, and Malaysia, where there is a prolonged dry season, but during the dry season the earth becomes thoroughly baked, and even in swamps and tanks is hardened to the consistency of sun-dried bricks to a depth of from fifteen to eighteen inches. In view of this fact a mere thunderstorm or even a heavy downpour would not soften the ground sufficiently to release the imprisoned fishes. Then again many of the falls recorded have been on high and dry fields, upon the sand of parade grounds of military cantonments, and upon the enclosed compounds of residences. A careful perusal of the reported rains of fishes in Ceylon, India, and Malaysia, will eliminate the explanation based on the awakening of fishes from summer sleep due to the falling of heavy showers.

There is left to us but one other explanation,—the action of heavy winds, whirlwinds, and waterspouts. Practically all those who have described rains of fishes have noticed that these were the accompaniments of thunderstorms or monsoon rains with their heavy winds, or of waterspouts. One who has witnessed the activities of a whirlwind or who has seen the wreckage left in its path will have no difficulty in believing that such a whirlwind or even the heavy winds accompanying a hard storm could pick up and transport to some distance objects of such light weight as small fishes. Furthermore, anyone who has witnessed the tremendous power of waterspouts, such as are common for instance in southern Florida, will agree that such a spout passing over shallow water, would certainly pick up the small fishes swimming therein and, drawing them up into the clouds, would carry them over the country to drop them some distance away. This is the only explanation that can account for the Indian fall as a result of which fishes were found in a comparatively straight path only a few inches wide, extending over a considerable stretch of country. These fishes must have fallen from the whirling lower end of a funnel-shaped spout after the pillar had broken in two, as is often the case. Again, no other explanation can account for a fall concentrated on a comparatively small area, as was that noted by Castelnau at Singapore.

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