Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sunfish in the St. Lawrence

sunfish has been found washed up on the banks of the Saint Lawrence river near Sainte Flavie, Quebec. This tropical fish was far from its normal habitat.

Claude Nozères, a biologist from the region stated,
«C’est un poisson que l’on retrouve aux États-Unis. Il a dû suivre le courant chaud, et avec les températures plus élevées de l’été dernier, il s’est approché du golfe Saint-Laurent»

"It is a fish found in the United States. It had to follow the warm currents, and with higher temperatures of last summer, it made it to the Gulf of St. Lawrence"
Of course, once the fish reached the colder water of the St. Lawrence, it was unable to survive. He added, «Il aurait pu rester longtemps sur les berges sans être mangé par les goélands. C’est un poisson qui ne se mange pas. Lui-même se nourrit de méduses»

"It could have stayed long on the banks without being eaten by gulls. This is a fish that can not be eaten. They feed on jellyfish. "

The specimen that was found was a small one, measuring only 97cm and weighing only 32 kilos. These fish can grow up to 1000 kilos in weight.


The Saint-Flavie Sunfish.

The first time I saw a sunfish was in the aquarium in Barcelona. They are extremely weird fish. I'm not entirely sure why I thought of them as being particularly Lovecraftian, but I immediately started thinking how I could get them into an adventure, in fact HPL himself mentions one in none other than the Call of Cthulhu, and in reference to the Great One himself. I post the full paragraph here for reference.
But Johansen had not given out yet. Knowing that the Thing could surely overtake the Alert until steam was fully up, he resolved on a desperate chance; and, setting the engine for full speed, ran lightning-like on deck and reversed the wheel. There was a mighty eddying and foaming in the noisome brine, and as the steam mounted higher and higher the brave Norwegian drove his vessel head on against the pursuing jelly which rose above the unclean froth like the stern of a daemon galleon. The awful squid-head with writhing feelers came nearly up to the bowsprit of the sturdy yacht, but Johansen drove on relentlessly. There was a bursting as of an exploding bladder, a slushy nastiness as of a cloven sunfish, a stench as of a thousand opened graves, and a sound that the chronicler could not put on paper. For an instant the ship was befouled by an acrid and blinding green cloud, and then there was only a venomous seething astern; where—God in heaven!—the scattered plasticity of that nameless sky-spawn was nebulously recombining in its hateful original form, whilst its distance widened every second as the Alert gained impetus from its mounting steam.
So when you drive a ship at the head of Cthulhu, it bursts with the "slushy nastiness as of a cloven sunfish".There is some debate as to where the metaphor of a cloven sunfish came from, as it is both quite specific, and yet a relatively obscure reference.

The alien appearance of the sunfish just begs for them to be used in some capacity in an adventure, or at least an adventure hook. A larger member of the species washing up on a nearby shore is bound to get the locals talking, especially if the fish has travelled far before becoming beached, and is therefore unknown to the locals.
An enormous ocean sunfish caught by W.N. McMillan of E. Africa, at
Santa Catalina Isl., Cal. April 1st, 1910. Its weight was estimated at 3,500 pounds.
 Story in le Journal de Montréal (in french).

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