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December 23 – Monk Fish and Bishop Fish

Illustrations from Conrad Gesner’s Historiae animalium (TypSwZ.B51FG)

Two wonderfully weird illustrations from Conrad Gesner’s Historiae animalium (1551-1558), are the bishop fish and the monk fish. The bishop fish or sea bishop, with its mitred head (which is slightly obscured by his seasonal party hat!), was recorded by Rondelet in his Libri de piscibus marinus (1554) as a monster in bishop’s garb caught in 1531 and presented to the King of Poland before being returned to the sea.

The monk fish or sea monk, with its shaven head and fins resembling a monk, was first reported by Pierre Belon in De Aquatilibus (1553), having been sighted in Øresund in 1546.

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