Tuesday, 3 April 2012


In August 1903 there was a lot of excitement at Boston Dock when a sea creature was landed there from the steam trawler "Indian" belonging to the Deep Sea Fishing Co. It was described at the time as "a monster of the deep, having the body of an elongated flatfish and a head shaped like a horse's." The creature was brought up in the vessels trawl during the  night-time on the fishing grounds off Iceland.
It was just over 8 feet long and between 8 and 10 inches deep and the body was so flat that when laid out it scarcely rose 2 inches above the board. Running the whole length of the body was a series of fins and the tail itself was small in proportion to the body but the most remarkable thing about the monster was its head which was horse shaped. The eyes were large, about 3 inches across and the body was smooth and grey coloured with no scales about the head. Captain Johnston, of the trawler "Indian" said that when the animal was hauled aboard the body flashed in the darkness like a piece of silver.
It was displayed on the Fish Pontoon at the dock and after a lot of bidding it was sold to a Mr. H. Randall for 14 shillings (70p) and afterwards moved for exhibition at Skegness. The older fishermen of Boston said they had never seen anything like it and local naturalists were at a loss as to what it might be.
So what was it? Well, Mr. G.E.Hackford, photographer of Boston, sent a photograph and letter to the Natural History Museum in London and received this reply.
"The fish represented on your excellent photographs, which I am very pleased to keep, is the Deal Fish (Trachypterus Arcticus), a pelagic fish of wide distribution, already on record from Iceland and from various points on the British coasts. Yours faithfully, G.A. Boulenger."
So there we have it, no sea monster brought to Boston but still an interesting story. The picture above shows what a Deal Fish looks like.

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