Captain Hannas Fish

Odd, eellike Fish of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Physical description: Serpentine. Length, 25 feet; 10 inches thick at the largest part. Darkish slate color on top, grayish-white below. Flat head that extends over a small mouth with sharp teeth. Prominent gill slits. Two small, rayed pectoral fins and a triangular rayed dorsal fin behind the head. A caudal fin extends around the tail.

Significant sighting: In August 1880, Capt. S. W. Hanna caught a fish of this description off New Harbor, Maine, but discarded it because it had torn his net.

Distribution: Gulf of Maine. Possible explanations:

(1) Unknown species of elongated shark, perhaps a large form of the Frilled shark (Chlamydoselachus anguineus), suggested by Bernard Heuvelmans. The Frilled shark grows to over 6 feet in length and lives in deep waters near the sea floor, primarily in the eastern Atlantic, though three individuals have been recorded in the western Atlantic. It is the only shark to have a mouth that opens at the tip of the snout. However, sharks do not have rayed fins. Larger varieties may exist. David Stead examined the skull and vertebrae of a 12-foot fish that washed up in the harbor at Sydney, Australia, in August 1907 and identified it as a Frilled shark, though double the length of the largest known specimens.

(2) Unknown species of bony fish, suggested by Ben Roesch, based on its lack of pelvic fins, and the position of the dorsal fin.

Sources: S. W. Hanna, "Description of an Eel-Like Creature Taken in a Net at New Harbor, Maine, in 1880," Bulletin ofthe U.S. Fish Commission 3 (1883): 407-410; David G.

Stead, Sharks and Rays of Australian Seas (Sydney, Australia: Angus and Robertson, 1963).

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