The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Pilot-fish

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

PILOT-FISH, any of several fishes reputed to act as guides and sentinels to sharks, or resembling species so acting. The fish traditionally so called (Naucrates auctor) is a small mackerel-like member of the family Carangidæ (q.v.), which abounds in all warm seas, and was well known in the Mediterranean where the ancient fishermen observed its constant association with sharks, and its habit of following ships for many days together. They said it acted as a guide and protector of the sharks, leading them to prey and warning them of danger; and that when a mariner lost his way on the high seas it appeared and piloted him to port. The association with sharks and other large fishes and the following of ships are still observable, but the modern explanation is that the little fish gain food and some protection from the big ones, and, therefore, seek to swim near them. They are excellent eating. Another nearly related fish (Seriola zonata), one of the amber-fishes, is called “shark's pilot” along the south Atlantic Coast of the United States; in the West Indies several chichlids are called black, or cow, or cockeye pilots; and in Lake Champlain this name is given to a white-fish (Coregonus quadrilateralis) called Menominee or round white-fish in the Northwestern lakes. Consult Goode, ‘Fishery Industries, Sec. I’ (1884); Day, ‘Fauna of British India: Fishes’ (1889).