Did You Know? (Ratfish Edition)

Did you know that there are more ratfish in Puget Sound than any other kind of fish? An estimated 200 million are at home in Puget Sound. That’s more than 30 fish for each person in the state!

I first read about the ratfish (chimaeras) in the Seattle Times last summer and found them fascinating! Unfortunately they are not edible because they are cartilaginous. Even the seagulls won’t pick at their carcasses.

You can see a good picture of the spotted ratfish in Pacific Coast Inshore Fishes. There are 37 different varieties of chimaeras. Of course, not all live in Puget Sound.

Extraordinary Fish by Frances Dipper explains that ratfish are ancient relatives of sharks and have been around at least 400 million years. According to Dipper, in mythology a chimaera was a monster with a lion’s head, a serpent’s tail and a goat’s body.  There is a conflicting description of this beast in The Dictionary of Classical Mythology by Jenny March. According to March, the chimaera have three heads, one of a fierce-eyed dragon, the second of a goat and the third of a snake on its tail.

In  the story Pegasus by Marianna Mayer, you can read all about how the King of Lycia sent Bellerophon to kill the Monster Chimera. He rode on Pegasus, defeated the monster and won the hand of Princess Philonoe.


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