Publication:

Animal Scene - 2021-09-01

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ELUSIVE CREATURE

ANIMAL APPEAL

Tongue Soles do not swim very far when startled from their hiding place. Obviously, their strength is on camouflage, not marathon. I spotted and stalked a number of them at Maremegmeg Beach that night. With my flashlight-mode cellphone in my left hand, I had to use my right hand to catch the sole barehanded. I regretted not bringing any tools for catching fish – no pail, no net, and not even a drinking glass, which could sometimes be pretty handy in catching small fish at night. I am very much experienced in catching fish with my bare hands, but my quarry are usually fry or baitfish. I seldom get the chance to use my bare hands for fish bigger than 4 or 5 inches, not to mention catching them with only one hand. Blinded by my light, they would stay put and rely on their camouflage for safety. Taking advantage of this, I had to move slowly and steadily, focusing my light on their eyes while moving my free hand so that it was over where they were hiding, but not blocking the light from shining into their eyes. If my hand blocks the light, then they saw the giant shadow hovering very near them and off they would go. I was successful in pinning some of them down with my hand against the sand. The reason for their escape was that I had to keep my hand from crushing the fish while exerting enough pressure so that they did not give me the slip. Unfortunately, the Tongue Sole was extra flat and extra slippery. As I curled my palm into a fist to get the fish out of the sand and water, the fish would wiggle and flip out of my hand. Eventually, I got only one Tongue Sole. My army of small followers were ecstatic with this find. Little did we know that there was something much bigger lurking in the waters nearby.

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