Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/318

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bordered with a nacreous white line, adorn the body; one of these stripes crosses the eye obliquely; a second one, bisecting the nape of the neck, extends to the ventral fins; the next two mark the flanks, and the posterior stripe bisects the root of the caudal fin.

The long-beaked Chelmon's body is yellow. Instead of the stripe crossing the eye, seen in the other species, we find on the anterior portion of the body a broad, blackish spot, triangular in shape, and terminating in a point on the snout. This spot is bordered by a nacreous white stripe; the forehead is of azure tint, with a shade of sea-green; the eye is of a pure rose-color; a narrow stripe of black adorns the margin of the fins, which themselves are of mauve-color; on the posterior part of the anal fin, near its edge, is seen a deep-black spot, encircled by a line of pearly white.

The Chelmon, particularly the beaked Chelmon, has been described by Schlosser, under the title of Archer-fish, in the "Philosophical Transactions." The animal is said to obtain its food in a peculiar way, and hence the names given to it by Schlosser (Jaculator) and by the Dutch colonists of the East Indies (Spuytvisch, pump-fish or spitting-fish).

Lacépède, following the narratives of travelers, tells us that the long-beaked Chœcetodon "usually keeps near to the mouths of rivers, and especially frequents places where the water is not deep. It feeds on insects, especially such as live on the marine plants which rise above the surface of the sea. In taking them it resorts to a noteworthy manœuvre, which it is enabled to perform by the very elongated form of the snout; and a similar sort of manœuvre is performed by the Sparus insidator, the bellows-chœtodon, and other fishes, with very long, very narrow, and nearly cylindrical beak, like that of the animal we are now describing. When the archer espies an insect which it wishes to seize, but which is flying too high above the surface to be captured by leaping out of the water, it approaches as near as possible to its prey, then it fills its mouth-cavity with water, shuts its gill-openings, suddenly compresses its little slit of a mouth, and, ejecting rapidly the water through the very narrow tube which forms its snout, squirts it often to the distance of two metres, and that with such force that the insect is stunned and falls into the sea. The performance is so amusing that rich people throughout the greater part of the East Indies keep long-beaked Chœtodons in large vessels."

Block, in his "History of Fishes," which was published at the close of the last century, tells us, on the authority of Mynheer Hommel, inspector of the Batavia Hospital, that the bandoulière or beaked Chœtodonshas a very singular way of procuring food. "Observe," says Bloch, "how this fish ensnares the flies it discovers on the marine plants which project above the water. It approaches within four to six feet of the insect, and then squirts water upon it with such force that it never fails to bring it down and make it its prey." Mynheer