Of the flying fish found in the grand gulf of the Ocean Sea, coming from Spain to these Indies.
Translated by Adele Birkenes ’20
Some will ask why I say that these flying fish are found on the way to these parts in the large sea and gulf of the Ocean, and why I do not say the same for the journey back to Spain or Europe from these Indies. To leave the reader in no doubt, let me say that even though the same fish can be found on the way back as on the way here, they are not found in the same quantity, nor do the boats return by the same route they followed here, and on the northern return route they are not found in the same numbers as in the South or close to the Mainland. They can be as small as the smallest bees and as large as big sardines. These, when the ships are moving at full sail, leap to one side of the ship or the other in schools large and small, some indeed very large and innumerable. The fish can fly 200 paces in one leap, more or less; sometimes they even leap into the vessels, and I have held live ones in my hands and have eaten them. And they are very rich in flavor, except that they have many very thin bones; they have two thin wing-like fins growing close to or a little behind the jawbone, shaped like those of river fish and barbels, but these are as long as the fish itself, and these are its wings. Their flight can be sustained as long as it does because their wings take a long time to dry when they leap off the water; but when they are dry (which takes the space and distance I have stated), they dip back into the water and either prepare to leap again or they stay below and do not come up again. It is a very good fish to eat, even though it has many bones, like I said, but they are so thin that even if a few are swallowed, they cause no harm or indigestion. And they taste good, and their head is round like a mackerel’s, and the color of the back is blue, like the color of the water when the sky is very clear and empty of clouds and serene: that is when the fish are close to the mainland, because those found further out in the ocean are not as blue. The fishermen tell me that these same fish, and another kind of larger flying fish called golondrinos can be found in Spanish seas, but I have never seen them there despite the many times that I have come and gone along this route, not even when I went to Flanders from Spain and returned to Castile by sea. I write what I have seen and experienced of these flying fish on the route to these Indies.