This is the thirteenth book of the first part of the Natural and General History of the Indies, Islands and Mainland of the Ocean Sea: which deals with water animals.
Translated by Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert
Marvelous are the works of God, and very different in kind are the animals in different provinces and parts of the world, as are their species and forms, their size and proportions, and their behavior and particularities; and it is such that neither the animals of the land nor the fish or water animals can be thoroughly described or known through human diligence, nor have the lives of the men who have turned their attention to this matter sufficed to tell everything about them, nor will there be things lacking to observe for those alive or those who will come after us. And therefore, I will tell in this thirteenth book of the water animals that live in the seas and islands of these Indies, and especially on this island I am writing about. Because in this matter I will proceed in the style of Pliny, and even if I don’t tell it as well as he did, I will speak at least in accordance to the truth and as an eyewitness to most of the things mentioned here; and it is not only because I have seen such fish, but because I have eaten most of them that I can also speak of the taste as well as the form and testify what I have been able to understand and consider about these matters. So let the reader pay attention, and holding what I have said as a maxim, let him understand that he is not reading fables, nor things gathered to pass the time or to write in ornate sentences or style, as some do, because there is nothing of that in these treatises, which are only written to state the truths and secrets of nature, plainly and truly written, to the glory and praise of God.