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which there is a great variety,-shrimps, crawfish or river lobster, mud fish and eels most abundant in still water, — mullets, plentiful every where, especially in the rocky mountain streams.
These streams become very small in dry weather, when the fish collect in the numerous deep pools dug out by the falls of water among the rocks; and in the bright sunshine of the tropics it is a beautiful and amusing sight, to see them sporting in these crystal havens of security. Calapivers (which may be termed the salmon of the tropics), snooks, &c. abound about the outlets of the rivers, and resort occasionally to the sea.
Negro methods of catching fish.
Shrimps are caught with baskets, and this kind of fishing forms not an unfrequent amusement for a party of negroes. It is quite a common thing to see 20 or 30 of them in the middle of the day wading together in a mill-lead, each with a basket catching shrimps. The other descriptions of fish are caught with traps or ‘pots' as the negroes call them. These are made of the wild cane which baskets also are made and nearly in the same manner) plaited into a kind of wickerwork. There is free ingress to them, as into a wire mousetrap; and to entice the fish to go in, the trap baited with crabs' claws, plantain skins, slices of avocado pears, some codfish or herrings, and a few shining fragments of crockery ware. prepared, it is lowered down with a stone in deep water, where fish are plenty, and has a line and
buoy attached to mark the place and pull it up by. In shallow water it is fastened down with a stick stuck in the ground, which answers the purpose of a line and buoy. A young alligator is occasionally caught, having gone in after the fish, and a negro is far from pleased to find such an intruder,—he is soon decapitated. Another description of trap is used in shallow rivers to catch the fish as they go up or down. A row of pegs is placed across the stream from bank to bank, and watled or filled up closely with cane leaves or any kind of shrubbery, in which row, or wear, as the negroes call it, the traps are set, some with the mouth or aperture to the one side and some to the other; the water oozes through, but the fish can neither pass up the river nor down, and in their endeavours to do so they are sure to run into the traps, the mouths of which appear to afford so many openings. Every little stream, and every mill course, is full of these traps; and at shell-blow numbers of the negroes are seen making traps or examining those they have got in the water.
Fish are likewise very plentiful among the rocks along the sea-shore, and are caught there with traps set in the same manner as in the deep pools of the rivers. Almost every estate has a negro employed as a fisherman, and generally another, an old man, as a crab-catcher. Many of the larger properties on the sea-coast get a seine annually from England, which is drawn
every morning to procure a dish of fish for the plantation. Eight or ten fishermen from different estates in the same neighbourhood (and generally a parcel of idlers collect on such occasions) join in drawing the seine, and each gets a dish of fish for the estate to which he belongs, which he carries home in time for dinner (2 o'clock); what may be over a dish to each estate, they keep for for their own use; and they have the afternoon to prepare their traps, no other labour being required of them.
The use of the seine is always allowed to the negroes of the plantation when they wish it; and in fine weather they occasionally form parties and go to the sea to fish on negro days and holidays. The morning is the time for it; they convene at dawn (between 5 and 6 o'clock), and are home to breakfast about 9. The beach in front of
my house at Plantain-garden River being a favourite fishing ground, I have frequently walked out in the mornings to see parties of this kind, and have been pleased and amused with the mirth that prevailed among them; their loud cheers and the scramble that ensued when a successful draught was brought ashore; their extraordinary agility in the water, swimming and diving like ducks; and their bursts of admiration, vexation, or laughter, as the wary fish endeavouring to escape would leap to a great height over the seine, and occasionally fall into the canoes following behind it.
Even in the swamps of Jamaica, fish are Exaberance of found. A large lagoon near where I resided, vegetable life
in the tropics. part of which is covered with reeds, abounds with a small kind of fish, from 3 to 4 inches long, called by the negroes bugabees or bungabees. In the dry season, as the space of water becomes contracted, these are caught with baskets in immense quantities. In short, earth, air, and water, here swarm with animal life,—with many creatures that are useful, and many given, as it would seem, rather as a curse than a blessing to man.
Clouds of troublesome musquitoes, and the still more numerous and more troublesome sandflies, occasionally fill the air ; while the water swarms with fish, and the earth with crabs, rats, lizards, snakes, and other smaller vermin, centipedes, scorpions, cockroaches, and especially ants, which are every where in the fields and in the houses. One species of these, which form their nests in trees, are used for feeding young poultry. The nest, or a part of it about the size of a beehive, is broken off and carried home on the end of a stick or pole. Being broken and the fragments struck against one another, the young ants shower down upon the ground or into a pool of water, and are greedily devoured by young chickens and ducklings.
As the sun goes down, and the trade wind dies away, the newly arrived stranger travelling along the road or in the fields, is surprised and startled by the strange noise that assails his ears:
it seems like magic; for he cannot conjecture what it is or where it comes from. It is a concert raised by thousands and tens of thousands of lizards, crickets, and grasshoppers, which unseen surround him. Shortly he is yet more surprised to see sparks of fire darting from one place to another till at last as darkness closes
It is the fire-flies gambolling over the cane fields.
Nor do the productions of the vegetable world appear less interesting and extraordinary. Every shrub and every tree he sees is new to an European. It is an eternal summer; from January to December, travel where he will, he sees the earth teeming forth her bounties; he sees the trees covered at once with blossom and fruit; he sees the Bombax or great cotton tree (compared with which the loftiest oak in England sinks into a dwarf,) richly mantled over, trunk and branches, with the hogmeat-vine, presenting the most singular and beautiful appearance; he sees the husbandman sowing and reaping every month in the year; he sees a field of guinea-grass now bare, and a week after, if it has been refreshed with a shower, waving in the wind; he sees the whole earth clothed with the richest vegetation, with scarcely a barren speck, for even the very