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Friday, September 23, 2005

Fish Week Day 4: Mulloways

Unfortunately I got sick and had to stay home from work yesterday, so I didn't get to wear a tie. Therefore Fish Week only has four entries. :-(

Here is another Desert Designs tie by the late Australian Aboriginal artist Doris Gingingara. With the aid of a handy fish identification chart, I have determined that the fish depicted here are mulloways (Argyrosomus japonicus or hololepidotus), which can grow to over five feet long and 120+ pounds. The mulloway's nickname of "jewfish" or "jewie" turns out not to originate in an ethnic slur, but is a shortening of "jewel fish", a generic term for fish with large "ear bones" (otoliths) which are sometimes made into jewelry. There is a picture of an otolith near the bottom of this page. (These days otoliths are marked and reinserted for tracking purposes.) For culinary purposes (fish and chips) mulloways are sometimes known as "butterfish." They are not as fantastically patterned as depicted here, but it's not all artist's fancy: they do have a row of iridescent spots along their lateral line.

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