Fish, Fisheries and Queryomics
Beel loves fish festivals, so Beel loves the Festival de la Lluvia de Peces (Festival of the Rain of Fishes), held May through July in Yoro, Honduras since 1998. Pretty much each year, with the onset of the rainy season, a heavy thunderstorm will precede the presence of large numbers of “sardines,” which are often collected and eaten by locals. By various accounts, this may happen twice in a given year.
Beel has read account after account of the Lluvia de Peces and has seen no report of fish literally falling from the sky. Instead, the fish are found after a heavy rain. The most likely explanation of the phenomenon is that heavy rains flood local streams, from which the fish invade low lying areas. No one, not even Beel, knows for sure. Nevertheless, there is an annual festival to celebrate the Lluvia de Peces.
A number of eye-witness accounts of the Lluvia de Peces are presented here. (Google Translate does a really nice job translating this to English).
According to local legend, Father José Manuel Subirana, a Catholic missionary, lived and ministered in Honduras from 1856 until his death in 1864. He reportedly found so many poor in the area that he prayed for 3 days and 3 nights asking for a miracle to help feed the poor. The Lluvia de Peces, which has occurred every year for over a century, is believed to be in answer to Father Subirana’s prayers.
(In the interest of full disclosure, Beel’s life partner once saw a carp swim across a road during a heavy rain.)
To be sure, there are cases of fishes literally falling from the sky. The most recent case with which Beel is familiar occurred in the small town of Lajamanu, Australia in 2010. Spangled perch (source of photo), a common Australian freshwater fish, rained down from the heavens. The concensus explanation is that a waterspout or tornado lifted the fish several thousand feet into the air from a distant water body, and carried them inland, before returning them still alive to the Earth. Residents recall two previous rains, in 1974 and 2004, making this the third instance in 4o years.
Natural History reprinted a story Rains of Fishes: A compilation of the evidence that fishes occasionally fall from the sky, first published in 1921, in which the author exhaustively documents historic cases of raining fish. He argues, pretty persuasively, that most of these rains were the work of waterspouts.
Beel used Google Insights for Search to examine “rain of fish” and “lluvia peces.” Please, let Beel present the results.
There is little apparent trend over time in these searches. Low search volume or lack of indexing by Google result in a lack of volume for Spanish searches until mid-2005. Of particular interest is the spike in both searches in the first quarter of 2010, which was coincident with the Australian fish rain referenced above. Nice, says Beel.