July 6, 2016

Living Arrows of the Sea


A Vijadesan riddle asks about an arrow of moonlight that swims by day; the answer is the Balo or garfish. This long, slim fish can grow up to a yard long, with a sharp six-inch beak, and often bursts out of the water in spectacular jumps, impaling anything in the way. Sometimes entire schools jump in unison, raining over ships and boats like a flight of arrows. They do this not to attack, but to escape predators in the water, or merely because something surprised them.

When hooked, though, Balo will sometimes charge the fisherman. They are a very common hazard across the Janggalans, and have injured or killed many. The worst thing about them, though, is that their flight is all too often just a harbinger of something much bigger and nastier coming.

This creature for Hari Ragat is based on the real-life Needlefish, aka Garfish or Houndfish. It’s very common in tropical waters, and I used to encounter them often when I was snorkeling as a kid in Puerto Galera. Little did I know then how dangerous they could be. Here’s a scary description of what they can do.

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