The Swamfisck

The accompanying illustration, though heading the chapter in Olaus

Magnus regarding the Swamfisck and other fish, does not at all seem to

elucidate the text:--"The Variety of these Fish, or rather Monsters, is

here set down, because of their admirable form, and many properties of

Nature, as they often come to the Norway Shores amongst other

Creatures, and they are catcht for their Fat, which they have in great

plenty a
d abundance. For the Fisher-men purge it, by boyling it like

flesh, on the fire, and they sell it to anoint leather, or for Oyl to

burn in Lamps, to continue light, when it is perpetual darkness.

Wherefore the first Monster that comes, is of a round form, in Norway

called Swamfisck, the greatest glutton of all other Sea-Monsters. For

he is scarce satisfied, though he eat continually. He is said to have no

distinct stomach; and so what he eats turns into the thickness of his

body, that he appears nothing else than one Lump of Conjoyned Fat. He

dilates and extends himself beyond measure, and when he can be extended

no more, he easily casts out fishes by his mouth because he wants a neck

as other fishes do. His mouth and belly are continued one to the other.

But this Creature is so thick, that when there is danger, he can, (like

the Hedg-Hog) re-double his flesh, fat and skin, and contract and cover

himself; nor doth he that but to his own loss, because fearing Beasts

that are his Enemies, he will not open himself when he is oppressed

with hunger, but lives by feeding on his own flesh, choosing rather to

be consumed in part by himself, than to be totally devoured by Wild

Beasts. If the danger be past, he will try to save himself.