Miami, 1912: No “fish story” here!

[45 ft long shark (whale?) on trailer; 2 children on its back ( Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

“[45 ft long shark (whale?) on trailer; 2 children on its back]” ( Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division – no known copyright restrictions)

Wow! Now there’s a photo that got my attention.

At first glance, I thought this was some sort of man-made parade float until I read the Library of Congress description and blew it up a bit so I could try to make out the writing along the side of the trailer: Copyrighted by Chas. Thompson. Photo J. Hand Co.[?], Miami, Florida, 1913. Weight 30,000 lbs. Length 45 ft.

Imagine being on vacation in Miami 100 years ago and catching a good look at this, and then going back up North to tell your friends what you saw. You’d have the ultimate “fish story” only it would actually be true. Would anyone believe you?

But, back to the photo—what exactly is it? A whale? A shark? It does not exactly look like either to me. Hubby wants to know how they caught it. I want to know how they got it out of the water and onto the trailer, and how it was disposed of… refrigeration must have been an issue.

Some say that Floridians have a penchant for the bizarre. The Weird Florida book is full of examples of some of the unusual things that go on here. We’ve ventured out to see some of these strange things for ourselves: Coral Castle, Spook Hill, and Devil’s Millhopper, among others. Judging by this photo, it appears that ‘freaky’ things have been going on here for a very long time!

Miami population: 1910: 5,500; 2013: 417,650

Resources: Miami timeline / Miami history

Update: It was indeed real; I found some newspaper articles about the catch on the Fulton History site. To answer my questions, it was a ‘whale shark’ (Rhinodon typus) caught off of Knight’s Key, which is pretty far down the Florida Keys (just past Marathon Key and before Bahia Honda). According to Natural History Magazine online: “[The] whale shark () was taken in Florida in 1912, was grotesquely stuffed […] and exhibited as a marvel.” At capture (per the captain, this was after a 39-hour battle) it was supposedly about 38 feet long, but the stuffing process stretched it out to 45 feet. 

The Christian Science Monitor, Boston, MA, Saturday, April 12, 1913
seamonster1

*********************************************************

The Cortland Standard, Wednesday, August 6, 1913, p. 5

Cortland1The Cortland Standard, Wednesday, August 6, 1913, p. 5

******************************************************************

The Niagara Falls Gazette, Monday, April 7, 1913

The Niagara Falls Gazette, Monday, April 7, 1913

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Categories: Fishing, Florida, Miami, Nature | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Miami, 1912: No “fish story” here!

  1. That is such a strange photo! But that is the kind of thing that is so cool to see in an old photo. Are you sure it’s real? At first I was sure it wasn’t real, but after reading what you wrote and looking again, I guess you are right. So odd!

    Like

    • Hi, Luanne; Thanks for your comment. I checked some old newspapers this afternoon, and sure enough, the big fish was in the papers at that time. I have added a few of the articles I found to the post. It must have been quite a sensation. One article says 5,000 people gathered to watch the ‘sea monster’ being brought in. That must have been almost the entire population!

      Like

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