International Sea Serpent Reports
A NEW FLYING FISH.
The Sydney Monitor (NSW)
Date: March 3, 1830
Page Number: 4
A very strong sensation was excited a few days in the vicinity of Wandsworth, by the appearance of an extraordinary animal, who was observed floating slowly through the air nearly over the village. Its appearance, which was that of a fish of about 20 feet in length, and proportionate bulk, excited alarm amongst many, and astonishment amongst all, who beheld it. What it was ? and how it came there ? were questions very eagerly and very naturally asked, but not so easily answered. Conjectures were hazarded, without number, and without result. Nobody could give a satisfactory explanation of the phenomenon, though every body made the attempt. It was a fish—it was a sea serpent,—it was "very like a whale ;" but something supernatural, portentuous of strange and awful events: one or two of the more shrewd looked upon it as one of the visitations with which the country had been threatened in consequence of the passing of the Catholic Bill. But whatever it was, it seemed to be the general wish that it should if possible be removed from the neighbourhood. But than came the question—how ? To take a monster of such dimensions alive, was an attempt which might be attented with much danger. It was therefore considered prudent to kill it first, if it could be killed. For this purpose some of the best shots in the neighbourhood were put in requisition. Several fowling-pieces were discharged at it, without any other effect than that of adding to the terror of many of the spectators. At last a gentleman brought out a long strand-piece, loaded with duck-shot, and took his aim, he was successful. Some of the shot pierced the animal's side, when to the terror of crowds who looked on, it changed its form and sank to the earth, a shrunken and mishappen mass ! For a time no person was hardy enough to approach it; but at last, not seeing it move, the gentleman who brought it down, advanced, and to his surprise, and the great relief of many present from their alarms, found, that it consisted of a quantity of silk made in the shape of a fish inflated with gas. The phenomenon was now explained. Further inquiry led to the discovery of the place whence at came; and it appeared that it was a "loose fish" which had escaped from Vauxhall-gardens ! The proprietors it seemed, had prepared, the monster, intending that it should rise from the waters of the Hydropyric Temple, and float amidst the fire-works over the heads of the spectators. Having been properly inflated, it was slightly fastened to that part of the temple from which it was to ascend; but, in the course of the night, the strings became loosened, and the monster escaped! Where it passed its night is not known, but early on the following morning it was seen floating over Wandsworth, as we have described. The truant monster has since been restored to its owners.