In response to:
The Sea, the Sea from the December 22, 2022 issue
To the Editors:
Rebecca Giggs, in her delightful review of Sandra Steingraber’s The Sea Trilogy, a new edition of Rachel Carson’s beloved books [NYR, December 22, 2022], has reminded me of an old friend, Lophius. A marine inhabitant of the US East Coast, from where Carson drew her inspiration, Lophius is Lophius americanus (its Latin scientific name and therefore properly italicized), a well-known fish labeled with a proliferation of common names: “monkfish” is probably most commonly heard, especially among locals in Maine, but we also hear “goosefish” and “poor man’s lobster” (Massachusetts), “bellowsfish” (Rhode Island), “mullagoon” and “molligut” (Connecticut), and “allmouth” (North Carolina). Perhaps topping them all for an accurate description of one important aspect of its natural history is “greedigut,” used by early colonists of Massachusetts in allusion to its insatiable appetite. And speaking of the latter, it is quite true that, when sufficiently hungry, it “mushrooms up from a misty sandbank,” rising to the surface to engulf unsuspecting diving ducks and seabirds. Once extremely common but rejected by most for its slimy ugliness, it was thought of as a trash fish, judged suitable only for dog food. Now highly regarded by seafood lovers, it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under US fishing regulations.