The Bishop Fish (also known as the Monkfish) serves as one of the more peculiar editions to our list of Aquatic-Enigmas. This theologically inclined creature, with features that are said to resemble those of a clergyman, are ostensibly related to MERMAIDS and are truly one of the most unique marine animals to fall beneath the cryptozoological umbrella.
The Bishop Fish – which, according to reports is indigenous to European waters – has been described as being a large creature with a scaly, fish-shaped body, claw-like flippers and a large fin, which can allegedly wrap around the animal in a fashion that resembles the cloak of a clergyman. Its skull, which is said to be almost humanoid in appearance, bears an extended rough hewn brow, which reportedly resembles a bishops mitre; hence the creature’s name.
The existence of this animal was first documented in the 1433, when a specimen was found swimming in the Baltic Sea. The creature was captured and given as a tribute to the King of Poland. The king was so taken by his new prize that that he refused to return the beast to its aquatic environment.
Through a set on unknown circumstances a group of Catholic bishops were granted an audience with the incarcerated creature. Sadly, official records of this encounter have either been lost, destroyed or are currently being hidden in the Vatican’s Archives.
According to legend, however, the fish gestured to the bishops, apparently communicating its desire to be released. The bishops attempted to convince the king that animal should be returned to its natural habitat. Eventually the liege acquiesced to their requests and allowed the bishops to return the man-fish to the sea. Once released, the grateful creature purportedly made the sign of the cross before plunging into the ocean’s depths.
Another, more tragic, tale comes to us from Germany in 1531. Apparently a Bishop Fish was caught off the German coast, but the creature refused its captor’s offers of food and died after just three days. Yet another story details a “strange looking fish” caught in the British Atlantic. Described as: “A peaceful creature that appeared to have the mitre of a bishop”, this animal also perished soon afterward, and its corpse was returned to the sea.
Although from the reports it is unclear whether the Bishop Fish had the capacity to speak or simply bore an advanced enough intellect to communicate through a rudimentary form of sign language, it is obvious that those who have chronicled the few accounts which we still have of these creatures, felt that they possessed an almost human-like sensitivity to their environment.
Some researchers believe that the Bishop Fish may be a kind of deformed manta ray, whose features bear some slight semblance to those of a man. Investigators who subscribe to this theory further defended their positions by claiming that a ray’s “wings” could create the illusion of the cape-like appendage so often attributed to these creatures.
Whether Bishop Fish are some kind of anomalous variety of known marine life or an altogether new species is a question which will continue to haunt cryptozoologists, but as recently as the 1990’s a fascinating fish was caught by Turkish fishermen. This animal’s ruddy pigmentation and vaguely humanoid features bore a striking similarity to these antiquated reports of Bishop Fish