One Fish, Two Fish, Old Fish, New Fish
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Written by Seacoast Nh Archives

Sailor with Presents  
Historic Portsmouth #378

A news photo in the Portsmouth Herald earlier this month showed employees of the Seacoast Science Center studying a four-foot long ocean sunfish that had washed ashore. The average adult weighs over 2,000 pounds. The little guy found in Rye weighed only 170 pounds. That reminded me of a photo in the Portsmouth Athenaeum archive. (Continued below)


I don’t know how much this one weighed when it washed up at the Isles of Shoals in the first half of the 20th century. But what amazes me most is how the digital age allows this historian to track down early photos quicker than ever before. The result is that it is sometimes possible to rapidly compare modern day events with events in the past, giving them more context and relevance to readers. Historians aren’t known for quick turnaround times, but expanding databases and faster downloads are changing the way we view the past. It doesn’t happen every week, but it’s happening more and more. So you show me your fish, and I’ll show you mine. And, by the way, there’s a 1910-era photograph of a much bigger 3,500-pound ocean sunfish on Wikipedia. Worth checking out. (Courtesy of the Portsmouth Athenaeum)

Sunfsh found at Isles of Shoals in 1930s / Portsmouth Athenaeum photo