It took the small flotilla in which Francis Drake set out to circle the globe nearly two months to cross from West Africa to Brazil as it sailed south in 1578. Francis Fletcher, chaplain aboard Drake’s flagship, the Pelican – later, of course, renamed the Golden Hind – had never seen flying fish before. “Many times,” he wrote, “they would flye against the toppe masts and sales of our ship, and against the bodies of our men.” Their fins were “like to the wing of a swallow … wherewith she flyeth as any fetherd fowle in the air”. Their fry, “of the bignes of gnatts … scudd upon the superficies of ...


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