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Fish #55 Argentine Argentina sphyraena ~ Caroline Allison
watercolour 18 x 25 cm
The argentine (Latin origin: argentus = silver), also known as the silver smelt or silverfish, can be found in the eastern Atlantic where it is in abundance from northern Norway to western Sahara including southern Iceland, Faroe Islands, Shetlands and the Mediterranean Sea. They like to eat bristle worms (polychaete), molluscs and crustaceans, invertebrates and fish that are pelagic (i.e. those that live neither at the surface nor the bottom of the ocean). At the moment the conservation status of the species is not endangered, and is considered of least concern (let's hope it stays that way!) and can usually only be found in Mediterranean seafood markets. The silver pigment from their scales is used to produce 'pearl essence' used in the manufacture of artificial pearls. Due to this fish being slightly obscure, there is little to reference in terms of literature and artwork. The fish's appearance, I think, is almost comical. Its large eyes and rainbow sheen create the illusion of a cartoon character, which shows us how utterly ignorant we are when it comes to the ocean's hidden treasures - from cartoonish visions to eerie glowing shadows, the ocean truly is a slumbering universe waiting to be awoken by explorers. Overall, hopefully you now have a basic understanding of this cute and tiny little fish to which I have managed to become quite attached.
Fish #55 Argentine Argentina sphyraena ~ Cat Howard
Oil on board 37 x 57 cm
The Argentina sphyraena are a part of the herring smelts family of fish. They are tiny fishes only growing to about 25cm long. They live in large schools deep in the Easter Atlantic waters. Living close to the ocean floor they survive by eating plankton. They have a minor commercial use and are rarely used in fisheries or consumed by humans. Intriguingly, they are meant to smell like cucumbers.
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