Travel Channel episode features Marksville's 1947 'rain of fish'
Mon, 11/14/2016 - 05:00
Raymond L. Daye
Although it occurred 69 years ago -- and there are many other similar events that have occurred more recently elsewhere in the world -- the Oct. 23, 1947 “rain of fish” in Marksville is still being discussed.
The most recent coverage of the local tale is currently featured on the Travel Channel’s “Myster-ies at the Museum” series. The episode,entitled “Fish Rain, Oil Heir Snare and Cousteau and the Aqua-Lung,” originally aired on Nov. 4 and will air three more times this week -- 10 p.m. Thursday, 1 a.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Sunday.
It can also be seen online. Suddenlink customers can also view the show in their On Demand feature.
In the episode, host Don Wildman examines a breed of fish that is believed to have been part of the Marksville event.
Although bringing attention to Marksville, the episode contains two major errors in covering the Marksville fish fall.
There was no rain on the day of the fish fall, but the Travel Channel depicts a rainstorm. The fish fell in Marksville from a nearly cloudless sky, according to news reports of the event.
The show also details how the townspeople thought it was some sort of mystical omen or message. That was never the case in Marksville.
At the time of the strange rain, state wildlife biologist A.D. Bajkov wrote:
"There were spots on Main Street, in the vicinity of the bank (a half block from the restaurant) averaging one fish per square yard. Automobiles and trucks were running over them. Fish also fell on the roofs of houses…I personally collected from Main Street and several yards on Monroe Street, a large jar of perfect specimens and preserved them in Formalin, in order to distribute them among various museums."
In 1961, Lola T. Dees, of the U.S. Department of the Interior, wrote a report on several fish rains around the world throughout history, but pointed out that the Oct. 23, 1947 event was different.
“Fish rains have nearly always been described as being accompanied by violent thunderstorms and heavy rains. This, however, was not the case in Marksville,” she wrote, noting that the weather on the day of the incident was foggy and calm with winds not exceeding 8 mph. There was no tornado or updraft near Marksville, but there had been numerous small tornadoes the day before.
She concluded her report on fish rains by saying that scientists “agree with Raphael Eglini, who believed in 1771 that these extraordinary events result from the action of heavy winds.
“Powerful, rising spirals of air form occasionally,” she continued. “If they occur over land they are tornadoes, and if they occur over water they are waterspouts. These whirlwinds can pick up objects, whirl them to considerable heights, often up into the thunderstorm clouds themselves, and transport them some distance from the locality at which they were picked up,” she wrote. “The objects fall when the spirals disperse and usually scatter over a wide area.”