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A pufferfish caught at Mauritius


A pufferfish caught at Mauritius

Laerle, Joris Joostensz.

The Moluccan fleet of the Fifth Expedition sailed to the Indonesian archipelago and back to the Netherlands over the course of two years: 1601 to 1603. Along the way, the crew would frequently catch fish from the oceans and seas that the ships traversed. Many of these were drawn in the journal of the Gelderland under the command of admiral Wolphert Harmensz, giving us insights into the great diversity of species the expedition encountered.

These drawings show a pufferfish or blowfish caught at Mauritius, which can inflate itself and is highly poisonous. Joris Joostensz. Laerle, artist on board of the Gelderland, likely drew the quite lifelike depiction of the fish in the journal of the flagship Gelderland. The text below the pufferfish (Tukifugu species) says: “this [was] caught on Mauritius Island. After being caught it changed into this appearance full of wind, we suspected it to be poisonous, because it was full of evil [unreadable], was ‘tehars’* and [a] foot long, anno 1601”.

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Sources and literature

Morree, Perry, Dodo's en galjoenen: De reis van het schip Gelderland naar Oost-Indië, 1601-1603