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Raining Fish in Honduras: Lluvia de Peces

by Shelly Barclay

Honduras is a small country in Central America, south of Mexico. The country is largely Roman Catholic, thus a place where people still believe in miracles. Whether miraculous or not, there is something going on in Yoro, Honduras. Annually now for more than 100 years, it has been raining fish.  It is something known locally as Lluvia de Peces. In English, the Lluvia de Peces means “Rain of Fish.”

raining fish

Raining Fish by Olaus Magnus

Lluvia de Peces, or Rain of Fish, typically happens in the spring or early summer. Dark storm clouds roll into the area and the sky opens up. It downpours heavily for as long as three hours. Whether that rain actually includes fish is unclear. What is nearly certain is that after the rain there are thousands of fish flopping around on the ground. It seems too strange to be true, but locals, researchers, and even a National Geographic team have reportedly confirmed it. Still, it may be one of those things you have to see to believe.

The Legend of the Raining Fish

Local legend says that the raining fish is a miraculous answer to the prayers of Father Jose Subirana. In the mid to late 1800s, the area was suffering greatly from poverty. Father Subirana, who was a visiting missionary, prayed that the people get ample food to end their hunger. God answered his prayers by making it rain fish in Yoro. Thus began the Rain of Fish, or so the story goes.

Details About The Fish

Some of the raining fish in Yoro

Some of the raining fish in Yoro. Image Credit: El Heraldo.

National Geographic supposedly sent a team to Honduras to investigate the Rain of Fish in the 1970s. They confirmed that the event was taking place and attempted to explain it. The team found that the fish were not from local waterways, but they were freshwater, not saltwater, fish. This meant they had to have come from rivers, lakes, ponds or streams. Another interesting find was that they were all the same blind species of fish. That led them to believe that the fish were coming up from underground, rather than raining down from the sky.

Note: The writer of this article was unable to find the National Geographic issue that this information was published in, though there are several reliable claims to its existence. Unfortunately, without it, it is impossible to say if the researchers actually looked to see if the fish were coming from the sky or not. If you know the month and year this information was in National Geographic, please leave a comment for us.

Possible Theories

The underground theory makes sense enough, but it is interesting that no one has found the source of the raining fish during or after these storms. If there is an underground river and the fish are finding their way to the surface, there must be an egress point.

Another popular theory is that wind spouts created by the storms are carrying the fish from the ocean. The problems with this theory are many, even without the evidence reportedly collected by National Geographic: The ocean is nearly 200 miles away from the location of the Rain of Fish. The waterspouts would have to start over a school of fish once a year, sometimes more, for more than a hundred years. The wind would have to carry the fish all the way from the ocean to the same area once a year, sometimes more, for more than a hundred years. That is like a tornado forming over a flock of birds every year, during the same months and then carrying the birds to the exact same area every time.

There have been other reports of animal rains around the world for some time. However, the Honduran raining fish is the only known animal rain that takes place yearly, or on any schedule. In fact, it is the only known animal rain that is not a single event, but a series of them. This could be further evidence of the fishes’ underground origins or it could mean that miracles really do happen in Honduras.

Related: Bizarre Rain: Pouring Fish, Frogs, and Crops

Milles, Carlie, America, and Geography, retrieved 6/29/11, eagle.ceu.edu/article/america-and-geography

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