16th century book on fish and whales on the Internet


This Dutch video is about a whale, beached near Antwerp in 1577; as described in Adriaen Coenen’s Visboek about marine animals.

From the National Library of the Netherlands, in The Hague:

Adriaen Coenen’s Visboek

In 1577, at the age of 63, Adriaen Coenensz from Scheveningen, a Dutch fishing port, started his Vis booc. Over a period of three years he collected all kind of information about the sea, the coasts, and coastal waters, fishing grounds and marine animals: 410 pages written by an expert. Throughout his life he had earned his living from the sea, as fisherman, as wreck master of the county of Holland, and from 1574 as official fish auctioneer at Scheveningen.

Digital version of Adriaen Coenen’s Visboek in flash (for newer pc’s)
Digital version of Adriaen Coenen’s Visboek in html (for tablets and older pc’s)

Coenensz made nearly every page into a miniature work of art by framing his texts and illustrations by borders, edges and cartouches painted in water colour. He must have realised the special value of his book, as appears from the minutes of the court sessions in Leiden from 1583. They contain a note indicating that Coenensz asked permission for his book and his collection of dried fish ‘to be shown on the coming free annual fair and the festival of the relief of the city [3 October], receiving from every person five cents and from those wanting to see the book twenty-five’. So looking at his book was five times as much as marvelling at his dried fish. Coenensz certainly cashed in on his knowledge. On the reverse of folium 11 he even promoted it:

‘Whoever reads or studies it
May spread the word to Another
that he may see and hear’.

Beached whale, from Coenensz' book

One of the marvels of the sea that the inhabitants of Leiden could admire in the book was ‘The true Portrait and size of this whale that has been captured on the ij of July AD m.d.lxxvij’, painted in water colour over two pages. Coenensz had drawn this whale after an engraving that had appeared in the same year (1577). Drawing and caption record an event that would also be considered newsworthy in our own time: a whale cast ashore. The whale depicted here landed in shallow waters, the Scheldt near Doel above Antwerp, and attracted a lot of attention. A few years later Coenensz made a second book, based on this manuscript, the whale manuscript, which is now in Antwerp; a third, also with drawings of whales, is part of a collection in Cologne.

Literature

E.Cockx-Indestege, ‘Een walvis gestrand in de Schelde boven Antwerpen op 2 juli 1577′, in: Noordgouw. Cultureel Tijdschrift van de provincie Antwerpen 6 (1966), p. 1-18
K. Barthelmess, ‘Potvisstrandingen in de Lage Landen in de 16de eeuw. Geschiedenis en iconografische ontwikkeling’, in: Op het strand gesmeten. Vijf eeuwen potvisstrandingen aan de Nederlandse kust. [Zutphen] 1992, p. 35-56.

Belgian chaffinch eats sunflower seed, video


This is a video about a male chaffinch eating a sunflower seed.

Wendy Snoekx from Rotselaar in Belgium made this video on 26 December 2014.

Rare mushroom in Flanders for first time ever


Hygrocybe viola waxcap, photo by Yves Deneyer

Translated from the Flemish mycologists of Paddenstoelenwerkgroep Westhoek:

Monday, December 22, 2014

In Elverdinge (Ypres) during an excursion of the Mushroom Task Force West Flanders Hygrocybe viola was discovered. It is the first observation of this species in Flanders. Across Europe there are only a handful of reports of this mushroom with its lilac-colored hat.

In Belgium one other discovery was made of the rare Hygrocybe viola: in 1977, in Vencimont (Wallonia). There are only a handful of known observations in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Denmark (Boertmann, 2010). That makes Hygrocybe viola one of the rarest of the scions of the waxcap family.

Smooth snake in Belgium, video


This video is about a smooth snake in the Zijpbeek valley in Belgium.

Bart Sleeckx made the video.