The Yoro Fish Rains: Case Closed

The most recent reports of fish falling in Yoro, Honduras reminded me that I had read a earlier reference to the case amongst my collection of early Fortean magazines.

I was right. The October 1975 edition of Pursuit (the Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained magazine) had an article by Ron Dobbins on the Yoro phenomena. The core of his piece was a translation he had done of a report by the Honduran Academy of Geography and History. I have seen other references to the same report so I am sure his source was genuine.

The report had been based on observations made at Yoro in the years 1961-62 by several scientists including a U.S. meteorologist, under the direction of the Honduran Meteorological Service. The report is so interesting I hope Ron will forgive me reproducing his excellent translation below. I’m still trying to source the original report from the Academy in Honduras.

It now seems clear that in Yoro, fish move up a local river (the Aguan) to spawn and after particularly heavy downpours become stranded when the waters recede in a local swamp – probably the same swampy area seen in several of the Youtube videos. Even in the early 1960’s, no witnesses had reported seeing the fish fall and no specimens had been found on local roofs.

So Yoro, it’s pretty much case closed.

Ron’s translation of the report is below:

[From the Honduran Academy of Geography and History].

One of the phenomena known for many years and which forms part of our folklore is the curious phenomenon called “the rain of fishes,” which displays itself almost every year one and a half kilometers to the southeast of the picturesque city of Yoro, Honduras .
This event, almost annual, distinguishes itself from other phenomena which present themselves in various places in Honduras by the fact that the fish do not emanate from subterranean currents or watery strata of the earth, that with the rain squalls make the surface soft, and the fish come out that develop underneath.

The phenomenon of Yoro also is notable because it appears to be strictly associated with the most powerful squall of the rainy season of Yoro, to such a degree that the Yorenos know perfectly well the cloud that “brings over fishes” and that at the moment it goes through the valley, the wind associated with it produces a typical sound… rather obscure and very turbulent. A person who should witness this phenomenon, due to the natural events that develop in this moment, would swear that the fish come with the cloud, owing to the rare association of the atmospheric condition with the later quantity of fish which are encountered, jumping, after the squall.

However, our National Meteorological Service, entrusted with everything related to the atmospheric phenomena which occur in our country, began to study this phenomenon. First, they performed studies previous to the atmospheric condition in the period which exhibits the phenomenon, by means of analysis of the shallow atmosphere surrounding the area of Yoro. and the climatological data and atmospheric phenomena which govern our territory in this period. It maintained the evidence of a small but weak center of lower pressure which returns semi-permanently over the valley of Yoro, precipitating the formation of heavy storm clouds.

This weak center of lower pressure separates itself from the low pressure front that positions itself along the length of the Pacific Coast: of Central America during the squally season and, that other times, these small centers go through the country toward the Gulf of Honduras and subsequently are transformed into tropical storms. Yet the idea is actually prevalent that the fish of Yoro are carried by “marine waterspouts from the Atlantic Ocean.” Prom the previous study of the meteorological theory it was known beforehand that this is not possible and that such an idea can be scientifically refuted.

Finally the Meteorological Service sent one of their technicians and one climatologist to the theater of the events. At the time of the year 1961 the meteorologist Edgardo Zuniga Andrade together with an American meteorologist, Martin Rossemblatt, went to obtain data investigating among the people of Yoro in order to amplify the studies of atmospheric analysis of the following year.

For the year 1962 the same meteorologist, accompanying the climatologist Hector Garay Moncada, had the privilege to witness the phenomenon and to completely verify the conclusions which had been reached in the previous studies. The purpose of studying this phenomenon was one of approaching an understanding of the mechanism of its formation, the verification that the appearance of fish after the squall does not form part of some meteorological phenomenon, but more wonderful is Mother Nature where the ancestral costume of an animal unites itself with the unleashing of the atmospheric forces. The public ought to know about this very special peculiarity of one of our regions and, once comprehended fully, can be of great attraction to our own people and foreigners, augmenting the number of tourists Yoro will have and giving the satisfaction of investigating a very curious phenomenon of nature.

Here is what the meteorologist observed on his last visit to the city of Yoro:

1) The fish which were exhibited after the squall are all of the same type (whereupon it is deduced that it is not connected with marine waterspouts, since If it went in this way, different types or fish would be presented).
2) The force of the wind does not exceed the velocity of the winds of tornadoes or marine waterspouts, nor reaches velocities greater than 40 knots.
3) No trace of vegetation exists that establishes the previous passage of tornadoes.
4) No meteorological phenomenon follows an exact trajectory. No waterspout would be able to traverse the same route every year.
5) The type of cloud originating in the weak center of lower pressure that crosses the valley of Yoro has been exhibited in other parts of the country and the world. This cloud is known by the scientific name of mammato-cumulonimbus due to the fact that its base has the appearance of nipples, owing to its great instability, which gives it the dark violet color besides the sound of the descending wind.
6) The fish show themselves making good use of the great quantity of falling water which trickles toward the streamlets Machigua and Jalegua that flow out of the Aguan River.
7) The fish are not blind, not arising therefore from underground waters. This type of fish exists commonly in the rivers of the region. The natives call them “boat fish.” Their size does not exceed 11 centimetres and clearly are recognized as a variety of sardine.
8) No one has seen the fish falling from the cloud at the moment of the phenomenon and have not fallen upon one roof of the houses of Yoro, a distance of only a kilometer and a half from the place.
9) The distribution of the mountains and their elevations around the valley of Yoro do not allow, at any time, that any marine waterspout is able to reach Yoro without before having destroyed its own wind funnel, owing to the different temperatures that follow the air in its path, on account of the change of pressure with the height. This would come about as much in Yoro as in any other place on earth with high mountains.
10) The fish swim against the current of water that trickles to the tributaries of the Aguan River, whose dirty water does not allow us to see them clearly.
11) The fish that are gathered after the rain squall, persist in jumping, without showing any wound due to the fall from an average height of 2,000 feet from the cumulonimbus cloud.
12) The precise place of the phenomenon is part of the city district of Yoro called “The Swamp,” where there exist little ponds of water, from the last squalls previous to the phenomenon.
13) In the region of the phenomenon the grass grows up and is so compact in the dry season that it does not present “fissures” i.e., openings .
14) The running of the water of the fallen rain is due to the fact that the valley has an inclination toward the northwest, compelling the water to move toward the streamlets.
15) Owing to the great electrical activity the Yorenos are not given to moving themselves toward the place of the events, except after the end of the storm.
16) Other persons of the area adjacent to the city of Yoro have had the rare opportunity of seeing the schools of fishes advancing against the current of the Aguan River, in their movement toward the place of the phenomenon, one day before.


One arrives after the finishing of the study at the conclusion that the fish have the ancestral habit, since times past of going to die at the southeast of the valley of Yoro and that for their going out to this place they make good use of their natural sensitivity to the changes of pressure, determining the presence of the center of the weakening of lower pressure send- seasonably in Yoro, they use the influence of the mammato cumulonimbus cloud, besides the great quantity of water fallen from the strongest rain squall, in order to leap to earth against the current.

The fish then, are able to proceed from the Atlantic Ocean. They pass through the Aguan River and are guided to the valley of Yoro with the purpose of dying there and are not transported in the storm cloud. It is necessary however that an expert in matters of fish, that is to say, an ichthyologist, continue the study of these edible fish that are the pride of the Yorenos.

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