This Day in History: 1789-03-15

Jonathan Couch (1789 – 1870) was born on this day. He was a Cornish naturalist, primarily ichthyologist, and physician. Couch helped Yarrell complete his History of British Fishes (1836), lending him coloured illustrations and notes but is best known for his own A History of the Fishes of the British Islands, (1862 – 65), the work included hand-coloured engravings based on his own watercolours drawn from freshly caught specimens; it was the earliest book on British fishes to be illustrated in colour. The accuracy of the artwork was such that it allowed later workers to correctly identify some of the species which Couch had misidentified.

Couch described around 30 new taxa and is honoured in the name of Gobius couchi Miller & El-Tawil, 1974, Couch’s goby.