Nick Fish

Nick Fish is an individual who is one half man, one half fish. He has webbed feet like a duck and a throat like a frog. He got this way from being cursed by his mother, who was so frustrated with him swimming in the water all the time and not heeding her.  After his transformation, Nick Fish never set foot on dry land again. This upset his mother so much that she died soon after. (So, you know, don’t curse your children if you can’t deal with the consequences.)


Nick Fish later gets the attention of the king, who then sends him on a series of escapades exploring the waters of the region. Nick Fish finds many curious things, some of which concern the king and prompt him to keep sending Nick Fish back for another look. Despite his fears, Nick Fish goes but is never seen from again.



Stupid king.


Source: Calvino, Italo, “Nick Fish”, Italian Folktales, Penguin Modern Classics, 2002. Translated by George Martin.


Supernatural AtoZ


  1. Poor Nick Fish – cursed by his mother who then dies on him and then put in danger by a King – he just didn’t have much luck, poor guy!
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    • Sara C. Snider

      Yeah, though I did get the impression that he seemed happy in the water. Being cursed by his mother didn’t seem like such a terrible thing–other than her dying, I suppose. But honestly, she did that to herself.

  2. Sounds to me like the poor lad was exploited by the King and then had no one to help him out when he needed it. Then again he had a terrible start too. Didn’t have much luck, did he?
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    • Sara C. Snider

      I think he would have been quite happy had it not been for the king. Would have been nice for the king to get cursed and then he can go look at what’s underwater himself. 😉

  3. Poor guy. What did his mother expect he would do when she cursed him with webbed feet? Water makes much more sense than land.

    • Sara C. Snider

      Yeah that’s what i though too. I guess she probably didn’t mean for it to happen, but still. She should have gotten a boat and gone to visit. 😛

  4. whoa. cool tale. it reminds me of the tale of nicolas pipe. only he was a merman. the king wanted him for an exhibit. it’s from a 12th century text that robert d. san souci made into a children’s book.

    one of my absolute favorite books ever!

    • Sara C. Snider

      I’ve not heard of that book. I’ll have to check it out. Thanks! 🙂

  5. Tarkabarka

    Reminds me of a Hungarian tale about a feral child found in the marshlands in the 18th century. He had webbed feet and was a very good swimmer. He eventually returned to the marshes.

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    • Sara C. Snider

      That does sound very similar. Always nice having you stop by, Tarkabarka, and sharing your vast story knowledge. 🙂

  6. Us mothers, never happy are we?

    I would like to think that Nick got tired of running around for the King and simply decided to keep swimming. Off to better lands.

    • Sara C. Snider

      Yeah, I’d like to think so too. Maybe he finds a Mrs. Fish. 😉

  7. Interesting tale. I, too, hope that Nick swam off to live his own life.

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