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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/416

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

THE TEREDO AND ITS DEPREDATIONS.[1]
By Dr. E. H. VON BAUMHAUER,

COMMISSIONER TO THE CENTENNIAL EXHIBITION FROM HOLLAND.

I.

DURING a period of about twenty-five years previous to 1858, the injuries caused to the timber of marine constructions by the Teredo navalis were rarely noticed in Holland, when, during the summer of that year, public anxiety was awakened afresh on that subject. Some repairs, undertaken at that time, of the marine works of the port of Nieuwendam, a village situated on the Y, brought to light the fact that all the piles broke off at the slightest blow, and were found to be entirely eaten off by the teredo.

The late secretary of the Royal Academy of Sciences of Amsterdam, Prof. W. Vrolik, called the attention of the Academy to this subject at a meeting held November 27, 1858, and the Academy appointed a commission from its own members, composed of Messrs. W. Vrolik, P. Harting, D. J. Storm Buysing, J. W. L. van Oordt, and E. H. von Baumbauer, charged with the duty of collecting and examining into all facts known concerning the natural history of the teredo, and, at the same time, to inquire into the best means for preserving wood from destruction by that mollusk.

Considering the great importance of this question to our country, bathed on all sides by the sea, the commission asked the assistance of the Government in its work, which was readily granted. This subject being of equal importance to other countries situated on the sea, and researches into the means of preventing the ravages of the teredo having been undertaken and the results published, especially in England, France, and Belgium, I have thought that a brief communication of the results we reached would be interesting and perhaps useful abroad, especially as our work was conducted on a large scale.

Before relating the experiments conducted by the commission, I propose to give a sketch of the examinations made by Mr. Harting, on the structure of the teredo and its mode of life, which have been very carefully studied by M. P. Kater, at Nieuwendam.

On the Mechanism of the Apparatus with which the Teredo perforates its Galleries.—The researches of several leading naturalists into the habits and structure of mollusks which perforate hard substances, such as wood and stone, have shown that some of them, which are found in calcareous rocks, make their excavations through some chemical means, i. e., by the dissolving action of an acid secretion, while the teredos and some others employ in their work purely mechani-

  1. Extract from the Archives of Holland, vol. i., translated by Edward R. Andrews.