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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/622

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

THE MARINE BIOLOGICAL LABORATORY.
By J. S. KINGSLEY.

THE little village of Woods Holl, situated on the southern shore of Massachusetts, just where that long, sandy stretch, known as Cape Cod, begins to jut from the mainland, is one of the most important spots for biological science in the whole of America. And yet how little the summer migrant knows of the place as he passes through it on his way from the mainland to the summer residences of Cottage City and Nantucket! Woods Holl has for the lover of the sea a charming situation. On the south and east is that important water-way, Vineyard Sound, through which is constantly passing a procession of vessels of all styles and sizes, from the tiny cat-boat to the large passenger steamers of the Norfolk and Savannah lines. To the west is the broad and shallow expanse of Buzzard's Bay, with the New Bedford shore now plainly visible, now appearing in that fantastic shape called by the fisherman "looming"—a kind of mirage when the coast appears doubled as in a mirror, and raised some distance above the horizon. To the southwest stretches out the long chain of the Elizabeth Islands, which possess no little interest. They together form the town of Gosnold, named for that old explorer who in 1602 built his fort upon the westernmost island, Cuttyhunk, traces of which are said to remain to the present day. These Elizabeth Isles have retained the musical names which the Indians gave them, and the students who yearly visit Woods Holl have their struggles with the rhyme—

"Naushon, Nashuena,
Nonamesset, Uncatena,
Weepocket, Pasquenese,
Cuttyhunk and Penikese"—

which embodies the names of the eight.

The channels between the islands are known as "gutters," if shallow; "holes," if broad and deep. Thus, in one place is Quick's Hole, in another Robinson's Hole, while between Nonamesset and the mainland is the dangerous passage of Wood's Hole, whose rocks have proved the wreck of many a vessel and which gives the name to the adjacent village, the spelling of which has for some unexplained reason been changed by the Post-Office Department to Holl.[1]


  1. [The First Report of the United States Board on Geographic Names has the following explanation of this change: "The name which was originally Wood's Hole was changed several years ago by the summer residents of the place to Woods Holl."—Editor.]