Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/479

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A MARINE BIOLOGICAL OBSERVATORY.

yard in full sight a few miles away, Cottage City, Gay Head, and Nantucket in neighborly proximity, the environment is certainly not without attractive features. In the "gutters," "holes," and tidal currents; in the stretches of shore, varied and multiplied by "necks," rocky points, bays, flats, and adjacent islands; in a multitude of fresh-water basins and lakes completely isolated and inviting to experimental studies—in all these the naturalist finds a combination of natural advantages that is assuredly rare. One of the indispensable conditions to our work is pure sea-water, and that we find at Woods Holl, for there is no muddy river or city sewerage to vitiate it and drive away shore forms of life. The climate is cool and invigorating throughout the summer, and in the winter it is moderated by ocean temperatures. The fauna and flora are exceptionally rich for this latitude, and every year adds to the wealth of material which we can control for embryological purposes. The tropical seas, of course, offer greater riches in this respect; but the question we have to consider is this: Where can an observatory best be placed to meet the needs of the greater number of biologists for summer work, and at the same time to best serve the ends of a permanent staff of investigators? Accessibility and a stimulating climate outweigh all the advantages of a rich fauna and flora, when these must be accepted with a climate which, if not dangerous, is at least enervating, and when the locality is not within convenient reach. In fact, all such advantages can be added without neglecting the paramount considerations of health and availability. They can not only be added, but also multiplied almost without a limit, by simply equipping a station with such means as will enable it to carry its research to any part of the Atlantic or Pacific coast, or even to the more remote seas of the earth. Such an equipment would be expensive, but is it not precisely what a biological observatory demands? No single locality, be it never so rich in life, can furnish more than an infinitesimal part of the wealth of the seas. The only effective means of commanding extensive advantages in the way of select material is that of itinerary research. This fact has been recognized and emphasized by those who have given most attention to marine work. Any plan for a great central station which does not include this all-important feature may be pronounced a failure in advance. Such provision must be equally necessary and equally expensive, whether the location be in the tropical or the temperate zone. If special material is required, it must be sought where it abides, be this one mile or twelve thousand from the center. Center there must be, and the more you limit the radius, the more local and the less satisfactory your facilities. Let the center be where the investigator can afford to spend his life, where his vitality is highest, and his energy most