Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/258

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solid liead corals, large and small, fluted and knobbed, and often with their somber colors of brown and gray suggesting the head of some ancient monk half buried in the sands, while the coral branches still bear upon their tips the brilliant purple of the priest's altar robes.

It is a quiet scene. There is no glare. The colors are clear and living. It is a garden of animals, but few of which are capable of motion, though the currents and waves carry some of the slender forms to and fro in a semblance of voluntary activity. Other forms rigidly keep their one position. Never a sound is heard from these depths. Never comes a perfume or an odor from this garden. If we pluck one of these flowers from its home, it collapses and fades. We are allowed a glimpse of this new world, but never an approach into it, and we are left to marvel at Nature's lavish extravagance in creating life.

The active denizens of this luxuriant garden are the fish that dart from clump to clump of coral, or prowl among the broken rocks, or hover in swarms about some, single coral head, or listlessly rest in the hollows of the bottom. The bright colors of tropical fish are well known. Red, blue, green and yellow are painted on them in intricate and bizarre patterns. More striking even than their surroundings, most of these fish apparently do not seek protection by inconspicuous coloration. The reef fish form a class by themselves. Once in a while, a gray shark helps himself to the spoils after the disturbance of the dynamite shot has been forgotten; a sea-turtle flaps his way under the boat and, rising to the surface fifty yards away, thrusts his crooked head and neck out of the water for a more careful scrutiny of the intruder; and an eel searches through the holes in the coral or gracefully waves his ribbon-like form over the ledge into the next submarine gorge.

The patient drawing of the seine along the beaches yields an entirely different group of fish, most of them slender, swift swimmers and light or silvery in color. In the tide pools left among the rocks, are found grotesque little scorpion fishes and blennies and gobies. The seining party usually divides its time between the beach and a small river the tidal portion of which winds its tortuous way through a monotonous mangrove swamp. As the boat is pulled between the glistening, green hedges of mangrove trees which line the sluggish, muddy water-way, even the hum of gnats and mosquitoes, the harsh cry of a bird, the snapping of the oysters and clams in the mud left uncovered by the receding tide, and the occasional splash of a big lizard dropping into the water, add to the solitude of the dismal waste. In the southern party of the archipelago almost every bay and inlet is partly filled with mangroves and they often form a fringe three of four miles wide along the shore.

The results from dredging cover almost the full range of the marine animal kingdom. There is usually a great quantity of mud in the net, much of which can be washed out by towing the net at the surface of