Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/259

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THE WORK OF THE "ALBATROSS"

the sea for a few minutes. After the net is swung aboard, the load is dropped on the gratings of the washing table by taking off the lashing around the end of the net, and the hose is turned on to wash the mud away from the specimens. Most of these fish of the deep-sea are small but strange enough in comparison with the surface fish. Many are slate colored; a few partake of reddish brown; and some are inky black with a row of phosphorescent spots along each side which, in the utter darkness of their native depths, must glow like the portholes of a steamer at night. The other specimens in the net may show that the dredge has been drawn through a bed of siliceous sponges, of crinoids, or of Venus's flower baskets, or through a multitude of starfishes and sea-urchins. Still other dredge loads may yield small sea-snails and bivalves, weak and awkward spider crabs and many smaller crabs, the omnipresent shrimp, a few sea-cucumbers, squids, basket-stars, sand-dollars, beautiful sea-fans, hydroids and solitary corals, with jelly fish probably from intermediate depths. In the crevices of pieces of coral and sponge broken off by the dredge, are also found numbers of tiny fish, small crabs and worms. Finally, samples of the sand and shell fragments are dried and taken for specimens.

The routine of the dredging is sometimes broken by fishing for sharks with hook and line from the ship's side. Several blocks and chips of wood, which had been thrown overboard a few hours before, were taken from the stomach of one shark caught in this way, together with scraps from the ship's galley. Once a few small whales were seen spouting among the dazzling ripples of the early morning; and schools of porpoises have often lumbered past the ship, their huge bodies tumbling over and over one another in short, low curves.

In the evening, while the strains of the ship's phonograph and the thrumming of a Filipino mandolin or guitar drift back from the foreward deck, the fishing gear is brought out again, if the water at the anchorage is quiet, and often most interesting results are obtained by scooping up with a fine meshed dip-net the hundreds of little creatures which are attracted to a submarine electric light. Not only such fish as herrings, anchovies and half-beaks, with now and then an excited flying-fish, but many squids darting back and forth more swiftly than the fish, small crustaceans, jelly-fishes and phosphorescent worms are taken; and sometimes a water snake writhes across the edge of the outer shadow, or the dark form of a shark glides under the vessel.

The work of the Albatross has been thorough along the line which has been her specialty on this cruise. It is seldom that any region can be carefully surveyed by an expedition carrying the equipment of the Albatross and detailed for so long a time as this ship has been to the study of the fish and the fishery resources of so rich a collecting ground as the waters of the Philippine Islands. Still, this work has been that