Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/90

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afforded by the butterfly fishes of the pools of the tropic coral reefs. Robin's egg blue and indigo, green and cadmium yellow, red, brown and softest rose, scarlet, crimson, magenta, lavender and royal purple, pink, salmon and tawny—all these colors laid on in dots and spots and splashes, in lines and bars and polygons, and you have the paints and the painting of the fish harlequins of the pools. Flashing back and forth, lurking under projecting stones, rushing into dead coral heads and coming reluctantly half paralyzed to the surface as we used the collector's favorite methods, this display of fantastically colored fish life was the most conspicuous feature of each day's seeing.

Off the reef in the deeper water were larger fishes and many of them too also extraordinarily colored and patterned. The parrot fishes with their blue and green ground color and their livid pink and salmon and rose markings were every-day prizes of our divers. The taking of the off-shore fish (in water from two to six fathoms deep) had an element of excitement in it. Small dynamite sticks were exploded in the water to stun the fish and make them easily captured by the naked divers. In one end of a small, wobbly canoe would stand a native with a dynamite stick in one hand and a slow-burning piece of wood, or better, a lighted cigar, in the other. Leaning down backward in the extreme other end of the canoe would be the naturalist! When we reached a good position he would light the short fuse of the explosive and holding it almost to the last moment before explosion (much as a boy holds on to his big firecracker on Fourth of July mornings) he would hurl it overboard. The explosion would take place a few feet under water, and on the moment in would plunge the active divers from a second canoe. Altogether, in our short two months collecting, we took more than five hundred species of fishes from the reefs and shallow adjacent waters of the two Samoan islands. Of these fully one hundred are species hitherto unknown to naturalists.

Of the long, glowing days under the ardent southern sun; of the soft, odorous tropic nights; of the feastings and council meetings with the friendly, hospitable natives; of our glimpses between working hours of the lotus-eating life that makes even the shortest stay in the tropics a fascinating memory and that leaves an ever-persistent longing; of all this there is no space for even a word. We have only now to pack our boxes and specimen cases, to send a stirring petition to the Commandant at Pago-Pago to save us from another ocean trip in the Kawau by sending the American gunboat for us, and to make final transshipment to the great Sydney-San Francisco liner, to make an end of our summer's work and play.