Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 90.djvu/501

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Popular Science Monthly

���Modeling the big Coles devilfish in the American Museum of Natural History. The underside of the fish measured eighteen feet from tip to tip of the large fins. The tail of the devilfish is normally about as long as the extreme width of the animal. Rough plaster molds of the upper and under side of Mr. Coles' big devilfish were made on the beach after it had been landed. These were sent to the American Museum in twelve sections and after having been put together were used for the making of a cast. The photograph shows Mr. J. C. Bell at work upon this cast perfecting it in detail. After this another mold was made from the perfect cast and another light cast from the perfect mold. This last cast was colored and the model is a lifelike representation of the great devilfish in every particular. The tail has not yet been put in place on the model shown in the picture

��long, for as I threw back my hand to strike, the male swept the embryo beneath the surface with one of its fins.

"I passed back the harpoon and seized the spade lance, as I saw the wounded female, now on the surface, charging down on us at highest speed. I was forced to strike instantly and there was not sufficient time to clear up the line attached to the lance handle, so the point of the spade lance was slightly deflected, with the result that the fatal spot was missed by a few inches. However, the force of the blow, which was delivered with both hands with- out releasing the handle, was so great, that it de- pressed the creature's head, and the head-on collision did not crash in the side of the boat as it probably would have done otherwise. The top of the head struck the bottom of the boat, breaking the lance handle short off against the side, and I was con- fronted with a very serious defect in my equipment. I had acquired, by years of work with the lance, such confidence in my ability to place it where I desired that I had not thought it necessary to provide more than one spade lance; but now my fish was very much alive and fighting mad and I was without a spade lance.

"With this gone the danger was much increased, as the fight had to be carried on with the old-fashioned whale lance, which I had made with the shank only three feet long instead of five or six feet as in the lances used on whales. The big drogue kept the fish always near, and we had possibly the most dangerous fight ever fought out successfully on the

��water with any living creature. The wounded devil- fish kept plunging below, then throwing herself half out of the water, and as she followed these maneu- vers by short rushes on the surface, accompanied by violent blows, I quickly realized that the safest place for the boat was on the fish's back, and I directed accordingly."

The water was so thick that the devilfish could not be seen until very near the sur- face, but the slack of the harpoon was kept hauled in and the line showed the direction in w hich the fish was traveling under water. So well was the boat handled by the helms- man (Captain Jack McCann) that not once in more than a dozen rushes did the devil- fish reach the surface without finding the boat on her back. Each time Coles drove the lance to her heart or brain one or more times, and after the fight she showed twenty-three wounds. No attempt was made to use the Winchester rifle or the big whale gun. This Mr, Coles attributes to every man's lust for blood in a fight. The blade is more satisfying than the gun.

The dying Manta finally gave up the ghost with a loud harsh bark or cough.

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