National Geographic : 1922 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Photograph by A. W. and Julian A. Dimock TARPON LEAPING This great fish, the "Silver King," dear to the heart of all sportsmen, was caught by the camera in the very act of shaking the hook from its mouth. Then from the air above comes another menace to the safety of the panic-stricken legions. The seagulls, man-o'-war birds, and pelicans dart upon them as they break the surface in their mad efforts to escape the dangers of the sea. It is possible to locate a shoal of small fishes by watching the birds which feed from the sea. These fly over the shoal, waiting for the inevitable attack of the larger fishes to drive the food they seek to a point of vantage near the surface of the water. NATURE'S PROTECTION AND REGULATION In addition to sheltering nearly every species of sea creature under the laws of chance by providing extreme prolificness, Nature has not failed to furnish other protective measures to offset somewhat the dangers that everywhere threaten to eliminate whole species. Numerous cases are recorded where a certain kind of fish has been almost ob literated and for long stretches of time has been thought to be extinct, but in some manner a sufficient number of indi viduals of the species remained to find protecting shelter where they might live and propagate their kind. THE SUPPOSED PASSING OF THE TILEFISH* One case is that of the tilefish, of which much has been written. In the year 1882 vessels arriving in Philadelphia, New York, and Boston reported having passed through miles of dead fish of this species. From the various accounts, it was esti mated that an area of from 5,000 to 7,500 square miles was thickly strewn with the dead and dying creatures. The number of fish in this area was computed to be in excess of I,00,00,ooo00. Various reasons were advanced for this gigantic tragedy, the most plausible being that a very sudden drop in temperature along the northern edge of the Gulf Stream proved fatal to these warm-water fish. It seemed for several years that the species was almost totally wiped out, but recently tilefish have been rediscovered in great numbers in their former habitat. * See "America's Surpassing Fisheries," by Hugh M. Smith, U. S . Commissioner of Fish eries, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, June, 1916.