National Geographic : 1932 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Drawing by John Tee-Van WHERE THE AUTHOR'S DRAGNETS IAVE EXPLORED THE DEPTHS OF THE SEA Operating from Nonsuch Island as a base and laboratory station, daily trips were made to an area off Bermuda where the number of hauls is indicated by a snarl of black lines. The figures in circles show where the author descended in his specially designed bathysphere to depths of 800 and 1,426 feet, as described in his earlier article in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE (see June, 1931). is made permitting a living man not only to descend, but to collect, at depths now impenetrable by human life. At 6:30 each morning the seagoing tug Gladisfen steams out from St. Georges and ties up to a buoy off our wharf. From the south lookout, with the telescope, we study the weather conditions at sea; we note the barometer, the force of the wind, and the direction and power of the incoming swells which shatter themselves on the rocks of Nonsuch. If the ocean is too rough, the tug is signaled to return, for under adverse conditions the nets would be torn from their rings. If the day is propitious, two of my staff board the tug, and she goes swiftly past the ancient British forts, close to Gurnet Rock, and five miles out to sea. Here the two-hundred-pound bottom weight is slung over, and along two miles of wire six silk nets are strung; and then, very slowly and steadily, the four- or five-hour haul is made. When the sea is so calm that the tug is surrounded by slicks filled with sargas sum weed, we sometimes take to a small boat and with outboard motor and but terfly net successfully pursue small, gor geously colored flyingfish. Occasionally I shoot a strange sea bird, or we hook a large shark or dolphin, and once I just beat a shark to an enormous pelagic squid. When at last the cobweb line is reeled in and the bitterly cold contents of the nets have been preserved, the tug heads full speed for shore. Within an hour the catch is in large, white, flat pans. Some of the creatures-crustaceans and fish-are most amazingly still alive, and these are at once immersed in ice water, for temperature is more important than pressure in keeping them alive. Every moment of the remain ing daylight and far into the night we study and try to understand the bodies and fantastic appendages and sense organs, and the interrelationships of these beings from another world of life.