National Geographic : 1953 Nov
609 Giuseppe Arena, the Author's Assistant, Displays His Catch Signor Arena, a specimen preparator in the Messina Marine Institute, gave invaluable assistance in the search for deep-sea specimens. Here he shows the day's results to Mrs. Zahl and friends. alent to at least a thousand watts. It would not necessarily attract deep-sea fishes, but would serve mainly to illuminate them for us in the otherwise pitch-black waters. Now we were in the strait, Giuseppe rowing steadily toward a place which he considered most promising. The lamp was almost blind ing, and its swaying and bobbing might have been distressing to anyone susceptible to sea sickness. Actually, light-fishing was no new experience for me; I had done it often in the waters of the Gulf Stream off Bimini.* But the marine fauna revealed by the light here in the Strait of Messina proved no less cap tivating a sight than had its Caribbean counterpart. Fireball of the Ocean Depths Long, luminous jewel chains of the tunicate Salpa now draped the sea under our light. I thought the soft glow of these pelagic crea tures to be about the most beautiful sight in the world. Then a Pyrosoma hove into view-a fire ball, if I ever saw one. Also free floating, Pyrosoma is a colony of joined but independ- ent tunicate organisms, shaped like an open ended cucumber. Each small gelatinous in dividual has its own light plant, and the illumination created by the sum of many such little generators is something of nearly astro nomical splendor-one big fiery sun in a watery firmament. Then there were fragile comb jellies-the oval sea walnuts and the Venus's-girdles, the latter transparent and dimly glowing belts of living material, flat, thin, and sometimes two feet long. There were also the jellyfish medusae, just beginning to make their spring time appearance in the strait (page 595). With tentacles trailing and bells pulsating, they and the comb jellies completed a picture under our light of a wondrous ocean world. None of these was primarily attracted by the lamp, but merely drifted by. Eerie voices floated across the water. I looked up and saw several other boats the size of ours outlined against the darkness by the light of their own lamps. While one man * See "Man-of-War Fleet Attacks Bimini," by Paul A. Zahl, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, February, 1952.