National Geographic : 1948 Jan
The National Geographic Magazine John and Frank Craighead Even a Goldfish Has More Privacy than the Tiny, Transparent Fierasfer All the secrets of this reef denizen's interior are bared like the works of a watch. To escape voracious larger fish, the fierasfer hides in the body cavity of the sea cucumber, or beche-de-mer, and emerges only to feed. Such specimens were among many fantastic creatures encountered by the authors as they explored a watery wonderland in search of food. always gave us a sense of having attained finesse in the art of survival. It was nothing more than fermented coconut sap which we obtained by tapping the coconut flower spikes. The sweet fluid was collected in coconut or bamboo containers (Plate IV). After stand ing a day or two it had quite a kick. Goniske Surprises with a Song After one such supper Goniske surprised us by unexpectedly singing "You Are My Sun shine." He knew the meaning of the word "sunshine" and had a bare conception of the meaning of a few other words in the song. He had memorized words and tune perfectly. Sitting beneath his beloved coconut trees, facing the setting sun, he sang with great feel ing and understanding, as though the sun shine he visioned was the maker of the coco nut, the reef, the rain, the trade winds, the toddy, and all the good things that made up his world. Goniske was completely happy. Many forces operate against a survivor to reduce the length of time he can live. Food and water are always critical, but other factors such as warmth, shelter, and disease may also be hazardous. Armed with proper knowledge and simple equipment, a survivor has more than an even chance of living to tell about his experiences. Over a period of seven months we visited many mid-Pacific islands and found the sur vival problems much the same on all. In its simplest form, survival on the oceanic islands and along tropical seashores consists essen tially of understanding a few basic woodcraft principles and techniques, knowing how to make full use of the coconut, and how to get sea food from the reef. During the early stages of the war men thrown entirely on their own resources in wilderness areas died of thirst with fresh water only a foot beneath the surface of the sand. They hungered with food in sight. In many cases the difference between life and death, or between mildly rough going and extreme hardship, was the lack of a little knowledge or training, the simple kind of knowledge that governs the lives of Goniske and his people.* * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, "Hid den Key to the Pacific," by Willard Price, June, 1942; and "Our New Military Wards, the Marshalls," by W. Robert Moore, September, 1945.