National Geographic : 1953 Nov
584 Fish-hunting Gulls Wheel and Soar Above the Turbulent Strait of Messina Marine life forced to the surface by churning currents attracts these sea birds. Wild water like this might swamp a small boat, but offers no threat to the ferry from which the picture was taken. most unusual set of "firsts." If not, well, you can't shoot a man for trying. The Na tional Geographic Society elected to sponsor the project. Deep-sea Fishes Wear Lights I wished also to make a comparative life study of the luminescent organs known to characterize the majority of deep-sea fishes. On the bellies and sides of pickled museum specimens I had seen light organs that had once illuminated the blackness of the depths, lights that had long since been extinguished. Lights aglow on living deep-sea fishes, on the other hand, are something that not many people have seen. I was stirred to think that without a bathysphere, but with the help of the Messina currents, I might be able to see such luminous fishes up close. Much preparation was necessary. New photographic techniques had to be improvised on faith, for at home they could not be defini tively tested. Only there on the spot at Messina would I be able to ascertain whether my improvisations were sound. Such blind but hopeful preparation took about three months in New York. I had been graciously invited by representa tives of the Italian Government to make my headquarters at the Istituto Talassografico di Messina (Messina Marine Institute), which stands at the edge of the strait within a stone's throw of one of the largest whirl pool areas. The director of the Institute, Professor Antonio Sparta, had written that his Institute had suffered much from bomb ing during the war. But reconstruction was well under way, and I would be welcomed.