National Geographic : 1966 Nov
National Geographic, November, 1966 where the pellucid water shades swiftly to turquoise and cobalt blue. Sixty feet down, we glimpse the dark edge of the deep reef, washed by the Gulf Stream. Back to the reef top we swing. "Drop the anchor," I call out to Jo, my wife. Donning masks, swim fins, and air tanks, we jump overboard-and join the inmates of a vast and crowded aquarium. Blonde Acquires a Quarter-ton Admirer Until one day on the coral reefs, I did not know that blondes attracted turtles. Then a friend and I had to drive off a big one that persisted in approaching too close to my wife. Equipped with swim fins and Aqua-Lungs, we had been collecting angelfish in 95 feet of indigo water. Jo and I were helping graduate student Henry A. Feddern with a research project, I with a small spear, Jo-hair stream ing behind her-with a collecting bag. A whopping big loggerhead-he must have weighed 500 pounds-materialized out of the dim depths and hovered just above my wife. He looked down at her, Henry and I looked up at him, and Jo kept looking for angelfish swimming along the ocean floor. Loggerheads usually are not aggressive, but their powerful jaws have a tremendous potential to hurt. They can crush a thick conch shell with one bite. And we had heard of a fisherman in the area who had been crippled by a loggerhead that bit his knee. We had the safety catches set on our anti shark guns, or "bangsticks." These weapons fire .357 magnum revolver cartridges when thrust against an intruder. Henry and I moved toward the turtle, wielding our guns as spears. The big beast paddled calmly away. But hardly had Henry and I turned our backs when the loggerhead swam again di rectly above Jo, five or six feet over her head. "Jo! Turtle!" I shouted through my mask (the garbled gurgle of speech can be heard some little distance underwater), and we both tapped our air tanks with our bangsticks to attract Jo's attention. She paid no heed to us, obviously still unaware of the turtle. Henry and I moved in, shoved hard with our guns-still on safety catch-against the Backing into its garage, a pearlfish parks inside a sea cucumber. After a night of forag ing, the transparent eight-inch-long Carapus bermudensis finds safety in the partially hollow body. The cucumber, actually an animal, ignores the squatter. But when molest ed, some holothurians eject a sticky threadlike substance to entangle attackers.