National Geographic : 1960 Jan
direction. I remembered this fact from school, but I would never have believed that the sepa ration between two currents could be so marked. The temperature drops slowly from the surface to about 650 feet, where it is 57°. Then the thermometer falls to 39° while we descend about 50 feet. We pass from one current to the other in a few seconds, and we don't need to read the thermometer to be aware of it: What we see through the view ing port changes completely! Near the surface, in the warm waters, we find few animals. We have difficulty in per ceiving the plankton, microscopic in size and very scattered. Then everything changes ab ruptly. Large animals become numerous, and the density of the plankton increases incred ibly. Millions of white dots appear in the beams of the searchlight, gliding upward be fore our astonished eyes. What nutritive wealth this ocean contains! The swarming does not diminish; it often in creases as we descend. I remember one dive when, in the immediate neighborhood of the bottom, observation was rendered impossible by the compact mass of plankton. It arrested the light from the searchlights and diffused it in all directions. It almost blinded us. Never during more than 60 dives in the Medi terranean and the Atlantic did I see such a wealth of life. Undersea Life Amazes Expert Large animals swim in the midst of all this, particularly jellyfish, as varied in shape as in color. I recognize the Solmissus (page 139), just as delicate as elsewhere, just as fragile, as they slowly wave their arms. Be side them I see small brown swimming bells, saucers, and other jellyfish shapes (page 142), many doubtless never before seen by man. Professor Jean-Marie Pe6rs, who came to Japan from the University of Aix-Marseille especially to make two dives, was surprised at this abundance. Here is how he described what he saw through the viewing port: "Besides the jellyfish there are numerous ctenophores [sea walnuts], transparent ani mals with bodies bearing ciliated plates that resemble combs. "Some are colorless with enormous append ages shaped like ears, others shaped like cu cumbers. Here is one of a brilliant orange color, trailing behind it two large fishing fila ments. . . . Some decapod shrimps seem to glide on their long, bent antennae. "Very few fish. But here is a marine worm 148 of the genus Tomopteris ....Of course, that is not rare, but generally that animal is white and measures two inches or a little more, while this one is a bright red and measures fourteen inches ... I shout my enthusiasm!" Of course we again find the translucent gelatinous animals I described in an earlier article. But the shapes are still more nu merous and varied here. To be able to speak of them easily among ourselves, we name them by analogy with known shapes, without regard to size. There are the "fire balloons," "rugby balls," and "parachutes." This is not very scientific, I admit, but it is indispensable. Strange Shapes Dwell in the Ooze The dives to depths of 3,000 to 5,000 feet were a feast for the eyes. We saw rat-tailed fish ranging in length from two to twenty four inches (page 145); Halosaurus,with long bodies tapering into tails and snouts looking like ploughshares; snake-eels; and Sebastodes, a kind of rockfish. We did not know what we admired most these fish, swimming an inch or two above the bottom, quite undisturbed by our pres ence, or the serene, immobile starfish and tube worms spreading their varied colors near the sea cucumbers. The picture was completed by delicately colored sea anemones, large sea lilies, feather stars, and sea pens. All were fixed to the ooze, while small colonies of a sort of coral clung to the smallest pebble. Close to 10,000 feet we found the spectacle less animated. Our main visitors were small crabs from one to three inches long, busily en tering and emerging from holes in the ooze. As always, we end by landing on the bot tom, which looks very much like those we have visited previously: The same ooze, at least insofar as one can judge through the viewing port, the same holes, the same mounds. But, curiously, during our nine dives in the Pacific we never encountered one of those big eyed yet seemingly blind deepwater sharks, the dogfish, so common on Mediterranean and Atlantic bottoms. Should we assert that they do not exist in these Pacific regions? I am inclined to be cautious in this matter, for I saw them frequently off Toulon in 1953, 1954, and 1957, but not at all in 1955 and 1956. Had they migrated? Did we pass them in the Pacific without seeing them? On July 5 we left Onagawa for our second base, Uraga. The Pacific was smooth, but these trips on board the Shinyo Maru, our companion vessel, offered little rest.