Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/673

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.





IN the Gulf stream, near the surface, animal life is extremely abundant, both young and adult finding the warm waters of the current peculiarly adapted for life and rapid growth. Cuttle-fish swim about, chased by sword-fish, dolphins, and sharks. Attracted by the glare of the electric lights in the evening, large schools sport around the United States Fish Commission steamer Albatross, swimming backward and forward with equal facility, leaping out of water and ejecting their black, inky fluid whenever surprised. Many devices were tried for the capture of one of these quick-motioned creatures, but we failed to secure any until an ingenious sailor rigged a peculiar spear, which, when properly used, would bring the cuttle-fish on board. This curious animal, classed by naturalists among the mollusks, or shell-fish, has so PSM V35 D673 Cuttle fish Sepia officinalis.jpgFig. 1.—Cuttle-Fish (Sepia officinalis) and Shell. little resemblance to its relatives, oysters and clams, that an average observer would be far more likely to place it among the true fishes. It has large, prominent eyes, and its mouth is armed with a horny beak, very much like a parrot's bill. With this it undoubtedly proves itself a dangerous enemy to many marine animals. Forward motion is obtained by a fin-like tail, while it moves backward by suddenly forcing water out of a bag having its opening near the creature's mouth. Ten arms or feelers, with their inner surfaces lined with suckers, are arranged about the mouth. Although it seldom grows over a foot long, an embrace from its arms is painful. How much more so must it be in the case of the large octopus, or devil-fish, of the North, which is often forty feet in length, measured from the tips of the two long arms! In this latter animal the suckers are sometimes two inches in diameter, and, when worked by the powerful muscles, painful wounds can be produced. From earliest times fabulous accounts of a creature like this have been circulated,