Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/54

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specimens of deep-sea soundings are as pure and as free from the sand of the sea as the snowflake that falls when it is calm upon the lea is from the dust of the earth. Indeed, these soundings suggest the idea that the sea, like the snow cloud with its flakes in a calm, is always letting fall upon its bed showers of these microscopic shells; and we may readily imagine that the 'sunless wrecks' which strew its bottom are, in the process of ages, hid under this fleecy covering, presenting the rounded appearance which is seen over the body of a traveler who has perished in the snowstorm. The ocean, especially within and near the tropics, swarms with life. The remains of its myriads of moving things are conveyed by currents, and scattered and lodged in the course of time all over its bottom. The process, continued for ages, has covered the depths of the ocean as with a mantle, consisting of organisms as delicate as the macled frost and as light as the undrifted snowflake. of the mountain."

Maury was right in respect to the covering of the bed of the deep sea, for, as a result of all our researches, it is found that in waters removed from the land and more than fourteen hundred fathoms in depth there is an almost unbroken layer of pteropod, globigerina, diatom, and radiolarian oozes, and red clay which occupies nearly 115,000,000 of the 143,000,000 square miles of the water surface of the globe. But he was wrong in asserting that low temperature, pressure, and the absence of light preclude the possibility of life in very deep water.

Ehrenberg held the opposite opinion with regard to the conditions of life at the bottom of the sea, as may be seen from the following extract from a letter which he wrote to Maury in 1857: "The other argument for life in the deep which I have established is the surprising quantity of new forms which are wanting in other parts of the sea. If the bottom were nothing but the sediment of the troubled sea, like the fall of snow in the air, and if the biolithic curves of the bottom were nothing else than the product of the currents of the sea which heap up the flakes, similarly to the glaciers, there would necessarily be much less of unknown and peculiar forms in the depths. The surface and the borders of the sea are much more productive and much more extended than the depths; hence the forms peculiar to the depths should not be perceived. The great quantity of peculiar forms and of soft bodies existing in the innumerable carapaces, accompanied by the observation of the number of unknowns, increasing with the depth—these are the arguments which seem to me to hold firmly to the opinion of stationary life at the bottom of the deep sea."

It would appear to have been definitely established by the researches of the last fifty years that life in some of its many forms is universally distributed throughout the ocean. Not only in the