Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 59.djvu/436

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gives his orders to his crews of fishermen, with various hints as to likely haunts and the best tactics to pursue; and the following morning sees a procession of tubs and baskets filled with glass jars, containing the specimens rich and rare, being conveyed from the little dock to the laboratory—generally balanced in wonderful piles on the heads of the stalwart and picturesque boatmen. Dredging expeditions during the day along the shores or to the neighboring bay of Pozzuoli take place in the steam launch, and workers who wish to search for some special animal or who are studying the fauna can join such trips. Then about once a fortnight or so a longer excursion is organized, say to Ischia or to Capri, occupying the whole day, and to this all in the laboratory who care for it are invited. It is on these occasions that Cav. Lo Bianco is seen—if I may say so with all respect—in his glory; directing all proceedings, the center of all activities, full of geniality and information, he is the life and soul of the party. He speaks to us in any language, and knows everything we catch on land or sea; patting the fishermen on the back, talking seriously with the strictly scientific, joking with the more versatile, sympathizing if necessary with the seasick and helping everyone to enjoy the day and profit by the experience, he is an ideal leader of the marine biological picnic.

The finest specimens caught or those not required for immediate investigation are either most skilfully preserved for museums or pass into the tanks of the aquarium. And it is possible, without ever going to sea, to gain a very fair idea of the local Mediterranean fauna from that last named part of the institution. The beauty and interest of the aquarium are due, of course, in great measure to the brilliancy and abundance of the rich fauna in the neighboring waters, but also in part to scientific knowledge and skill. The tanks are most carefully watched and governed, and their exact condition is always known—the temperature, specific gravity, number of bacteria present, and other particulars of the water, are constantly tested and considered. The public admiring the tanks in the ground floor little know of the 'council of war' occasionally summoned in the laboratory upstairs consisting of experts in the subjects concerned, chemistry, biology, bacteriology, to examine some unusual sample or settle some delicate question. And so, by much care and thought, results and effects are produced which we admire greatly in the aquarium and which, although no doubt in part due to the latitude, are also dependent upon the scientific knowledge and manipulative skill behind the scenes.

Amongst the fishes, we see in one tank fine specimens of the Muræna—the real old Roman eel—coiling their snake-like bodies through the necks of broken jars just as their ancestors no doubt did two thousand years.ago with the same pots and jars—for those in the tanks are antiques—in the neighboring bay of Baiæ. We can see the Torpedo or