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TWO BIRD-LOVERS IN MEXICO Houghton Mifflin Co., 1903 

THE BIRD Henry Holt and Co., igo6 

THE LOG OF THE SUN Henry Holt and Co., 1906 

OUR SEARCH FOR A WILDERNESS Henry Holt and Co., 1910 

TROPICAL WILD LIFE New York Zoological Society, 1917 

JUNGLE PEACE Henry Holt and Co., 1918 

EDGE OF THE JUNGLE Henry Holt and Co., 1921 


H. F. Witherby and Co., 1918-1922 

GALAPAGOS: WORLD'S END G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1924 

JUNGLE DAYS G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1925 

THE ARCTURUS ADVENTURE G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1926 


Doubleday, Page & Co., 1926 

PHEASANT JUNGLES G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1927 

BENEATH TROPIC SEAS G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1928 

NONSUCH: LAND OF WATER Har court, Brace and Co., 1932 

EXPLORING WITH BEEBE G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1932 


G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1933 

ZACA VENTURE Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1938 


V/oocls Mole, MA 

M.irinc uio!o^i<.<i Ljbor.TrcJry 

Woods Ko!c Occanogr^k 

Insiitiilion ' 


All rights reserved, including 
the right to reproduce this book 
or portions thereof in any form. 

Typography by Robert Josephy 


To Madison Grant 


Tarts of some of the chapters have appeared in 
the National Geographic Magazine, New York 
Times Magazine, Harper's Monthly Magazine, 
and McCall's Magazine. Acknowledgment of In- 
dividual Courtesies will be found in Appendix A. 


IN addition to more than one hundred technical and other 
contributions, this is the third volume to be published, 
dealing with oceanographic researches on the life of the 
waters about Nonsuch, Bermuda. For the past six years 
these studies have been carried on by Dr. "William Beebe 
and his staff, Mr. John Tee- Van, Miss Gloria Hollister and 
Miss Jocelyn Crane, of the Department of Tropical Re- 
search of the Zoological Society. 

These expeditions have been financed chiefly by the gen- 
erosity of Mr. Harrison Williams, the late Mr. Mortimer 
L. Schiff, the National Geographic Society and the Trus- 
tees of the New York Zoological Society. 

The present volume describes the various descents made 
by Dr. Beebe and Mr. Barton in the steel ball known as the 
Bathysphere, to an extreme depth In the ocean of over half 
a mile. 


First Vice-President 

New York Zoological Society 


"WHETHER," as William Morton Wheeler says in his 
"Entomologist in Hades," "whether we contemplate the 
whole or only some particular portion of the realm of liv- 
ing things, it eventually tends to become for us merely so 
much material to be used in the solution of the many 
tantalizing problems which it suggests. We are, indeed, 
obsessed by problems. No doubt this is the correct attitude 
for the seasoned investigator, and no doubt a certain spirit 
of skeptical inquiry should be cultivated even in freshmen, 
but surely we should realize, like the amateur, that the 
organic world is also an inexhaustible source of spiritual 
and esthetic delight. And especially in the college we are 
unfaithful to our trust, if we allow biology to become a 
colorless, aridly scientific discipline, devoid of living con- 
tact with the humanities. Our intellects will never be equal 
to exhausting biological reality. Why animals and plants 
are as they are, we shall never know; of how they have 
come to be what they are, our knowledge will always be 
extremely fragmentary, because we are dealing only with 
recent phases of an immense and complicated history, most 
of the records of which are lost beyond all chance of re- 
covery; but that organisms are as they are, that apart from 
the members of our own species, they are our only com- 
panions in an infinite and unsympathetic waste of elec- 


trons, planets, nebulse, and suns, is a perennial joy and con- 
solation. We should all be happier if we were less com- 
pletely obsessed by problems and somewhat more accessible 
to the esthetic and emotional appeal of our materials, and 
it is doubtful whether, in the end, the growth of biological 
science would be appreciably retarded. It quite saddens me 
to think that when I cross the Styx, I may find myself 
among so many professional biologists, condemned to keep 
on trying to solve problems, and that Pluto, or whoever is 
in charge there now, may condemn me to sit forever try- 
ing to identify specimens from my own specific and generic 
diagnoses, while the amateur entomologists, who have not 
been damned professors, are permitted to roam at will 
among the fragrant asphodels of the Elysian meadows, net- 
ting gorgeous, ghostly butterflies until the end of time." 


I. EMOTIONAL {Chapter i) 

n. HISTORICAL (Chapiers ii-iii) 

III. PRAGMATIC (Chapters iv-xi) 

IV. TECHNICAL (Appendices) 














A. COURTESIES OF 1 9 34 227 


by Otis Barton 



by Jobit Tee-Van 


by Jocelyn Crane 


by John Tee-Van 



by William Beebe and Gloria Hollisfer 


by William Beebe and Jocelyn Crane 


by William Beebe 

INDEX 341 


I. Man's greatest ups and downs 12 
z. The first wondcrer 13 

3. The rat-tailed maggot 28 

4. The water spider 29 

5. Medieval French painting of Alexander's Dive 32 

6. Indian painting of Alexander's Dive 33 

7. First printed design for a diving helmet 40 

8. The air-filled bladder of a pearl diver 41 

9. Submarine helmet for warfare 41 

10. An early helmet allowing change of air 41 

I I . A helmet covering the whole diver 44 

12. Impractical but exciting early machines 45 

13. Diving bell with barrel-supplied air 54 

14. Horizontal diving bag 54 

15. The first helmet with pumped air 54 

16. A quite useless submarine boat 55 

17. A submarine with nothing which would work J5 

18. Salvaging cannon from an early diving bell 60 

19. Cruikshank's idea of life in a bell 61 

20. The evolution of human diving ^4 

21. A modern helmet in the Galapagos 65 

22. A seascape from a motion picture film 72 

23. Corals and fish four fathoms down 72 

24. The shrubs of the sea are animals 73 

25. Feathery worms are beautiful as flowers 73 

26. Long-legged arrow crabs creep about 73 



27. Shallow water life is infinite in variety 80 

28. A diver can attract fish with a crowbar 81 

29. Fish asleep among anemones and sea-fans 88 

30. Bermuda reefs and shallows from the air 89 

31. Bathysphere in its white coat 96 

32. The Arc turns winch which held our cable 96 

33. Gladisfen towing the Ready to sea ^y 

34. Deck of the Ready ^y 

35. Miss Hollister at the upper end of the telephone 104 
}6. Bathysphere ready for the quarter mile descent 104 

37. The plunge for the quarter mile dive 105 

38. Tee-Van in charge of the deck machinery 105 

39. The bathysphere is on its way up 116 

40. The steel ball breaks the surface 116 

41. On deck, looking out through the window 116 

42. The door off, we breathe the upper air again 11^ 

43. We emerge after the manner of seals 117 

44. So cramped and stiff we can hardly stand 117 

45. Zeppelin swimming snails 117 

46. Two species of flying snails 120 

47. Periphyllum is the most beautiful deep-sea jelly 121 

48. The siphonophore colony drifts slowly 121 

49. Silvery hatchetfish are often seen 128 

50. The transparent larva of an eel 129 

51. The head-lights of a lanternfish 129 

52. Deep-sea shrimps are abundant 136 

53. Copepods are the insects of the sea 13^ 

54. Trumpetfish swim among the reefs 137 

55. Moray eels are rarely seen in the daytime 137 
5^. A warp and woof of fish 144 


57. The adventure of the giant reef 145 

58. The aftermath of a hurricane 146 

59. The bathysphere changes to ultra-marine 147 
^o. Landing on the mother ship with the bathysphere 147 

61. The cables come out of their winter home 148 

62. The bathysphere on the ill-fated Freedom 148 

63. Inspection of the steel cable 148 

64. The cable tightly wound, ready for use 148 

65. The critical place of danger is the head of the boom 149 

66. The Freedom puts to sea 149 
6j. The coils and coils of communication hose 149 

68. The door swung on for a test dive 149 

69. The sphere is lifted overboard 150 

70. The bathysphere appears at the surface 150 

71. Water spouts from the bathysphere window 151 

72. Something is seriously wrong with the sphere 151 

73. The compressed air sings along the wing-bolt's threads 152 

74. Soon the hissing rises to a high scream 152 

75. The wing-bolt shoots like a shell across the deck 153 

76. On the last test dive a clock is sent down 156 
jj. At last the oxygen is passed in 156 

78. The oxygen valves are adjusted 157 

79. The quartz windows are as transparent as air 157 

80. Beebe and Barton in the bathysphere 158 

81. Last instructions 158 

82. White lead on the door 159 

83. The door is swung into place 159 

84. Each nut is twisted into its numbered place 160 

85. The noise of final hammering is terrific 160 
%6. The bathysphere rises from the deck 161 


87. The sphere becomes a dangerous pendulum in mid-air 161 

88. Beebe inside after the dive has begun 161 

89. On deck the telephone is in constant use 162 

90. These are real stars in the heavens 1^3 

91. These are the animal stars of the depths 1^3 

92. A viperfish of the deep sea 1^8 

93. Paying out the communication hose 16S 

94. The bathysphere is at 2200 feet 1^9 

95. The bathysphere crashes up through the surface 1^9 

96. Delicate instruments are handed out 170 

97. We emerge with the grace of worms 170 

98. We stand again, cramped, and blinded by the sun 171 

99. The maw of the sabre-toothed viperfish 172 

100. A flock of shield-shaped flying snails 172 
loi. The untouchable bathysphere-fish 172 

102. A deep-sea squid with many-colored lights 173 

103. Siphonophore colonies pass close to the window 173 

104. Freedom's radio station ZFB-i 178 

105. Waiting for the broadcast zero hour 178 

106. The microphone records our conversation 179 

107. The world-wide broadcast in full swing 179 

108. A sea change 188 

109. Our laboratory at New Nonsuch 189 
no. Triumphal return of the Ready 192 

111. All these instruments plus two men go into the sphere 193 

112. The last turns of cable on the drum 200 

113. Temperature and humidity record 200 

114. Icy cold from a 3028 foot dive 201 

115. Rainbow Gars 208 

116. The Pallid Sailfin 209 


117. The three-starred anglerfish 216 

118. Five-Hned constellationfish 217 

119. A Percy Crosby cartoon 220 

120. The perils of the deep . 221 

121. Section of the 1930 bathysphere 236 

122. Deck machinery of the bathysphere 236 

123. Section of the 1934 bathysphere 237 


Figures i, 121, 122, 123, and End Paper drawn by John Tee- Van; 
Figures 3, 4, and 20 drawn by George Swanson; Photograph Figures 54, 
55, 92, and 102 by Amos Burg; Figures 31 to 44 inclusive by Jack 
Connery; Figures 22, 2^, 24, 25, 26, and 28 by Floyd Crosby; Figures 
91 and ^8 by Gloria Hollister; Figure ^8 by Patten Jackson; Figures 

^9> 70, 7^> 72, Jh ^3> ^4> ^^> ^7> 93' 94> 9h 9^' 97» 104, loy, and 
106 by Helen Tee- Van; Figures 4J, 48, 4^, yo, yr, 59 to 68 inclusive, 
73' 74' 7^ to 82 inclusive, 85, 88, 89, 99, 107, 109, in, and 112 by 
John Tee- Van; Figures 29, 45, 46, 52, 53, 100, and 103 by Bob 


chapter 1 


BEFORE many years, along the temperate and tropical 
, seaboards of the world, conversations will be heard 
which to many people today would seem fantastic 
or at least prophetic of a century hence. Hosts and host- 
esses will be summoning their house parties to row with 
them off shore, to put on helmets, dive and inspect at 
leisure the new coral plantings and beds which a seascape 
gardener has lately arranged. And later in the year his 
purple and lavender sea anemones will take first and second 
prizes in the local sea-flower show. Mothers will be begged 
by their boys to let them go again and play pirates in the 
hold of the old wreck just inside the reef and three fathoms 
down. Submerged artists will wax wroth with an over- 
clouded sky because the half-finished painting of the 
canyon, four and twenty feet below the surface, must 
have full sunlight to show its miraculous coloring. 

I have set a very brief time when these things will be 
of common occurrence because today, in scores of places, 
they are already being done. A few fears bred of ignorance 
need only to be broken down to make the sport of helmet 

diving widespread and one of the last of the great out- 



Teachings of man's activities on the planet. I must prove 
this latter statement before I go any farther. 

As far as we can tell from our present knowledge, life, 
in all the cosmos, has come into existence only certainly 
upon the Earth and possibly upon Mars. The former was 
a momentous occasion and of infinitely greater import 
to us than any other — except one. 

This exception I call the First Wonderer, and it has 
become very real to me since I saw the expression on the 
face of a man, sculptured in bronze, and squatting in the 
center of the great drawing room of the Bohemian Club 
in San Francisco. He is half seated, half crouched, and 
with two flints he has just struck a spark. But the ex- 
pression on his face seems to me not amazement at the 
flash, not astonishment at something new, not mental 
adumbration of future possible uses — but a struggling 
wonder at the half -realization that he knows he is won- 

Here is an event equal in importance, to you and to me, 
with the beginnings of life itself. We know that this 
figure deserves to be called a man — that his nth, nth, 
nth great-grandchild will be Rodin's "Thinker," able to 
stand up and say "I am I," something that no ant or ele- 
phant can ever do, no crow, dog, monkey, nor any con- 
tented dweller in Nirvana or Garden of Eden. 

The direct relation that this has to our theme is that it 
marked the first great extension of human activity, first 
within, introspection, and then out and around, inclusive 


of home, food, enemies, family, and neighborhood. From 
this time on it was neighborhood that received occasional 
radical additions. The rest was more or less relative ad- 
vances in degree — cave to palace, beetles to pate, bears to 
big Berthas, mate to — well, mate. But when a hitherto 
impenetrable portion of the earth or some zone foreign 
to human presence is suddenly rendered accessible by 
reason of a new means of transport or the overcoming of 
some elemental or other natural condition inimical to 
human life, then every corner of man's mind susceptible 
to enthusiasm or accumulated curiosity is aroused to 
highest pitch. 

The First Wonderer began timidly to creep, and to 
know that he was creeping, farther and farther from the 
home cave, out over the flat earth, until finally Columbus 
and Magellan sank below the horizon, the latter to re- 
appear on the other side. Next to our race coming to con- 
sciousness and beginning to know that it knew, these men 
probably contributed more to enthusiasm and curiosity 
than any others before them. 

Passing swiftly on through the centuries in our search 
for radical extensions of environment, we come across 
flurries of excitement when someone first crossed Africa 
from coast to coast, or others reached the poles, but we 
pass these by and seize upon the airplane. In modern times 
the invention and development of this means of transport 
mark the most spectacular invasion of a new field of 
activity; only with this very phrase the terrestrial domi- 


nance of our thoughts and vocabulary is quite apparent, 
and I hastily offer "stratum" or "zone" as a substitute 
for "field of activity." 

With all its amazing and intensive evolution, the con- 
crete intellectual returns from aviation are most super- 
ficial. The atmosphere itself is transparent, we already 
knew its properties from experience with birds, kites, and 
hurricanes, while lofty mountains have taught us its thin- 
ning and chilling with increase of altitude. The results 
of aviation are almost wholly of repercussent value, mak- 
ing for increase in the surface veneer of terrestrial knowl- 
edge and exploration, giving us bird's-eye views and 
enabling us to go from here to there more rapidly. Its 
prime value lies in map making and other vertically- 
viewed studies of physical geography, while the supreme 
contribution should be the golden hours and days which 
it wrests from Time and places in our hands as sheer gifts 
to our span of earthly life. So far, however, I have seen 
little of the splendor of creative use to which these might 
be devoted. I once circled the entire planet from west to 
east and gained a day, and childishly thought to save this 
for some unusual purpose, something for which otherwise 
I might never have time or opportunity. But the added 
day seems long ago to have been frittered away in the 
myriad reasonless occupations of modern civilization. 

I once felt that I had overcome a host of mental ob- 
structions and fears when I dared the reputed dangers 
of tropical jungles, savages, and wild creatures, and found 


most of the perils and horrors to be man-made, fire-side 
imaginings, having the vitaUty of cloud-dragons and mi- 
rage-monsters, ramping and raging in cold type, working 
their evil chiefly between the covers of books, the outcries 
of their victims seldom heard above the rustle of news- 
papers. But after all, this was a conquering of difficulties, 
mental and otherwise, only of degree, not of kind. Many 
men had already penetrated and loved the equatorial 

But adventuring under sea is an unearthly experience, 
and in all except one sense we are actually entering a new 
world when we put on a diving helmet and float down to 
the white coral sand. If we are kept from wandering 
through the waters of the world by tales of omnipresent, 
man-eating sharks, barracudas and octopi, then to be con- 
sistent we must keep off our streets because of the in- 
finitely more deadly taxicabs, we must wear masks to keep 
free of malignant germs, and we must never go to the 
country because of wasps, deadly nightshade, and lethal 
toadstools. When we once realize the truth of these ap- 
parently silly comparisons, we will wander at will amid 
temperate tapestries and portieres of seaweed, and stroll 
around and climb over and return day after day to the 
exciting reefs of tropical shores. In my present existence 
there is only one experience left which can transcend that 
of living for a time under sea — and that is a trip to Mars. 

When I first entered the majestic jungles of Guiana I 
forgot to keep on the alert for danger because I felt so 


completely at home. Never in city, house, or room have 
I ever experienced such a feeling of comfortable and com- 
plete habitation; it seemed as if I was returning — not ven- 
turing. Over-enthusiastic friends eagerly explained this 
with the exciting phrase beginning **When, in a former 
incarnation/* etc. But unfortunately I do not feel equally 
at home in a northern oak or coniferous forest while my 
ancestors nevertheless seem to have been almost wholly 
of the good old British mixture of Viking, Anglo-Saxon, 
and Norman. 

All of which is preamble to the fact that from my 
second dive onward, submersion seemed as reasonable and 
my environment in general as familiar as if I could again 
call upon ancestral memory, this time stretching it some 
millions of years to the time when with considerable scien- 
tific accuracy we might quote: 

"When you were a tadpole 
And I was a fish — " 

But all this aside, when we descend beneath the surface 
of the waters we are most assuredly returning to an olden 
home, comparable in no way to aerial penetration, and 
infinitely more remote and fundamental than our air- 
breathing life today upon the dry land. 

Our progress upon land is learned — as infants we creep 
upon all fours, then stand unsteadily, walk consciously, 
and finally relegate impetus and balance to the sub- 
conscious corners of our mind. We can go round and round 


and round the circular earth, but no human being has 
ever run a mile In four minutes. We can be pulled by a 
single horse power, but to rise Into the air requires either 
wings and an engine of many times that equine unit of 
energy, or a bag of gas lighter than the atmosphere. We 
have risen Into the thin upper air to a height of many 
miles, and were still no nearer the stars, while in a few 
hours we had to glide or tumble to earth again. Always 
and forever, on earth or in the air, we must combat gravi- 

Our apparatus for conquering the under-sea Is simple. 
We must first decide whether we are content to look 
beneath the surface, or to descend sixty to eighty feet, 
or to three hundred feet, or to a half mile. To reverse 
this order, only two human beings have ever reached three 
thousand feet, and this in a hollow ball, a bathysphere, 
into which we were sealed, and where we made and 
breathed our own air, looked out through windows, tele- 
phoned up the wonders which we saw, and returned safely. 

If you must descend three hundred feet, a complete 
diving suit is necessary, and many hours are required to 
become used to the pressure at that depth and again to 
return to the upper world. 

To add to our habitation of the earth's surface and the 
air above it all the Kingdom of Five Fathoms Down is a 
very simple matter. I would suggest a pair of rubber- 
soled sneakers and a bathing suit, besides which a glass- 
fronted helmet, hose and a pump complete the open ocean 


sesame. The helmet may be made from a gasoline tin and 
some glass, a length of garden hose and an automobile 
pump. Or the whole outfit may be purchased ready for 
use. The operation is too easy to need detailed mention. 

But the moment one is submerged, the reality of the 
absolute apartness of this place is apparent. In the air one 
weighs one hundred and sixty pounds — ^here one can leap 
twelve feet, or lift oneself with the crook of a finger. A 
fall from a coral cliff is only a gentle drifting downward, 
and one's whole activity is of a piece with the exquisite 
grace of a slow motion picture. 

In this Kingdom most of the plants are animals, the 
fish are friends, colors are unearthly in their shift and 
delicacy; here miracles become marvels, and marvels re- 
curring wonders. There may be a host of terrible dan- 
gers, but in hundreds of dives we have never encountered 

One thing we cannot escape — forever afterward, 
throughout all our life, the memory of the magic of water 
and its life, of the home which was once our own — this 
will never leave us. 

Let us think for a while of this magic of water. Like 
many other chemical combinations on the earth it exists 
as vapor, liquid, and solid — cloud, water, and ice — ^but un- 
like almost all others it is liquid at what, with anthropo- 
morphic solemnity and conceit, we are pleased to call 
normal temperatures. That is to say, we human beings are 


able to live in a world with water, at the same time, place 
and temperature. 

This thought brings us a vision of the terribly narrow 
confines of life. Let us suppose that we are comfortable 
and happy at seventy-two degrees Fahrenheit, surrounded 
and supported by the vast assemblage of plants and ani- 
mals which exists with us today on our little planet Earth. 
If we descend deep enough into the ground or approach 
too close to a volcano or become long exposed to high 
noon in a desert, or if the atmosphere should very slightly 
thin so that there was a permanent rise of one hundred 
and forty degrees, all life would be boiled to death; or 
if we went toward the north or south pole, or high enough 
up a lofty mountain, or if again the atmosphere should 
thin out, and the temperature slip irrevocably down forty 
degrees, sooner or later the life of every plant and animal 
would be snuffed out in a world of solid ice. 

As long as the Earth offers some areas between these 
extremes of two hundred and twelve and thirty-two de- 
grees, then human beings can love and hate, hope and 
despair, smile and sneer, eat, breathe, and sleep. It is good 
for us sometimes to consider not only our brief threescore 
years and ten but the temporal and spatial limits of human 
existence as a whole, always with water as an index of 
life itself. We look at the sun with its swirling atmosphere 
of super-heated metallic vapor, and at the cold, dead, air- 
less, waterless moon and we recognize the youth and old 
age of our own Earth. We fill our conscious life with a 


myriad of petty, human affairs, but in spite of our ego- 
tism, our self-sufficiency, there, a httle ways underground, 
is the slowly cooling heat of the Earth's youth, and, like 
the monk's coffin in his cell, the ghastly cold of the poles 
foreshadows an ultimate doom. Even today, at the surface, 
in the heyday of our human existence, the headlines in 
our newspapers alternate with "Sudden heat wave takes 
toll of many lives" and "Scores of men and women suc- 
cumb to the bitter cold of the blizzard." Our bodies must 
keep fit to avoid the ever-clutching fingers of the alpha 
and omega of planetary existence, even now reaching out 
to seize us. 

Before we take up the main thesis of this volume we 
should realize the amazing similarity to a living organism 
which water makes of this earth of ours. We know how 
the blood courses through our veins and arteries carrying 
off the waste matter and bringing oxygen and renewed 
life to all our tissues. When we turn on the water faucet 
in our homes, the simile to a blood stream seems rather 
far fetched, but let us carry out the idea. Fogs swirl across 
the land and leave every tree and rock dripping with 
dew, snow falls and soon changes to water, and rain 
hurtles down and forms rills and brooks and streams, and 
rivers which flow quietly into the sea. Wind and sun work 
together and draw up vast amounts of invisible moisture 
which change into sponge-like clouds, and the circle be- 
gins again — the most astonishing circulation which cleanses 

Fig. 1. Man's Greatest Ups and Downs. 
(Adapted from Popular Science Monthly) 

Fig. 2. The First Wondcrcr. 

(From a bronze by Arthur Putnam in the Bohemian Club, San Francisco, California. Reproduced by 
special permission of the Bohemian Club) 


the surface of the earth, and brings refreshed life to plant, 
beast, and man. 

Just as a stream has its myriad ripples and tiny whirl- 
pools which twist and hold back bits of the water for a 
brief space, so the plants and animals each seize upon this 
individual mead of water, whirl it about in their bodies 
for a time and let it pass on again. Nothing is more futile 
and inane than to carry a simile farther than its quick, 
immediate application, but bear with me while I make 
one more comparison between the earth and a human 
being. The great oceans make up somewhat more than 
two-thirds of the earth's surface, and our own body con- 
tains almost exactly the same proportion of water. Of the 
weight of a one-hundred-and-fifty-pound man, one hun- 
dred and five pounds are water! This seventy per cent, 
or thirteen-odd gallons which we carry about with us, 
seems all the more amazing in a land animal such as our- 
selves when we know that a fish is only about eighty- 
three per cent water. 

We look out to sea from the shore or from a lofty cliff 
and even when a storm is raging we have a feeling of 
perfect security. Now and then a ship is wrecked, or a 
wharf or even a sandy beach undermined and washed 
away, but we view this with no worry or tremor of per- 
sonal fear. Yet, if we stop to think, all the great expanses 
of the seas average two miles in depth, and if the vast 
continents with all the lofty mountains of the world were 
whittled away, shaken down, and the surface of the planet 


Earth leveled off, the dry land would wholly disappear 
and an unbroken waste of waters, a mile deep, would 
stretch from pole to pole and around and around the 
equator. Such a thought makes a rowboat a trifle more 
comforting than Mount Everest. 

Mention of the sea as an old home of ours Is not a figure 
of speech. Perhaps the most dramatic and amazing thing 
about our human body is one certain proof of this former 
aquatic life and even a hint as to the actual time when 
some dim ancestor of ours crawled out upon land. When 
the ocean first came to be, say a billion and a half years 
ago, its waters were fresh, but at once they began dissolv- 
ing salts and other minerals from the adjacent land. Then 
clouds and rain and rivers were born and thousands of 
tons of ingredients began to be washed down. So today 
the ocean is very slightly Salter than it was yesterday, and 
the lowlier creatures who live in it and have open cir- 
culations have, of course, salt water for blood. It simply 
flows in and through them and out again, leaving a bit of 
oxygen and taking away some waste matter. But very 
long ago some ancient animal closed up its system of veins 
and arteries and from a water-drenched primitive became 
a self-sustaining, gilled creature. And from this minute 
on, the water in which it swam kept getting salter and 
Salter, while the composition of its blood remained the 

A human being can drink fresh but not salt water; 
fresh water injected into the veins is a potent poison, while 


sea-water is an admirable temporary substitution for our 
very life's blood. The reason for this is the fact that if 
we examine a sample of human blood and an equal amount 
of sea-water we will find that, while both are salt, our 
own life blood is three times fresher than the salt water. 
So all we have to do is to calculate back and find the time 
when the ocean was only one-third as salt as at present, 
and then, "Best Beloved," we will know exactly when to 
celebrate the anniversary of our marine emancipation. 
This seems to me a very wonderful thing, to walk about 
on land today, vitalized by a bit of the ancient seas swirl- 
ing through our body. It is somehow of a piece with stars 
and time and space — something to be very quiet and 
thoughtful about, and proud of. 

The most unimaginative man in the world must have 
had, at some moment during an ocean voyage, a sudden 
overwhelming sense of the courage of the earliest navi- 
gators, of the high-hearted, all but superhuman daring 
that urged them forth upon a vast uncharted sea. The 
actual perils of the open ocean were very real to those 
compassless cockleshells called ships, while its fabled dan- 
gers were only limited by the failure of imagination, and 
were quite irrefutable. No man knew, so no man could 
deny. Phoenicians, venturing out of sight of land, might 
serve as the epitome of that restless spirit that brought 
man out of the Stone Age, that driving need to experi- 
ment, to know, that overrides fear and turns unnum- 
bered cravens into unknown heroes. 


Fear is still a dominant factor in most people's lives — 
fear of sickness, of an employer, of public opinion — ^but 
even the most ignorant member of so-called civilized so- 
ciety has now an attitude of complacent patronage toward 
the phenomena of the universe, quite unaffected by his 
lack of any real knowledge. In the old days there were 
fears worth having, reasons for an almost heroic terror. 
Men believed in a vast, unfriendly world, filled with 
vengeful, incomprehensible powers, and in a dark sea peo- 
pled with insatiable Things, lurking at the edge of a horizon 
beyond which were the sickening abysses of the unknow- 
able. And so their ventures into that world, upon that 
sea, were deeds of god-like bravery for which we pampered 
moderns can furnish no comparison. The emphasis placed 
by most historians on the fact that all the early voyages 
were undertaken only for commercial reasons subtracts 
nothing from their hazards. 

Oceanography may be called the most modern of sci- 
ences, if by that word is meant the deep-sea researches of 
biologist, chemist, and geologist. Although exploration of 
the sea and speculation concerning it have been going 
on for many centuries, it was literally a surface study 
until recent times. In the interests of navigation men in- 
vestigated currents and tides, mapped coasts and shoals, 
and calculated the forces of the winds, but the wonders 
and the mysteries of the deep constituted a problem that 
was hardly approached until the eighteenth century. 
Nevertheless, Carthaginian Hanno, urging his fearful 


galley slaves along African coasts, six hundred years before 
Christ, was leading the way for the stately sails of the 
Challenger, as surely as the first caveman to strike a 
spark from flint was kindling the fire that was destined 
to result in electric light, selenium cells, and television. 

Long before the Greeks had advanced beyond barbar- 
ism, before their earliest records, the Phoenicians were 
known as a nation of navigators, and had probably ex- 
plored the Mediterranean coasts with a fair degree of thor- 
oughness. They were the notably sea-faring folk of those 
times and voyaged not only for themselves but were often 
employed to man the vessels of such land-loving people as 
the Egyptians, and they piloted the fleets of Solomon, 
which "returned every three years, bringing gold and 
silver, ivory, apes and peacocks." The Mediterranean was 
naturally the first field for their exploration, and little 
by little they pushed on, trading with Egypt, reaching 
Syrtis, establishing colonies, until at last they passed the 
Pillars of Hercules and realized the existence of the great 
External Ocean. They braved its unknown dangers and 
crept on, along the western coast of Africa, discovering 
the Canaries, working northward to the Scilly Isles and 
Cornwall. In an easterly direction they rounded Arabia 
into the Persian Gulf and touched here and there on East 
African shores. 

The Periplus of Necho is one of the first great adven- 
tures of which we have any record, and that but scanty. 
Herodotus relates that Necho II, Pharaoh about 600 B.C., 


sent an expedition manned by Phcenicians down the Red 
Sea and along the eastern coast of Africa. Three years 
later they returned through the Pillars of Hercules, hav- 
ing circumnavigated the vast Dark Continent. The His- 
torian of Halicarnassus says that every year these toiling 
voyagers stopped to sow and harvest a crop of wheat 
before going on; they reported that during part of their 
journey they had the sun on the right hand — that is, to 
the north — and Herodotus remarks that for his part he 
finds this impossible to believe. The authenticity of this 
voyage has been long doubted, but some recent archeo- 
logical evidence seems to support it, and certainly the 
observation as to the sun's position — that very point which 
Herodotus challenged — is a convincing piece of evidence. 
If this circumnavigation was really accomplished, it was 
an amazing feat that waited for two thousand years to be 
repeated by Vasco da Gama. 

Somewhere about this period the Carthaginian admiral 
Hanno conducted a fleet of sixty vessels on one of the re- 
markable voyages of the world. This was a colonizing 
enterprise as well as an exploring expedition, and men, 
women, and children accompanied him to found Cartha- 
ginian towns on the unknown shores of Africa. He went 
through the Pillars of Hercules and down the western 
coast, as far as the country that we know as Sierra Leone. 
All the way new wonders dawned upon him and fresh 
terrors awed his men. All day the land lay silent under a 
burning sun, but at night the sound of gongs and drums 


ran up and down the jungle, and strange fires blazed and 
spread. To the explorers these things were the manifesta- 
tions of evil spirits, not the work of man, but when they 
captured some living apes "whom the interpreters called 
gorilla," they thought their prisoners were the wild hairy 
humans of this wilderness. 

So, inventing fabulous wonders, misinterpreting real 
marvels, pondering on the infinite, pitting his feebleness 
against irresistible strength, man crept on over the face 
of the spinning globe, every step leading toward the goal 
of Final Knowledge which he never has reached and never 
will, for the wonders of the universe are endless. 

We might go on and on, finding the history of explora- 
tion by water a never-ending marvel, but it is only the 
history of the oceans in two planes of space — ^Flatsea Tales 
which have no direct bearing on our theme. Let us break 
the surface in a third dimension. 

Chapter 2 


IF WE have a deep abiding interest in anything, if keen 
curiosity leads to knowledge and this to absorption 
in some phase of our little earthly world, then the 
development, the evolution of the thing sooner or later 
claims our attention. If one were a lawyer one would wish 
to trace the rise of Greek and Roman laws and those of 
early Egypt; if we enjoy chopping down trees we should 
learn all there is to know about the first stone axes of our 
cave-dwelling ancestors. 

The study of life under sea holds, at present, the heart 
of my mental interest, and the physical means of getting 
at my subject has taxed everything of ingenuity I could 
bring to bear. I peer through water glasses and rubber- 
bound goggles, holding my breath while I grope about 
the shallows for organic treasures; I don a helmet and 
walk about ten fathoms beneath the surface; and finally 
I have been able to look and think, while yet a half mile 
down in a water-tight bell or bathysphere. The origin of 
all these methods in the minds of men of the distant past 
is full of fascination, but first we must see if our ideas 
have been anticipated by the so-called lower animals. 

Frogs, penguins, and dolphins all dive as we do, unaided 



by artificial means, by taking in a deep breath of air and 
staying down until the supply of oxygen gives out, when 
all of us must return to the surface. But the simile is not 
exact, for frogs dive and swim chiefly with their hind 
feet, penguins with their fore limbs, and dolphins by means 
of a very special tail. 

Diving with definite apparatus seems to be confined to 
insects, spiders, and human beings. The simplest method is 
that adopted by the whirligig beetles of our ponds. They 
skate about in dizzy circles on the top of the water, the 
surface film bending like thin ice under their weight. 
Then, suddenly, they take a header straight down, carry- 
ing with them in a little cavity, between body and wing 
covers, a pearly bubble of air. This is soon used up by their 
breathing spiracles and when it is all gone they shoot up, 
and again begin their eternal spinning. We can imitate 
the beetle by putting on a helmet with an apparatus for 
purifying the breath or providing a constant stream of 
compressed air, and with this we can walk for a time 
about the bottom in shallow waters. 

An advance over the beetles is found in the rat-tailed 
larvae of the drone fly. These are unpleasant-looking mag- 
gots which live on the mud of stagnant ponds. They swim 
and creep about the bottom, but are air-breathers and 
must maintain constant communication with the atmos- 
phere. If one of these oval maggots is dropped into a tum- 
blerful of water it creeps blindly about for a time. It is 
almost as clear as the water so that all the body organs 


are plainly visible. The posterior end is very wrinkled, and 
after a few minutes these wrinkles begin to smooth out 
and a conical projection appears. This increases in length 
and slenderness and a very thin tube emerges from the tip. 
Like a telescope the jointed tail draws out and out until it 
is almost ten times as long as the maggot. When at last it 
has reached the surface, the tip opens and air is drawn 
down into the respiratory system of the animal, and from 
now on it crawls about, burrows and feeds, and although 
perhaps five inches below the surface, yet it draws a con- 
stant stream of air down into the body. 

So when I have descended the diving ladder in a helmet 
and clamber about several fathoms down with the air 
coming to me through the hollow rubber hose, I am only 
a poor imitation of a rat-tailed maggot, which keeps its 
very efficient air tube telescoped within its own body, 
sending it out and up whenever necessary (Fig. 3) . 

Spiders are the most amazing of creatures living on the 
earth, and if in long past ages they had had the added 
advantage of size they might today be dominant, while 
we still crept fearfully about in the trees. Their multi- 
plicity of keen eyes, their octet of strong limbs with cun- 
ning, hand-like claws, their marvelous supply of thread 
and cable, ribbon and net fashioned from the warp and 
woof of their own body, and especially the subtle instincts 
which dictate their habits — all these have enabled spiders 
to reach out and become successful in many strange ways 
and unexpected places. 


One group, rather appropriately named Desis, lives be- 
tween low and high water mark along shore, and when 
the first drops of the incoming tide splash them, they re- 
treat to some tiny coral cave or crevice, and weave a 
tight silken door across the entrance. The water comes 
higher and higher, covers the partition and buries it deep. 
A few hours later, when the moon beckons, the waters 
sink and as the air again reaches the cave mouth the bulk- 
head tapestry is torn away and the spider comes forth on 
whatever 'tween tide business of life most interests these 
little Desis. 

This is a decided advance on the bubble-clutching 
beetle and the rat-tailed maggot, for here we have the 
instinct and the ability to make a dry, water-tight cham- 
ber out of an open crevice, to fashion a temporary breath- 
ing home beneath the waves, not by mechanical adapta- 
tion of its body, but by the manufacture of extraneous 
substances which, in their manipulation and use, are per- 
fectly analogous to the paraphernalia of a human diver. 

It is left to another spider to snatch from human, sub- 
marine inventions the last shred of originality. This is 
known, rather unimaginatively, as the water spider and 
for a land-fashioned air-breather it probably spends more 
time under water than any other creature. Even when 
newly hatched it can surround its body with a film of air, 
and can dive and swim, usually upside down, for long 
periods of time without renewal. 

When some instinct impels it to begin the serious busi- 


ness of life it fastens together several submerged stems of 
aquatic plants with bindings of silk, and then fashions a 
sheet of the same material, swung horizontally between 
the stems. This is held in place by many guy ropes but is 
loose and waving. 

The spider then ascends to the surface, protrudes its 
abdomen and its crossed, hinder pair of legs, and by a dex- 
trous flip or downward jerk detaches a piece of atmosphere 
and starts downward with it. This is not as easy as it would 
seem and the slippery bubble often oozes out between the 
legs and goes hurtling to the surface. The dense growth of 
hairs on body and legs is the most important factor in 
bubble-snatching and a rather pathetic thing has been 
noticed, that in old spiders, where the body hairs have 
become soiled or disheveled or worn to baldness, air can no 
longer be detached and carried about, and this means 
death in a very short time. 

If the openwork basket of legs and body has no air 
leak, the bubble is taken down and liberated beneath the 
silken sheet. It rises against the spread canopy, coming to 
rest in a little bulge of the air-tight fabric. Again and 
again this is repeated until, from mound-like, the silk 
has been molded into a deep umbrella shape. In the course 
of the many trips we notice that the descent is effortless, 
the spider being drawn with mysterious speed and ac- 
curacy directly to the roof of the bell. This is accom- 
plished by a silken guy rope, spun from roof to spider, 
and when the latter is at the surface this strand is under 


considerable tension. "When the spider dives, the stretched 
silk line contracts and almost pulls the creature down to 
its goal. If other bells are in the vicinity, the spider may 
seize convenient moments to steal bits of air from these 
atmosphere bins of its neighbors. 

When the bell is deep enough and the air supply suf- 
ficient, the various submarine activities of the water 
spider's life are assured. During the day it rests quietly in 
the seclusion and excellent aeration of its chamber; from 
nocturnal foraging expeditions the crustacean prey is 
brought into the bell and there devoured; in this little at- 
mospheric cosmos the spider makes its careful toilet, comb- 
ing out and cleaning its all-important coat of air-snaring 
hairs. When at last the air becomes foul, a hole is cut 
through the roof and the exhausted bubble allowed to 
escape. The rent is then rewoven tightly and a fresh sup- 
ply of air brought down from the upper world. 

Courtship and mating take place in the bell and finally 
the hundred-odd eggs are laid along the ceiling, hanging 
like strings of onions and peppers in the hut of a peasant. 
These are shut off by a partition into an egg-attic of sorts, 
and when the young hatch they proceed at once to cut 
their way out, often liberating part of the air in the proc- 
ess, upsetting the bell and rather rudely capsizing their 
parent on the ground floor. At the approach of winter 
the water spider often closes the bottom of its bell and 
spins itself in, its decreased hibernating respiration using 
up but little of the enclosed supply of air. 


So I, in my relatively crude bathysphere, sustaining life 
for a few hours only by most careful forethought and 
ejQfort, must appear but a bungling amateur in comparison 
with the submarine mastery of the water spider (Fig. 4) . 

It is doubtful if primitive man was a swimmer. No 
species of modern ape takes to deep water voluntarily 
and while we know that man did not trace his descent 
direct from any of them, yet our forebears must have 
been arboreal, ape-like creatures with little need or de- 
sire for entering the water. The smaller monkeys, such as 
the capuchins, swim readily, dog-fashion, when acci- 
dentally immersed, and more than once I have seen the 
proboscis monkey in Borneo swimming of its own accord 
across wide streams. 

On arrival at the seashore, Man's first instinct would 
have been to try to drink from the shallows and though 
he found the water bitter, he would learn in time from 
watching gulls and small mammals, that the shellfish in 
the tidepools were excellent food. The submergence of 
the first human being was, I am afraid, not due to any 
desire for a bath, but doubtless a sudden ducking by the 
incoming tide. When once he found he could hold his 
breath and grope about in the deeper pools where mussels 
and limpets were larger and more abundant, then he laid 
the foundation for the efforts which have continued 
throughout the ages. If we must believe that in those days 
(as well, in many respects, as today) our forefathers 
learned chiefly by observation and imitation, they had 


most excellent swimming and diving instructors in seals 
and various diving birds, such as grebes, terns, and ducks. 
In one way they were superior to most of their descendants 
who used artificial diving aids, for they had the prag- 
matic courage of their convictions, while the majority of 
their successors were content to invent something and 
then sit about hoping someone else would come along and 
try it out. 

It is diflScult to get even an approximate idea of the first 
serious efforts at diving. We might take the earliest men- 
tion of pearls as an index except that the more primitive 
peoples did not value pearls for ornaments as much as 
they did more brilliant, lusty stones. The oysters were 
doubtless used as food for many centuries before the pearls 
were esteemed as anything besides playthings for chil- 
dren, although over four millenniums ago, about 2250 B.C., 
wild tribes brought, among other tribute, to the Chinese 
Emperor Yu, fish and oyster-pearls. Mother-of-pearl shell, 
which when procured in any quantity must have been 
obtained by diving, was in use as carved ornaments in 
the sixth dynasty of ancient Thebes, about 3200 B.C. No 
pearls have been found in Babylon, but mother-of-pearl 
inlays occur in the ruins of Bismaya, which must have 
been gathered by divers and fashioned by artisans around 
4500 B.C. 

Man's control over the water, unaided by artificial 
means, is pitiful when compared with his feats in more 
congenial surroundings in the air on land. The fastest 


swimming speed humian beings have ever made is fifty-one 
seconds for one hundred yards, and twenty-one minutes, 
six and four-fifths seconds for a mile. 

A certain Gustav Kobbe said, at some unknown date, "I 
hold the world's record for fast walking under water. Off 
Oak Point, at One Hundred and Fiftieth Street and East 
River, New York, I walked five miles in eight feet of 
water in two hours and twenty-seven minutes, defeating 
William Smith, the champion English submarine walker." 

There is so much exaggeration in unofficial records of 
depth and duration of unaided diving that the truth is 
difficult to discover. One hundred and fifty feet have 
possibly been reached, and three minutes must be almost 
the maximum limit of human endurance, as compared 
with the ridiculous record of two hours given by the great 
Moorish traveler, Ibn Batuta. If we accept the latter we 
might as well believe in that grand old swimmer Glaucus, 
of Grecian mythology, who built the Argo for the Golden 
Fleece Expedition, and who is reputed once to have swum 
to the bottom of the ocean when a tempest was raging, 
and to have spent a week-end with his friend Oceanus, 
returning later with an armful of fish he had caught. 
There was an ichthyologist for you! 

One of the first allusions to diving, although indirect, 
is in Book XVI of the Iliad, where Homer puts a rather 
sarcastic and unsportsmanlike speech into the mouth of 

"Against Patroclus Hector turned his strong-hooved 

Fig. 3. The Rat-tailed Maggot with its own apparatus, and I in my diving 
helmet, can both descend to about ten times our own leneths, and successfully 
draw down a supply of air from the surface. 

Fig. 4. Millions of years before a human-made bathysphere was ever thought 
of, water spiders filled their silken bells with air and in this artificially as- 
sembled atmosphere lived, ate, courted, and sheltered their eggs. 


horses. The other on his side leapt from his chariot to the 
ground, in the left hand a spear and in the right a stone. 
Nor did he cast the missile in vain, since he smote Hector's 
charioteer, Cebriones, a bastard son of famous Priam, as 
he held the reins of the steeds, striking him on the brow 
with the sharp stone. Then in taunt thou didst address 
him, Oh, knightly Patroclus: *Ah, ah! How nimble is he, 
since he so easily tumbles. Yea, perchance were he on the 
teeming sea, this man would sate many by diving for sea- 
food, leaping from the ship even in rough weather, so 
lightly now he dives from the chariot to the plain. Verily, 
there are divers even among the Trojans.' " 

The first account of diving used in warfare is the real- 
istic narration of the siege of Syracuse by the Greeks in 
414 B.C., given us by Thucydides: 

"There was some skirmishing in the harbour about the 
palisades which the Syracusans had fixed in the sea in front 
of their old dock-houses, that their ships might ride at 
anchor in the enclosed space, where they could not be 
struck by the enemy, and would be out of harm's way. 
The Athenians brought up a ship of about 250 tons bur- 
den, which had wooden towers and bulwarks; and from 
their boats they tied cords to the stakes and wrenched and 
tore them up; or dived and sawed them through under- 
neath the water. Meanwhile the Syracusans kept up a 
shower of missiles from the dock-houses, which the men 
in the ship returned. At length the Athenians succeeded 
in pulling up most of the palisade. The stakes which were 


out of sight were the most dangerous of all, there being 
some which were so fixed that they did not appear above 
the water; and no vessel could safely come near. They 
were like a sunken reef, and a pilot, not seeing them, 
might easily catch his ship upon them. Even these were 
sawn off by men who dived for hire; but the Syracusans 
drove them in again. Many were the contrivances em- 
ployed on both sides, as was very natural, when two armies 
confronted each other at so short a distance. There were 
continual skirmishes, and they produced all kinds of strata- 

No diving apparatus is mentioned but if anyone has 
ever tried to submerge without a helmet and saw off even 
a slender stem, the conviction will arise that these Athe- 
nians must have had an air supply of some sort. 

Aristotle, like some other early writers, seems to take 
it for granted that we know all about the details of div- 
ing in those days, and more often than not, introduces 
the subject as a simile, or an aside. For example, he writes, 
"Just as divers are sometimes provided with instruments 
for respiration, through which they can draw air from 
above the water, and thus remain for a long time under 
the sea, so also have elephants been furnished by nature 
with their lengthened nostril; and whenever they have to 
traverse the water, they lift this above the surface and 
breathe through it." Whether this apparatus was some 
early form of helmet and tube, or more likely whether 


It was a simple, hollow reed through which the diver 
breathed, we do not know. 

Elsewhere, however, Aristotle tells us of the troubles 
and of the artificial aids of sponge divers. With his usual 
honesty he admits his ignorance of the cause of under- 
water pressure: 

"Why do the ears burst of those that dive in the sea? 
Is it because the breath, being retained, fills the ears, and, 
violently distending, bursts them? Or may we not say 
that, if this was the cause, it would be requisite that this 
should also happen in the air? Or is it because that which 
does not yield is rapidly broken, and more so by encoun- 
tering a hard than a soft body? Hence that which is in- 
flated is less yielding. But the ears, as we have before ob- 
served, are inflated by the retention of the breath; so that 
water, which is harder than air, falling on, bursts them. 

"Why do divers bind sponges about their ears? Is it in 
order that the sea may not, by violently encountering, 
burst the ears? For thus the ears cannot be filled with 
water, as they can be, deprived of the sponges." 

Most interesting of all is his description of a combina- 
tion diving bell: 

"In order that these fishers for sponges may be supplied 
with a facility of respiration, vases are let down to them 
in the water with the concave part downward so that they 
may not be filled with water, but with air. These vases 
are forced steadily downward, and are held perfectly up- 


right, for no matter how Httle one tips it, the water enters 
and knocks it over." 

It is recorded by R. H. Davis that the employment of 
divers for the salvage of sunken valuables is first men- 
tioned by Livy. He says that in the reign of Perseus (179- 
168 B.C.) considerable treasure was recovered from the 
sea. The Rhodians had a law by which their divers were 
allowed a proportion of the value recovered, varying with 
the risk incurred, or the actual depth from which the 
property was salvaged. For example, if the diver brought 
it up from a depth of twelve feet (eight cubits) he re- 
ceived one-third for himself; if from twenty-four feet, 
one-half; but for goods lost near the shore and recovered 
from the depth of merely a yard or so, his share was only 

Diving in the olden time was not wholly confined to 
military or salvaging purposes. Practical jokes were played 
at least as early as 40 B.C. according to good old Plutarch. 
Speaking of Antony's dalliance at Alexandria, Plutarch 
writes, "It would be trifling without end to be particular 
in his follies but his fishing must not be forgotten. He 
went out one day to angle with Cleopatra, and, being so 
unfortunate as to catch nothing in the presence of his 
mistress, he gave secret orders to the fishermen to dive 
under water, and put fishes that had been already taken 
upon his hooks; and these he drew so fast that the Egyptian 
perceived it. But, feigning great admiration, she told 
everybody how dexterous Antony was, and invited them 

Fig. 5. A medieval portrayal of the legendary descent of Alexander the Great. He is the 
first man who is reputed to have dived deep into the ocean merely to look at the fish. 
Several versions of the story declare that he saw a monster which took three days to swim 
past his glass cage! Note the lamps, which may be called the prototypes of the bathy- 
sphere searchlight. From a French manuscript of the thirteenth century. 

(Courtesy of the Bibliotheque de Bourgogne, Brussels; and of the New York Public Library) 

Fig. 6. This miniature by an Indian artist of the period of Akbar is from an unknown 
manuscript written about 1575. It undoubtedly illustrates the same legend as the preceding 
picture — the descent of Alexander the Great into the sea. 

(Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art) 


next day to come and see him again. So, when a number 
of them had come on board the fishing boats, as soon as 
he had let down his hook, one of her servants was before- 
hand with his divers, and fixed upon his hook a salted fish 
from Pontus. Antony, feeling his line give, drew up the 
prey, and when, as may be imagined, great laughter en- 
sued, 'Leave,' said Cleopatra, 'the fishing-rod, general, to 
us poor sovereigns of Pharos and Canopus; your game is 
cities, provinces and kingdoms/ " 

With the decline of the Roman Empire and the break- 
up of the old civilizations there came, as with so many 
arts, a blankness in the records that was to last for almost 
fifteen hundred years. The men of the south and east 
undoubtedly still dived for pearls and coral and sunken 
gold, but they used the age-old methods; and in Europe 
the Leonardos of the time pondered means of capturing 
neighboring castles, rather than possible ways of outwit- 
ting Davy Jones. 

Nevertheless, everybody loved a good story as much as 
ever, and the tribal singers, both east and west, lacked 
neither material nor imagination. But in spite of their 
proper patriotic fervors they did not forget the old heroes 
altogether, and it is to the bards who sang and the monks 
who preserved their songs that we owe a favorite bit of 
diving lore. 

Alexander the Great has always been one of the most 
beloved of heroes and, quite naturally, a large body of 
stories sprang up about his figure, following close upon 


his death in 323 B.C. Soon his deeds were sung, with never- 
ceasing embelHshment, in every land from MongoUa to 
Britain. Finally, as the centuries wore on and on, most 
accounts came to lose almost all basis of fact, expanding 
into glowing tales of wonder and magic in secret, far-ofi 
places, such as have centered in turn around Odysseus and 
Solomon and Sinbad the Sailor, to say nothing of King 
Arthur and Roland and T. E. Lawrence. 

Most of the surviving versions are based upon the ac- 
count falsely attributed to Callisthenes, a companion of 
Alexander. This history of "Pseudo-Callisthenes" was 
Greek in origin, founded in part upon an Egyptian story, 
and was probably written in the first centurie)S after 
Christ. It was quickly translated again and again, until 
before long it became known in most of the languages 
of the near-East, such as Armenian, Syriac, Hebrew, 
Arabic, Persian, and even Ethiopian, while European forms 
appeared with equal rapidity. Each translator made omis- 
sions and additions of his own, in accordance with his re- 
ligion and nationality, so that an audience of small Ethi- 
opian choir boys in the twelfth century would have been 
introduced to an Alexander devoutly Christian! 

The Ethiopic version of Pseudo-Callisthenes has one of 
the best accounts of Alexander's supposed descent into the 
sea — an adventure which occurs in various forms in a 
number of versions, and which has, as an historic founda- 
tion, the remark, in some of the reasonably reliable sources, 
that Alexander did conduct some marine investigations 


between campaigns in the east. Only one manuscript is 
known. This was made some time following the fifth or 
sixth century, from Persian or Arabic sources. 

And here is how the dusky Semite, Theodoros, cam- 
paigning far in the interior of Africa, is intimately con- 
cerned with the history of deep-sea diving. About the 
middle of the last century this same Emperor Theodoros, 
who had just seized the crown of Abyssinia, decided to 
form a magnificent library for the proudest church in his 
capital. For some time, as he methodically rifled the mon- 
asteries of his country, he gathered together their richest 
literary treasures. People rebelled, but everything went 
moderately well until the Emperor threw into prison a 
couple of consuls and a British ambassador. When the in- 
evitable Tommies put in their appearance, Theodoros fled 
to a mountain fortress, released his prisoners and despair- 
ingly committed suicide. Next day the British stormed the 
fort, and there, tumbled ingloriously onto a heap of a 
thousand other precious documents, lay the Ethiopic 
Pseudo-Callisthenes. A rescue was effected and it was 
brought to England. 

The following passage, taken from Budge's latest 
(1933) translation, relates to the undersea activities of 
Alexander. Throughout the tale the hero is called "the 
Two-horned" because his father was popularly supposed 
to have been not Philip of Macedon, but the Egyptian 
God Amen, who numbered a pair of horns among his 
symbolic regalia. 


"And when the Two-horned arrived at the places where 
the sun rose and set, he saw the seventh heaven and the 
region where it was situated. . . . And he spake unto 
God in a prayer, saying, 'Oh my Lord and my God — praise 
and glory be unto Thee! — Oh Thou Who art betwixt 
heaven and earth. I give much thanks unto Thee, Oh my 
God, because I have seen Thy wonders in Thy earth, and 
Thy creation, and Thy country. None of the men who 
have been before me, and none of those who shall come 
after me upon the earth shall see the mountains and the 
seas, and the darkness, and the light which I have seen, and 
I have also been to the mountain which is in the depths of 
the sea, and I know it. And O, my Lord and God, I 
long to know where is the sea which surroundeth the 
whole world, and what wonders there are in it so that I 
may describe them to Thy creatures.' Then God promised 
to grant him this desire also, and to set the knowledge 
thereof in his heart. 

"Then the Two-horned ordered his troops to march, 
and they made ready to do so. And he took with him 
the ships which were necessary for them, and then he 
marched on until he came to the sea which lieth beyond 
the heavens and the earth. No ship had ever sailed over 
this sea, and no man had ever crossed it, but God brought 
him safely until he came to the sea and to the Seven 
Seas. . . . 

"Then the Two-horned went into a cage of glass which 
was covered with asses' skins, and it had a door which 


could be closed and made fast with chains and rings. And 
he took with him the food which was necessary and placed 
it inside the cage, and he took two of his friends with 
him. And he spake unto his friends, saying, 'Let this be 
understood by me and by you. If I return unto you before 
the end of one hundred nights, well and good, but if I 
do not, then go on your road without me.' Then he left 
his men behind, and God did not cast any of them away. 
At the end of seventy nights, God commanded the angel 
who had charge over the sea, saying, 'Hear and perform 
every command which the Two-horned shall give unto 
you. Take him and deliver him from all evil, and keep at 
a distance from him every evil thing, and everything 
which can terrify him in the depths of the sea.' And the 
angel went to the Two-horned in peace and gladness. 
And the Two-horned said unto him, 'Who art thou?* 
And the angel answered, 'I am he who hath charge over 
the sea and over the beasts therein, from the beginning 
even unto the end thereof.' Now behold, the cage of glass, 
in which the Two-horned was sailing, was being heavily 
battered, and the sides thereof were being smashed by the 
waves of the sea. And the angel said unto him, 'If I were 
to withdraw my care of thee for even the twinkling of 
an eye, this cage would be dashed to pieces by the waves 
of the sea; and thou thyself wouldst perish.' And the 
Two-horned was made glad by his words. And again the 
angel said unto him, 'Rejoice not until thou, and I and 
those who are with thee, go up out of this sea in safety.' 


"And again the angel said unto him, 'Dost thou wish 
me to show thee some of the wonderful things which are 
in the sea?' And the Two-horned said, *Yea, my lord and 
messenger of God.' Then the angel cried out to a monster 
in the sea, and it came up straightway and stood before 
the Two-horned. And the angel said unto the Two-horned, 
'Art thou watching this wonder?' And the monster went 
close up to where the Two-horned was standing and bit 
the glass cage. Then the Two-horned sat for two days 
watching for the appearance of its hinder parts and tail, 
but at the end of this time the monster dropped off the 
glass cage and disappeared. The angel said unto the Two- 
horned, 'Hast thou ever seen anything like unto this mon- 
ster?' And the Two-horned replied, 'Nay. The marvellous 
things of God are exceedingly wonderful.' 

"And the angel cried out to another monster, and com- 
manded it to pass very close to the Two-horned. Now the 
monster was as black as a cloud, and the Two-horned did 
not see his tail until two days and two nights were passed. 
And the angel said unto the Two-horned, 'Hast thou ever 
seen such a monster, or any that was greater than he?' And 
the Two-horned answered, 'Nay, my lord.' And the angel 
said unto him, 'Who called thee to do the work which 
thou hast done? Hath not God made thee to know that 
His marvels and wonders are very great? Or perhaps, thou 
still wishest to know His mysteries?' And the Two-horned 
said unto the angel, 'Oh my lord, inasmuch as my God 
hath given unto me whatsoever is in the dry land, and in 


the sea, and in the mountains, and in the darkness, I de- 
sire to know what works of His there are in the sea.' And 
the angel said unto him, 'That which is in the sea was not 
given unto thee.' And on the third day the angel cried 
to another monster in the sea, and said unto him, 'Pass 
thou quickly in front of the Two-horned, like a flash of 
lightning.' And the monster rushed forward and passed 
in front of him at the swiftest speed, but it was not until 
the end of three days and three nights that the hinder 
parts and tail of the monster passed in front of the Two- 

"Then the angel said unto the Two-horned, 'How many 
days is it since thou didst leave thy troops who were with 
thee in the ship?' And the Two-horned said unto him, 
'Four days, but one hundred days must be passed (before 
I need to return) .' And the Two-horned bowed his knees 
on the ground and worshipped God in the heart of the sea, 
and (he prayed) that God would lengthen his days until 
he came to the place where he wished to be. And the 
angel said unto him, 'Lift up thine head so that thou may- 
est see a wonderful thing;' and the Two-horned lifted up 
his head, and behold he was close to the men who were 
in the ship. And when they saw him they rejoiced with 
exceedingly great joy. And the Two-horned commanded 
his comrades to bring the ship to the little sea whereon 
men sail, and he embarked with his soldiers in peace and 

Sailor's yarn or no, this tale fosters a surprisingly sci- 


entific viewpoint: There is no suggestion that the hero 
was even once considered temporarily insane, and yet he 
risked his life with the sole object of watching a few un- 
hookable fish swimming about in the ocean. Decidedly 
an ultra-modern attitude. And think of the potential 
value to zoology of a devoted field-worker so enthralled 
by his observations that eighty-odd days seemed only four! 
The Greek version of the dive differs from the Ethiopic 
in most of the details. As might be expected, it lacks much 
of the Oriental flavor of grandiloquent exaggeration and 
with true European pragmatism speaks of ways and means 
and measures. According to this account, Alexander even 
had the exceedingly practical primary purpose of pearl- 
fishing. We are told that there was a small trap door in the 
bottom of the glass vessel, making it into a true diving- 
bell, through which the "Two-horned" might pluck treas- 
ures from the ocean bed. The vessel was enclosed in a 
framework of iron, and was let down by a chain two 
hundred cubits (three hundred feet) long. Alexander ar- 
ranged a signal whereby he was to be drawn up only if the 
chain vibrated. Wlien the hero reached one hundred and 
twenty cubits a large fish bumped hard against the glass, 
jarring it considerably, and the sailors accordingly hauled 
up with all their might. The same thing happened a sec- 
ond time. The third time, however, when Alexander was 
dangling at three hundred feet, and seeing "many fishes," 
a mighty fish came along, seized the vessel in its mouth 
and carried it to shore a mile away, towing along in its 

Fig. 7. This is one of the first printed designs for a diving helmet. It was to be 
made of leather, with a long air tube leading to the surface and fastened to a bladder 
float. From a wood-carving in a late edition of Vegetius's "De Re Militari," published 
in 1553. 

Fig. 8. (left) In olden days pearl divers may have carried air-filled bladders under 
the water. Fig. 9. {right) For contrast with the primitive diver, the same artist 
placed immediately beside it this "modern" diver, equipped with a completely en- 
closed leather helmet. It was designed to be used in submarine warfare! This and 
the preceding figure are from a French edition of Vegetius's "De Re Militari" which 
appeared in 1532. (Courtesy of the New York Public Library) 

Fig. 10. This apparatus, impractical though it obviously was, con- 
tained the germ of the idea upon which modern diving suits are 
based — the removal of the confined air and the substitution of 
fresh. It was designed by Borelli in the seventeenth century. 

(Courtesy of the New York Public Library) 


wake chain, boat, and faithful crew of one hundred and 
fifty men. 

Neither Ethiopians, Syrians, nor Greeks illustrated their 
stories, but colored pictures were the delight of the peoples 
farther east — Persians and Indians — as well as of the Eu- 
ropeans. The accompanying reproductions of miniatures 
undoubtedly tell the same story, as visualized by artists 
separated by thousands of miles and contrasting cultures 
(Figs. 5 and 6). In the first, from a French manuscript 
of the thirteenth century, Alexander wears the crown 
and ermine of a typical Catholic monarch, while in the 
second, an Indian work of three centuries later, our hero 
appears in the full regalia of a bearded eastern potentate. 
And both representations would doubtless have filled the 
Macedonian himself with a curious astonishment. 

Chapter 3 


WITH the coming of the Renaissance and the first 
printed books, actual designs for diving devices 
suddenly appeared, and with each century, from 
the sixteenth to the present, their numbers have increased 
in a sort of geometric progression. 

During the early part of the sixteenth century, in sev- 
eral editions of Vegetius' De Re Militari, illustrations 
were inserted of a diver equipped on the same principle 
as Aristotle's elephant and sponge diver (Figs. 7 and 
9). A tight-fitting leather helmet with eye openings of 
some material has a leather pipe leading up to the surface 
where it is supported by an air bladder. The gentleman in 
the illustration is apparently not, at the moment, on mili- 
tary business bent, although he carries a long halberd, and 
is girt about with a sword, for in his left hand he grasps a 
good-sized fish. He is shown four feet beneath the surface, 
which is about the limit of usefulness of this apparatus, 
for the water pressure on the lungs at any greater depth 
would make it extremely difficult to draw down an ade- 
quate supply of fresh air from above. 

The first European diving bell seems to be only an en- 
larged copy of Aristotle's submerged pot or vase. About 



four hundred years ago John Taisnier accompanied Charles 
V on his voyage to Africa and set down many accounts of 
things scientific — real and imaginary — concerning mathe- 
matics, magnetism, chiromancy, and judicial astrology. 
His account of the bell seems reasonable and has the ring 
of truth: 

"Were the ignorant vulgar told that one could descend 
to the bottom of the Rhine, in the midst of the water, 
without wetting one's clothes or any part of one's body, 
and even carry a lighted candle to the bottom of the water, 
they would consider it as altogether ridiculous and im- 
possible. This, however, I saw done at Toledo in Spain, in 
the year 1538, before the emperor Charles V, and almost 
ten thousand spectators. The experiment was made by two 
Greeks, who, taking a very large pot suspended by ropes 
with the mouth downwards, fixed beams and planks in 
the middle of its concavity, upon which they placed them- 
selves, together with a candle. The pot was equipoised by 
means of lead fixed round its mouth, so that when let 
down towards the water no part of its circumference 
should touch the water sooner than another, else the water 
might easily have overcome the air included in it, and 
have converted it into moist vapour." 

The inverted pot or kettle idea crops up again and 
again, as with Sir Francis Bacon late in the sixteenth cen- 
tury, when he described one with an original improve- 

"A hollow vessel, made of metal, was let down equally 


to the surface of the water, and thus carried with it to 
the bottom of the sea the whole of the air which it con- 
tained. It stood upon three feet — hke a tripod — which 
were in length something less than the height of a man, 
so that the diver, when he was no longer able to contain 
his breath, could put his head in the vessel and, having 
filled his lungs again, return to his work." 

However backward in many ways the seventeenth cen- 
tury may have been, there were a few active minds busy 
with submarine ideas and out of them all several suits, bells 
and boats emerge, worthy of mention. 

The "aquatic corselet" of which Father Schott has 
given us a figure and description represents the first real 
diving helmet of medieval Europe, and it seems actually 
to have worked (Fig. ii). Its great size puts it almost in 
the class of diving bells. It was composed of leather, in 
appearance like a huge, inverted, four-sided pail. It had 
tiny panes of glass, which, in the illustration, look like 
mosaic cathedral windows. The prospective diver ducked 
into this, fastened it by straps to his shoulders, stood up- 
right, and, if we are to believe the illustration, walked 
from shore out into deep water as if he were in the open 
air. A system of additional weights gave this aquatic corse- 
let the means of descending and ascending at will by rais- 
ing or lowering these extra weights held at the end of a 
small cord. The inventor designates only about twenty- 
five pounds for this purpose, which would be hopeless 
for submerging a leather bell with its contained air. Father 

Fig. 11. One of the first real diving helmets was this bell-like contrivance of leather and metal. 
From Gaspard Schott's Techiiica Ciniosa sive Mimbilia Artis, published in 1664. 

(Courtesy of the New York Public Library) 








Fig. 12. The designer of the bell on the left intended the divers to stand on the 
weight A, up to their waists in water, and thrust their heads into the inverted 
wooden box, LR. The windows IH were fitted with panes of glass. The great tube- 
like contrivance on the right was of iron-banded leather and was designed to supply 
air to the goat-skin-clad diver at its base. Both of these machines were described by 
Buonaiuto Lorini in his "Le Fortificationi" (1609), but there is no proof that either 
was ever used. 

(Courtesy of the New York Public Library) 


Schott naively writes, "Thanks to this apparatus, one 
can walk at the bottom of the water, see, read, write, 
carry letters and do other things of this kind. But it is 
necessary to use great care to sink the bell vertically so as 
to avoid the abnormal introduction of the water, which 
would bring about a catastrophe." 

Lorini in 1609 produced a description of machines in 
which men might remain under water. One of these was 
an amazing structure never before or afterwards at- 
tempted (Fig. 12). A great tube of rawhide leather about 
thirty feet in length is held open by many circular bands 
of iron, and with a platform of iron at the bottom. Upon 
this the diver sits encased in a water-tight suit of goatskin 
tied at waist and wrists, which is of a piece with the verti- 
cal tube. The diver's head is inside the tube and he can 
look out of two small crystal windows and can feel about 
and do what he wishes with his free hands, shouting di- 
rections up the tube and, presumably, breathing air which 
is supposed to circulate up and down the tube. A pulley 
and a rope lower and raise the whole apparatus, which, 
crazy though it appears, would seem at least clumsily 
practiced for a brief period. We cannot but admire the 
ingenuity of these inventors, who for so long worked 
without any knowledge of oxygen and rubber. 

Seventy-three years after Lorini propounded his scheme, 
another Italian, Borelli, invented a clumsy, awkward, and 
quite impractical apparatus, which, however, contained 
the germ of the idea which has made all modern diving 


possible. This was the removal of confined air and the sub- 
stitution of fresh. His illustration (Fig. lo) reminds us 
of the god Mercury gone aquatic. Although he provided 
tube and stopcock for the expulsion of old air and the 
introduction of fresh when the diver reached the surface, 
he believed that by the circulation of air in the tube 
JKL, it would return freshened and rebreathable by be- 
coming cooled from the outside water. The strange affair 
suspended from the diver's waist is an air compressor, the 
manipulation of which was supposed to cause the man to 
rise and fall through the water. There is no proof that 
any Italian ever allowed himself to be enticed into this 
elaborate apparatus. 

To return to Lorini, we find that he devised a diving 
bell, which was a square wooden box with a window 
(Fig. 12). The author's brief preamble is too delightful 
to omit: 

**The complete perfection of all works consists only in 
the facility of carrying them out, so that they bring that 
convenience and benefit to which they are dedicated. The 
proposed machines to enable one to remain under water, 
while this may seem so difficult of execution, nevertheless, 
are for that reason not a little appreciated for the needs 
that may occur either in the recovery of artillery from 
the sea, as well as for whatsoever other things that might 
be aboard ship, or other vessels submerged, and also for 
fastening these vessels with hempen ropes to raise them 


up, and otherwise for convenience and usefulness in coral- 

The diver stands upon the stone base A, with the upper 
part of his body in the air-filled box CLR, looking out of 
the crystal IH. There seems no way to renew the air. 

The first romance of diving as narrated by Whymper, 
tells how William Phipps, one of the early English divers, 
founded the noble house of Mulgrave. "He was the son 
of a blacksmith, and in 1663 devised a plan for recover- 
ing the treasures on board a Spanish ship which had sunk 
oflF the coasts of Hispaniola. Charles II lent him a ship 
and all that he required; but the project was a failure, 
and Phipps sank into almost abject poverty. But he was 
a man of great energy, and a little later managed to inter- 
est the Duke of Albemarle and others, who subscribed for 
a second attempt. In 1667, Phipps embarked on a vessel 
of two hundred tons burthen, having undertaken to di- 
vide the profits between the twenty shareholders who 
represented the associated capital, in proportion to their 
subscriptions. At first he was unsuccessful, but just as he 
was on the point of despair, found his gold mine. The 
fortunate diver returned to England with £200,000; a 
tenth of which fell to his share and £90,000 to the Duke 
of Albemarle, while the rest was divided among the minor 
subscribers. Phipps was knighted." 

Another attempt to use diving bells, with less success, 
was in England a year or two after Phipps's adventure. In 
1588 when the English gained their great victory over 


the Spanish Armada, many of the ships sank in compara- 
tively shallow water near the Isle of Mull off the west coast 
of Scotland. The Spanish castaways told of great treasure 
contained in some of these wrecks, and this caused more 
than one attempt to be made to salvage this fortune. In 
1665 someone was lucky enough to bring up some old 
cannon, but no more valuable booty. But the diving bells 
were becoming more and more efficient. 

Seventeenth century inventors were not satisfied with 
helmets and bells, but turned their minds to more elaborate 
structures, even submarine boats. These, however, were 
rather pitiful emanations of the brains of those days. As 
an example we might take the Rotterdam Ship (Fig. 16) 
which was built sometime before 16^4, and was of goodly 
size, being seventy-two feet long by twelve high. As can 
be seen from the illustration it had two extended ends, in- 
tended as rams for enemy ships. Its inventor called it Ful- 
fnen Maris — the Thunder-bolt of the Sea — and he proph- 
esied that it could demolish one hundred ships in a day 
and could reach the East Indies in six weeks. It had an 
efficient-looking but hopeless rudder, and a paddle wheel 
turned by hand which could not have worked. It was a 
success only as a curiosity, and the inventor derived ad- 
vantage by exhibiting it — for a consideration — "as though 
it were a bearded lady or a two-headed calf." 

It is not easy to believe the statement that a submarine 
vessel, made by the Belgian, Cornelius Drebel, in 1620, 
was tried out in the Thames by order of James I, and car- 


ried a dozen rowers besides passengers, being rowed along 
under water — or, more reasonably, on a level with the 
surface of the water. It may be, however, that in the 
course of this experiment, some alkali was used which 
absorbed the poisonous carbon dioxide in the breathed air. 
It was stated that "Drebel conceived that it is not the 
whole body of the air but a certain spirituous part of it 
that fits it for respiration, so that besides the mechanical 
contrivances of his boat he had a chemical liquor, the 
fumes of which, when the vessel containing it was un- 
stopped, would speedily restore to the air, fould by the 
respiration, such a portion of vital parts as would make 
it again fit for that office." 

John Wilkins, Bishop of Chester, was a most remarkable 
man, and while he made no diving inventions, and as far 
as we know, never even waded in the water, yet a few 
paragraphs from his writings are pertinent to our theme, 
and full of the charm of the man's personality. He was 
Cromwell's brother-in-law and yet was persona grata to 
both Charles I and Charles II, and was a power in the 
formation of the Royal Society. He wrote on a score of 
subjects and illumined all by his brilliant mind. 

He had heard of or seen Drebel's submarine boat and 
opined that "how to improve it unto publicke use and 
advantage, so as to be serviceable for remote voyages, the 
carrying of any considerable number of men with pro- 
visions and commodities, would be of such excellent use 
as may deserve some further inquiry." He divided his 


cogitations into DiflSculties and Remedies, and Great Con- 

The difficulties are generally reducible to these three 

"i. The letting out, or receiving in any thing, as there 
shall be occasion, without the admission of water. If it 
have not such a convenience, these kind of voyages must 
needs be very dangerous and uncomfortable, both by rea- 
son of many noisom offensive things, which should be 
thrust out, and many other needful things, which should 
be received in. Now herein will consist the difficulty, how 
to contrive the opening of this Vessel so, that any thing 
may be put in or out, and yet the water not rush into 
it with much violence as it doth usually in the leak of a 

"In which case this may be a proper remedy; let there 
be certain leather bags made of several bignesses, which 
for the smaller of them should be both tractable for the 
use and managing of them, and strong to keep out the 
water; for the figure of them, being long and open at 
both ends. Answerable to these, let there be divers win- 
dows, or open places in the frame of the ship, round the 
sides of which one end of these bags may be fixed, the 
other end coming within the ship being to open and shut 
as a purse. Now if we suppose this bag thus fastened, to 
be tyed close about towards the window, then anything 
that is to be sent out, may be safely put into that end 
within the ship, which being again close shut, and the 


Other end loosened, the thing may be safely sent out with- 
out the admission of any water. 

"So again, when anything is to be taken in, it must be 
first received into that part of the bag towards the win- 
dow, which being (after the thing is within it) close tyed 
about; the other end may then be safely opened. It is 
easee to conceive, how by this means any thing or person 
may be sent out, or received in, as there shall be occasion; 
how the water, which will perhaps by degrees leak into 
several parts, may be emptied out again, with divers the 
like advantages. Though if there should be any leak at 
the bottom of the Vessel, yet very little water could get 
in, because no air could get out. 

"2. The second difficulty in such an Ark will be the 
motion or fixing of it according to occasion; The direct- 
ing of it to several places, as the voyage shall be designed, 
without which it would be very useless, if it were to re- 
main only in one place, or were to remove only blindfold 
without any certain direction; And the contrivance of 
this may seem very difficult, because those submarine 
Navigators will want the visual advantages of winds and 
tides for motion, and the sight of the heavens for direc- 

"But these difficulties may be thus remedied; As for 
the progressive motion of it, this may be effected by the 
help of several Oars, which in the outward ends of them, 
shall be like the fins of a fish to contract and dilate. The 
passage where they are admitted into the ship being tyed 


about with such Leather bags fas were mentioned beforej 
to keep out the water. It will not be convenient perhaps 
that the motion in these voyages should be very swift, be- 
cause of those observations and discoveries to be made 
at the bottom of the sea, which in a little space may 
abundantly recompense the slowness of its progress. 

"If this Ark be so ballast as to be of equal weight with 
the like magnitude of water, it will then be easily movable 
in any part of it. 

"As for the ascent of it, this may be easily contrived, 
if there be some great weight at the bottom of the ship 
(being part of its ballast) which by some cord within may 
be loosened from it; As this weight is let lower, so will 
the ship ascend from it (if need be) to the very surface 
of the water; and again, as it is pulled close to the ship, 
so will it descend. 

"For direction of this Ark, the Mariners needle may be 
useful in respect of the latitude of places; and the course 
of this ship being more regular than others, by reason it 
is not subject to Tempests or unequal winds, may more 
certainly guide them in judging of the longitude of places. 

"3. But the great difficulty of all will be this, how the 
air may be supplied for respiration: How constant fires 
may be kept in it for light and the dressing of food; how 
those vicissitudes of rarefaction and condensation may be 

"It is observed, that a barrel or cap, whose cavity will 
contain eight cubical feet of air, will not serve a Diver 


for respiration above one quarter of an hour; the breath 
which is often sucked in and out, being so corrupted by 
the mixture of vapours, that Nature rejects it as unserv- 
iceable. Now in an hour a man will need at least 360 
respirations, betwixt every one of which there shall be 
10 second minutes, and consequently a great change and 
supply of air will be necessary for many persons, and any 
long space. 

"And so likewise for the keeping of fire; a close Vessel 
containing ten cubical feet of air, will not suffer a wax 
candle of an ounce to burn in it above an hour before it 
be suffocated, though this proportion (saith Mersennus) 
doth not equally increase for several lights, because four 
flames of an equal magnitude will be kept alive the space 
of 16 second minutes, though one of these flames alone 
in the same Vessel will not last above 25, or at most 30 
seconds, which may be easily tried in large glass bottles, 
having wax candles lighted in them and with their mouth 
inverted in water. 

"For the resolution of this difficulty, though I will not 
say that a man may by custome (which in other things 
doth produce such strange incredible effects) be inabled 
to live in the open water as the fishes do, the inspiration 
and expiration of water serving instead of air, this being 
usual with many fishes that have lungs; yet it is certain 
that long use and custome may strengthen men against 
many such inconveniences of this kind, which, to unex- 
perienced persons may prove very hazardous: and so it 


will not perhaps be unto these so necessary, to have the air 
for breathing so pure and defecated as is required for 

"But further, there are in this case these three things 

"i. That the Vessel it self should be of a large capacity, 
that as the air in it is corrupted in one part, so it may be 
purified and renewed in the other: or if the meer refriger- 
ation of the air would fit it for breathing, this might be 
somewhat helped with bellows, which would cool it by 

"2. It is not altogether improbable, that the lamps or 
fires in the middle of it, like the reflected beams in the 
first Region, Rarefying the air, and the circumambient 
coldness towards the sides of the Vessel, like the second 
Region, cooling and condensing of it, would make such a 
vicissitude and change of air, as might fit it for all its 
proper uses. 

"3. Or if neither of these conjectures will help, yet 
Mersennus tells us in another place, that there is in France 
one Barricus a Diver, who hath lately found out another 
art, whereby a man might easily continue under water 
for six hours together; and whereas ten cubical feet of 
air will not serve another Diver to breathe in, for half an 
hour, he by the help of a cavity, not above one or two 
foot at most, will have breath enough for six hours, and 
a lanthorn scarce above the usual size to keep a candle 
burning as long as a man please, which (if it be true, and 

Fig. 13. {top left) This unquestionably successful diving bell was devised by 
Halley, the physicist and astronomer, early in the eighteenth century. Air was 
sent from the surface by an alternating succession of barrels, each of which in 
turn was connected with the bell by a leathern hose. In addition, a single diver 
could work out on the open sea bottom by wearing the leather helmet, which was 
tethered to the bell by a second air hose. The bell itself held five people and was 
used to a depth of fifty or sixty feet. Fig. 14. (top right) In the eighteenth century 
John Lethbridge said that he used this papoose-like affair with great success. He 
declares that he often worked in sixty feet of water, coming frequently to the 
surface for a fresh supply of air. This was introduced with a pair of bellows 
through a stop-cock. Fig. 15. (bottom) Early in the nineteenth century Kleingert 
invented the forerunners of modern diving suits. The first design is scarcely more 
than a helmet furnished with tubes for both fresh and foul air. The fresh air was 
introduced, for the first time, by a pump at the surface. The second suit leaves only 
the arms and legs free, and carries a compressed air machine. 

(Courtesy of the New York Public Library) 


1^ XXX . 

J- •s-^ 

_^i£jiii — ;-;_ 

j^ ' "* i — "* 

Fig. 16. (upper) The "Rotterdam Ship" was one of the earliest submarines ever de- 
signed; but, although the inventor planned in elaborate detail for its locomotion when 
under the sea, he never once succeeded in submerging it. Fig. 17. (longer) The sinking and 
rising of this submarine were to be accomplished by filling and emptying rows of goat-skin 
bags, which had their mouths applied to holes in the floor of the vessel. It was one of the 
many ingenious but quite impractical designs which were suggested during the eighteenth 
century. (Courtesy of the New York Public Library) 


were commonly known) might be a sufficient help against 
this greatest difficulty. 

"As for the many advantages and conveniences of such 
a contrivance, it is not easie to recite them. 

"i. 'Tis private; a man may thus go to any coast of 
the world invisibly, without being discovered or prevented 
in his journey. 

"2. 'Tis safe; from the uncertainty of Tides, and the 
violence of Tempests, which doe never move the sea about 
five or six paces deep; From Pirates and Robbers which 
do so infest other voyages; From ice and great frosts which 
doe so much endanger the passages towards the Poles. 

"3. It may be of very great advantage against a Navy 
of enemies, who by this means may be undermined in the 
water and blown up. 

"4. It may be of a special use for the relief of any place 
that is besieged by water, to convey unto them invisible 
supplies; and so likewise for the surprisal of any place that 
is accessible by water. 

"5. It may be of unspeakable benefit for submarine ex^ 
periments and discoveries: as, 

"The several proportions of swiftnesse betwixt the 
ascent of a bladder, cork, or any other light substance in 
comparison to the descent of stones or lead. The deep 
caverns and subterraneous passages where the sea-water in 
the course of its circulation doth vent it self into other 
places and the like. The nature and kinds of fishes, the 
severall arts of catching them, by alluring them with 


lights, by placing divers nets about the sides of this Vessell, 
shooting the greater sort of them with guns, which may 
be put out of the ship by the help of such bags as were 
mentioned before, with divers the like artifices and treach- 
eries, which may be more successively practised by such 
who live so familiarly together. These fish may serve not 
only for food, but for fewell likwise, in respect of that 
oyl which may be extracted from them; the way of dress- 
ing meat by lamps, being in many respects the most con- 
venient for such a voyage. 

"The many fresh springs that may probably be met 
with in the bottom of the sea, will serve for the supply of 
drink and other occasions. 

"But above all, the discovery of submarine treasures is 
more especially considerable, not only in regard of what 
hath been drowned by wrecks, but the several precious 
things that grow there, as Pearl, Coral Mines, with in- 
numerable other things of great value, which may be 
much more easily found out, and fetcht up by the help 
of this, than by any other usual way of the Divers. 

"To which purpose, this great Vessel may have some 
lesser Cabins tyed about it, at various distances, wherein 
several persons, as Scouts, may be lodged for the taking of 
observations, according as the Admiral shall direct them. 
Some of them being frequently sent up to the surface 
of the water, as there shall be occasion. 

"All kinds of arts and manufactures may be exercised 
in this Vessell. The observations made by it, may be both 


written, and (if need were) printed here likewise. Severall 
Colonies may thus inhabit, having their children born 
and bred up without the knowledg of land, who could 
not chuse but be amazed with strange conceits upon the 
discovery of this upper world." 

While we may smile at his optimistic view of future 
submarine life, yet his ideas contained a number of to- 
be-fulfilled prophecies, such as the blowing up of enemy 
navies, and my heart warms especially to him because he 
was the first to suggest the possibility of studying the 
"nature and kinds of fishes." 

In the eighteenth century we find many accounts of 
suits and bells, some of them working amazingly well. 
Halley in 171 6 combined the two, bringing the bell part 
especially to a high degree of efficiency, considering the 
total lack of knowledge of rubber and of air-compressing 
pumps. His bell (Fig. 13) was large, built tightly of wood, 
with a large window at the upper end and a cock to let 
out the foul air on occasion. Fresh air was constantly sup- 
plied by two barrels, which descended alternately, filled 
with air which was liberated inside the bell. The communi- 
cation pipe between barrel and bell was "a Leathern Hose, 
well liquored with Bees-Wax and Oyl. ... So soon as 
the Air of the one Barrel had been received, upon a signal 
given, That was drawn up, and at the same time the Other 
descended, and by an alternate Succession furnished Air 
so quick, and in so great Plenty, that I myself have been 
One of Five who have been together at the Bottom, in 


nine or ten Fathoms Water, for above an Hour and half 
at a time, without any sort of ill consequence. Besides, the 
whole Cavity of the Bell was kept entirely free from 
Water, so that I sat on a Bench, wholly drest with all my 
Cloaths on. Being arrived at the Depth designed, I then 
let out as much of the hot Air that had been Breathed, 
as each Barrel would replenish with Cool, by means of 
the Cock at the Top of the Bell, through whose Aperture, 
though very small, the Air would rush with so much vio- 
lence, as to make the Surface of the Sea boyle, and to cover 
it with a white Foam, notwithstanding the great weight 
of Water over us. . . . 

**I could, for a space as wide as the Circuit of the Bell, 
lay the Bottom of the Sea so far Dry, as not to be over- 
shoes thereon. And by the Glass Window, so much Light 
was transmitted, that, when the Sea was clear, and espe- 
cially when the Sun shone, I could see perfectly well to 
Write or Read, much more to fasten or lay hold on any 
thing under us, that was to be taken up. And by the re- 
turn of the Air Barrels, I often sent up Orders, written 
with an Iron Pen on small Plates of Lead, directing how 
to move from Place to Place as occasion required. At other 
times when the Water was troubled and thick, it would 
be dark as Night below; but in such Case, I have been 
able to keep a Candle burning in the Bell as long as I 
pleas'd, notwithstanding the great expence of Air re- 
quired to maintain Flame. This I take to be an Invention 


applicable to various Uses; such as Fishing for Pearl, Div- 
ing for Coral, Spunges and the like." 

Halley later devised a diving cap to which was attached 
a long, flexible leathern hose (Fig. 13) , permitting a diver 
to climb down and out from the air-filled bell, and to 
walk about and work within the radius of his air-filled 

Later in the same century forcing-pumps were used for 
the first time in connection with diving bells. 

Aroused to righteous wrath when someone claimed his 
invention, one John Lethbridge of Newton Abbot, 
Devon, contributed a detailed account of his experiments 
to the September, 1749, number of Gentleman's Magazine, 
Passing over the restrained controversy, we come to some 
very interesting experiments: 

"Necessity is the parent of invention, and being, in the 
year 171 5, quite reduc'd, and having a large family, my 
thoughts turned upon some extraordinary method, to re- 
trieve my misfortunes; and was prepossessed that it might 
be practicable to contrive a machine to recover wrecks 
lost in the sea; and the first step, I took towards it, was 
going into a hogshead, on land, bung'd up tight, where I 
stayed half an hour without communication of air; then 
I made a trench, near a well, at the bottom of my orchard, 
in this place, in order to convey a sufficient quantity of 
water to cover the hogshead; and then tried how long I 
could live under water, without air-pipes or communi- 
cation of air; and found I could stay longer under water 


than upon land. This experiment being tried, I then began 
to think of making my engine, which was soon made, by 
a cooper, in Stanhope Street, London, of which you have 
the following description (Fig. 14). It is made of 
wainscot, perfectly round, about six feet in length, about 
two feet and a half diameter at the head and about eighteen 
inches diameter at the foot, and contains about 30 gal- 
lons; it is hoop'd with iron hoops without and within, to 
guard against pressure; there are two holes for the arms; 
and a glass about four inches diameter, and an inch and 
a quarter thick, to look thro', which is fixed in the bot- 
tom part, so as to be in a direct line with the eye; two 
air-holes, upon the upper part, into one of which air is 
conveyed by a pair of bellows, both of which are stopt 
with plugs, immediately before going down to the bot- 
tom. At the foot part there's a hole to let out water some- 
times; there's a large rope, fix'd to the back or upper part, 
by which it's let down; and there's a little line, called a 
signal line, by which the people above are directed what 
to do, and under is fix'd a piece of timber, as a guard for 
the glass. I go in with my feet foreward, and when my 
arms are got thru' the holes, then the head is put on, 
which is fastened with scrues. It requires 500 weight to 
sink it, and take but 1 5 pound weight from it, and it will 
buoy up on the surface of the water. I lie straight on 
my breast, all the time I am in the engine, which hath 
many times been more than 6 hours, being, frequently, 
refreshed upon the surface, by a pair of bellows. I can 













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move it about 12 foot square at the bottom where I have 
stayed, many times 34 minutes, I have been 10 fathom 
deep many a hundred times, and have been 12 fathoms, 
but with great difficulty. With this engine I dived 3 years." 

Kleingert's two apparatus bring, in 1798, helmets and 
suits to within reasonable distance of those in modern use. 
His helmet, reaching to the hips, might better be called 
armor, giving the wearer the appearance of Teniel's 
Humpty Dumpty (Fig. 15). It was of tin, attached to 
a pair of leather half sleeves, and to the jacket below. Two 
flexible pipes permitted the ingress and outlet of air, and 
a few years later, a bellows attached to the surface end of 
the latter made the whole essentially like the diving helmet 
which I have used for years. 

The second adaptation of this diving outfit (Fig. 15) 
was to stand the diver on a platform of a diving bell, in 
which a piston was packed in automatically by the in- 
creasing pressure of the water outside, thus compressing 
the air and sending it to the diver under corresponding 

There remains another submarine boat to be mentioned, 
that described in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1747, in 
which — in the mind of the inventor — the difficult ques- 
tion of rising and sinking in the water was solved by a 
whole series of goat-skins filled with water and each con- 
nected with the outer water by a small aperture. When 
the operator, who in the illustration seems unaccountably 
devoid of clothing, wished to ascend, he merely operated 


a "twisting rod," and squeezed the water out of the cor- 
rect number of goat-skins, when the vessel would obe- 
diently rise at once through the water (Fi^. 17). 

Robert Fulton, the inventor of the steamboat, also 
seems to have devised a submarine which, if his biographers 
are to be believed, was astonishingly successful when tried 
in the sea near Brest in 1801. 

"A noted English smuggler, one Johnson," so Whymper 
tells us, "was next in the field, and he constructed a large 
vessel, one hundred feet long, which could descend below 
the surface of the sea. Her spars and rigging could be 
lowered and made fast to the deck. It was built with a 
very special object, being none other than to rescue 
Napoleon from the island of St. Helena! His idea was to 
make the land at nightfall, sink below the surface, and 
approach sufficiently near to enable him to land one of the 
conspirators, who should arrange with the illustrious cap- 
tive the best mode of evading the vigilance of the guards. 
^Johnson was promised a fabulous sum if success should 
crown his efforts; and he was to receive four thousand 
pounds directly his vessel was ready for sea. Too late!' 
The report of Napoleon's death was received on the day 
that the rescue-ship was coppered." 

In the New York Daily Times for as late a date as 
August 24, 1854, we find an amusingly naive editorial. 
In speaking of recently developed underwater suits of 
leather and rubber and carrying with them a box of con- 
densed air, the writer says: "The condensed air they are 


forced to breathe, furnishes them a greater quantity of 
oxygen in a given time, and increases their strength very 
much for the time being. A diver, at a depth of ninety 
feet under water, at Portsmouth, England, was known to 
bend nearly double an iron crowbar in his work, which 
resisted the strength of four men at the surface. 

"At the same place, and in water nearly one hundred 
feet in depth, two divers got quarreling in their work, 
and finally came to blows — one of them, under the in- 
fluence of his increased supply of oxygen, and his rage, 
gave the other so severe blows with his fist on his metallic 
helmet, that he drove it in, and the man was drawn up 

As a contrast to this fantasy we read of the first record 
of diving helmets used for scientific observations. 

"In the summer of 1844, the Academy of Sciences of 
France furnished Prof. Milne Edwards, one of its mem- 
bers, with a diving apparatus for the purpose of study- 
ing the natural history of the shores of Sicily. This con- 
sisted of a metallic helmet or reservoir, communicating 
above with a flexible tube, through which air could be 
forced. Covered with this casque, the lower part of which 
was adapted to a cushion placed around the neck, and 
wearing sandals of lead as a counterpoise to the air carried 
down, the learned Professor descended into the sea. The 
air pumped in from above escaped around the neck. Thus 
protected he examined very closely, in the clear water, 
through the glass eyes of the helmet, the cavities and fis- 


sures of the rocks, for mollusks, sea-worms, zoophytes, 
and other marine animals, and frequently remained walk- 
ing about on the bottom for more than half an hour." 

Diving helmets and diving suits, as we have seen, were 
used for moderate depths in former days, but any account 
of the evolution of suits or cylinders or closed bells in- 
tended for penetration into the real depths of the sea 
would be merely the detailing of intricate designs and 
patents of instruments of every conceivable form, ninety- 
nine per cent of which have never been made or at the 
most more than wetted in a tank and none of which have 
been tried out for more than a few hundred feet. 

Windows seemed to be the greatest difficulty. Some in- 
ventors naYvely omitted them altogether, the satisfaction 
of the diver, in reaching a great depth being, in his closed 
cell, wholly cerebral. A Mr. Joyce in 1893, lacking faith 
in being liberated by his friends, devised an inner screw 
so that the imprisoned observer could liberate himself, pre- 
sumably when he again reached the surface. 

In 1902 an appropriately named experimenter, I. H. 
Hazard, proposed a deep-sea chamber of spherical form — 
"to be made of a transparent material." He does not make 
a point of glass and in this I think he was, in a way, wise. 

All races contribute to the fascinating problem. There 
is Yoshio Matsumara, who mentions his loyalty to the 
Emperor and gives his address in full. It is at Hori Kiri, 
Miami-Karendikar-Gun, near Tokio, and there he schemed 
out a veritable steel dwelling house with several rooms for 

Fig. 20. The Evolution of Human Diving. The left column shows the 
various attempts at drawing air down from above to the diver, from the ele- 
phant's trunk to the modern helmet and hose. The right column illustrates the 
gradual attainment of success in actually conveying a supply of air beneath the 
surface. The water beetle does this, and points the way, from the inverted vase 
of Aristode to the self-contained bathysphere. 


different purposes. How he was to take this structure to 
a mile depth in the sea he does not mention. 

The hst grows and each inventor adds a novelty or 
speaks of unknown former proposals with utmost enthu- 
siasm — Petit, Merlo, Deeman, Hopkins, Ceretti, Russell — 
we cannot give them all. But we must notice among them 
Houdini who patented a housing "which can be got into 
or out of in any position or in any situation." Intrepid, 
delightful Houdini! The worst scheme was proposed by 
Mr. Freeze, who suggested several concentric cylinders, 
one of which he keeps rotating. The reason for this was Mr. 
Freeze's secret and that he was serious is shown by his pro- 
vision of a gyrostat to maintain stability. 

Our review may well end here, for while a host of 
modern inventors have contributed a bewildering maze of 
patented gadgets yet no single engine or suit was signally 
successful beyond all others. 

When the bathysphere was finally developed, the key 
to successful operation was found to be sheer simplicity. 

Given the knowledge of steel and the fusing of quartz, 
of the use of oxygen and rubber, and the achievement 
was not difficult. The window to a wholly new world was 
opened at last to human eyes. 

Chapter 4 


WHEN first I ever put on a diving helmet and 
climbed down the submerged ladder, then I 
knew that I had added thousands upon thou- 
sands of wonderful miles to my possible joy of earthly life: 
let me escape from dry-land etymology and say instead — 
the joys of planetary life; for personal exploration under 
the ocean is really unearthly; we are penetrating into a 
new world. 

After we have dived hundreds of times we learn to 
discount the fears upon which we have been nurtured 
since childhood. And when the needless terrors of being 
water-inclosed, of the imputed malignity of octopi, sharks, 
and barracudas have ceased to trouble our supreme delight 
in the strangeness and unbelievable beauties of this newly 
conquered realm, then we begin to appreciate the real 
significance of our achievement. 

To enter into and to enjoy this new phase of life re- 
quires no practice or rehearsal, no special skill or elaborate 
preparation. If one dives and returns to the surface in- 
articulate with amazement and with a deep realization of 
the marvel of what he has seen and where he has been, 

then he deserves to go again and again. If he is unmoved 



or disappointed, then there remains for him on earth only 
a longer or shorter period of waiting for death; there can 
be little worth while left in life for him. 

Ten years of diving on New York Zoological Society 
expeditions have taught me all the primal necessities. The 
only requirements are a bathing suit and a pair of rubber- 
soled sneakers, a copper helmet with glass set in front, 
an ordinary rubber hose, and a small hand pump. A fold- 
ing metal ladder is excellent, but a rope is quite sufficient. 
Down you go into two, four, six, eight fathoms, swallow- 
ing as you descend to offset the increase of pressure. If 
your ears pain severely a few feet below the surface, ascend 
at once and go to the nearest aurist, for something is 
wrong and should be attended to, whether you ever dive 
again or not. 

Forty feet is a good limit to set, and indeed the most 
brilliant and exciting forms of shore and reef life will be 
found in shallower depths. There is no danger of falling. 
If you stumble over the edge of a submerged cliff or lofty 
terrace, you simply half drift, half float gently to the 
bottom. But when you stand on the edge of a deep chasm, 
and are already eight or ten fathoms down, don't let any 
alluring shell or coral lure you much deeper. Ears cannot 
withstand too great pressure. 

After you have made a dozen descents you will wish 
to do something more than stand amazed, or vainly try 
to catch the fish which swim close to the glass and look 
in at you. 


As we have done, you can begin to devise all sorts of 
new apparatus. You wish to make notes, so get sheet zinc 
or pads of waterproof paper, find a comfortable block of 
coral and write as easily as if you were sitting in the boat. 
Be sure to tie your pencil tightly around, for otherwise 
the wood will separate and float to the surface, while the 
core of lead sinks to the bottom, to be nibbled at excitedly 
by small fry. 

Motion pictures can be taken, down to twenty or 
twenty-five feet, by placing the camera in a tight brass 
box with a bit of glass in front. If you wish to paint, 
weight your easel with lead, waterproof your canvas or 
skin, and sit down with your palette of oils. You will 
have to brush away small fish from time to time, for 
some of the paints give forth an alluring odor and your 
palette will sometimes be covered with a hungry school of 

If you take your seat In the midst of a coral reef you 
may be attacked — not by giant octopi or barracudas or 
sharks — don't give them a thought — but you may feel a 
faint nip or a push at your elbow and there is a little fish — 
a demoiselle shorter than your thumb, all azure and gold, 
furiously butting at you. Her home is near by and in its 
defense she fears nothing which swims, crawls, or dives. 
Soon she will accept you as a harmless new kind of sea 
creature, and off she goes to drive away an approaching 
snapper or surgeonfish. 

If your tastes incline to sport, invent submarine sling- 


shots and crossbows and shoot what particular fish you 
wish with barbed arrows of brass wire. I now use dynamite 
caps on the end of a weighted fishpole, but sUng-shots and 
stabbing grains are safer for the beginner. 

If you wish to make a garden, choose some beautiful 
slope or reef grotto and with a hatchet chop and pry off 
coral boulders with waving purple sea-plumes and golden 
sea-fans and great parti-colored anemones. Wedge these 
into crevices, and in a few days you will have a sunken 
garden in a new and miraculous sense. As birds collect 
about the luxuriant growths of a garden in the upper air, 
so hosts of fish will follow your labors, great crabs and 
starfish will creep thither, and now and then fairy jelly- 
fish will throb past, superior in beauty to anything in 
the upper world, more delicate and graceful than any 

Our grandmothers lined their garden paths with conch 
shells, but under-sea it is more difficult to do this, for the 
giant snails will insist on walking away as soon as you 
have planted them. But other exquisite shells can be scat- 
tered about, and the easiest and quickest way to discover 
these is to search until you have found the hiding place 
of an octopus, and here you will be certain to find a col- 
lection of empty shells of all kinds. The octopus is an 
adept at searching out toothsome mollusks, and he then 
carries them to his lair and devours the inmates at his 
leisure. The shells, quite perfect, are then thrown outside 
into his kitchen-midden. 


Finally, as a border to your marine plantation, collect 
a score of small, rounded brain corals all thickly covered 
with tube worms. When you lay them in place, they will 
be of a drab, dirty white. It is their momentary winter, 
but wait patiently and in five minutes you can see spring 
approach, and a host of pastel buds appear; and in an- 
other five minutes full summer arrives and your ivory 
mounds are ablaze with scarlet, mauve, blue, yellow, and 
green animal blossoms. All are in motion, though there 
is no current, and we feel that there would be nothing 
remarkable in their suddenly saying, like Alice's Tiger-lily, 
"We can talk, when there's anybody worth talking to." 

The wise diver will refrain from written descriptions 
of his experiences. What I have published of under-sea- 
scapes has aroused commendation on the part of fireside 
and dry land readers. The moment, however, one of them 
puts on a helmet and goes to see for himself, thereafter, 
all words and phrases, similes, and superlatives will be- 
come for him hopelessly inadequate. Just as the colors 
under-sea are nameless in the gamut of terrestrial hues, 
so our language becomes thin and vague when we try to 
fashion from it adequate submarine imagery. Even the 
commonest fishes and other organisms of our shallows 
are like different creatures when viewed from their own 
element and their own level, instead of from a man's ver- 
tical height above water: our human friends as we see 
them from a second story window are strangely unlike 
them face to face! 


The Kingdom of the Helmet is not only a new experi- 
ence for us, but the place in past eons of time of fiercest 
competition, and most spectacular evolution. It is a rib- 
bon of a kingdom, of negligible depth — from six to sixty 
feet, and narrow in width — from a few inches to two 
miles. Its length is amazing — perhaps one hundred and 
fifty thousand miles of winding, submarine paths, rim- 
ming the rocks and cliffs of temperate fiords and bays; all 
along the palm-lined shores of southern continents, and 
the innumerable circles and rings of tropic isles and atolls. 
Perhaps the most interesting and exciting places are the 
reefs and shallows far from shore, like those of Bermuda 
which I have named Almost Island, where one can go 
overboard and to the bottom surrounded on all sides by 
depths forbidden to present ambulatory exploration.^ 

When the summer's sun has warmed our northern 
waters, let us climb down the ladder off some rocky coast, 
say of Maine or Massachusetts. At once we begin to realize 
our new-found superiority: Yesterday we crept painfully 
over legions of barnacles and peered ineffectually into 
outer depths. Now we pass quickly beyond the barnacle 
zone below lowest tide-mark, where things have been wet 
since creation. A little farther down and the last of the 
steel-blue mussels passes from view, and then we perceive 
the great clinging roots of the giant seaweeds, with their 
leathery fronds stretching up and up to the surface. Green 
urchins give place to other larger species, and two or three 

^ "Nonsuch: Land of Water," p. 33. 


fathoms down we enter the home of the beautiful basket 
starfish, hinting of the crinoids which have now almost 
vanished from the earth. 

We take our seat upon a mat of seaweed and watch 
the life of mid-water. Shrimps come in great numbers, 
drifting past like ghosts of living beings; the first squid 
seen, head on, will never be forgotten, nor will a galaxy of 
ctenophore jellyfish when the sunlight sets their cilia 
ablaze. Whelks and small, curious crabs clamber upon our 
canvas shoes, and suddenly a thousand comets dash past — 
a school of herrings in search of spawning grounds. Only 
an impatient jerk on the hose will remind us that we have 
long overstayed our allotted time. 

At the first dive in the tropics, say in the West Indies, 
we are impressed by the great increase in amount of life 
and the unbelievable brilliancy of color. Off New York 
we perhaps picked up a tiny crumb-of -bread sponge and 
on a clam shell found a bubble of coral the size of a marble. 
Here, in the midst of a tropical reef, corals form boulders 
six and eight feet across, or branched arborescent growths 
into which we can climb. Anemones and fish are rainbow- 
tinted — harlequin angelfish and large-eyed scarlet squirrels. 
Horny corals send up unearthly purple branches like noth- 
ing conceivable above water, and the joy of it all is that 
everything that moves has little or no fear of us. We are 
made to feel at home — returning natives, not intruding 

When many dives have been made at one place, so that 

Fig. 22. {upper) A seascape, as caught by a motion picture camera. 
Fig. 23. {lower) A world where rocks are aUve, and plants are animals, 

Fig. 24. The shrubs and bushes under sea are 
horny corals. 

Fig. 26. Long-Iejjged arrow crabs creep about, instead o£ the spiders of the dry land. 


the seascape has become famiHar, and individual fish are 
known on sight and can be claimed as friends, then is the 
time to come out late some starlit evening, and go down 
in the dark. Choose a night when there is strong phosphor- 
escence, and climb down the ladder very slowly. When 
your eyes pass just below the level of the water the illu- 
mination of the ripples is beyond any mere man-made fire. 
At first, as we stand on the bottom we seem to be in utter 
darkness, with only a dull glow coming down from above. 
A glance upward shows the keel of the boat turned to 
molten silver, and now our eyes have become readapted 
and our individual cosmos begins to be filled with galaxies 
and constellations, meteors and comets of blue and white 
light. These in turn are resolved by our intelligence into 
definite organisms. Some of them, such as jellyfish and 
sea-worms, have lights of their own, but most of these 
shallow water forms are illuminated by proxy. Every move 
they make evokes brilliance from the minute Noctiluca 
and other microscopic creatures. Now and then the pas- 
sage of some great fish lights up all the surrounding reef 
with its caves and waving fronds, and memory, from our 
diurnal dives, supplies a host of details. Again language 
fails us utterly; we can only stand and look and feel and 
later remember enough of the marvel of it all to wish to 
experience it again as soon as possible. 

Swinging to the Pacific and to the north, off the shore 
of Japan, I have found less of intensity of tropical color 
but more delicate tones, and we realize that many a Nip- 


ponese artist of olden time must often have peered down 
through the clear waters to have been able to transfer so 
much of the feeling of under-sea to his screen or kaka- 
mono. The sparsity and graceful curves of seaweed fronds 
or plumes recall the exquisite flower arrangement of the 
Japanese, and if we come across one of the big sponge 
crabs our sustained simile reaches its climax. On the back 
of the crab is a perfect mask of the devU dancers — a mask 
of some god of the Samurai, so realistic that the fishermen 
have a score of legends of its origin. 

Once, in a fisherman's boat, I drifted off the shelf or 
terrace some four fathoms beneath me, and suddenly saw 
far, far down, in the deep blue, breath-taking depths, five 
of the largest fish I have ever seen tearing at a trap in which 
I had a single glimpse of a small, scarlet fish. Almost im- 
mediately the scene passed from view, but my last mem- 
ory of a Japanese shallow was of this pitifully small being 
waiting, while five giants bit and tore at his prison. 

Passing south in the Pacific we come to the most lux- 
uriant reefs and shallows of all oceans. Beginning with 
Hawaii and extending over all the equatorial south seas, 
the host of islands and atolls offers indescribable riches for 
the Helmet Explorer of the future, be he artist, scientist, 
or just a superhuman being filled with a desire to ex- 
perience the supreme joys of this world. A thousand paint- 
ings need never repeat species, form, pattern, or color in 
their composition. Imagine, if you will, two weirdly col- 
ored trigger-fish, swimming through a forest of animal 


plants — in appearance dead stumps and shredded, skeleton- 
ized fronds — which actually are living corals and sea- 
plumes whose thousands of tiny architects live happy lives 
in their cubicles of horny branches and marble monoliths. 

For contrast let us turn swiftly northward again, to 
colder regions where we must encase ourselves in heated, 
wool-lined suits if we would dive in helmets beneath the 
surface. Seaweeds are small or absent, but snails, anemones, 
crabs, squids, and shrimps still hold their own, while giant 
Arctic jellies sometimes a hundred feet in length throb 
through the icy waters. Sharks are not Arctic as a race 
but have been found well within the area of floating ice- 
bergs, and there is always an abundance of food for them 
in the great schools of fish which haunt these waters. 

Another shift to another contrast — from this land of 
whiteness to the blackest seascape I have ever seen through 
my helmet glass. The black lava shores of the Galapagos 
slope down to the water's edge and on out through the 
shallows with very little change, except that the cleans- 
ing liquid has washed away all aerial dust. Great ebony 
cliffs and terraces reveal gaping caves and grottos, and 
now and then a flat stretch of bottom, covered with sand, 
black as jet, affords shelter to a field of waving seaweed. 
The tenants of the black cliffs are of astonishing variety. 
Some seem especially appropriate, autochthonous as the 
lava itself, such as a great dusky octopus which slides out 
of its cave, perceives me, and, with a change of emotion, 
shifts its color to brick red and then to mottled red and 


gray. Its arms slither about like separate, conscious medusa 
locks, investigating crevices, crossing one another, twist- 
ing into meaningless corkscrews. From other crevices 
emerge little, parti-colored demoiselles — blue, black, and 
red, while scarlet crabs cling close to the lava. A school 
of vermilion wrasse swims slowly past and we realize 
that almost every organism in sight, besides black, is 
adorned with some shade or hue of red. Before we ascend 
we remember the unnamable scarletness of this lava when 
first it poured forth from under ground and we per- 
ceive a very unscientific appropriateness in the color pat- 
terns of octopus, crab, and fish. 

Finally let us seek out the antipodes, and imagine our- 
selves somewhere along the largest area of submarine shal- 
lows in the world — the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, 
which for well over one thousand miles extends along the 
shores of Queensland. The exposed portion is essentially a 
pure culture coral reef with very little seaweed or sea- 
plumes. So much is in view at low tide that there has been 
little temptation to explore the deeper portions. But the 
few fortunate ones who have gone down to where the 
pearl divers glean their harvest tell of seascapes wholly 
unlike the flat-topped coral masses so abundant at the 
surface. This is the home of the giant clam whose shells 
are sometimes five feet long and weigh over five hundred 
pounds. When once a human hand or foot is by accident 
placed inside the valves, they close like a bear trap and 
there is no hope of escape for the unfortunate diver. 


Just as on the neighboring shores we find such weird 
creatures as kangaroos, koalas, and emus, so here live the 
sea-dragon fish, which are to ordinary sea-horses as orchids 
are to violets, or birds of paradise to house sparrows. They 
swim about as horizontally as pipefish, are orange and 
lavender and vermilion, and from every spine sprouts a 
tuft of floating plumes. I have never seen one alive, but 
before I die I intend to watch these eerie creatures under 
water in their native haunts, swimming and feeding and 
mating among sponges and corals, urchins and waving 
algse, of colors and shapes far other than those of any 
animal and vegetable life on land. 

When one is writing about some place seen only by one- 
self, similes must be resorted to, in order to make vivid 
the land or water as yet unseen by the reader. The reefs 
of Haiti are like themselves and nothing else in the world, 
if even for one thing alone — the forests of stag-horn coral, 
among whose unbotanical trunks, branches, and twigs one 
can climb as high as the air-giving hose allows. 

The finest reefs in Bermuda are well to the northward 
of the islands, beyond the great expanse of boilers and 
atolls which pepper the ultra-marine with their turquoise 
shallows. Unless one has crept over or walked around these 
reefs the description of another person falls pitifully short 
of the reality. If we desire an image of their beauty and 
their strangeness, I must demand a mental melange of the 
moon, a primeval jungle in the youth of the world, and 


a Rackham landscape packed with scarcely visible gnomes 
and hobgoblins. 

These reefs rise far out near the small twin spires which, 
at the very edge of the ultimate northern slope of the vol- 
cano of Bermuda, still stand as the farthest outpost of dry 
land, their heart of whitest lime veneered with a steel gray 
armor by the very action of the salty waves which forever 
try to break them away. 

For an hour we traveled swiftly over the calm water, 
some of which was troubled by a gentle breeze, the rest 
flat to slickness. Large aurelias or sun-jellies were abun- 
dant, with their four circles of eggs clear, brilliant pink. 
Still larger, lavender cyaneas throbbed along, and every 
patch of sargassum weed sheltered a group of timorous 
little fish, and flyingfish tried in vain to find a supporting 

Our launch slowed down when within a half mile of 
the rocks, and passed slowly over dim, blue wastes of sand, 
then dark shadows of steep cliffs. Suddenly the flat, table- 
like reef-top appeared, many-colored with variegated 
spires, rounded heads, and other forms in low relief. And 
now please realize that this last sentence I have written 
is absolutely false and untrue and contains no grain of 
verity. Which fact is one of the many joys of helmet div- 
ing. It is one of the few things in this world which never 
become commonplace, and although we may learn much 
about the underworld of the sea, and fancy ourselves a 
familiar of the submarine folk, yet our coarse, terrestrial 


senses are always being deceived, and we have constantly 
to relearn the aquatic commonplaces. 

I have dived hundreds of times on many scores of reefs, 
yet here, I was certain, was an exception and I anchored 
fore and aft directly above the center, intending to explore 
it thoroughly, and confidently slid down the ladder. My 
idea was to walk about, now and then to sit upon a coral 
boulder, and to pursue my regular reef studies. 

My feet came to rest on the curved surface of a huge 
brain coral seven fathoms down, and at the first glance 
around I saw the utter falseness of the glimpse I had had 
from the surface. It brought to mind the moon. When 
this satellite is full it shows nothing to our telescope but a 
smooth, flat, uninteresting surface, but when the shadow 
of the earth falls obliquely athwart the craters, the three 
dimensions of the mighty lunar cliffs and crags, volcanoes 
and ranges leap to the eye. Similarly, from my glass- 
bottomed boat the reef was flat with only rounded masses 
of color. Now, on a level with my eye, the surface showed 
itself as absolutely unwalkable. Using all four limbs I 
made my way painfully a few yards from the ladder and 
there found a cul-de-sac, bounded by a twenty-foot bot- 
tomless crevasse, an overhanging cliff coated with slippery 
sponges, a family group of diadema urchins with their 
long, poisonous spines, and on the fourth side a sheer drop 
into invisibility. Add to this that every square yard of 
surface — coral or rock — had its diminutive, needle-sharp 
crags and its concealed pot-holes; its half -hidden caverns 


and foot-tangling algae, and the reason for brevity of 
reef-traveling is evident. 

After considerable blood-letting from striking against 
coral and crag, I climbed up and shifted the Skink to the 
edge of a new reef. We backed to the middle of an area 
of white sand, then let go the anchor, and, paying out 
as we went, worked ahead until we were directly over 
a cavern in mid-reef. Here we threw out the killik and 
watched it sink into the heart of the coral. This valuable 
bit of gear is nothing but a good-sized coral rock wired 
to a long cedar stick. It slips easily into a crevice and 
wedges fast, so that we can pull up on it until the lines on 
the killik ahead and the anchor astern are taut, and we 
can dive without danger of the ladder drifting out of 
reach. When we are ready to leave, the anchor is heaved 
in, and then the launch maneuvered over the killik, and 
either by playing it from side to side, or by sheer, direct 
pull of engine, it is freed. Even if it breaks off the loss is 
negligible. Our anchor could never be freed from the 
reef except by my sliding down the rope in the helmet 
and liberating it, which, as I well know, is less amusing 
and easy than it sounds. 

There are rare days in life when time seems speeded up, 
when everything moves swiftly, and experiences, emotions, 
and adventures come hurtling along, one on top of the 
other. I never think of this in connection with sorrowful 
or evil things. "Troubles never come singly" was never in 
my copy-book, for as these are almost invariably one's 



Fig. 27. Shallow water life is of infinite variety; here we have demoiselle fish, sponge 
crab, great spinacled worm, rare soft corals, and Halicystis — a simple seaweed, the largest 
single cell in the world. 

(Painted by Else Bostclmann) 


own fault, the coming of the first enables one to guard 
against the next. Days such as I am describing are infre- 
quent, usually with a veneer of danger, and with a solid 
core for permanent memory. 

So far, the present day had been full of interest but 
with nothing to make it outstanding. It was the thirteenth 
of August, and I had sandwiched this North Rock trip 
between a deep bathysphere dive and an anticipated deep 
trawl on the morrow. I watched the ladder sink rung by 
rung, until it swung just clear of the sand, and I then 
prepared for a second dive. 

From this moment on the day speeded up, and it holds 
its own among some of the best dives I have ever had. I 
submerged four times in seven fathoms, and except for 
the fact that all my activities were watched through water 
glasses from the launch overhead, I should hesitate to re- 
late the sequence of happenings which befell me within 
a half hour, and in a space of not more than twenty 
square feet. 

We had thrown overboard some pieces of very high 
meat, so when I reached the bottom I saw that fish had 
already gathered in numbers. I dropped to the sand from 
the lowermost rung, and found myself in a little bay of 
the reef, the entrance partly closed by a giant boulder 
which had fallen off years or centuries ago. The reef 
stretched up and up, all alive with waving plumes and 
sea-fans, with rounded brain coral and sharp-spined ur- 
chins. I explored far out on the sand, circling at the end 


of my hose tether, Hke the slow motion picture of a cock- 
chafer on a string. The sand dipped so steeply that I had 
to pull myself back by the hose. Great piles, here and there, 
were each topped with a good-sized hole, the home of 
some unknown creature. Large parrotfish left their grazing 
to come and look me over, their solidified, green teeth and 
jaws moving in an absent-minded, adenoidal manner. 
Angelfish, two feet long, and many other shore forms of 
unusual size showed the effect of better living conditions 
on these outer reefs, close to the abyssal shelf. As I stepped 
over the sand, ghostly white flounders and gobies rose 
from just beneath my feet, slithering to pigmental sanc- 
tuary a few inches away. 

On my next descent, my weighted fish pole followed 
me down, with its little, red, dynamite cap fastened at 
the top, and the black, insulated wire leading up to the 
boat. I was especially anxious to get some ripe eggs of 
a butterflyfish, and to fertilize them, so I directed my 
attention to a pair of full-grown fish, the four-eyed 
species. I stunned both with the first shot, netted one of 
them, and was reaching toward the other when, out of 
the cloud of roiled water at my elbow, rose the head and 
neck of one of the largest green morays I have ever seen, 
also reaching for my fish. A section of the eel, well back 
along the body, was visible where there was an opening 
in the reef, close to my knee, and at this I kicked with 
all my might. It was spontaneous resentment at the danger 
of losing my specimen, and I gave no thought to the 


possible result. This was perfectly satisfactory, however, 
for the eel, which, judging by the size of its head must 
have been eight feet long, withdrew even more quickly 
than it had appeared. I did not see it again, although it 
must have remained coiled up within a relatively small 
cavity close to the edge of the reef, and within a few feet 
of my stance. I salvaged my second butterflyfish and re- 
ascended the ladder. 

The bit of odoriferous meat on the pole made me popu- 
lar among the fish, and sergeant-majors and wrasse fol- 
lowed me to the surface. After others of my staff had 
dived, I went down again. My last shot had dislodged a 
hundred-pound rock which had rolled down and now 
rested against the side of the isolated boulder, leaving a 
crevice between. I got my net and the dynamite pole 
ready, and peered over the rim. Thirty or forty fish of 
a dozen species were excitedly milling around the torn-up 
area, the vegetarians finding succulent salad to their lik- 
ing, and the others a manna of drifting worms and other 
bits of food. This time I was after a peculiarly marked 
coney, whose body was divided abruptly along the middle 
line, dark brown above and white below. I saw several, 
some distance away, and waited for them to come nearer. 
A minute or more passed and out shot a coney from my 
left side, and hid behind a sea-fan directly in front. Close 
In pursuit came a three-foot barracuda, but balked at the 
fan which was quite close to me. I sidled around until I 
could poke my rod over a ledge close to the purple growth. 


and then fired. Again and again I have had proof that the 
discharge of the cap can take place five feet away, in full 
view, and do no harm to the glass in the helmet. But I 
am still nervous about it, for the shock is severe on my 
body, giving a sharp, electrical tingling. So whenever pos- 
sible I am glad to take advantage of some protective shelter, 
either a coral head, or, as in this case, even a sea-fan. 

I fired and saw no trace of the coney, but an interesting- 
sized, sharp-nosed puffer, hitherto unseen, suddenly ap- 
peared, belly up, near at hand. I netted him and, letting 
the pole and discharged cap be drawn up, I crept around 
the boulder and looked for my coney in the deep crevice 
beyond. I had to peer in from several angles, and was 
leaning far over, when a great, gray crescent shoved in 
beside me. I straightened up and saw that it was the snout 
of a five-foot shark, which had materialized from nowhere, 
attracted by the smell of the meat and the cloud of debris, 
and now was as interested as myself in getting at the 
stunned fish. A moment later the shark pushed ahead stUl 
farther, directly across my hand, and I saw that my puflfer 
had slipped from the net, and that the slanting eyes of the 
shark had perceived it. It was attempting to work itself 
past and against my leaning body. This was too much, 
and I shifted my grip on my net, and stabbed down with 
the handle with all my force, directly on the rounded 
snout. A terrific swirl of water a few feet away showed 
where the tail fin had gone into reverse, the shark backed 
out, then turned upward and undulated over my head 


and the reef, and past the boat. I recaught the puffer, but 
the coney, if dead, had shpped out of sight, and after a 
long search I had to give it up. 

Again I dived, and looking down from the sixth or 
seventh rung, I saw five sharks milling around the foot of 
the ladder. Two were yard-long puppies, while one was 
a dark gray seven-footer. Only two were visible when I 
touched sand, and I went to my former hiding place and 
watched for the conies. Before long, two came out on 
the farther side of the little bay. I looked up and saw 
three of the sharks floating lazily in mid-water near the 
ladder, looking for all the world like inflated, Japanese 
kites. I was bringing my rod around into position for 
aiming, when it was almost jerked out of my hand, twisted 
and bent. I had forgotten that a piece of the stale meat 
was still tied to the end of the rod, and as I looked a second 
shark rushed up and, seizing the tip, shook it as a terrier 
shakes a rat. I was pulled partly over, and the rod was bent 
around against a piece of coral rock, and was almost free. 
Not wishing to lose it, I stabbed it straight at the shark 
and signaled. The report came instantly, a small cloud 
of black smoke billowed out into the water, and the shark 
turned and swam straighter and faster than I have ever 
seen a shark go. One of his companions followed him, and 
the others hung about, while I sent up my rod, looked 
again for my former coney, and then returned to the boat. 

When my helmet was taken off, my friend Mr. John 
Long, of the National Geographic Magazine staff, asked 


excitedly if I had not been fighting for my Hfe. Conserva- 
tive a reporter of facts as he is, this is the impression he got 
as an onlooker, or rather I should say, a downlooker. To 
an outsider, all appeared honest material for full-sized 
head-lines; from below, the fact that the moray, barra- 
cuda, and the bevy of sharks were merely other and more 
fish, was true simply because long experience had taught 
us their harmlessness, at least to a diver in a helmet. The 
sharks had come, were interested in me and everything 
I did, but only as vultures are drawn together at the sound 
of a hunter's gun, by the hope of a feast. 

It was a bully series of dives for one afternoon. 

Instead of gazing down through water buckets and 
glass-bottomed boats, in addition to watching the fish mill- 
ing about in aquariums, get a helmet and make all the 
shallows of the world your own. Start an exploration 
which has no superior in jungle or mountain; insure your 
present life and future memories from any possibility of 
ennui or boredom, and provide yourself with tales of sights 
and adventures which no listener will believe — until he 
too has gone and seen, and in turn has become an active 
member of the Society of Wonderers under-sea. 

Chapter 3 


SEVERAL years ago I climbed overboard into the clear 
waters of Haiti, and after a copper helmet had been 
lowered over my head and shoulders I slid slowly 
down a rope two, four, eight, ten fathoms and finally at 
sixty-three feet my canvas shoes settled into the soft ooze 
near a coral reef. I made my way to a steep precipice, 
balanced on the brink, and looked down, down into the 
green depths where illumination like moonlight showed 
waving sea-fans and milling fish far beyond the length of 
my hose. It would have been exceedingly unwise to go 
much farther, for the steady force of the weight of water 
at ten fathoms had already increased the pressure on ear- 
drums and every portion of my head and body to almost 
forty-five pounds for each square inch. At double the 
depth I had reached I would probably become insensible 
and unable to ascend. 

As I peered down I realized I was looking toward a 
world of life almost as unknown as that of Mars or Venus 
— a world in which, up to the present time, our efforts 
at capturing the inhabitants have been pitifully trivial. 
Modern oceanographic knowledge of deep-sea fish is com- 
parable to the information of a student of African ani- 



mals, who has trapped a small collection of rats and mice 
but is still wholly unaware of antelope, elephants, lions, 
and rhinos. 

The hundreds of nets I have drawn through the depths 
of the sea, from one-half to two miles down, have yielded 
a harvest which has served only to increase my desire 
actually to descend into this no-man's zone. 

When I mapped out a quarter of a square mile in the 
British Guiana jungle for intensive study my activities 
were more or less confined to the two planes of space on 
the jungle floor. I could go ahead or backward or to either 
side, but upward I could only look through my glasses, 
or send shot hurtling through the branches to bring down 
a bird or some creature of the trees. Occasionally I climbed 
laboriously up a tree-trunk on a ladder of driven spikes, 
or shot an arrow carrying a line over a lofty limb, later 
to be hauled up with a pulley and tackle for a brief period 
of observation. 

In our present deep-sea work off Nonsuch, the condi- 
tions are much the same but inverted. The tug Gladisfen 
can steam toward any point of the compass, but to gain 
knowledge and obtain specimens of the little-known life- 
zones beneath our keel, we can only lower weights on a 
wire and record the depth of the bottom; or reversing 
thermometers and automatically closing bottles for tem- 
peratures and tiny samples of water from deep down; or 
finally we can send down dredges and nets and bring up 
a modicum of life from bottom or mid-water. 

Fig. 29. Some fish sleep in the sand; others doze while balancing in mid-water; and still 
others lie on their sides, in comfortable niches of coral, the tentacles of great purple-tipped 
anemones waving overhead like branches of trees in a breeze. 

(Courtesy of Mr. L. L. Mowbray) 



C3 C 

c 2 

— OJ 

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H b. 


As far as actually descending ourselves, up to the year 
1930 we had to be content with donning a helmet and 
walking about arm in arm with a hoseful of air a few 
fathoms beneath the surface. This is comparable to climb- 
ing among the branches of a fallen tree in the jungle. 

Of course we could have made observations at some- 
what greater depths in a complete suit, but even one of 
these cannot be used much below 300 feet by profes- 
sional divers, and its disadvantages are manifold. At these 
greater depths the lungs must not only be supplied with 
air, but air at a pressure equal to that outside, to counter- 
act the pressure of the water. If we suppose a man de- 
scends to a depth little over twice that which I have 
reached in a helmet — 150 feet beneath the ocean — the 
2160 square inches of the surface of his body are now 
subjected to a total water pressure of 144,072 pounds or 
over seventy tons. He would be squeezed into pulp were 
it not for the air pumped into his suit. The deeper he 
descends the more terrific is the weight of the water above 
him, and consequent pressure on his body. 

The limit to the pressure which a human being can 
endure occurs a little beyond 300 feet. And even at depths 
far less than this if a diver is drawn up rapidly death will 
certainly ensue. Just as a bottle of charged water becomes 
filled with bubbles when it is uncorked, so the blood of 
the rapidly ascending diver boils, giving forth bubbles of 
nitrogen, the chief constituent of air. When a diver has 
reached a great depth, in order for the nitrogen to be 


released slowly and without injury, the ascent must be a 
matter of hours. 

These facts led to the construction of a suit of metal, 
so rigid and strong that it would resist the terrible pres- 
sure of the water. In such a contraption a man would 
breathe air sent down to him under ordinary pressure, 
and there need be no readjustment, no delay in hauling 
him up. Hence we find many modern diving suits, look- 
ing like dreadful goblins of sorts, weighing five hundred 
to six hundred pounds. In these, according to published 
records, a man has reached a depth in fresh water of 525 
feet. But the law of compensation comes in and he is 
almost as helpless as if he were in a solid cylinder or sphere. 
He has arms and legs, but they are of steel and the joints 
usually freeze, or bend with the greatest difficulty. His 
own limbs are fettered as if they were marrow in ordinary 
bones. A mechanical claw or hook takes the place of fingers 
and hands. 

Submarines have never reached even this depth, and at 
best they offer almost no opportunities for observation. 
I have sat at the periscope of the Submarine V-i, as she 
sank beneath the waves, and have watched eagerly out 
of her tiny ports, but no form of life, nothing but the 
green water of the upper layers, was visible. 

Many years ago I spent the best part of an evening 
with President Theodore Roosevelt discussing ways and 
means of deep-sea diving. There remains only a smudged 
bit of paper with a cylinder drawn by myself and a sphere 


outlined by Colonel Roosevelt, as representing our re- 
spective preferences. We worked out many details but 
never recurred to the subject again. 

During 1927 and 1928 I considered various plans for 
deep-sea cylinders that would be strong enough to sink 
deep into the ocean, but all of them, due to their flat 
ends, proved impractical. With each 33 feet of depth the 
pressure of sea- water increases one atmosphere (14.7 
pounds to the square inch) , so at the depth of a half mile 
the pressure is over half a ton to each square inch. Any 
flat surface would be crushed in unless it were impossibly 
thick or braced by an elaborate system of trusses. 

And so, since there is nothing like a ball for the even 
distribution of pressure, the idea of a perfectly round 
chamber took form and grew. By 1929 Mr. Otis Barton 
had developed and actually had constructed a steel sphere, 
large and strong enough to permit us to enter, to be 
sealed up and keep ourselves alive, to descend into and 
return safely from the depths of ocean. Mr. Barton de- 
serves full credit for the contributions of time, thought, 
and money which he devoted to this work, while Captain 
John H. J. Butler designed and worked out the various 
details of the sphere. I was able to bring to bear but a 
small amount of helpful suggestion, but an unlimited 
belief and faith and keenest interest in the scientific re- 
sults of this venture. Never for a moment did any of us 
admit the possibility of failure — Barton and his associates 
were sustained by their thorough knowledge of the me- 


chanical margins of safety, while my hopes of seeing a 
new world of life left no opportunity for worry about 
possible defects. 

In its final design the sphere was, compared with some 
of the marvelously complicated "diving machines" men- 
tioned in Chapter 2, quite a simple affair. It was not as 
tall as a man, measuring only four feet nine inches in 
diameter, but its walls were everywhere an inch and a 
quarter thick and it weighed five thousand four hundred 
pounds. A first casting had weighed twice as much, but 
it would have been too heavy for any of the winches avail- 
able in Bermuda and was junked. 

There were to be three windows — cylinders of fused 
quartz eight inches in diameter and three inches thick 
fitting into steel projections resembling the mouths of very 
short cannon. Quartz was used for two excellent reasons 
— it is the strongest transparent substance known and it 
transmits all wave-lengths of light. In all, five windows 
were ground. Mr. Barton has written that the first was 
chipped in an attempt to grind it into its seat. The second 
gave way under an internal pressure test of one thousand 
two hundred and fifty pounds to the square inch. It seems 
probable that the frame in front was bent out, and that 
the resulting shearing strains broke the glass. The third 
was broken when the frame bolts were tightened unevenly. 
The remaining two, however, passed every test success- 
fully and subsequently, during the actual dives, never 
leaked a drop. Through one of these it was planned to send 


a searchlight out into the water, far below the surface. 
The third window aperture was filled with a steel plug. All 
the windows had to be scrapped before Dive 30. 

Opposite the windows was the entrance, politely termed 
the "door." This round, four-hundred-pound lid had to 
be lifted on and off by a block and tackle, and fitted snugly 
over ten large bolts around the man-hole — the latter just 
big enough to permit the passage of a slender human 
body. Several years later, when the sphere was on exhibi- 
tion at the American Museum of Natural History, a lady 
of very ample proportions walked slowly all around the 
apparatus and was looking in through the fourteen-inch 
door when she asked the attendant, "Is that the thing in 
which they went down in the ocean?" "That's it, ma'am." 
"Well — where in the world is the door?" Any intending 
diver in the sphere, in addition to having sufficient inter- 
est to risk possible dangers, must also be provided with a 
physique whose greatest diameter is less than fourteen 

The sphere was to be lowered by a single, non-twisting 
cable of steel, seven-eighths of an inch in diameter, with 
a breaking strain of twenty-nine tons, or almost a dozen 
spheres like this. It was formed of a steel core and about 
a hundred strands, the alternate ones laid in opposite direc- 
tions to correct the propensity to spin when in the water. 
The thirty-five hundred feet of its length weighed about 
two tons when submerged. The actual attachment of the 
cable to the swivel at the top of the globe was made by 


separating the strands of the end of the cable until they 
spread out into a truncated cone, between the interstices 
of which white metal was poured. This cone was then 
pulled up into the correspondingly-shaped portion of the 

Close to the swivel the electric cable, carrying light and 
telephone wires, entered the sphere through the tightly 
packed stuffing box. The latter was one of the more im- 
portant danger spots of the apparatus. It was formed of 
an inner brass gland and an outer stainless steel gland 
through which the cable ran. Special packing was placed 
between the outer and inner glands which were then 
tightened by means of wrenches. The electric cable, one 
and one-tenth inches in diameter and heavily insulated, 
contained two wires for the telephone circuit and two for 
the electric light. 

The all-important question of the air supply was to be 
solved by manufacturing it as needed right inside the 
sphere. Oxygen tanks with automatic valves were to be 
fitted to the sides, and above these were trays on which 
powdered chemicals, for absorbing moisture and carbon 
dioxide, would be exposed. 

As the great metal chamber took shape, we found the 
need of a definite name. We spoke of it casually and quite 
incorrectly as tank and cylinder and bell. One day, when 
I was writing the name of a deep-sea fish — Bathytroctes — 
the appropriateness of the Greek prefix occurred to me: 
I coined the word Bathysphere, and the name has stuck. 


By the spring of 1930 the sphere was nearing comple- 
tion. In April I took my staflF to the field laboratory on 
Nonsuch Island, which had been given by the Bermuda 
government for oceanographic work. For two years we had 
been studying the life of the deep sea off Bermuda, carry- 
ing on the work as the chief function of my Department 
of Tropical Research, under the auspices of the New York 
Zoological Society. This field, and the methods of our deep- 
sea trawling, seemed well adapted to dovetail with at- 
tempts at penetrating "in person," as the movies say, to 
depths far beneath the surface. 

By the time my sea-going tug Gladisfen was in full 
operation the bathysphere was ready. Mr. Barton and I 
then joined forces and found that our various contribu- 
tions to the attempt synchronized perfectly. Barton 
brought with him to Bermuda the great sphere, thirty- 
five hundred feet of steel cable, a full half mile of the 
solid rubber electric cable, and the multitude of necessary 
extras. I was able to provide the seven-ton Arcturus winch 
and sheaves, the Gladisfen for towing out to sea, and my 
staff for cooperation in the actual operation. 

A huge, open-decked barge, the Ready, was chartered, 
furnished with a mast and derrick and two boilers, gen- 
erating one hundred and ten pounds of steam pressure, 
to drive the winches. Finally the bathysphere itself was 
hoisted on board. One of the winches was used in operat- 
ing the lift which raised or lowered the boom, while the 
other carried the main cable which supported the bathy- 


sphere. The path of the cable from the winch to the sea 
may be followed in Fig. 122: It passes first from the winch 
to the sheave near the bow of the barge, thence to a 
pulley near the mast fastened to the deck, before it finally 
passes over the sheave at the tip of the boom; from it the 
sphere depends, at rest on deck, or finally descending into 
the sea. A meter wheel for measuring the amount of cable 
paid out is shown attached to the boom. 

The generator adopted for electric lighting purposes 
was a 1 10- volt Kohler plant of 1500-watt capacity. We 
set it up near the bow and connected it with the sphere 
through the three thousand feet of insulated cable which 
was coiled up on deck, ready to be paid out during the 
descents. The distance between the generator and the 
bathysphere caused a drop in the voltage, so that it was 
necessary to use especially made 90-volt lamps. "We ar- 
ranged it so that when the divers required electric light 
they were to ask for it, and the generator would be started. 
The electric light circuit was also to serve as an auxiliary 
signaling apparatus, as, in case of breakdown of the tele- 
phone lines, signals could be sent by turning the electric 
light off and on by means of switches, situated one in the 
bathysphere and one at the generator. A control lamp was 
placed in the circuit, so that those on deck would be able 
to tell when the light was on below. 

The telephones, too, were in readiness. They were of 
the ordinary type and operated on 16- or 2 2- volt dry 
batteries. The instruments were furnished with head 

Fig. 31. {upper) The bathysphere in its first coat of paint starts out upon an early dive. 

Fig. 32. (lower) The seven-ton Arcttiriis winch holds the half mile of steel cable which 
will support the bathysphere. 

Fig. 33. {upper) The Gladisfei) towing the barge Ready out to sea. 

Fig. 34. {lower) Deck of the Ready, showing the powerful lifting yard and the bathy- 
sphere in place. 


phones and neck clips so that the hands of the Haison 
officer and diver would be free at all times. The line itself 
was connected with the main electric cable at the gen- 

Finally we assembled the materials of which our at- 
mosphere was to be made, the calcium chloride (anhy- 
drous porous, No. 8 mesh) for absorbing moisture, the 
soda lime (4-8 mesh) for absorbing the carbon dioxide, 
and, above all, the oxygen tanks. Two tanks were to be 
taken down on each descent, each containing eighty gal- 
lons of oxygen under a pressure of eighteen hundred 
pounds, one tank being prepared for immediate use by 
clamping a valve in place, while the other was held in re- 
serve. These two tanks when filled completely, are suf- 
ficient to sustain life in two people for eight hours. 

We found that the crew necessary for the operation of 
the bathysphere must consist of the following: 

2 divers. 

I deck officer in charge of operations on deck, such as 
control of the winches, raising, lowering, etc. 

I liaison officer, relaying communications between the 
divers and deck officer, and communicating the ob- 
servations of the divers to the recorder. 

1 recorder, keeping account of time, and noting all 
observations called through the telephone to the 
liaison officer from below. 

2 winchmen, one on duty at the main winch which 


controlled the main cable; another who operated a 
smaller winch which lowered and raised the boom 
supporting the bathysphere, who also acted as a 

1 steersman, controlling the rudder of the Ready. 

2 men, clamping the telephone line to the main cable. 
9 deck hands paying out and hauling in telephone 

cable, hauling guys, winding cable on drum, etc. 
I or 2 messengers, communicating between liaison and 

deck officers; one of these attended to the generator 

and its requirements. 
I man, reading meter wheel and tying tapes onto the 

cable at every hundred feet. 

To complete the roster of those necessary for the opera- 
tion of the sphere, there must be added the crew of the 
Gladisfen, 5 men, and one man who operated the motor- 
boat which stood by in case of emergency. 

Counting the six men last mentioned, it will be seen 
that the total number needed for lowering the bathysphere 
amounted to twenty-eight persons, including two divers. 
This number might have been reduced slightly, but the 
uniqueness of the venture required an over-complemented 
crew rather than an undermanned one. 

Finally the barge was towed out and anchored in the 
lee of Nonsuch, and then we all settled down to watch 
sea and sky, wind and barometer — praying for fine 
weather and a total absence of sudden squalls. 

Chapter 6 


Jk CERTAIN day and hour and second are approaching 

L\ rapidly when a human face will peer out through 

jL ^ a tiny window and signals will be passed back to 

companions, or to breathlessly waiting hosts on earth, with 

such sentences as: 

"We are above the level of Everest." 
"Can now see the whole Atlantic coastline." 
"Clouds blot out the earth." 

"Temperature and air pressure have dropped to minus 

"Can see the whole circumference of Earth." 
"The moon appears ten times its usual size." 
"We now . . ." etc. 

Both by daylight and by moonlight I have looked from 
a plane down on the earth from a height of over four 
miles, so I know the first kindergarten sensations of such 
a trip. But until I actually am enclosed within some futur- 
istic rocket and start on a voyage into interstellar space, 
I shall never experience such a feeling of complete isola- 
tion from the surface of the planet Earth as when I first 



dangled in a hollow pea on a swaying cobweb a quarter of 
a mile below the deck of a ship rolling in mid-ocean. 

We were able to adumbrate the above imaginary news 
items from a rocket mounting into interplanetary space, 
by the following actual messages sent from the bathy- 
sphere up our telephone wire: 

"We have just splashed below the surface." 
"We are at our deepest helmet dive." 60 feet 

"The Lusitania is resting at this level." 285 feet 

"This is the greatest depth reached in a regu- 
lation suit by Navy divers." 306 feet 
"We are passing the deepest submarine record." 383 feet 
"The Egypt was found at this level by divers 

in rigid shells." 400 feet 

"A diver in an armored suit descended this 
far into a Bavarian lake — the deepest point 
which a live human has ever reached." 525 feet 

"Only dead men have sunk below this." 600 feet 

"We are still alive and one-quarter of a mile 

down." 1426 feet 

A young gale blew itself out, and on June third, 1930, 
the sun rose on a calm, slowly heaving sea. On Nonsuch 
Island we ran up the prearranged flag signal and the work- 
ing crew saw it from St. Georges and put out. On this 
day we only made a trial submergence with the bathy- 
sphere empty, to test the working of the crew and the 
whole apparatus. 


It was let down 2000 feet, averaging two minutes for 
each 100 feet. Two clamps were attached, fastening the 
rubber hose to the cable every 200 feet. When the cable 
began to come in we found there were several turns of 
the hose about the cable. It was beyond our power to 
revolve the cable so we were compelled to remove the 
clamps and let the hose drop down, still twisted. As more 
and more clamps were removed, the ascent became in- 
creasingly difficult, the rubber hose becoming a regular 
snarl. By great good luck we were able to push the tangle 
down and down until at last the bathysphere itself ap- 
peared and we got it aboard. Draped and looped about 
and below it were forty-five twists of the half-mile of 
rubber hose. We imagined the contained light and tele- 
phone wires bent and broken, and our entire venture 
seemed to be at an end. It looked as if we were to pay 
penalty at the very start for daring to attempt to delve 
into forbidden depths. 

The crew went to work and within twenty-four hours 
the half-mile of hose was again neatly arranged in its 
great loops on the deck and when we tested the four wires 
we found the electric circuit was unbroken, light and 
sound passing through as perfectly as before the catas- 

When we wound the great steel cable onto the winch 
on deck, from, the wooden spool on which it came from 
the factory, without our knowing it, there must have been 
a slow twisting. This was not apparent until we let down 


the bathysphere, and began attaching the rubber hose. 
Little by Uttle the cable unwound, carrying around with 
it the phable hose, until, when the cable was hanging 
straight and quiet, it had revolved forty-five times. On 
subsequent dives the cable never made a single turn, and 
the two elements came up as they went down. 

June sixth was another day of almost perfect calm with 
only a long, heaving swell in mid-ocean. We were on board 
the barge early, and, as soon as the tug Gladisfen came 
alongside, took her tow-rope, described a circle around 
the reefs, and headed out to sea through Castle Roads. 
The great jagged cliffs towered high on both sides, and 
on their summits the ruined battlements of the old forts 
frowned down upon us. I wondered what old Governor 
Richard Moore would have said, three hundred odd years 
ago, leaning his elbows on the parapet, if he could have 
watched our strange procession steaming past. In all like- 
lihood, the steaming part would have mystified and inter- 
ested him far more than our chief object. 

As we cleared the outer head of Brangman's, we felt 
the first gentle heave and settling of the swell of the 
ocean, and in a few minutes the foam-ringed mass of 
Gurnet Rock passed astern, and we steered south straight 
into the open sea. An hour later the angle of the two 
lighthouses showed that we were about eight miles oflF 
shore, with a generous mile of water beneath us. Choosing 
a favorable spot under such conditions is like looking 
around and trying to decide on the exact location of the 


North Pole. I think it was Dooley who said that finding 
the North Pole was like sitting" down on the ice anywhere. 
And so I felt when they all awaited my signal to stop. I 
looked about, could detect no unusually favorable swell 
or especially satisfying wave, so I resorted to a temporal 
decision, and exactly at nine o'clock ordered the Gladisfen 
to stop. We headed up wind and up swell, and lowered 
the bathysphere again with only a motion picture camera 
inside. At a depth of 1500 feet this was exposed by elec- 
tricity and the sphere pulled up after an hour and a half 
of submersion. There was nothing visible on the film, 
and, what was of far greater interest to us, we found not 
a single twist of the hose, the windows were intact, and 
only a quart of water was collected in the bottom. 

We dried and cleaned it thoroughly, then put in the 
oxygen tanks, and the chemicals. There were two wire 
racks for holding the latter, one, as I have said, for calcium 
chloride for absorbing moisture, the other of soda lime for 
removing the excess of carbon dioxide from the air. Finally 
we were all ready and I looked around at the sea and sky, 
the boats and my friends, and not being able to think of 
any pithy saying which might echo down the ages, I said 
nothing, crawled painfully over the steel bolts, fell inside 
and curled up on the cold, hard bottom of the sphere. This 
aroused me to speech and I called for a cushion only to 
find that we had none on hand. Otis Barton climbed in 
after me, and we disentangled our legs and got set. I had 
no idea that there was so much room in the inside of a 


sphere only four and a half feet in diameter, and although 
the longer we were in it the smaller it seemed to get, yet, 
thanks to our adequate physique, we had room and to 
spare. At Barton's suggestion I took up my position at 
the windows, while he hitched himself over to the side 
of the door, where he could keep watch on the various 
instruments. He also put on the ear-phones. 

Miss Hollister on deck took charge of the other end 
of the telephone and arranged the duplicate control elec- 
tric light so that she could watch it. Mr. Tee-Van assumed 
control of the deck crew. 

At our signal, the four-hundred-pound door was hoisted 
and clanged into place, sliding snugly over the ten great 
steel bolts. Then the huge nuts were screwed on. If either 
of us had had time to be nervous, this would have been 
an excellent opportunity — carrying out Poe*s idea of being 
sealed up, not all at once, but little by little. For after the 
door was securely fastened, there remained a four-inch 
round opening in the center, through which we could see 
and talk and just slip a hand. Then this mighty bolt was 
screwed in place, and there began the most infernal racket 
I have ever heard. It was necessary, not only to screw 
the nuts down hard, but to pound the wrenches with 
hammers to take up all possible slack. I was sure the win- 
dows would be cracked, but having forcibly expressed our 
feelings through the telephone we gradually got used to 
the ear-shattering reverberations. Then utter silence set- 
tled down. 

Fig. 35. {upper) Deck of the Ready, with electric engine. Gloria HoUister taking 
notes telephoned up from the divers in the bathysphere. Fig. 36. {lower) Bathysphere 
ready for the quarter-mile descent, with the flags of the Explorers' Club and of the 
Tropical Research Department of the New York Zoological Society. 

}"iG. 37. {upper) The bathysphere poised over the water with Beebe and Barton inside, 
ready for the quarter-mile dive. Fig. 38. {lower) The wire is half off the winch, showing 
that the bathysphere is 1400 feet down. John Tee- Van in charge of the deck machinery. 


I turned my attention to the windows, cleaned them 
thoroughly and tested the visual angles which I could 
attain by pressing my face close to the surface. I could 
see a narrow sector of the deck with much scurrying about, 
and as we rolled I caught sight of the ultramarine sea and 
the Gladisfen dipping at the end of the slack tow rope. 
Faint scuflQing sounds reached us now and then, and an 
occasional hollow beating. Then it seemed as if the steel 
walls fell away, and we were again free among our fel- 
lows, for a voice came down the half mile of hose coiled 
on the deck, and such is the human mind, that slender 
vocal connection seemed to restore physical as well as 
mental contact. While waiting for the take-off. Barton 
readjusted the phone, tested the searchlight, and opened 
the delicate oxygen valve. He turned it until we both 
verified the flow as two litres a minute — that being the 
amount suggested to us for two people. I remembered 
what I had read of Houdini's method of remaining in a 
closed coffin for a long time, and we both began con- 
scientiously regulating our breathing, and conversing in 
low tones. 

Another glance through my porthole showed Tee-Van 
looking for a signal from old Captain Millet. I knew that 
now it was actually a propitious wave or rather a pro- 
pitious lack of one for which they waited. Soon Millet 
waved his hand, and exactly at one o'clock the winch 
grumbled, the wire on the deck tightened, and we felt our 
circular home tremble, lean over, and lift clear. Up we 

io6 TO DAVY Jones's locker 

went to the yard-arm, then a half -score of the crew pulled 
with all their might and swung us out over the side. This 
all between two, big, heaving swells. We were dangling in 
mid-air and slowly we revolved until I was facing in 
toward the side of the Ready. And now our quartz win- 
dows played a trick on us. Twice already, in an experi- 
mental test submergence, we had not gauged correctly 
the roll of the ship or the distance outboard and the sphere 
haid crashed into the half-rotten bulwarks. Now as I 
watched, I saw us begin to swing and my eyes told me 
that we were much too close, and that a slightly heavier 
roll would crash us, windows first, into the side of the 
vessel. Barton could not see the imminent danger, and the 
next message I got was "Gloria wants to know why the 
Director is swearing so." By this time we had swung far 
out, and I realized that every word which we spoke to 
each other in our tiny hollow chamber was clearly audible 
at the other end of the wire. I sent up word that any lan- 
guage was justifiable at such gross neglect as to allow our 
window to swing back and forth only a yard from the 
boat. And very decisively the word came back that fifteen 
feet was the nearest it had ever been, and we were now 
twenty-five feet away. Barton looked out with me and 
we could not believe our eyes. Fused quartz, as I have said, 
is the clearest, the most transparent material in the world, 
and the side of the Ready seemed only a yard away. My 
apologies must have cost us several litres of good oxygen. 
To avoid any further comment on our part, profane 


or otherwise, we were lowered 20 feet. I sensed the weight 
and sturdy resistance of the bathysphere more at this mo- 
ment than at any other time. We were lowered gently 
but we struck the surface with a splash which would 
have crushed a rowboat like an eggshell. Yet within we 
hardly noticed the impact, until a froth of foam and 
bubbles surged up over the glass and our chamber was 
dimmed to a pleasant green. We swung quietly while the 
first hose clamp was put on the cable. At the end of the 
first revolution the great hull of the barge came into view. 
This was a familiar landscape, which I had often seen 
from the diving helmet — a transitory, swaying reef with 
waving banners of seaweed, long tubular sponges, jet black 
blobs of ascidians and tissue-thin plates of rough-spined 
pearl shells. Then the keel passed slowly upward, becoming 
one with the green water overhead. 

With this passed our last visible link with the upper 
world; from now on we had to depend on distant spoken 
words for knowledge of our depth, or speed, or the 
weather, or the sunlight, or anything having to do with 
the world of air on the surface of the Earth. 

A few seconds after we lost sight of the hull of the 
Ready, word came down the hose that we were at 50 feet, 
and I looked out at the brilliant bluish-green haze and 
could not realize that this was almost my limit in the div- 
ing helmet. Then "100 feet" was called out, and still the 
only change was a slight twilighting and chilling of the 
green. As we sank slowly I knew that we must be passing 

io8 TO DAVY Jones's locker 

the 132-foot level, the depth where Commander Ellsberg 
labored so gallantly to free the men in the Submarine S-57. 
"200 feet" came and we stopped with the slightest pos- 
sible jerk and hung suspended while a clamp was attached 
— a double gripping bit of brass which bound the cable 
and hose together to prevent the latter from breaking by 
its own weight. Then the call came that all was clear and 
again I knew that we were sinking, although only by the 
upward passing of small motes of life in the water. 

"We were now very far from any touch of Mother 
Earth; ten miles south of the shore of Bermuda, and one 
and a half miles from the sea bottom far beneath us. At 
300 feet, Barton gave a sudden exclamation and I turned 
the flash on the door and saw a slow trickle of water be- 
neath it. About a pint had already collected in the bot- 
tom of the sphere. I wiped away the meandering stream 
and still it came. There flashed across my mind the memory 
of gentle rain falling on a window pane, and the first 
drops finding their way with difficulty over the dry sur- 
face of the glass. Then I looked out through the crystal 
clear quartz at the pale blue, and the contrast closed in 
on my mind like the ever deepening twilight. 

We watched the trickle. I knew the door was solid 
enough — a mass of four hundred pounds of steel — and I 
knew the inward pressure would increase with every foot 
of depth. So I gave the signal to descend quickly. After 
that, the flashlight was turned on the door-sill a dozen 
times during our descent, but the stream did not increase. 


Two minutes more and "400 feet" was called out; 500 
and 600 feet came and passed overhead, then 700 feet 
where we remained for a while. 

Ever since the beginnings of human history, when first 
the Phoenicians dared to sail the open sea, thousands upon 
thousands of human beings had reached the depth at which 
we were now suspended, and had passed on to lower levels. 
But all of these were dead, drowned victims of war, 
tempest, or other Acts of God. We were the first living 
men to look out at the strange illumination: And it was 
stranger than any imagination could have conceived. It 
was of an indefinable translucent blue quite unlike any- 
thing I have ever seen in the upper world, and it excited 
our optic nerves in a most confusing manner. We kept 
thinking and calling it brilliant, and again and again I 
picked up a book to read the type, only to find that I could 
not tell the difference between a blank page and a colored 
plate. I brought all my logic to bear, I put out of mind 
the excitement of our position in watery space and tried 
to think sanely of comparative color, and I failed utterly. 
I flashed on the searchlight, which seemed the yellowest 
thing I have ever seen, and let it soak into my eyes, yet 
the moment it was switched off, it was like the long van- 
ished sunlight — it was as though it never had been — and 
the blueness of the blue, both outside and inside our sphere, 
seemed to pass materially through the eye into our very 
beings. This is all very unscientific; quite worthy of being 
jeered at by optician or physicist, but there it was. I was 


excited by the fishes that I was seeing perhaps more than 
I have ever been by other organisms, but it was only an 
intensification of my surface and laboratory interest: I 
have seen strange fluorescence and ultra-violet illumina- 
tion in the laboratories of physicists: I recall the weird 
effects of color shifting through distant snow crystals on 
the high Himalayas, and I have been impressed by the 
eerie illumination, or lack of it, during a full eclipse of 
the sun. But this was beyond and outside all or any of 
these. I think we both experienced a wholly new kind of 
mental reception of color impression. I felt I was dealing 
with something too different to be classified in usual terms. 

All our remarks were recorded by Miss Hollister and 
when I read them later, the repetition of our insistence 
upon the brilliance, which yet was not brilliance, was 
almost absurd. Yet I find that I must continue to write 
about it, if only to prove how utterly inadequate lan- 
guage is to translate vividly, feeling and sensations under 
a condition as unique as submersion at this depth. 

The electric searchlight now became visible. Hereto- 
fore we could see no change whatever in the outside water 
when it was turned on, but now a pale shaft of yellow — 
intensely yellow — light shot out through the blue, very 
faint but serving to illuminate anything which crossed it. 
Most of the time I chose to have it cut off, for I wanted 
more than anything else to see all that I could of the 
luminescence of the living creatures. 

After a few minutes I sent up an order, and I knew 


that we were again sinking. The twiKght (the word had 
become absurd, but I could coin no other) deepened, but 
we still spoke of its brilliance. It seemed to me that it 
must be like the last terrific upflare of a flame before it 
is quenched. I found we were both expecting at any mo- 
ment to have it blown out, and to enter a zone of abso- 
lute darkness. But only by shutting my eyes and opening 
them again could I realize the terrible slowness of the 
change from dark blue to blacker blue. On the earth at 
night in moonlight I can always imagine the yellow of 
sunshine, the scarlet of invisible blossoms, but here, when 
the searchlight was off, yellow and orange and red were 
unthinkable. The blue which filled all space admitted no 
thought of other colors. 

We spoke very seldom now. Barton examined the drip- 
ping floor, took the temperatures, watched and adjusted 
the oxygen tank, and now and then asked, "What depth 
now?" "Yes, we're all right." "No, the leak's not increas- 
ing." "It's as brilliant as ever." 

And we both knew it was not as brilliant as ever, but 
our eyes kept telling us to say so. It actually seemed to 
me to have a brilliance and intensity which the sunshine 
lacked; sunshine, that is, as I remembered it in what 
seemed ages ago. 

"800 feet" now came down the wire and I called a halt. 
There seemed no reason why we should not go on to a 
thousand; the leak was no worse, our palm-leaf fan kept 
the oxygen circulating so that we had no sense of stuffi- 


ness and yet some hunch — some mental warning which 
I have had at half a dozen critical times in my life — 
spelled bottom for this trip. This settled, I concentrated 
on the window for five minutes. 

The three exciting internal events which marked this 
first trip were, first, the discovery of the slight leak 
through the door at 300 feet, which lessened as we went 
down; next, the sudden short-circuiting of the electric 
light switch, with attendant splutterings and sparks, which 
was soon remedied. The third was absurd, for it was only 
Barton pulling out his palm-leaf fan from between the 
wall of the sphere and the wire lining of the chemical 
rack. I was wholly absorbed at the time in watching some 
small fish, when the sudden shrieking rasp in the con- 
fines of our tiny cell gave me all the reactions which we 
might imagine from the simultaneous caving in of both 
windows and door! After that, out of regard for each 
other's nerves, we squirmed about and carried on our vari- 
ous duties silently. 

Coming up to the surface and through it was like hit- 
ting a hard ceiling — I unconsciously ducked, ready for 
the impact, but there followed only a slather of foam 
and bubbles, and the rest was sky. 

We reached the deck again just one hour after our 
start, and sat quietly while the middle bolt was slowly 
unscrewed. We could hear our compressed air hissing out- 
ward through the threads until finally the bolt popped 
o£F, and our ear-drums vibrated very slightly. After a 


piece of boiler-factory pounding the big door finally 
swung off. I started to follow and suddenly realized how 
the human body could be completely subordinated to the 
mind. For a full hour I had sat in almost the same position 
with no thought either of comfort or discomfort, and 
now I had severally to untwist my feet and legs and bring 
them to life. The sweater which was to have served as 
cushion, I found reposing on one of the chemical racks, 
while I had sat on the hard cold steel in a good-sized pud- 
dle of greasy water. I also bore the distinct imprint of a 
monkey wrench for several days. I followed Barton out 
on deck into the glaring sunshine, whose yellowness can 
never hereafter be as wonderful as blue can be. 

While still upside down, creeping painfully, sea-lion- 
wise, over the protruding circle of bolts, I fancied that 
I heard a strange, inexplicable ringing in my ears. When 
I stood up, I found it was the screeching whistles on the 
boilers and the deeper toned siren of the Gladisfen giving 
us, all to ourselves, a little celebration in mid-ocean. The 
wind was right and my staflF on Nonsuch ten miles away 
saw the escaping steam through the telescope binoculars, 
later heard the sound faintly, and knew that we had made 
our dive and ascent in safety. 

Four days later we were able to put to sea again, and 
sent the bathysphere down empty to 2000 feet. By the 
judicious use of white lead we had effectively stopped the 
leak in the door, and there was no tangle or twist of hose. 
A tiny flaw which we had watched with suspicion on the 


outer rim of one of the quartz windows had not increased. 
The only novelty in the way of unexpected happenings 
after this two hours' submergence, was that about three 
feet of the hose had been forced inside the sphere. When 
this was rectified, Barton and I climbed inside and started 
enthusiastically for a deeper plunge. Everything went well 
until at 150 feet we began to experience bad static on 
the phone. A sentence would come through clearly and 
then only a mixture of spluttered words. It improved for 
a while, but at 250 feet Barton said, "My God! The phone 
is broken." It was a tragic exclamation, and I felt exactly 
as he did. The leak on our other trip, the short circuiting, 
the static today — these were all annoying but not terrify- 
ing, and as I have already mentioned, the sound of the 
human voice had, all unconsciously to us, seemed a much 
surer bond than the steel cable or the sturdiness of the 
sphere. We had neither of us felt before quite the same 
realization of our position in space as we did now. It 
seemed as if hose, cable, and all had gone. We had become 
veritable plankton. I visualized us as hanging in mid- 
water for as long as the Flying Dutchman roamed the 
surface above. The silence was oppressive and ominous, 
and our whispers to each other did nothing to alleviate 
it. The greenish blue outside became cold and inimical. 
We did our best to signal with the searchlight, knowing 
that answering flickering must be reflected in the check- 
ing bulb on deck. We felt a sudden weight beneath us 
and knew that we were being reeled swiftly to the sur- 

TO DAVY Jones's locker 115 

face. A momentary delay came as the single clamp was re- 
moved. Some part of my brain worked steadily on and 
counted twenty-four jellyfish swimming past, and then 
we rose swiftly. As soon as the ascent first began my mind 
went to the people on deck, and I knew that they were 
getting the worst of this dive. As we shot into the air 
and over the bulwarks I caught a glimpse of our assistants' 
faces and those of the crew, and I knew how little we 
had appreciated the strain of the last two minutes. I 
jammed my face as closely as possible to the glass and 
assumed what I supposed was a reassuring grin, and the 
second attempt at a deep dive was over. A broken wire 
had caused the trouble, and eventually we had to cut off 
and throw away fifty fathoms of hose. 

The next day, June eleventh, was a perfect one for our 
work, and we were able to take advantage of it and make 
the deepest descent of this season, to a depth of 1426 feet, 
or well over a quarter of a land mile. When we went out 
in our launch to the Ready, we found there had been a 
fire on board in the night which had taken several hours 
to put out. The side and part of the aft gunwale had been 
badly charred, but no serious damage done, while the hose, 
winch, and sphere had escaped. With our ancient barge 
looking a little more than usual like a deserted hulk, we 
put to sea again. As there was a current and an outward 
set, this time I stopped at a point in the ocean five miles 
south of Nonsuch, where former soundings had given us 
a depth of 750 fathoms. 

ii6 TO DAVY Jones's locker 

This was Dive Number Seven for the bathysphere, and 
we cUmbed in at 9:50 a.m. We had made a number of 
improvements since the first dive. The inside had been 
painted black so as not to interfere with observations. 
Barton had come to look upon his very greasy leather 
skull-cap as a mascot, so when he could not find it, the 
central bolt was unscrewed, and the Ready searched 
thoroughly for five minutes, after which he found he 
was sitting on it. We now had a special place for fans and 
monkey wrenches and I arranged a shelf for my notebook 
and pencil, specimens of scarlet crustaceans, and a book 
with type and plates to test the pseudo-brilliance of the 
light. The cushion was in its right place, and we had built 
a shield to shut out the lateral glare from the searchlight. 
We had also learned to cover the chevaitx-de-frise of bolts 
at the entrance with sacking, and so to soften the eflfects 
of our frantic wrigglings in and out. The shackle of the 
cable had been shifted from the central to the posterior 
hole so that the sphere tipped slightly forward and down- 
ward when swinging free. This gave me a better outlook 
in a slightly oblique, downward direction. The hose fas- 
tening on the sphere had been tightened so that there was 
less chance of our being smothered in its entering, en- 
twining coils, which would have been an undramatic, 
Laocoon ending. 

This time we took a chance on everything being in good 
order, and did not make an experimental submergence. 
We fastened the Tropical Research house flag of the New 

Fig. 39. {upper) The bathysphere is on its way up and the cable is being wound in over the 
winch, the electric hose drawn in by hand. This photograph was taken during a test dive. 
Fig. 40. {lower) We get our first glimpse of sunshine again as the great steel ball breaks the 

Fig. 41. {upper) On deck again after the quarter-mile dive, I peer out through the crystal 
clear window, waiting for the door to be opened. Fig. 42. {lower) The door is unscrewed 
and we breathe natural air again. Yet after two hours of being sealed tight in a four-and- 
a-half-foot chamber, our artificial atmosphere is fresh. 

Fig. 43. (upper) Our emergence from the bathysphere is somewhat like the progression of 
seals. We were frightfully stiff from curling up on cold steel for so long a time. Fig. 44. 
(lower) We hope another year to go down to a half mile and remain there for hours. (This 
caption, an excellent prophecy, was written and published in 1930.) 


York Zoological Society and that of the Explorers' Club 
to the bathysphere, and tied a very ancient squid wrapped 
in cheesecloth just beneath the observation windows. 
Dangling in front and just to one side was a cluster of 
luminous hooks attractively baited. "With the searchlight 
ready to turn on, I felt that I had contrived all the en- 
ticements possible for luring deep-sea fish within my ob- 
servational zone. 

Barton and I were screwed down and bolted in at ten 
o'clock, and four minutes later touched water. The sur- 
face was crossed with small wavelets, and three times 
before we were completely submerged the distant Gladisfen 
and the level horizon were etched clearly on the glass, 
and as instantly erased by a green and white smother. We 
sank slowly and I peered upward and watched the under 
side of the surface rise above me. When the rush of silvery 
bubble-smoke imprisoned beneath the sphere had passed, 
the surface showed clear. From the point of view of a sub- 
marine creature, I should by rights call it the floor of the 
air, and not the ceiling of the water. Even when diving in 
the helmet I am always conscious of the falsity of calling 
the water wet when I am once immersed in it. Spray blows 
in one's face and leaves it wet, but down below, the im- 
prisoned air sailing upward, slips through one's fingers 
like balloon pearls, dry, mobile beauty, leaving only a 
pleasant sensation. 

And now I looked up at our vertical wake of thousands 

ii8 TO DAVY Jones's locker 

of iridescent swimming bits of air, and, for a moment, 
forgot whither we were bound. 

The boundary of air and water above me appeared 
perfectly solid, and like a slowly waving, pale green 
canopy, quilted everywhere with deep, pale puckers — the 
sharp apexes of the wavelets above showing as smooth, 
rounded indentations below. The sunlight sifted down in 
long, oblique rays as if through some unearthly beautiful 
cathedral window. The host of motes of dust had their 
exact counterpart in mid-water, only the general feeling 
of color was cool green, not yellow. The water was so clear 
that I could see dimly the distant keel of the Gladisfen, 
rolling gently. And here and there, like bunches of mistle- 
toe hanging from a chandelier, were clusters of golden 
sargassum weed, with only their upper tips hidden, break- 
ing through into the air. A stray berry went past my 
window and I saw an amusing likeness between its di- 
minutive air-filled sphere and that which was at present 
my home. 

The last thing in focus, of the upper world, was a long, 
undulating sea serpent of a rope dangling down from the 
side of the Ready. 

We had asked to be lowered slowly. When less than 50 
feet beneath the surface I happened to glance at a large, 
deep-sea prawn which I had taken for color experiment. 
To my astonishment it was no longer scarlet, but a deep 
velvety black. I opened my copy of "Depths of the Ocean" 


and the plate of bright red shrimps was dark as night: No 
wonder I thought of the Kght as cool. 

On this and other dives I carefully studied the chang- 
ing colors, both by direct observation and by means of 
the spectroscope (Plate IV) . Just beneath the surface the 
red diminished to one-half its normal width. At 20 feet 
there was only a thread of red and at 50 the orange was 
dominant. This in turn vanished at 150 feet. 300 feet 
found the whole spectrum dimmed, the yellow almost 
gone and the blue appreciably narrowed. At 350 I should 
give as a rough summary of the spectrum fifty per cent 
blue violet, twenty-five per cent green, and an equal 
amount of colorless pale light. At 450 feet no blue re- 
mained, only violet, and green too faint for naming. At 
800 feet there was nothing visible but a narrow line of 
pale grayish- white in the green-blue area, due of course to 
the small amount of light reaching my eye. Yet when I 
looked outside I saw only the deepest, blackest-blue imag- 
inable. On every dive this unearthly color brought excite- 
ment to our eyes and minds. 

A few familiar aurelia jellyfish drifted past while 
we were sinking to 50 feet, and at 100 feet a cloud of 
brown thimble jellies vibrated by the window. These were 
identical with those which we had observed in vast swarms 
in Haiti.^ They are supposed to be surface forms, but here 
they were pushing against my window 20 fathoms down. 
They were the first organisms which showed that the 

^ "Beneath Tropic Seas," Linuche jellies, pp. 20-23. 


fused quartz did away with all distortion. Full 20 feet 
away I could see them coming, and the knowledge of their 
actual size — that of a thimble — gave me a gauge of com- 
parison which helped in estimating distance, size, and speed 
of unknown organisms. 

I found that little things could change my whole mental 
outlook in the bathysphere. Up to this moment I had been 
watching the surface or seeing surface organisms, and I 
had focused so intensely upward that what was beneath 
had not yet become vivid. As the last thimble jelly passed, 
an air bubble broke loose from some hidden corner of 
the sphere, and writhing from the impetus of its wrench- 
ing free, rose swiftly, breaking into three just overhead, 
and the trio vanished. Now I felt the isolation and the 
awe which increased with the dimming of the light; the 
bubble seemed the last link with my upper world, and 
I wondered whether any of the watchers saw it coming, 
silver at first, then clothing itself in orange and red iri- 
descence as it reached the surface — to break and merge 
and be lost forever. 

At 200 feet there occurred my first real deep-sea ex- 
perience on this dive, something which could never be 
duplicated on the surface of the water. A six-inch fish 
suddenly appeared, nosed the bag of ancient squid and 
then took up its position close to the glass of my win- 
dow, less than a foot away from my face. Something about 
it seemed familiar, yet it was strange. In size, shape, and 
general pattern it was very like a pilot-fish, Naucrafes 

DC o 

Fig. 47. {upper) One of the most beauti- 
ful of the deep-sea jellyfish is PenphyUiim. 
When brought up out of the eternal dark- 
ness it is rich turquoise and maroon. 

Fig. 48. {lower) A siphonophore often came in sight of the bathysphere window. It is a drifting 
colony of animals with a gas-float adapted to the pressures of certain depths. 


ductor. Twice it swam back to the delectable bait and 
three times returned to where it almost diametered my 
circular outlook. Then I knew what the trouble was — it 
was the ghost of a pilot-fish — pure white with eight wide, 
black, upright bands. At 200 feet a pilot-fish could not 
be the color he is at the surface, and, like Einstein's half- 
sized world, here was a case where only the faulty, tran- 
sient memory of man sealed up in a steel sphere had any 
right to assert that under different conditions the fish 
would show any colors other than the dark upright bands. 
I am certain that the fish itself aided this pale appearance, 
for it has considerable power of color change, but this 
was very different from the mere expansion and contrac- 
tion of dermal chromatophores. At 250 feet I saw the 
pilot-fish going upward. 

There was a similarity between two- and three-hundred- 
foot levels in that most of the fish seen were carangids, 
such as pilot-fish and Psenes (this has no human or Chris- 
tian name, but its technical one is so interesting to pro- 
nounce that this can be excused!) . Long strings of siphon- 
ophores drifted past, lovely as the finest lace, and schools 
of jellyfish throbbed on their directionless but energetic 
road through life. Small vibrating motes passed in clouds, 
wholly mysterious until I could focus exactly and knew 
them for pteropods, or flying snails, each of which lived 
within a delicate, tissue shell, and flew through life with 
a pair of flapping, fleshy wings (Fig. 45) . 

At 400 feet there came into view the first real deep- 


sea fish — Cyclothones or round-mouths, lanternfish, and 
bronze eels. The former meant nothing at first; I took 
them for dark-colored worms or shrimps. Only when I saw 
them at greater depths in the searchlight did I recognize 
them. Of all the many thousands of these fish which I have 
netted, I never saw one alive until now (Plate VI). The 
lanternfish (Myctophids) came close to the glass and were 
easy to call by name (Fig. 51). Instead of having only 
a half dozen scales left, like those caught in the nets, these 
fish were ablaze with their full armor of iridescence. Twice 
I caught the flash of their light organs, but only for an 
instant. An absurdly small and rotund puffer appeared 
quite out of place at this depth, but with much more 
reason he probably thought the same of me. 

Big silvery bronze eels (Plate VIII) came nosing about 
the bait, although what they expected to accomplish with 
their exceedingly slender and delicate jaws is hard to 
imagine. Their transparent larva also appeared, swimming 
by itself, a waving sheet of watery tissue. Pale shrimps 
drifted by, their transparency almost removing them from 
vision. Now and then came a flash as from an opal, prob- 
ably the strange, flat crustacean, well-named Sapphirina, 
Ghosts of pilot-fish swam into view again at this level. 

Here, at 400 feet, we found that we could just read 
ordinary print with an effort, and yet to the unfocused 
eye the illumination seemed very brilliant. I found that 
the two hours' difference between 10 a.m. and noon, mark- 
ing the two dives, Numbers Four and Seven, although 

TO DAVY Jones's locker 123 

both were made in full sunlight, resulted in fifty per cent 
less illumination at 10 a.m. than at noon. 

At 500 feet I had fleeting glimpses of fish nearly two 
feet long, perhaps surface forms, and here for the first time 
I saw strange, ghostly, dark forms hovering in the distance, 
— forms which never came nearer, but reappeared at 
deeper, darker depths. Flying snails passed in companies 
of fifty or more, looking like brown bubbles. I had seen 
them alive in the net hauls, but here they were at home 
in thousands. As they perished from old age or accident or 
what-not, their shells drifted slowly to the bottom, a mile 
and a half down, and several times when my net had 
accidentally touched bottom it had brought up quarts of 
the empty, tinkling shells. 

Small, ordinary-looking squids balanced in mid-water. 
I hoped to see some of the larger ones, those with orange, 
bull's-eye lights at the tips of their arms, or the ones which 
glow with blue, yellow, and red light organs. None came 
close enough, however, or it may be I must wait until I 
can descend a mile and still live, before I can come to 
their haunts. 

A four-inch fish came into view and nosed the baited 
hook. It was almost transparent, the vertebrse and body 
organs being plainly visible, the eyes and the food-filled 
stomach the only opaque parts. Since making the dive I 
have twice captured this fish, the pinkish, semi-transparent 
young of the scarlet, big-eyed snapper. 

At 550 feet I found the temperature inside the bell was 

124 TO DAVY Jones's locker 

seventy-six degrees, twelve degrees lower than on deck. 
Near here a big leptocephalus undulated past, a pale ribbon 
of transparent gelatine with only the two iridescent eyes 
to indicate its arrival. As it moved I could see the outline 
faintly — ten inches long at least, and as it passed close, 
even the parted jaws were visible (Fig. 50). This was the 
larva of some great sea eel. 

As 600 feet came and passed I saw flashes of light in 
the distance and at once turned on the searchlight, but 
although the blue outside seemed dark, yet the electric 
glare had no visible effect, and we turned it off. The sparks 
of light and the distant flashes kept on from time to time 
showing the power of these animal illuminations. 

A pale blue fish appeared, yet the blue of the pilot-fish 
does not exist at this depth. Several seriola-like forms nosed 
toward me. They must have drifted down from the sur- 
face waters into these great pressures without injury. Dark 
jellyfish twice came to my eyes, and the silvery eels again. 
The flying snails looked dull gold and I saw my first 
shrimps with minute but very distinct port-holes where 
the lights must be (Fig. 52). Again a great cloud of a 
body moved in the distance — this time pale, much lighter 
than the water. How I longed for a single near view, or 
telescopic eyes which could pierce the murk. I felt as if 
some astonishing discovery lay just beyond the power of 
my eyes. 

At another hundred feet a dozen fish passed the sphere 
swimming almost straight upright, yet they were not un- 


duly elongate like the trumpetfish which occasionally as- 
sume this position in shallow waters near shore. I had a 
flash only of the biggest fish yet — dark, with long, taper- 
ing tail and quite a foot in length. Shrimps and snails 
drifted past like flakes of unheard-of storms. Also a large 
transparent jellyfish bumped against the glass, its stomach 
filled with a glowing mass of luminous food. 

Here and at 800 feet a human being was permitted for 
the first time the sight of living, silver hatchet-fish, helio- 
graphing their silver sides. I made Barton look quickly 
out so he could verify the unexpected sight (Fig. 49) . 

Here is an excerpt, of a very full seventeen minutes, 
direct from the transcription which Miss Hollister took 
of my notes telephoned up from 800 feet on Dive Num- 
ber Eleven: 

June 19, 1930. 1:24 P.M. Depth 800 feet: 2 black fish, 
8 inches long going by, rat-tailed, probably Idiacanthus. 
2 long, silver, eel-like fish, probably Serrivomer. Fish and 
invertebrates go up and down the shaft of light like in- 
sects. 3 Myctophids with headlights; Diaplms. (Work with 
a mirror next time.) 2 more different Myctophids. The 
same 3 Myctophids with headlights. 20 Pteropods and 6 
or 8 Argyropeleciis together. 3 more Pteropods. Little 
twinkling lights in the distance all the time, pale greenish 
in color. Eels, i dark and i light. Big Argyropeleciis com- 
ing; looks like a worm head on. Eustomias-like fish 5 
inches long. 30 Cyclothones, greyish, white. 

126 TO DAVY Jones's locker 

We had left the deck at ten o'clock, and it was twenty- 
five minutes later that we had again reached our record 
floor — 800 feet. This time I had no hunch — reasonable 
or unreasonable — and three minutes later we were passing 
through a mist of crustaceans and flapping snails at 900 
feet. We both agreed that the light was quite bright 
enough to read by and then we tried Pica type and found 
that our eyes showed nothing definite whatever. With the 
utmost straining I could just distinguish a plate of figures 
from a page of type. Again the word "brilliant" slipped 
wholly free of its usual meaning, and we looked up from 
our effort to see a real deep-sea eel undulating close to the 
glass — a slender- jawed Serrivomer, bronzy-red as I knew 
in the dimly-remembered upper world, but here black 
and white. 

At 1000 feet we had a moment's excitement when a 
loop of black, sea-serpenty hose swung around before us, 
a jet-black line against blackish-blue. 

Almost at once the sparks we had seen higher up be- 
came more abundant and larger. At 1050 feet I saw a 
series of luminous, colored dots moving along slowly, or 
jerking unsteadily past, similar and yet independent. I 
turned on the searchlight and found it effective at last. 
At 600 feet it could not be distinguished; here it cut a 
swath almost material, across my field of vision, and for 
the first time, as far as I know, in the history of scientific 
inquiry, the life of these depths was visible. The searing 
beams revealed my colored lights to be a school of silver 


hatchet-fish, ArgyropelecuSy from a half to two Inches in 
length and gleaming like tinsel (Frontispiece) . The mar- 
vel of the searchlight was that up to its sharp-cut border 
the blue-blackness revealed nothing but the lights of the 
fish. In this species these burned steadily, and each showed 
a colorful swath directed downward — the little iridescent 
channels of glowing reflections beneath the source of the 
actual light. These jerked and jogged along until they 
reached the sharp-edged border-line of the searchlight's 
beam, and as they entered it, every light was quenched, 
at least to my vision, and they showed as spots of shining 
silver, revealing every detail of fin and eye and utterly 
absurd outline. When I switched off the electricity or the 
fish moved out of its path, their pyrotechnics again rushed 
into visibility. The only effect of the yellow rays was to 
deflect the path of each fish slightly away from their 
course. Like active little rays of light entering a new 
medium, the Argyros passed into the searchlight at right 
angles to my eye and left it headed slightly away. With 
them was a mist of jerking pteropods with their delicate 
shields, frisking in and out among the hatchet-fish like a 
pack of dogs around the mounts. 

My hand turned the switch and I looked out into a 
world of inky blueness where constellations formed and 
reformed and passed without ceasing. At this moment I 
heard Miss Hollister's voice faintly seeping through 
Barton's head-phone, and it seemed as if the sun-drenched 
deck of the Ready must surely be hundreds of miles away. 

128 TO DAVY Jones's locker 

I used the searchlight intermittently, and by waiting 
until I saw some striking illumination I could suddenly 
turn it on and catch sight of the author before it dashed 

At iioo feet we surveyed our sphere carefully. There 
was no evidence of the hose coming inside, the door was 
dry as a bone, the oxygen tanks were working well and 
by occasional use of our palm-leaf fans, the air was kept 
sweet. The walls of the bathysphere were dripping with 
moisture, probably sweating from the heat of our bodies 
condensing on the cold steel. The chemicals were working 
well, and we had a grand shifting of legs and feet, and 
settled down for what was ahead of us. 

In the darkness of these levels I had not been able to 
see the actual forms of the hatchet-fish, yet a glance out 
of the window now showed distinctly several rat-tailed 
macrourid-like fish twisting around the bend of the hose. 
They were distinct, and were wholly new to me. Their 
profiles were of no macrourid I had ever seen. As I 
watched, from the sides of at least two, there flashed six 
or more dull greenish lights, and the effect on my eyes was 
such that the fish vanished as if dissolved into water, and 
the searchhght showed not a trace. I have no idea of what 
they were. 

At 1 200 feet there dashed into the searchlight, without 
any previous hint of illumination, what I identified as 
IdiacanthuSy or golden-tailed serpent dragon, a long, slen- 
der, eel-like form, which twisted and turned about in the 

Fig. 50. {upper) Leptoccphali, or the transparent larva: of eels, were seen at many levels 
from the bathysphere. They swim by a graceful waving of the whole body. Fig. 51. [lower) 
The head-lights of the lanternfish Diaplius shone out from the black waters around us more 
than once. 

TO DAVY Jones's locker 129 

glare, excited by some form of emotion. Twice it touched 
the edge and turned back as if in a hollow cylinder of 
light. I saw it when at last it left, and I could see no hint 
of its own light, although it possesses at least three hun- 
dred light organs. The great advantage of the electric 
light was that even transparent fins — as in the present 
case — reflected a sheen and were momentarily visible. 

From this point on I tied a handkerchief about my face 
just below the eyes, thus shunting my breath downward 
and keeping the glass clear, for I was watching with every 
available rod and cone of both eyes, at what was going 
on outside the six-inch circle of the quartz. 

At 1250 feet several more of the silver hatchets passed, 
going upward, and shrimps became abundant. Between 
this depth and 1300 feet not a light or an organism was 
seen: it was 50 feet of terrible emptiness, with the blue 
mostly of some wholly new color term — a term quite ab- 
sent from any human language. It was probably sheer 
imagination but the characteristic most vivid was its trans- 
parency. As I looked out I never thought of feet or yards 
of visibility, but of the hundreds of miles of this color 
stretching over so much of the world. And with this I 
will try to leave color alone for a space. 

Life again became evident around 1300 feet and mostly 
luminous. After watching a dozen or more firefly-like 
flashes I turned on the searchlight and saw nothing what- 
ever. These sparks, brilliant though they were, were kin- 
dled into conflagration and quenched in the same instant 


upon invisible bodies. Whatever made them was too small 
to reach my eyes, as was almost the host of copepods or 
tiny crustaceans through which we passed now and then 
(Fig. 53). At one time I kept the electric light going for 
a full minute while we were descending, and I distinctly 
observed two zones of abundance and a wide interval of 
very scanty, mote-like life. When they were very close 
to the glass I could clearly make out the jerking move- 
ments of copepods, but they were too small to show any- 
thing more. The milky sagitta, or arrow worms, were more 
easily detected, the eye catching their swift dart and then 
focusing on their quiet forms. While still near 1300 feet 
a group of eight large shrimps passed, showing an inde- 
terminate coloration. We never took large shrimps at 
these comparatively shallow levels in the trawling nets. 

Barton had just read the thermometer as seventy-two 
degrees when I dragged him over to the window to see 
two more hatchet-fish and what I had at last recognized 
as round-mouths. These are the most abundant of deep-sea 
fish and we take them in our nets by the thousand. Flick- 
ering forms had been bothering me for some time, giving 
out no light that I could detect, and twisting and wrig- 
gling more than any shrimp should be able to do. Just as 
my eyes had at first refused to recognize pteropods by 
their right names, I now knew that several times in the 
last few hundred feet I had seen Cyclothones, or round- 
mouths. In the searchlight they invariably headed up- 


light, so that only their thin-lipped mouths and tiny eyes 
were turned toward me. 

Before Barton went back to his instruments, three 
squids shot into the light, out and in again, changing from 
black to barred to white as they moved. They showed no 

At 10:44 we were sitting in absolute silence, our faces 
reflecting a faint bluish sheen. I became conscious of 
the pulse-throb in my temples and remember that I kept 
time to it with my fingers on the cold, damp steel of the 
window ledge. I shifted the handkerchief on my face and 
carefully wiped the glass, and at this moment we felt the 
sphere check in its course — we felt ourselves press slightly 
more heavily on the floor and the telephone said "1400 
feet." I had the feeling of a few more meters' descent and 
then we swung quietly at our lowest floor, over a quarter 
of a mile beneath the surface. 

I pressed my face against the glass and looked upward 
and in the slight segment which I could manage I saw a 
faint paling of the blue. I peered down and again I felt 
the old longing to go further, although it looked like the 
black pit-mouth of hell itself — yet still showed blue. I 
thought I saw a new fish flapping close to the sphere, but 
it proved to be the waving edge of the Explorers' Club 
flag — black as jet at this depth. 

My window was clear as crystal, in fact clearer, for, 
as I have said before and want to emphasize, fused quartz 
is one of the most transparent of all substances and trans- 


mits all wave-lengths of sunlight. The outside world I now 
saw through it was, however, a solid, blue-black world, 
one which seemed born of a single vibration — blue, blue, 
forever and forever blue. 

Once, in a tropical jungle, I had a mighty tree felled. 
Indians and convicts worked for many days before its 
downfall was accomplished, and after the cloud of 
branches, leaves, and dust had settled, a small, white moth 
fluttered up from the very heart of the wreckage. As I 
looked out of my window now I saw a tiny, semi-trans- 
parent jellyfish throbbing slowly past. I had seen nu- 
merous jellyfish during my descent and this one aroused 
only a mental note that this particular species was found 
at a greater depth than I expected. Barton's voice was 
droning out something, and when it was repeated I found 
that he had casually informed me that on every square 
inch of glass on my window there was a pressure of 
slightly more than six hundred and fifty pounds. The little 
moth flying unharmed from the terrific tangle, and the 
jellyfish drifting gently past seemed to have something 
in common. After this I breathed rather more gently in 
front of my window and wiped the glass with a softer 
touch, having in mind the nine tons of pressure on its 
outer surface ! 

However, it was not until I had ascended that the 
further information was vouchsafed me that the pressure 
of the water at our greatest depth, upon the bathysphere 
from all directions, was more than six and a half million 


pounds, or more concisely, 3366.2 tons. So far from bring- 
ing about an anticlimax of worry, this meant hardly more 
than the statement that the spiral nebula in Andromeda 
is 900,000 light years away. Nevertheless I am rather glad 
that this bit of information was withheld until I had re- 
turned to the surface. If I had known it at the time I 
think the two-tenths of a ton might have distracted my 
attention — that 400 pounds being fraught with rather a 
last-straw-on-the-camel's-back significance ! 

Like making oneself speak of earthrise instead of sun- 
set, there was nothing but continued mental reassertion 
which made the pressure believable. A six-inch dragon- 
fish, or Stomias, passed — lights first visible, then three sec- 
onds of searchlight for identification, then lights alone — 
and there seemed no reason why we should not swing the 
door open and swim out. The baited hooks waved to and 
fro, and the edge of one of the flags flapped idly and I 
had to call upon all my imagination to realize that in- 
stant, unthinkably instant death would result from the 
least fracture of glass or collapse of metal. There was no 
possible chance of being drowned, for the first few drops 
would have shot through flesh and bone like steel bullets. 

The duration of all this rather maudlin comment and 
unnecessary philosophizing occupied possibly ten seconds 
of the time we spent at 1426 feet. 

When, at any time in our earthly life, we come to a 
moment or place of tremendous interest it often happens 
that we realize the full significance only after it is all 


over. In the present instance the opposite was true and 
this very fact makes any vivid record of feelings and emo- 
tions a very difficult thing. At the very deepest point we 
reached I deliberately took stock of the interior of the 
bathysphere; I was curled up in a ball on the cold, damp 
steel, Barton's voice relayed my observations and assur- 
ances of our safety, a fan swished back and forth through 
the air and the ticking of my wrist-watch came as a 
strange sound of another world. 

Soon after this there came a moment which stands out 
clearly, unpunctuated by any word of ours, with no fish 
or other creature visible outside. I sat crouched with 
mouth and nose wrapped in a handkerchief, and my fore- 
head pressed close to the cold glass — that transparent bit 
of old earth which so sturdily held back nine tons of 
water from my face. There came to me at that instant 
a tremendous wave of emotion, a real appreciation of what 
was momentarily almost superhuman, cosmic, of the 
whole situation; our barge slowly rolling high overhead 
in the blazing sunlight, like the merest chip in the midst 
of ocean, the long cobweb of cable leading down through 
the spectrum to our lonely sphere, where, sealed tight, 
two conscious human beings sat and peered into the 
abyssal darkness as we dangled in mid-water, isolated as a 
lost planet in outermost space. Here, under a pressure 
which, if loosened, in a fraction of a second would make 
amorphous tissue of our bodies, breathing our own home- 
made atmosphere, sending a few comforting words chas- 


ing up and down a string of hose — here I was privileged 
to peer out and actually see the creatures which had 
evolved in the blackness of a blue midnight which, since 
the ocean was born, had known no following day; here 
I was privileged to sit and try to crystallize what I ob- 
served through inadequate eyes and interpret with a mind 
wholly unequal to the task. To the ever-recurring ques- 
tion, "How did it feel?", etc., I can only quote the words 
of Herbert Spencer, I felt like "an infinitesimal atom 
floating in illimitable space." No wonder my sole written 
contribution to science and literature at the time was "Am 
writing at a depth of a quarter of a mile. A luminous fish 
is outside the window." 

The return trip was made in forty-three minutes, an 
average of one foot every two seconds. Twice during the 
ascent I was aware of one or more indefinite, large bodies 
moving about at a distance. On the way down I had ac- 
credited them to an over-excited imagination, but after 
having the experience repeated on several deep dives I am 
sure that I did see shadowy shapes of large and very real 
living creatures. What they were I can only guess, and live 
in hopes of seeing them closer on some future descent. 

We had ascended to 1000 feet when Miss Hollister 
sent down word that a gull was flying about the Ready, 
and a moment later said that it was a young herring gull. 
I relayed the information that I had made a note of it — 
qualifying thus as the first ornithologist who had ever 
made a submarine bird note, and then contradicted it by 

i}6 TO DAVY Jones's locker 

remembering that when diving in a helmet off Marlbor- 
ough in the Galapagos I had recorded on my zinc tablet 
a passing visit from two penguins. 

Immediately after, to a question as to what was happen- 
ing, I retorted that two Ipnops had taken our hooks — this 
fish being one that we much desired but had not yet 
seen or caught. Down came the statement that one of 
the men had just scooped up a big deep-sea fish with his 
hands on the surface. I jeered — and then, seeing a luminous 
fish, snapped into an excited account of what began to 
come into view. When we returned to the surface I was 
astonished to discover that the capture of the deep-sea 
fish was not a rather pointless joke but a fact. In some 
way a giant specimen of the lanternfish, Myctophtim 
affine, had got mixed up with the sphere or hose, and had 
come to the surface somewhat damaged. Once disabled 
it had fallen up, as is the horrible fate of deep-sea fish in 
trouble. It was the world's record for size. 

We stepped out of the bathysphere at 11:52 after a 
submergence of almost two hours, with good air to breathe, 
perfect telephonic communication, and the memory of 
living scenes in a world as strange as that of Mars. 

I never doubted the success of the adventure as a whole, 
but I had much less faith in the possibility of seeing many 
living creatures from the windows in the bathysphere. 
The constant swaying movement due to the rolling of the 
barge high overhead, the great, glaring white sphere itself 
looming up through the blue murk, the apparent scarcity 

Fig. 52. {upper) Deep-sea shrimps are abundant, but are difficult to see, until they pour 
forth their defense fluid, a cloud of flame which blinds their enemies. Fig. 53. {lower) 
Copepods are the insects of the sea, and in our beam of light often appeared like motes 
of dust in a shaft of sunlight. 

Fig. 54. {upper) Trumpetfish {Aulostonitts) nrc Loinnion amon^ ilu reefs, often 
swimming liead up or head down as we pass over them in the bathysphere. Fig. 55. 
(loivei) It is rarely that moray eels (Gymiwt/wrax) are seen abroad in the daytime. 
But, until caught on a hook, they show none of the viciousness with which they are 


of organisms at best in the depths of the ocean as revealed 
by our net hauls, and finally the small size of the aperture, 
hardly as large as one's face — all these seemed handicaps 
too severe to be overcome. Yet the hope of such observa- 
tions was the sole object of the entire project. We never 
thought of it as a stunt, as beating the record of anyone, 
as the-first-white-man-who-had-ever, etc. 

This secret skepticism made the actual results all the 
more satisfying. As fish after fish swam into my restricted 
line of vision — fish, which, heretofore, I had seen only 
dead and in my nets — as I saw their colors and their 
absence of colors, their activities and modes of swimming 
and clear evidence of their sociability or solitary habits, 
I felt that all the trouble and cost and risk were repaid 
many fold. For two years I had been studying the deep- 
sea fish in a limited area of mid-ocean off Nonsuch, and 
now when we were at the bottom of our pendulum I real- 
ized that I, myself, was down where many hundreds of 
nets had been hauled. During the coming year I should 
be able to appreciate the plankton and fish hauls as never 
before. After these dives were past, when I came again 
to examine the deep-sea treasures in my nets, I would 
feel as an astronomer might who looks through his tele- 
scope after having rocketed to Mars and back, or like a 
paleontologist who could suddenly annihilate time and see 
his fossils alive. 

Chapter 7 


THE FOUR final bathysphere dives of 1930 were de- 
voted to what I might describe as contour diving, 
to steal part of an aviation term. This is decidedly 
more risky than deep dives in the open sea, but is of equal 
scientific importance. It opens up an entirely new field 
of possibilities, the opportunity of tracing the change 
from shallow- water fauna, corals, fish, etc., to those of 
mid-water, with the hope finally of observing the disap- 
pearance of the latter, and the change, gradual or abrupt, 
into the benthic, or deep-sea, forms of life. We know ab- 
solutely nothing of this at present, as the transition zone 
is so rough and untrawlable that there is no method known 
of learning anything about it. Nets are torn to shreds and 
dredges catch almost at once, the wire breaks and not a 
single organism comes up. 

I worked out the simplest method during the last dives 
of 1930. I brought the Gladisfen and Ready as close to 
shore as I dared on a day of perfect calm with a slight off- 
shore wind and there began diving, with the bottom, nine 
or ten fathoms down, actually in sight from the deck. 
We were lowered to within two fathoms of the reefs 
while the Ready drifted slowly seaward. As it turned out, 



the first two dives were probably the most fool-hardy 
things we could have done, for the sphere drifted back- 
ward, and from my window I could see only the bottom 
over which we had passed. If our projecting wooden land- 
ing gear had caught in a sudden rise of reef it would have 
gone very hard with us. As it was, I could only flatten my 
eyes against the quartz and try to adapt my elevation 
orders to what the contour promised. Once a crag passed 
two feet beneath us and I had a most unpleasant moment 
while we were rushed up 30 feet. 

Early on the following day, June twentieth, Barton 
ajfixed a double wooden rudder of boards to orient the 
sphere, so that in our subsequent contour dives we swung 
around and faced forward. Another improvement was 
the shifting of the shackle to the posterior hole, so that 
the whole apparatus tilted slightly downwards in front. 
I had the lead heaved constantly and telephoned to me, 
and so rapidly were my orders transmitted* to the man 
at the winch that we rose and fell swiftly as we progressed 
slowly seaward, now ordering a fathom or two of eleva- 
tion to escape a projecting coral crag, then dropping down 
into a submarine valley until the bottom again became 
visible. In spite of a constant watch ahead, accidents were 
on several occasions barely avoided. 

Two years later, in 1932, when we were diving from the 
deck of a large tug, one of the contour dives was marked 
by the narrowest escape which we ever experienced. We 
had already hurdled two low coral reefs, twenty and thirty 


feet high. A group of large fish held our attention di- 
rectly below. I could not quite identify them, and they 
were whirling around some focus of attraction when a 
dark shadow fell across the window. I looked up and saw 
that we were drifting rapidly toward an enormous crag 
or part of a coral reef, towering fifty feet or more above 
us, and covered on its almost perpendicular slope with 
great outreaching crags and sharp, water- worn hooks and 
snags. I sent the most urgent S.O.S. on the wire to haul us 
up as rapidly as possible, and we could almost hear the 
hissing steam as the winch began to turn at full speed. 
Fortunately there were no clamps to cut free. As we as- 
cended we swung nearer and nearer the cliff, and the wav- 
ing sea-fans and great anemones grew larger, and we were 
so close that every detail, every small fish became visible. 

I fully expected to strike and had already formulated 
the next order, which would have been to let us out as 
rapidly as we had been drawn up and to go astern full 
speed. In this way we might have slipped down the reef 
without becoming entangled and when the tug had backed 
over the reef we would have swung clear. 

But again the clarity of the fused quartz windows de- 
ceived us and we just cleared the summit, passing so close 
to it that I am sure our wooden base must have brushed 
the finger-like plumes on the reef top. 

Even if we had struck, no harm might have resulted; 
we might have bumped and scraped up and over the top. 
But a straight blow on one of the quartz windows, or 


getting badly tangled in one of those steel-hard, outreach- 
ing crags would not have been so good (Fig. 57) . 

On the other side I had us lowered 6$ feet as the bottom 
sloped rather steeply, and when we were again within a 
few feet of the bottom I saw below us a wide beach of 
white sand, mixed with water-worn pebbles and shells and 
sloping against the outer base of the great reef. I could 
even see ripple marks and could distinguish the various 
kinds of shells. This was to me one of the most interesting 
discoveries of all my dives. It was undoubtedly the old 
foreshore of Bermuda, the ancient beach which was above 
water at the last glacial period, say twenty-five thousand 
years ago. At that time there was so much ice locked up 
on the continents that the oceans were 250 feet lower 
than they are at present, and the dry land area of Bermuda 
was then doubtless measured in hundreds instead of tens 
of miles. Not far beyond this beach of olden time an 
abrupt and awful drop led down into a bluish-black abyss, 
where the bottom was lost and could not be recovered 
without too much risk. 

Visibility was usually excellent, except close in-shore 
and for a few days after a severe storm or hurricane, when 
cloudiness put an end to the work. When the water was 
clear I could make out and identify all coral and algal 
growths, and fish down to two inches in length. After 
several years' work in the diving helmet, I was familiar 
with the Bermuda fauna down to six and eight fathoms, 
and now the thing which impressed me most as I went 


deeper was the increased size of the fish: snappers, grunts, 
angelfish, and chubs, trumpetfish, surgeons, parrots, and 
jacks — all were as large or larger than I had ever seen 
them when diving in shallower water near shore. Now 
and then a fish was seen larger than any of its kind ever 
taken in Bermuda, and this in spite of the fact that angling 
is carried on down to ninety fathoms. 

Certain species of mid-water fish oflfered unexpected 
problems. The two most abundant were the blue chromis, 
Demoisellea cyaneus, and the smooth sardine, Sardinella 
anchovia. The former holds a place on the Bermuda list 
solely on the basis of a single doubtful record of seventy 
years ago, while there are few published records of this sar- 
dine. Yet on these shallow dives I saw school after school of 
each, hundreds of chromis swimming loosely, and tens of 
thousands of sardines in dense formations. When the latter 
sighted the bathysphere they turned downward as one 
fish, and poured past like elongated, silvery raindrops. The 
chromis usually passed on a horizontal plane (Fig. 56). 
In the West Indies recently I saw these two species in 
vast numbers about the shallowest reefs near shore. 

Once I saw an interesting exchange of courtesy, one 
which I have observed many times when diving near shore. 
The giant caerulean parrotfish browse on hard coral as a 
horse tears off mouthfuls of grass. After an interval of 
feeding, when the teeth and jaws and scales of the head are 
covered with debris, the fish upends in mid-water and 
holds itself motionless while a school of passing wrasse, all 


tiny in comparison with the big fish, rush from all sides 
and begin a systematic cleaning of the large fish's head. As 
in most relationships between different species of animals, 
this is founded on mutual benefit, the parrotfish getting 
a free cleaning, and the wrasse finding a supply of parti- 
cles of food ready at hand (Plate III) . 

On the very last dive of 1930, we were 30 feet down 
with the bottom at least a hundred feet beneath, when, 
without the slightest warning, the green water rained 
blue parrotfish. They were all deep cserulean blue (Scarus 
ccertdeus) almost unmarked, and they varied from about 
six inches to four feet. Hundreds and hundreds streamed 
obliquely past and downward, unending lines of vivid 
blue, and they extended far beyond my vision in every 
direction. Some were the merest shadow ghosts of parrot- 
fish in the distance, others almost brushed the glass, and 
the downpour did not cease — we merely passed through it. 
It seemed as if all the parrotfish of Bermuda had suddenly 
decided to leave for the depths of the open sea (Plate V) . 

Once before, a few miles to the westward, when I de- 
scended on a particularly rough day in my helmet to a 
depth of 30 feet I saw a similar migration or gathering 
of the blue parrotfish clans. On this occasion they were 
filled with curiosity about me and milled about for five 
minutes, fairly blanketing me — almost obliterating the 
surrounding seascape. 

Well out from shore on one of these contour dives I 
had the thrill of suddenly seeing a thin, endless sea-serpent. 


We were drifting slowly along, now lifting over a toothed 
ridge or settling down into a valley of caverns and gorges 
when, without warning, I saw a long black line undulating 
over the bottom, clearly visible when over a bed of sand, 
or vanishing behind a mass of giant sea-plumes. A second 
glance revealed it as the deep-sea transatlantic cable rest- 
ing quietly on its bed and carrying innumerable messages 
of hope and fear, joy and death. Kipling's words took on a 
new significance and I shall never send a cable again with- 
out this memory, nor shall I ever forget the breath-taking 
belief of the first few seconds. 

Another important phase of this method of observation 
is the physical geography of the bottom. I have been able 
to describe and map over a mile of bottom seen from five 
to twenty feet elevation, traversing steadily seaward. After 
passing the great loop of the cable, all visible life ceased, 
and we drifted over a wide expanse of desert, with no 
fish or plumes or living coral. I have no idea of the signif- 
icance of this dead zone. 

I have never succeeded in following the bottom lower 
than 350 feet. Increasing cloudiness of the water and 
greater obscurity have made it impossible to distinguish 
anything, and the danger of getting hung up and snapped 
off on some projecting cliff is too constant to progress 

With a calm sea, a steady off-shore breeze or current, 
and our searchlight in working order it will be possible 
sometime to make a systematic survey of the Bermudian 


Fig. 56. The commonest sight on contour dives of the bathyspiiere is this warp and woof 
of beautiful fish. Great schools of smooth sardines {Sardiuella anchovia) and bhie chromis 
{Demoisellea cyanea) lioat in front of our windows. Both are exceethngly rare closer to shore. 

(Painted by Helen Tee-Van) 

.i2 "O 


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C r3 

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bC rt 







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insular shelf. Even to repeat the conditions under which 
we worked would mean perfect facility for recognizing 
the change in species of fish and such invertebrates as 
echinoderms and horny corals; to see and name and note 
the bottom limits of algae and brain coral; and finally to 
watch for the end of water-worn and air- worn rocks, and 
the beginnings of the lava flows of old Bermuda Mountain. 

Chapter 8 


THE STORY of the bathysphere dive of 1932 begins 
at seven o'clock on the morning of August thirty- 
first. At that time several craft converged toward 
an ugly little shed of corrugated iron on a wharf to the 
west of St. Georges, Bermuda. Little bumboats brought 
engineers and carpenters, and toward the wharf steamed 
a huge, open-decked tug, the Freedom, which was, this 
year, to be the mother control boat. 

Finally we arrived in the New York Zoological Society's 
launch Skink and tied up outside the fleet of varied vessels. 
The shed was a dark, dismal affair which stood quite 
isolated on this small wharf. I had looked in the week 
before and it seemed as if all the great jumble of wire 
and winches was too inert, too completely enslaved by 
gravity for even man's power over the inorganic to be 

Now, suddenly, the middle part of the structure was 
lifted off and the bright early morning sunlight poured in. 
At this point an adventurer in speed or height or depth 
usually tells how his wonderful mechanical friend — plane 
or dirigible, speed-boat or racing auto — glistens in the 
sunlight, every part polished or newly painted, every joint 


tL, s 

Fig. 59. {upper) The bathysphere was painted white in 1930, but in 1932, in order to 
camoutiage it and make it less conspicuous to timid deep-sea fish, we gave it a thick coat 
of dark marine blue, hiding the streaks of grease. Fig. 60. {lower) When cleaned of a year's 
accumulation of rust, and dressed up in its fine new coat of paint, we hoisted the bathy- 
sphere on board the mother ship, the Freedom, Beebe and Barton riding on her and guard- 
ing the quartz windows from harm. 


oiled, poised in the hangar or garage ready for its supreme 
effort. But our poor old bathysphere appeared rather more 
like some ancient Galapagos tortoise, or the shell of a sea- 
turtle, scarred and dull, barnacled and stained. She had 
no name painted in bright letters and her sides were 
smeared and dimmed with oil and grease. Close alongside 
rested the great Arcturus seven-ton winch, with its roll 
upon roll of wire. Even this was covered with oily grime 
with a faint tinge of rust here and there. A slight flick 
with a knife blade showed however that this was as super- 
ficial as dust, and the steel shone forth beneath, bright as 
silver. I crept around to the front of the bathysphere and 
gently rubbed the surface of its smooth eyes with my 
handkerchief. The great quartz windows gave me stare 
for stare, only my face being visible now that the interior 
was hermetically sealed, as it had been for more than a 

There seemed no change in the glass — the right hand 
one slightly smoky, but the center one — through which 
I had first seen the creatures of the deep — clear as only 
fused quartz can be. I pushed at the side of the sphere 
but its two tons of weight stirred not a hair's breadth. 

Then I stepped back and a shackle was slipped into one 
of the suspending holes, a hand waved, and the maze of 
pulley wires moved and straightened, became taut, and 
the mighty globe of steel rose gently from its bed, swing- 
ing slowly back and forth in the air. As it curved high 
overhead and descended without a jar on to the deck of 


the Freedom I watched the steam escaping from the ship's 
winch and saw in my mind a complete cycle — the bathy- 
sphere tempered and hardened in fresh water; its terrific 
inertia overcome, and the steel ball carried through space 
by a confined, tenuous cloud of the same water, and finally 
its ultimate destiny to descend into the deeps of ocean 
water. Here were all the olden, so-called elements, fire, 
water, earth, and air working together to carry living 
beings to places where otherwise they could not remain 
alive for a fraction of a second. 

Like Piccard's marvelous ascent into the stratosphere, 
these descents of mine beneath the sea seemed to partake 
of a real cosmic character. First of all there was the com- 
plete and utter loneliness and isolation, a feeling wholly 
unlike the isolation felt when removed from fellow men 
by mere distance. Here was the necessity of an armor of 
steel of great strength which could not be safely shed until 
it was brought again into the atmosphere which men 
breathe, and to the pressure to which our frail bodies are 
used. It was a loneliness more akin to a first venture upon 
the moon or Venus than that from a plane in mid-ocean 
or a stance on Mount Everest: no whit more wonderful 
than these feats, but different. 

And so, after I had seen the bathysphere safely on board 
the Freedom and had returned to my headquarters at the 
Bermuda Biological Station, it seemed appropriate and 
natural that an eclipse of the sun should begin — a cosmic 
event which dwarfed my puny human efforts into noth- 

Fig. 61. {upper) We are now at the wharf where the bathysphere, winches and miles of 
cable have lain in their housing for a year and a half. The 3U0U-foot rubber hose, enclosing 
the telephone and electric light wires, is just coming aboard. Fig. 62. {lower) We see the 
bathysphere on the deck of the Freedom, and the enormous yard, brought especially from 
last year's boat. The low bulwarks and wide expanse of deck make this craft ideal for our 
work. But she proves to be anything but sea-worthy. 

Fig. 63. (tipper) Our first concern is with the steel cable, but when a quarter-mile has 
been run out we find it as strong and clean of rust as when new. It has a breaking strain 
of twenty-nine submerged bathyspheres, so we cease to worry on this score. Fig. 64. (lower) 
The Arcturiis winch is in place, the cable wound tightly ready for slow or rapid reeling or 
unreeling. This cable is seven-eighths inch, with a steel core and about one hundred strands, 
made especially for this purpose. 

Fig. 65. {upper) The giant steel sheaves have been in use for seven years, yet show no signs 
of wear, and perform their important job smoothly and well. Fig. 66. {lower) The Free- 
dom has performed yeoman service in Bermuda for more than twenty years, and she does 
all that we ask of her. But with our heavy load, in rough seas, she discovers leaks of which 
she was wholly ignorant, and the first day we have to steam full speed to shore with the 
water almost at the level of the engines. 

Fig. 67. {upper) The half-mile of solid rubber hose has now been unwound from its 
spindle and coiled loosely on deck. One weak spot has been cleverly spliced by a friend 
from the Wireless Station, and the four internal wires work perfectly, transmitting sound 
and light. A squall is approaching, making diving impossible, and the bathysphere is being 
lashed to keep it from rolling about. Fig. 68. {lower) Before a human goes down in the 
bathysphere it must be sent for a test dive, deeper than the intended descent. The 400- 
pound door is swung into place and fastened on. 


ingness. As the shadow crept slowly across and a strange, 
cool, directionless wind arose, and the sea and the rolling 
Bermuda hills shone in a weird, uncanny light, I shivered 
and again felt the loneliness of the whole earth in space. 
The unseasonable lowing of cows, the calls of birds, the 
chirps of crickets in this false evening showed that I was 
not alone in this feeling of strangeness. 

After the ninety per cent of obliteration had passed, 
and the real evening had come and gone, there began an- 
other phenomenon, which too seemed rather cosmic than 
earthly. Shortly after dark v/e were drawn outside our 
laboratory by the chirps and twitters of birds, and from 
high up in the sky came down the calls of hundreds of 
these magnetized fluffs of feathers, now an invisible pha- 
lanx of plover and sandpipers; then to the blackness of 
another part of the sky our ears were directed by the 
sweet notes of a legion of warblers, while our eyes could 
detect only the astral outline of Cygnus forever flying 
down the milky way. There was no doubt about the 
direction. As the eye follows a line of dots or dashes 
across white paper, so my ear could trace the course of 
some one bird, whose call-note was marked by a slight 
peculiarity, across the impenetrability of the night's black- 
ness, and always these sound lines pointed south. When I 
remembered the seven hundred-odd miles of calm and 
stormy waters over which the little wings had to flutter 
unfalteringly, I was tempted to remove this feat from a 
biological to an astronomical one. 


One week later — ^Wednesday, September seventh — 
every detail of preparation had been completed. Even the 
solid rubber hose was uncoiled and stretched in great loops 
on the deck. As the last length was arranged, a gentle 
breeze ruffled the water. For a time this fluttered, then 
died down, then rose again. Then it grew steadily stronger, 
white-caps appeared, and when the Society's launch re- 
turned to the Biological Station the wind had stiffened to 
a gale. At night it whistled around the eaves, and before 
long the sinister, scarlet hurricane warning went up at 
the Signal Station. 'We locked and bolted doors and win- 
dows; covered microscopes and valuable specimens in case 
the roof should go. The Freedom was rushed to the shelter 
of three great, ancient wrecks, so fixed in the mud of St. 
Georges harbor that they might well have been part of the 
limestone cliffs. Here she was anchored in the heart of a 
spider-web-like maze of ropes and cables, while the bathy- 
sphere was shifted amidships on her deck and lashed there. 
The launch, amid a whole fleet of small, cowering craft, 
was hidden away in Mullet Bay, a tiny, land-locked bit of 
water, protected by hills on all sides. Then we drew breath, 
watched the barometer and prayed that the approaching, 
full-fledged hurricane might change its course and leave 
us unscathed. 

Time after time throughout the night I rose and forced 
my way out on the sleeping porch, getting the blast full 
strength as I faced southwest, and watched the raging 
ocean which I hoped soon to penetrate. The moon shone 

Fig. 69. {upper) Tlic signal given, tiie great hollow mass of steel is lifted into the air and 
overboard. A large tug, the Powerful, is seen, standing by in case our boat should again 
spring a leak. Fig. 70. {lower) After being lowered to 3000 feet, the bathysphere is brought 
up again. One hundred feet from the surface it becomes visible. When lifted into the air, the 
creaking and straining of the machinery shows that something is wrong; the sphere is twice 
as heavy as it should be. 

Fig. 71. {upper) Straining at its cable, the bathysphere swings heavily inboard and during 
a momentary lull between swells, is brought to rest on the landing boards. A glance at the 
new quartz window shows that a leak has started (see photograph) and that the sphere is 
filled with water — not from an explosion, but from an implosion. Fig. 72. {lower) For the 
first time in our work with the bathysphere something has gone wrong. The steel sides are 
cold, and a low hissing sound can be heard. Those near the bathysphere are Beebe, Tee- Van, 
Barton, Blagdon, and our favorite deck-hand known as OKay. 


now and then, but with no comforting, normal moon- 
hght, and the cedars bent and twisted as the air tore 
through their branches. 

Back in the room the air screamed and howled past the 
eaves and before dawn the lightning came, both in thick 
trunks and branches and in solid sheets. At times it was so 
continuous that the darkness seemed the less stable and 
usual phenomenon. Then rain and water in deluges poured 
down, fountaining through my blinds. So again the re- 
nascence of the bathysphere was greeted with a terrific 
conflict of cosmic elements — this time the greatest dan- 
ger which could possibly attend any attempt at traversing, 
to say nothing of penetrating, old ocean. 

We heard of great damage done along the eastern coast 
of the States, and boats came into St. Georges harbor with 
tales of a dozen cabin passengers injured and lifeboats 
lost. So we knew how fortunate we had been to have 
escaped the heart of the hurricane. 

Little by little the surge died down, the surf settled to 
usual waves and on Monday morning, September twelfth, 
we gathered all our luggage and put to sea. We passed 
through Castle Harbor and out past Nonsuch. 

If all the inside history of expeditions could be written 
there should be no need of parodies. Take, for example, 
our tug, the Freedom. She had seemed sea-worthy until 
loaded with coal, water, bathysphere, and heavy winches 
and wire. Then, three miles from shore in the swell of the 
open sea, the Captain called me and said he was worried 


about the rapid rise of water in the hull. It was already 
over the engine room floor and none of the pumps was 

The tug already had an unpleasant, wallowing motion 
and there was nothing to do but put about immediately 
and head for shore as fast as possible. Mr. Vincent Astor, 
who was passing in a fast motor boat, came over and 
asked if we needed a tow. We were glad to have him 
within reach but we managed to get to St. Georges under 
our own power. 

When examined the next day, the hole could not be 
found until one of the divers saw a good-sized gray snap- 
per vanish before his eyes, followed by a bunch of floating 
sargassum weed. The hole was thus located, plugged, and 
for an entire day the engineer angled in vain for the snap- 
per, swimming merrily within our hull. 

One of us had taken the long chance of removing the 
steel plug from the third, or port window, and inserting 
the spare quartz window which we had reserved in case of 
accident. Lacking exact knowledge of how the packing 
was done at the factory, it was a risk, but three windows 
would afford more opportunity for observation than two, 
especially when one was almost blocked with the bulky 
electric light apparatus. 

Early on Tuesday, the thirteenth, we set forth again. 
We headed south-southeast from Nonsuch and when six 
miles off-shore turned up wind and got the bathysphere 
into harness. We stripped her interior of all instruments. 

Fig. 73. {upper) The central win^-bolt is Icxjicncd and slowly turned, and almost at once 
water begins to drip out, the hissing increasing. Fig. 74. {lower) As the wing-bolt turns, 
more and more water escapes, and the hissing rises to a high scream. On the chance that 
the pressure might be dangerous, the deck is cleared of people, and the photographer placed 
far to one side. 

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fastened on the heavy door, attached the shackle of the 
big wire cable and slowly lifted her into the air and over 
the side. She settled with a splash of alabaster foam which 
did not cause even a quiver in her great frame, and slowly 
sank downward, her fine new coat of deep ultra-marine 
blue changing to pale turquoise before she disappeared. 
Layer after layer of cable was payed out until the drum was 
almost bare and the gauge marked 3000 feet, almost three- 
fifths of a mile. There she swung for a while and then the 
winch braced itself, creaked and began to turn in the op- 
posite direction. One hour and forty minutes after she 
had vanished, we again caught sight of a flash of pale 
blue, and a few seconds later she was half out of water. It 
was apparent that something was very wrong, and as the 
bathysphere swung clear I saw a needle of water shooting 
across the face of the port window. 

Weighing much more than she should have, she came 
over the side and was lowered to the deck. Looking 
through one of the good windows I could see that she was 
almost full of water. There were curious ripples on the 
top of the water, and I knew that the space above was 
filled with air, but such air as no human being could 
tolerate for a moment. Unceasingly the thin stream of 
water and air drove obliquely across the outer face of the 
quartz. I began to unscrew the giant wing-bolt in the 
center of the door and after the first few turns, a strange, 
high singing came forth, then a fine mist, steam-like in 
consistency, shot out, a needle of steam, then another and 


another. This warned me of what I should have sensed 
when I looked through the window, that the contents of 
the bathysphere were under terrific pressure. I cleared the 
deck in front of the door of everyone, staff and crew. 
One motion picture camera was placed on the upper deck 
and a second close to, but well to one side of the bathy- 
sphere. Carefully, little by little, two of us turned the brass 
handles, soaked with the spray and I listened as the high 
musical tone of impatient, confined elements gradually 
descended the scale, a quarter tone or less at each slight 
turn. Realizing what might happen, we leaned back as far 
as possible from the line of fire. 

Suddenly, without the slightest warning, the bolt was 
torn from our hands, and the mass of heavy metal shot 
across the deck like a shell from a gun. The trajectory was 
almost straight, and the brass bolt hurtled into the steel 
winch thirty feet away across the deck and sheared a half- 
inch notch gouged out by the harder metal. This was fol- 
lowed by a solid cylinder of water, which slackened after 
a while to a cataract, pouring out of the hole in the door, 
some air mingled with the water, looking like hot steam, 
instead of compressed air shooting through ice-cold water. 
If I had been in the way I would have been decapitated. 

All my life I had read of the terrific pressure at great 
depths and had seen bottles and cans come up crushed, but 
never until now had I had first-hand visual proof of this 
phenomenon. We tested the temperature of the water and 
found it fifty-six degrees, which showed that the primary 


break had occurred two thousand feet down. When I bailed 
out the rest of the water, we pushed out the new quartz 
window and found it to be in perfect condition. The 
whole trouble had been in the packing around the win- 

Three more days full of excitement followed. On Fri- 
day, the sixteenth, we went to sea but were driven in by 
a heavy swell in which we wallowed badly. The next day 
was still rough, but by taking extraordinary precautions 
we managed to get the bathysphere overboard and sent 
her down to full 3000 feet. The new glass window had 
been replaced by the old steel plate. The nuts on this had 
been tightened only with a hand monkey wrench, and 
when the sphere again appeared at the surface the pack- 
ing around the plate was spouting water. It landed heav- 
ily, and clearing the entire deck I began as before to un- 
screw the wing-bolt. With the last few threads there came 
a perfect scream of spouting water and steam, and the 
bolt was thrown clear across the deck, thirty feet, with 
greater force than before, striking the big operating winch 
and making two new dents in the handles. With it went a 
solid stream of water, four inches in diameter, striking 
the wire of the distant winch and soaking all the onlook- 
ers of the upper deck. At the moment of explosion the 
compressed cold air and water united in a fine, opaque 
cloud which for a time almost obscured the entire deck. 

Again the steel plate window was repacked and this 
time the heaviest members of the crew pushed in unison 


and swung full weight upon the nuts. Delaying only long 
enough to bail out the water and dry the bathysphere, it 
was hoisted up and over and down again to 3000 feet. It 
came easily and quickly up and a glance through the door 
showed that the sphere was bone dry. 

This was reassuring, and at least it demonstrated that 
life was possible in the bathysphere at that depth. For the 
first time a space had been hollowed out beneath a full 
half-mile of water, where a man might make himself 
breathable air, and feel and move and listen and look, and 
return in safety. 

One more test with the telephone and light cable at- 
tached and we would be satisfied. It was far too late to be 
attempted that day so we put back at once. 

Sunday, the eighteenth, dawned with a high northeast 
wind. For two weeks the National Broadcasting men had 
been waiting patiently with us, and while there was not 
a penny of financial obligation involved, yet I felt a cer- 
tain amount of responsibility and in the face of what I 
felt were almost hopeless conditions, I ordered everyone 
on board at seven o'clock and we put out past Nonsuch 
Island and Castle Roads to the open sea. For three miles 
we wallowed and rolled with the tug Powerful standing 
by in case of need. We had to guy the bathysphere from 
five directions to keep her from overturning and rolling 
about the deck. It needed no prolonged consultation to 
sense the suicidal folly of attempting to operate in such 

Fig. 76. {upper) Anollicr test dive is necessary, and this is made on the morning of Sep- 
tember 22nd, a clocic being sent down, the ticking audible over the telephone wires. The 
sphere comes up dry. At the moment of this photograph we are examining every detail of 
the sphere and watching the unfavorable weather to decide on the possibility of making 
the broadcasting and our deepest 1932 dive. At 12:55 I decided to risk it. Fig. 77. (lower) 
More rapidly than ever before we begin loading the bathysphere, tightening the stuffing- 
box, attaching the chemical trays, filling them and installing the oxygen tanks. 

Fig. 78. {upper) Perhaps most important is the adjustment of the oxygen valves, which 
must be perfectly clean and must give out two litres of oxygen every minute — no more, no 
less. Fig. 79. {lower) A photograph taken through the window and the bathysphere, made 
just as we are about to climb inside, all the apparatus having been installed. The remark- 
able clarity of the fused quartz windows is evident. 

Chapter 9 


THE WIND did not abate during the next three days, 
and not until Thursday, September 22nd, did we 
make another attempt. 

Out at sea we found it choppy but with no swell and 
as quickly as possible we attached the hose, screwed up 
the stuffing box as tightly as we dared and slung the bathy- 
sphere over. We let it out the full length of the hose, tying 
it to the cable with rope every hundred feet. There was 
no apparatus inside except an alarm clock attached to the 
telephone wires. 

When the bathysphere was at a depth of 2000 feet I 
heard the ticking as loud as the blows of a hammer, and 
four minutes later the alarm was heard to go oflf. At 2150 
feet the clock stopped, but continued carbon noises made 
it probable that the wires were still unharmed. We were 
encouraged by the apparent lightness of the sphere as it 
approached the surface and when it was opened we found 
that it had taken in only a gallon of water from the stuf- 
fing box, and that the wires were in perfect condition. 

The staff of the New York Zoological Society's Tropical 
Research Department had gone through the routine so 
often two years ago and during the last two heart-breaking 



weeks that preparation was almost instinctive; John Tee- 
Van was in charge of closing the bathysphere and of the 
three deck winches and the activities of the crew in lower- 
ing and raising it; Gloria Hollister, as before, had the upper 
ear-phones and was responsible for the recording of all my 
observations; Jocelyn Crane sat by her with charts for 
recording time, depths, and temperature; Otis Barton and 
myself were, as usual, to make the dive in company. 

The bathysphere was on deck at 12:50 p.m. which gave 
us only about a half hour to prepare for our descent in 
order to emerge before dark. Somehow or other this was 
done, and in spite of everyone seeming to be in everyone 
else's way we made a final survey of all instruments and 
apparatus and at 1:15 p.m. crawled painfully over the 
sharp-threaded bolts and curled up on opposite sides of 
the sphere. I arranged my instruments, flashes, and note- 
books around me, tucking them away safely as a hen does 
her setting of disturbed eggs. 

At last the door was lifted and clanged into place, and 
then came the terrific hammering home of the ten great 
nuts. The spectroscope and illuminometer were passed into 
the central four-inch hole, and with a last word, the wing- 
bolt was quietly revolved home and the noise and air of 
the outside world shut off. Our oxygen began to send forth 
its life-giving stream, I called a Hello! through the half- 
mile of cable and we were oflf. For about fifteen feet we 
might have been in Piccard's gondola, for we soared up- 
wards toward the sun. But this was only as far as the head 

Fig. 80. {upper) Beebe and Barton in the bathysphere for the deep 1932 dive. Ear phones 
are on but connection is not yet made. Final examination of the windows. Fig. <S1. {lower) 
Both divers inside, giving final instructions and agreeing on emergency signals in case the 
telephone should cease working. 

Fig. 82. {upper) A thin coating of white lead is placed on the flange of the door to make 
the junction of steel with steel as perfect as possible. Fig. 83. {lower) The door is now lifted 
and swung gently over the ten great bolts, and the mass of steel clangs home. 


of the yard, when we described an arc outward, far away 
from the bulwarks, and then down until we struck the 
surface. There was the never forgettable swash and flow 
of bubbles and foam over the glass, and then the splendid 
pale brilliance of the green upper layer of ocean. After 
two weeks of vain attempts we were at last started on the 
deep, downward path of our first dive this year. I gave no 
thought to the three windows, two of quartz, one of steel, 
for they had twice successfully been subjected to the pres- 
sure at three thousand feet, but the stuffing box had re- 
fused to work right, and at the very last dive had allowed 
a gallon of water to seep past. The new 1000- watt lamp 
was an additional source of worry for we did not know 
what effect its heat might have upon the quartz window. 

The signal came that all was ready, and I ordered our 
descent. The dimming of the light was more evident be- 
tween the surface and fifty feet than anywhere else, for 
within this zone all the warm, red rays are absorbed and 
the remainder of the spectrum, with its dominance of 
green and blue, reflected a sense of chill through our eyes 
long before the thermometer had dropped a degree. 

For the first 200 feet we shifted and settled, and ar- 
ranged our legs and instruments for the long period of 
incarceration. Our temporary universe was, like Einstein's, 
a curved one, with a vengeance. Seldom have I been so 
conscious of the force of gravity, for we were in a perfect 
sphere, and every loose, inanimate thing sought constantly 
to come to rest at the bottom. I had my notebook, small 


instruments and flashlight in an open pouch slung around 
my neck. Everything else possible was in breast pockets, 
and all other things had to be held up or searched for 
when needed among the saws, hammer, wrenches, safety 
nuts, drying cloths, spare oxygen tank, and keys which lay 
in a mass at the bottom. I braced my feet and knees against 
whatever afforded resistance and leaned sideways against 
a flat cushion which brought my eyes on a level with the 
center of the window. Barton was braced against the door, 
with his pharaphernalia about him and by twisting from 
side to side could examine the searchlight, the stuffing box, 
oxygen tank, the door itself and command the second 

I found that a sort of conscious sensing of our increas- 
ing depth was absolutely necessary. Piccard doubtless had 
in view the gradually distancing earth, but we had noth- 
ing but a slow darkening to indicate that we were descend- 
ing. The cable was payed out so slowly and evenly that 
we had no sense of movement, either up or down. For ex- 
ample, at 275 feet it was with an effort that I mentioned 
such a common sight as an aurelia sun-jelly, until I real- 
ized that the record of one at this depth was a valuable 
and hitherto unknown fact. One of the most difficult 
things above ground is to recall the first or the last of the 
season's song of a bird or a cricket, because of the usual- 
ness of the reiterated sound, and in my bathysphere I had 
to repeat to myself over and over, "Look out for the first 
lights!" as well as to Miss Hollister to send reminders now 

Fig. 84. (upper) The heavy brass nuts are screwed into place, each one numbered and 
fitted to its particular bolt. Fig. 85. {lower) The central wing-bolt has been screwed tight 
and now a sledge hammer is being used, until the wing-bolt and all ten nuts seem as if they 
were a single piece with the whole welded body of the bathysphere. The noise is terrific on 
our eardrums as we sit curled up inside. 


Fig. 86. {upper) The door is sealed tight, the signal given, and the two-ton steel ball 
rises gently, clears the rail and is swung outward. Fig. 87. {lower) This is the moment of 
greatest worry to Tee-Van and Sylvester, who are in charge of the deck machinery. A sud- 
den swell sets the bathysphere swinging like a pendulum; then a second wave counteracts 
the movement, and at this propitious second, it must be dropped beneath the surface. 


and then down the telephone. My hundreds of dives in a 
helmet had made familiar the sight of water outside the 
window, but there was nothing to make evident to eye 
or mind the quality of pressure. When at looo feet a voice 
reminded me that there were twenty-three hundred tons 
of water pressing in on the bathysphere, and the window 
against which I had my face was withstanding six and 
one-half tons, it meant very little. I watched a delicate 
sea creature swimming slowly along and all sense of the 
terrific pressure was absent. So these things had to be in- 
tellectually admitted. The compensation was the perfect 
realization of where I was, which is far from being always 
the case when under temporarily unique conditions. Pic- 
card in his aluminium car, like a mote of Stardust high in 
air, could not have felt a smaller, less important atom in 
the universe than I in my tiny chamber dangling in mid- 

At 500 feet we had an elaborate and careful rehearsal 
of light signals. These were of the greatest importance, for 
if anything should happen to our sole line of communica- 
tion — the telephone wires — a single flickering of the light 
on deck would indicate at least that we were still alive, 
and a triple signal would cause us to be drawn up as 
rapidly as possible. 

At 500 feet we were informed that the sky had become 
partly overcast, and the Freedom- was rolling more, a mo- 
tion which was only too evident to us. I took a careful 
spectroscope reading and could see about eighty per cent 


purple and violet, twenty per cent green, but no other 

At 525 feet many siphonophores passed, and three, long, 
slender worms with elongated tentacles, others being just 
visible in the distance. At one time a maze of what looked 
like large ostracods came close to the glass but were prob- 
ably pteropods. At 675 feet I saw my first school of 
ArgyropelecuSy or silver hatchet-fish, which at once shows 
the imperfection of our trawling apparatus, as adults of 
this species have never been taken by us in these waters 
at a lesser depth than 1800 feet. 

At 700 feet we saw jellyfish of other than surface forms, 
and elongate fish were visible in the blackish blurred dis- 
tance. Flying snails were seen jerking about in their char- 
acteristic way (Fig. 100). A pair of dark-banded Seriola, 
or rudderfish, hung around for a minute or more. The 
sun went under a blanket of cloud at this moment and 
before it was announced through the telephone I knew it 
from the intensification of the blueness. Two more fish 
appeared at 800 feet and lights on their bodies were faintly 
visible for a moment. I now became aware of the presence 
of numerous invertebrates as my eyes became accustomed 
to the increasing gloom. 

1000 feet was reached at 2:37 p.m. with the light be- 
coming ever more and more dim. Here we hung for a time 
until my eyes could get perfectly adapted to the blue- 
black gloom. Direct looking gave me sometimes less result 
than the oblique penumbra of vision — and I began to sense 

Fig. 88. {upper) The dive has begun, and we begin our ceaseless watch for trouble at the 
door, oxygen valve, chemical racks, and packing of the hose. At the windows, we try to see 
and interpret every possible thing that appears. The ear phones are in place and hardly a 
second passes between communications that the phone is not tested for a possible break. 
Fig. 89. {lower) On deck near the winch, Gloria Hollister records every exclamation, every 
fact, answering questions as to depth, speed, or weather. 

Fig. 90. {upper) The stars in the heavens (Courtesy of the Carnegie Institution). Fig. 
91. {lower) A photograph of the waters of the sea at great depths shows only complete 
blackness, with a scattering of sparks and lights from the bodies of fish and other organ- 


the passing of numberless little creatures. I watched pale 
gray beings only an inch or two in length come out of the 
darkness toward the window, puzzled over them for a 
moment and then knew them for Cyclothones, or round- 
mouth fishes, remembering them from two years ago. 

We took stock of the conditions in our little world. 
Barton found the door and oxygen valve in perfect shape, 
and the hose from the stuffing box showed not a drop of 
moisture. I flashed the light toward the windows and saw 
trickles of water coming from under the electric light 
screen. For a moment I had that peculiar feeling of mo- 
mentary panic with which every honest explorer must 
admit familiarity, and then I saw that all the walls showed 
meandering trickles of moisture, and we knew that it 
was the normal condensation on the cold steel from the 
heat of our bodies. 

Violent fanning every few minutes kept the air cool 
and fresh, and we regulated the oxygen valve to exactly 
two litres a minute. Nevertheless, it was being used up 
more rapidly than we liked, so Barton began giving his 
reports on the instruments in as few words as possible and 
my observations began to lack unnecessary adjectives and 

Our arrival at 1426 feet was announced by loud whistles 
from the tugs floating far above our heads, celebrating 
our passing the lowest record of our dive in 1930. The 
first deep-sea eels appeared, slender, silvery creatures with 
long jaws and sharp teeth. A pair of them, swimming side 


by side, kept with us for 20 feet of depth, and siphono- 
phores (Fig. 103) and a large ctenophore swept by close 
to my face. 

Our electric light now cast a strong beam showing as 
turquoise blue through the darkness. At 1500 feet it re- 
vealed two large eels, which at once swam up out of the 
light. These showed no lights whatever on their bodies and 
were considerably more slender than those seen higher up. 
They were undoubtedly Serrivomer, or bronze sea eels. 

About this time word came down the wire that we 
were being broadcasted, but a moment later this was for- 
gotten and not again remembered until we were reminded 
of its ending half an hour later. Sealed up as we were, the 
human mind utterly refused to conceive of anyone, ex- 
cept my assistant whose voice I constantly heard, being 
able to hear what I was saying. 

At 1650 feet I recorded it as being as black as Hades. 
I was running out of reasonable similes. A school of bril- 
liantly illuminated lanternfish with pale green lights swam 
past within three feet of my window, their lights being 
exceedingly bright. 

A little after three o'clock, when we reached 1700 feet, 
I hung there for a time and made as thorough a survey 
as possible. The most concentrated gazing showed no hint 
of blue left. All outside was black, black, black, and none 
of my instruments revealed the faintest glimmer to my 
eye. I had now attained one of the chief objects of this 
whole dive, namely, to get below the level of humanly 


visual light. I was beyond sunlight as far as the human 
eye could tell, and from here down, for two billion years 
there had been no day or night, no summer or winter, no 
passing of time until we came to record it. From here on, 
even if I went down six miles, to the bottom of Bartlett 
Deep, I would experience only differences in degree, not 
of kind. I could now prove without doubt whether con- 
tinued observations from a window such as this would 
yield valuable scientific observations, or whether the at- 
tainment of these depths must be considered in the light 
of merely a stunt, breaking former records. 

The temperature outside was already ten degrees lower 
than that inside, and the pressure had increased to seven 
hundred and seventy pounds on each square inch. Two of 
the lanternfish with the pale green lights came close to 
the window and yard-long eels — several altogether — un- 
dulated past. Here I began to be inarticulate, for the 
amount of life evident from the dancing lights and its 
activity, the knowledge of the short time at my disposal, 
and the realization that most of the creatures at which I 
was looking were unnamed and had never been seen by 
any man were almost too much for any connected report 
or continued concentration. 

Nevertheless I began to ignore the passing of dozens of 
bright lights and to look and look with all my power at 
some one definite object. In this way my eyes began to 
perceive outlines, to unite apparently unconnected illumi- 
nation. For example I saw seven fish which kept in sight 


for some time, all headed one way. Their eyes shone with 
a dull glow, and their bodies were covered with a multi- 
tude of tiny lights. One dashed toward me, and head-on 
I could distinguish the flash of long fangs, although I do 
not know from whence the illumination came. It then 
turned backward not far from my window and for a 
sufficient fraction of a second the fish stood clear, with its 
hexagonal scales shining, and then became more dim than 
ever. On the surface of the earth we call them Cbauliodus, 
or saber-toothed viperfish (Figs. 93 and 99) . The remain- 
ing six had vanished while I was watching the seventh, 
and in their place an elongate series of dull golden siphono- 
phores drifted past. I also saw several large heteropods, 
another group of flying snails, probably Carinaria, fan- 
ning through the water. These were distinctly visible ap- 
parently in their own light, which however was so rela- 
tively weak that it disappeared when we switched on the 
electric light. 

At 1750 feet six fish, each with a double line of lights 
down the side of the body, were in sight. They were most 
certainly Melanostomiatid dragon-fish, but strain as I 
could, no evidence of barbel was visible. I again turned on 
the searchlight and they twisted and melted into the milky 
turquoise of the distant beam. The oxygen tank showed 
that we had now, at 3:11 p.m., breathed up half its con- 

1800 and 1900 feet were not blacker — that were im- 
possible — but the complete dark seemed more tangible. 


Not a ray of light illumined the inside of the bathysphere. 
Barton's voice seemed as unattached as that coming down 
the wire. Once when he unexpectedly threw on his pencil 
flash to examine the oxygen dial, I jumped as if the thin 
beam had been sound instead of light. 

At 1825 feet coiled pteropods, almost certainly Lima- 
cimiy appeared by the dozen, clearly seen in our ray of 
light, and silver hatchet-fish, or Argyropelecus, of adult 
size were illumined by each other. They swam so closely 
together I could not judge of the amount of visibility 
which the lights of each individual fish would show. Their 
photophores appeared as pale blue and not purple as they 
appear in sunlight, A school of small lanternfish went past 
and their lights were not dimmed as they were higher up, 
but showed clearly even in the pale blue glare of the outer 
rim of the electric light path. A single large fish, which 
we estimated at four feet in length, went by at 1850 feet, 
so rapidly that I got only a fleeting glimpse of many lights 
along a rather deep body. Once a school of large squids 
balanced near me, fulfilling my hope of two years ago. 
Their great eyes, each illumined with a circle of colored 
lights, stared in at me — those unbelievably intelligent yet 
reasonless eyes backed by no brain and set in a snail (Fig. 

At 1950 feet we got our first bad pitching. It was un- 
expected and I cut my lip and forehead against the win- 
dow ledge and Barton struck his head against the door. 
This gave us the worst fright of the entire dive, and for 


a fraction of a minute, which seemed an exceedingly long 
time to us, it felt as if we had broken loose and were turn- 
ing over. "We were reassured when we learned that it was 
the almost synchronous result of a heavy roll on the part 
of the Freedom. To feel the great steel ball rolling back 
and forth like a football on its shorter diameter, after its 
stolid stability at the surface, was too new a sensation to 
be pleasant. We soon became accustomed to it, however, 
as it occurred hereafter every two or three minutes. 

The stuffing box was dry, the walls were running with 
condensation, all other things were as safe as ever. We 
began speeding the searchlight to 130 volts and exposing 
film at the window. 

When the darkness closed down on the path of the light 
again, I saw we were in the midst of a large number of 
shrimps and almost at once two large fish dashed into the 
midst of them, rolling them over and over, all these crea- 
tures and their actions silhouetted only in their own light. 
One at least of the fish had an isolated light, blue and pale 
reddish, which kept following it about, and I realized that 
this was a barbel light, whipping about as the fish turned. 

I tried to hold my breath so as not to fog the glass, I 
feared so to miss a single moment. The lights continued 
as abundantly as ever and I recognized Myctophid lan- 
ternfish and small Cyclothone round-mouths and an occa- 
sional squid. Either this particular dive passed through 
areas unusually filled with life, or our nets capture only 
a tithe of the creatures which they encounter. From 2050 

1-iG. 92. {upper) A laboratory photograph of a viperfish {Chaitliodin) , ot which 1 saw, 
from the bathysphere, a school of seven at a depth of 1700 feet. Fig. 93. {lotver) The most 
delicate part of the operation of the descent is the paying out of the solid rubber hose con- 
taining telephone and electric light wires. This must not be bent or rubbed, and every 100 
feet is fastened to the wire cable with a rope tie. 

Fig. 94. {upper) The greatest depth, 2200 feet, has been reached, and now the bathysphere 
is on its way up. To save time the rope ties between cable and hose are quickly cut, so there 
is scarcely a moment's delay at each 100 feet. Fig. 95. {lower) Like some great creature of 
the sea the dark blue sphere breaks the surface, and is held there until there comes a mo- 
ment of complete steadiness when it is drawn rapidly up, swung inboard and landed. 


to 2150 feet I saw relatively few illumined organisms, but 
later, at 2200 feet, the lights were bewildering. 

At 2100 feet the bathysphere was rolling badly, con- 
siderable of the chemicals spilling off the racks and falling 
down on our heads. The remaining chemicals had to be 
constantly redistributed so that more surface could be ex- 
posed and their function of absorbing carbon dioxide and 
humidity could continue. 

At 3:23 I gave the order to lower us and three minutes 
later word came down that we were swinging at a depth 
of 2200 feet. Our temperature was seventy degrees, thanks 
to the heat of our bodies, but the steel felt clammy cold 
to the touch and the glass window chilled the tip of my 
nose. The quartz surface required constant rubbing to 
keep it free from condensation from my breath. Outside 
it was about fifty-four degrees. 

Pteropods were close at hand and a host of unidentifiable 
organisms. I would focus on some one creature and just as 
its outlines began to be distinct on my retina, some bril- 
liant, animated comet or constellation would rush across 
the small arc of my submarine heaven and every sense 
would be distracted, and my eyes would involuntarily 
shift to this new wonder. It is a marvel now to me that I 
was able to disentangle any definite facts on this first visit. 
I watched one gorgeous light as big as a ten-cent piece 
coming steadily toward me, until, without the slightest 
warning, it seemed to explode, so that I jerked my head 
backward away from the window. What happened was 


that the organism had struck against the outer surface 
of the glass and was stimulated to a hundred brilliant 
points instead of one. Instead of all these vanishing as does 
correspondingly excited phosphorescence at the surface, 
every light persisted strongly, as the creature writhed and 
twisted to the left, still glowing, and vanished without 
my being able to tell even its phylum. 

The above notes and many more of less popular sig- 
nificance seem casual and deliberate enough but they rep- 
resent the few coherent ideas which remain from the de- 
scent. If the scene and the inhabitants of the outer water 
had been of the same type as I had seen in dives of lesser 
depth, together with even the slightest amount of light, 
reporting would have been a simple matter. Nothing 
which I had seen at 1400 feet in 1930, nor down to 1700 
feet on this occasion, prepared me in any way for this 
spectacular display of lights. Theories have been advanced 
throwing doubt upon the actual function of many ap- 
parent light organs, and questioning whether the outline 
of the organism could be made out from its own illumina- 
tion: Judging from the contents of hundreds of nets 
drawn in these waters, fish and all invertebrates of appre- 
ciable size would seem to be rare and far between: Photo- 
graphic plates have been fogged by light at a depth of 
3000 feet, so that my present depth of 2200 feet might 
be thought to show at least a faint solar luminosity to my 

My experience on this dive gave me a new perspective 

Fig. 96. {upper) The wing-bolt is unscrewed, very slowly at the last, when the slightly 
compressed air hisses out. Through the hole, the more delicate instruments are handed out. 
Fig. 97. {lower) The most painful part of the whole dive for the divers is when they 
emerge, tired and cramped, with feet asleep, and haul themselves out of the fourteen-inch 
opening of the door. 

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on all of these questions. There seems no doubt but that 
the light organs function as light organs to the highest 
degree, some steady, others fading and increasing in in- 
tensity, and still others eclipsed by occasional winking of 
dermal blinders. My suspicion of the inadequacy of our 
modern methods of trawling is confirmed by the appar- 
ent abundance of good-sized forms of vertebrates and in- 
vertebrates in what our nets report as rather barren waters. 
While short light waves seem to persist to considerable 
depths, yet from 1700 feet downward, at least on an over- 
cast day, they are wholly inappreciable to human vision, 
and as far as observations on a lightless fauna are con- 
cerned, this depth is as valuable as that of several miles. 

My inarticulateness and over-enthusiastic utterances 
may well be excused on the grounds of sheer astonishment 
at the unexpected richness of display. Another thing too 
which was disconcerting as well as unexpected was the 
great activity of all the creatures except such as jellies and 
siphonophores. No wonder that but a meager haul results 
from our slow-drawn, silken nets when almost all the or- 
ganisms which came within my range of vision showed 
ability to dart and twist and turn, their lights passing, 
crossing, and recrossing in bewildering mazes. 

While we hung in mid-ocean at our lowest level, of 
2200 feet, a fish poised just to the left of my window, its 
elongate outline distinct and its dark sides lighted from 
sources quite concealed from me. It was an effective ex- 
ample of indirect lighting, with the glare of the photo- 


phores turned inward. I saw it very clearly and knew it 
as something wholly different from any deep-sea fish which 
had yet been captured by man. It turned slowly head-on 
toward me, and every ray of illumination vanished, to- 
gether with its outline and itself — it simply was not, yet I 
knew it had not swum away. 

A few minutes after this, when we examined the stuf- 
fing-box overhead, we saw that the hose had been forced 
an inch and a half into the sphere, and we were pitching 
worse than ever, tossing the chemicals out of their racks 
and making it necessary for us to cling tightly to the bot- 
tom to keep from being banged about and bruised. Barton 
and I held a brief consultation and decided that as we had 
achieved our object, there was no need of continuing 
under these unpleasant and uneasy conditions. So we de- 
cided to make this depth — almost 400 fathoms — our floor 
for this time and I gave the order to ascend. 

Several minutes later, at 2100 feet, I had the most ex- 
citing experience of the whole dive. Two fish went very 
slowly by, not more than six or eight feet away, each of 
which was at least six feet in length. They were of the 
general shape of large barracudas, but with shorter jaws 
which were kept wide open all the time I watched them. 
A single line of strong lights, pale bluish, was strung down 
the body. The usual second line was quite absent. The 
eyes were very large, even for the great length of the fish. 
The undershot jaw was armed with numerous fangs which 
were illumined either by mucus or indirect internal lights. 

Fig. 99. {upper) The saber-toothed 
viperfish {Clniiihochis sloaiiei) is 
typical of the carnivorous creatures 
of the deep sea. It feeds on shrimps 
and fish, some of which are almost 
as large as itself. 

Fig. 100. (lower) Most beautiful of all the flying snails are the shield-shaped Clios, which 
were seen now and then in the beam of light from the bathysphere. 

Fig. 101. At a depth of 2100 feet, two of these fish, each six feet in length, passed within 
three yards of the bathysphere window. I took note of sufficient characters to describe and 
name it. I called it the Untouchable Bathysphere Fish, Bathysp/uera intacta. 

(Drawn by Helen Tee- Van) 

Fig. 102. Deep-sea squids, some of them with many-colored lights, especially around tlie 
eyes, were of equal numbers, both in our nets and seen on my deeper dives. 

Fig. 103. A siphonophore — one of the most delicate and fragile of deep-sea creatures. 
In our nets it is always torn to pieces. 


Vertical fins well back were one of the characters which 
placed it among the sea-dragons, Melanostomiatids, and 
were clearly seen when the fish passed through the beam. 
There were two long tentacles, hanging down from the 
body, each tipped with a pair of separate, luminous bodies, 
the upper reddish, the lower one blue. These twitched and 
jerked along beneath the fish, one undoubtedly arising 
from the chin, and the other far back near the tail. I 
could see neither the stem of the tentacles nor any paired 
fins, although both were certainly present. This is the fish 
I subsequently named Bathysphcera intacta, the Untouch- 
able Bathysphere Fish. 

Another interesting fish of this trip was one which I 
saw by the light of our electric beam at 1900 feet on the 
way up. It was one of the true giant female anglerfish, a 
full two feet in length, with enormous mouth and teeth, 
deep and thick, with a long tentacle arising from the top 
of its head. I saw no light from this, but it was distinct 
for a moment in the surrounding illumination. Twice its 
mouth opened and partly shut and then we passed out of 
its life. Three of these weird fish have been taken dead at 
the surface, but three years of intensive trawling have 
given us no hint of their presence here. For a few seconds 
I was within ten feet of one, and the memory will never 
leave me. 

While still near the lowest limit of our dive the thought 
flashed across my mind of the reality of the old idea of 
elements — fire, water, earth, and air. They persist as a 


mental concept, no matter how our physicists and chem- 
ists continue to discover new elements, to dismember 
atoms, and to recognize such invisible phenomena as neu- 
trons. I have seen and felt the heat of molten, blazing 
stone gushing out of the heart of our Earth; I have climbed 
three and a half miles up the Himalayas and floated in a 
plane still higher in the air, but nowhere have I felt so 
completely isolated as in this bathysphere, in the black- 
ness of ocean's depths. I realized the unchanging age of 
my surroundings; we seemed like unborn embryos with 
unnumbered geological epochs to come before we should 
emerge to play our little parts in the unimportant shifts 
and changes of a few moments in human history. Man's 
recent period of strutting upon the surface of the earth 
would have to be multiplied half a million times to equal 
the duration of existence of this old ocean. 

We reached the surface and blazing sunlight, and 
crawled out, cramped and rather battered, but very happy, 
at 4:08 P.M. 

Scientific facts, more often than is known, are learned 
by accident. Witness the young, healthy Bermudian lob- 
ster which I wrapped in cheesecloth and tied above the 
central window of the bathysphere. Langouste was to be 
a sacrifice upon the altar of oceanography, and I antici- 
pated that the increasing pressure would cause a quick 
death and distribute his delectable juices broadcast in the 
darkness, thereby attracting strange "denizens of the 


But on our return to the deck, just before the door had 
been removed, the last telephone message was that the 
lobster was more active than when sent down. My annoy- 
ance was soon overcome by astonishment at this unex- 
pected viability, the sustaining of at least eight tons of 
pressure without injury. The reprieved crustacean was 
carefully removed and was soon living happily in an 

As I looked out over the tossing ocean and at the sinking 
sun, and realized what I had been permitted to see, almost 
half a mile below the surface, I knew that I should never 
again look upon the stars without remembering their ac- 
tive, living counterparts swimming about in that terrific 
pressure. It leaves the mind in a maze of wonder — to think 
of having seen these hidden multitudes, many most deli- 
cate and fragile, moving swiftly on their missions in life 
— avoiding their enemies, searching for food and finding 
mates; and all amid this black, ice-cold water with nearly 
a half-ton of weight crushing down upon every square 
inch. The recital of such facts as the pressure of fourteen 
tons of water on the surface of the window out of which 
I had been looking, or that the whole bathysphere was 
resisting a weight of over five thousand tons — these prob- 
ably mean much to anyone who must think only with his 
imagination of this strange world. When once it has been 
seen, it will remain forever the most vivid memory in life, 
solely because of its cosmic chill and isolation, the eternal 
and absolute darkness and the indescribable beauty of its 

Chapter 10 


I HAVE already said that in 1932, the moment we took 
the bathysphere from her winter quarters and 
groomed her for the new dive, it seemed to awaken 
all the powers of the cosmos to activity. The next day there 
came an almost total eclipse of the sun. Then followed a 
lurid, wicked evening when one of the largest meteors any 
of us had ever seen rushed across the sky, leaving a glow- 
ing line, and then burst in a blaze which lightened the 
entire land- and seascape. The same evening presaged a 
hurricane which grew and grew — a terrible blast of hot 
air, bending great cedars like reeds, and making the strong- 
est roofs tremble. The second night a sickly gibbous moon 
shone through ragged, hurtling clouds, and once showed a 
mighty water-spout twisting along, far out at sea. Word 
came, just before the telephone wires went down, that the 
Freedom, with the bathysphere, had been jammed into the 
heart of three great hulks, under the lee of a high cliff. 

Then came the driving rain in solid sheets, and almost 
continuous lightning. And at last a morning, with all the 
plants and leaves in the world tired and shredded, but the 
air clear as crystal, fresh, and glowing with full, gorgeous 




When the National Broadcasting Company officials ap- 
plied for permission to attempt a broadcast from the 
bathysphere while I descended as deep as possible, they told 
me that it was the first time that radio engineers had trav- 
eled beyond territorial waters of the United States to 
broadcast a program back to home stations. 

Early in September, 1932, the field staff of the broad- 
casting company arrived, just in time for the second hur- 
ricane and the cosmic display of pyrotechnics, which 
taught them the difference between studio broadcasting 
and that in the field, on a scientific expedition. They set 
up two complete transmitters and two receiving stations 
on the upper deck of the Freedom. Here they established 
a special radio station which was called ZFB-i, after 
the station in St. Georges, which is ZFB. Through the 
courtesy of the Imperial and International Communica- 
tion Company a license was granted to operate in terri- 
torial waters off Bermuda, and its officials cooperated in 
every way to facilitate the broadcast of this dive. An 
elaborate technical set-up of radio gear was required to 
transmit to listeners throughout the United States and 
Europe the preparations of the bathysphere on deck and 
observations made during the dive to 2200 feet. The en- 
gineers considered the problem of transmission from Ber- 
muda to the United States relatively simple. But the in- 
stallation aboard the Freedom of the short wave transmit- 
ter to be operated at sea, and the reception facilities on 
shore, required considerable labor and weeks of prepara- 


tion. Static, which is often prevalent in the vicinity of 
Bermuda, had to be combated. 

Day after day we put to sea to be defeated by unex- 
pected leaks, which could be repaired; or a defective 
quartz window, which could be replaced by a safe steel 
plate; or a dangerous swell and cross tide-rip, which we 
could not ignore, unless we wished to gamble our lives 
against rather bad odds. 

We, in our human conceit, set one Sunday after an- 
other as the appointed time for the dive and broadcast, and 
hundreds of thousands of human beings listened in, only 
to be told of the breaking waves and hopeless conditions. 

Then on September twenty-second, with a sea still too 
rough for comfort, after a test dive when everything 
seemed perfect, in spite of the bad conditions, I agreed to 
have a try. With only two hours' notice, messages went 
out to New York and were relayed to scores of American 
and foreign stations. Singers and entertainers of all kinds 
were switched oflf, and the wires cleared for this new ex- 

As it turned out, the broadcast was divided into two 
thirty minute periods. The first half hour, from 1:30 to 
2:00 P.M., described the scene of tense activity on deck pre- 
paring and sealing the bathysphere with its human cargo. 
Two sound microphones, mounted near the bathysphere 
and the big winch, caught the clanging of the sledge ham- 
mers tightening the nuts of the door, and the grinding of 
the winch as it released more and more cable to lower the 

Fig. 104. (upper) Radio Station Zl'l'>-\, on tlic tug Freedom. The elaborate wireless ma- 
chinery was erected on the upper deck of the tug, out of the way of harm from flying 
spray, unnecessary noise, and the operations of the bathysphere. Fig. 105. {lotver) Here we 
have five minutes to wait before the zero hour, when the broadcasting begins over the 
United States and Europe. From left to right Tee-Van, Beebe, McElrath, and Barton. 

Fig. 106. {upper) At 1:30 p.m. the broadcasting begins. This simply means that the mi- 
crophone is brought close to our group about the bathysphere, and our general directions 
and preparations are heard. Fig. 107. {lower) The divers are inside the bathysphere, which is 
already off the deck, and the radio men, after waiting for a month through hurricanes 
and mishaps, are at last in full swing. Ford Bond is announcing, while Resides and Mc- 
Elrath (the latter in charge of the NBC outfit) are watching the mass of delicate and 
complicated machinery which iy sending our voices over half the world. 


bathysphere into the deep. During the second half hour, 
from 3:00 to 3:30 P.M., my voice was heard describing 
what I saw between 1500 and 2200 feet, while Miss Hol- 
lister, at her end of the telephone on deck, recorded my 
observations and gave me what information I wished as to 
depths, etc. 

My voice was carried through 3000 feet of telephone 
cable from the bathysphere to the deck of the Freedom, 
On deck the voices were picked up from the telephone 
wires and sent over a portable 50- watt radio transmitter 
(which had a frequency of 2390 kilocycles — 125 meters) 
by short wave to the receiving station at the Flatts. From 
here it was sent over a special telephone cable circuit to 
the St. Georges radio transmitter, 2FB (10,335 kilocy- 
cles, about 30 meters) . ZFB's signal was sent over the 
radio telephone and received at the A. T. & T. Company's 
receiving station at Netcong, New Jersey, and then sent 
over the telephone circuit to the studio of the National 
Broadcasting Company at 71 1 Fifth Avenue in New York. 
From here it was distributed over the existing networks 
of telephone circuits of associate long and short wave sta- 
tions which rebroadcasted the dive on the air for radio 
listeners from the Atlantic to the Pacific coasts over a 
combined network of NBC stations, WEAF, and WJZ. 
It was also sent to England by short wave to be rebroad- 
casted over networks of the British Broadcasting Corpora- 

Cues and instructions from the United States were re- 


ceived over the two radio receiving sets which were tuned 
to stations WZXL in Boundbrook, New Jersey (NBC) , 
and WNB in Lawrenceville, New Jersey (A. T. & T.). 

The only thing I insisted on was that all the direct 
announcements and other communications were to be 
made by the oflScial announcer, Mr. Ford Bond. Every 
word that I or my staff said, in the presence of the micro- 
phones, would have been said if there were no apparatus 
on board for broadcasting. As we forgot almost immedi- 
ately, both while preparing to enter and an hour later 
when I was 1500 feet down, that any broadcasting was 
in progress, it can be realized that whatever was heard 
over the radio was spontaneous and very real and unpre- 
meditated. We have to thank the radio men for aiding in 
every way in this unusual and quite untypical radio 

Chapter 11 


THE BATHYSPHERE has livcd for the past year quietly 
beneath Piccard's gondola in the Hall of Science of 
the Century of Progress Exposition at Chicago. 
During this time half a million people thrust their heads 
within the narrow doorway and shivered. Then half a 
million people exclaimed, "Thank heaven, we don't have 
to go under water in this!" Thus the steel globe well ful- 
filled her static destiny, arousing such ecstasy of appre- 

Being only an inanimate mass of quartz and steel, she 
would remain in her place until the Hall of Science and 
Chicago and Mankind passed away, unless some force 
stronger than gravitation was brought to bear, some ac- 
tivity more potent than the slow corrosion and rust of 
centuries. This summons came at the end of her year, 
when her paint was still undimmed, her quartz eyes steadily 
watching; it came to me in a letter from Dr. Gilbert 
Grosvenor, saying that the National Geographic Society 
would be glad to sponsor a new dive. 

Four years ago, in 1930, Mr. Otis Barton and I had 
reached and returned from a depth of a quarter of a mile, 

and later we made a still deeper dive. Knowing that my 



interest in the work lay only in scientific observations, Dr. 
Grosvenor made no stipulation as to a deeper, record dive. 

Friendly arrangements were speedily made between the 
National Geographic and the New York Zoological So- 
cieties, and early in March, 1934, the new expedition was 
well under way, the twentieth of my Department of Trop- 
ical Research and the sixth year of oceanographic work off 

The great blue sphere was roused from her reverie one 
day, and hoisted on a freight car. The next time I saw her 
she was squatting disconsolately amid an enormous jumble 
of intricate machinery, whirling belts, and flying sparks in 
the factory of Mr. E. A. Stillman at Roselle, New Jersey. 
She had returned to the place of her birth for a thorough 

As the bathysphere rested on her present bed of steel 
filings she seemed as staunch and sturdy as ever. I would 
willingly have scrambled inside and trusted her to carry 
me down and back safely to any depth I chose. But the 
doctors of mechanics, gathered in consultation, were more 
skeptical and they began to assemble what in human hos- 
pitals would be stethoscopes and sphygmometers. 

I peered in through the center window and it seemed 
as clear as ever, and then I was startled to see several ra- 
diating lines as from a fracture. I rubbed the glass and 
a small spider ran over my hand and at my touch the 
strands of cobweb disappeared. I left the experts to their 
intricate examination, and motored back to the city. 


When I again visited the bathysphere the physicians of 
inanimate things had made out a very bad case. The quartz 
eyes on close examination had shown a strange cloudiness, 
and minute fractures were visible to all eyes but mine. No 
one but myself would trust them again, so a test force 
was brought to bear — physical pressure — and the poor old 
lenses which had so bravely withstood mighty loads of 
black water, cracked at comparatively low strains, about 
900 pounds to the inch. Mr. Gerard Swope of the General 
Electric Company heard of this and generously ordered 
new windows of the finest possible material. The copper 
setting of the door and its central wing-bolt of brass were 
found to be crystallized and had to be replaced. 

When high officials of the Air Reduction Company 
viewed our old oxygen tanks and chemical trays, and saw 
our palm-leaf fans, they said such things were, more or 
less, contemporary with the Stone Age. They forthwith 
devised a most effective arrangement — four superimposed 
trays with a diminutive electric blower at the top which 
changed and purified all the air in the sphere every minute 
and a half. The old oxygen tanks were scrapped and new 
ones made to order and fitted with the latest thing in valves, 
shiny affairs of nickel and glass. Our former allowance of 
two litres of oxygen a minute was cut down to one, as 
quite sufficient. The visible gauge in the valve was a glass 
bubble which danced up and down in a tube, balanced 
on a slender column of outpouring oxygen, and adjustable 
to exactly the right height and the fraction of a litre. 


Even the ear-phones were replaced. The Bell Telephone 
people said that if I would let them have my old ones for 
their museum they would furnish sets of the latest models. 
Then the Burroughs Wellcome Laboratories donated medi- 
cal supplies which would take care of every contingency 
except the possible major one. And so forth, and so on. 
Only a noncommercial naturalist, about to undertake 
some new adventure or phase of exploration, can ever 
realize the friendliness of hosts of people, who, perceiving 
an opportunity of adding to the factors of safety, go to 
all lengths of trouble and expense. 

Finally, the ten thousand and one details of an expedi- 
tion such as this were initiated or completed, and we were 
ready to leave for Bermuda. I cabled to Panama for Otis 
Barton to join me if he wished, and he expressed a desire 
to concentrate on motion pictures for a news reel and for 
a feature film upon which he has been working for several 
years. Together with Captain John H. J. Butler, Mr. Bar- 
ton first developed the idea of the bathysphere, and fi- 
nanced the initial cost. In the autumn of 1930 Mr. Barton 
presented the bathysphere to the New York Zoological 
Society and it is now playing an important part in the 
study of Bermuda shore and deep-sea fish, researches upon 
which my staflF and I have been engaged for the past six 

The bathysphere arrived in Bermuda on July fifth and 
I visited her while she was deep down in the lowest hold 
of the Monarch, half hidden by cargo. Later in the same 


day she was hoisted into the blazing sunHght and lowered 
gently on to her old mother ship, the Ready, from whose 
deck she would again sink deep into the ocean. 

Early on the first clear morning I took my associate, 
John Tee-Van, and my two assistants, Bass and Ramsey, 
down to the farthest end of St. Georges harbor where, in 
the midst of a welter of ancient ships, we found the Ready. 
Here is a Peruvian gunboat, once bought by some Ameri- 
cans for a round-the-world cruise, which died a natural 
death in these waters; here is the tug Gladisfen, newly 
painted, which for five years has faithfully drawn our 
deep-sea nets — fifteen hundred of them — through the 
waters of our eight-mile circle off Nonsuch Island. Finally 
our old friend, the Taiftin, was here, a three-masted 
schooner slowly rusting away on an even keel, to whose 
side the Ready was lashed. 

The dark blue color of the bathysphere was sadly 
marred and scratched by her long journey and her sojourn 
at the Century of Progress, and her great eyes were 
closed with wooden lids. With an impromptu block and 
tackle we got off the heavy door, and took out all the new 
gear. I prised off the thick, wooden eye plugs, and the new 
quartz lenses gleamed with the sheer transparency of 
mighty Kohinoor diamonds. New steel frames, much 
stronger than the old ones, held the three-inch-thick masses 
of quartz as firmly as though they were part of the very 
steel. In fact, I realized that of the old bathysphere which 
had carried us down and up so safely nothing remained 


save the steel skeleton sphere itself. All else had been re- 
placed with more modern, more efficient apparatus. 

An entire month was consumed in assembling, refitting 
and testing all the intricate machinery, from the great 
seven-ton winch which was as perfect as when I first used 
it on the Arcturus almost ten years ago, to the delicate 
Friez temperature and humidity recorder. 

Most of the instruments in the bathysphere were in- 
tended to increase ease and clarity of vision through the 
quartz windows, but I was extremely anxious to utilize 
the facilities of these deep-sea dives in every possible di- 
rection, from the point of view of physics as well as 
zoology. Two difficulties presented themselves, first, the 
relatively small space at our disposal after the disposition 
of our instruments and ourselves, and, second, the com- 
paratively short time we would be able to spend at the 
greatest depths. Dr. George L. Clarke found that the only 
satisfactory spectrograph available was too large to go 
in through the fourteen-inch door. Concerning the re- 
cording of cosmic rays Dr. Millikan wrote: "The rate of 
discharge is so exceedingly slow at great depths that we 
shall not be able to get any readings at all in the time dur- 
ing which you can stay down. I regret very much that 
this is so, because I wish very much that we could make 
use of this opportunity to get results of common interest." 

Throughout this month we shuttled back and forth be- 
tween our three focal points — ^living quarters at the Ber- 
muda Biological Station; the complete laboratory of the 


New York Zoological Society at New Nonsuch, the home 
of our library, instruments, and collections, where all of 
our preparations and researches are carried on; and finally 
our fleet — the Skink, Gladisfen, and Ready, fifteen minutes 
away in St. Georges harbor, the direct link between our- 
selves and our oceanographic investigations. 

Day after day as we passed the tourist-laden tender en 
route to the great Furness Line vessels, we watched the 
shining black bodies of the colored divers shoot down into 
the green water in pursuit of far-flung shillings. Here were 
the Alpha and Omega of human penetration of the water 
— naked diver and bathysphere. 

The simple phrase "three hours and a half mile" worked 
on everyone in the same way; each possible bit of inani- 
mate apparatus was tested and retested as it had never been 
before in past years of diving. On the sixth of August, 
when we were ready to put to sea, our grand Captain, 
Jimmie Sylvester, announced that he wanted a rehearsal 
for the whole crew, while we were still tied up to the 
ancient three-master close to shore. So we all foregathered, 
set the instruments to work, put every man at his station 
and Mr. Barton and I climbed into the bathysphere. The 
great door was lifted and swung home with its old fa- 
miliar clang. Some things pass easily from mind, but all 
overtones and undertones of an experience such as this 
remain vivid in that paradox — our silent memory of sound. 
There followed the ear-splitting crash of hammer on 
wrench as one mighty nut after another was twisted home. 


This ghastly din seemed of shorter duration than usual, 
and soon after, a warning came through the telephone 
and we were lifted and swung back and forth over the 
deck. It has always struck me as rather amusing that as 
a preliminary to descent we must always rise about twenty 
feet toward the stratosphere. This part of the proceedings 
provided an excellent panorama of the entire deck, and 
the strained, anxious expressions on the upturned faces 
made me regret that my own completely absorbed and 
eager anticipation could not be the dominant emotion on 
the Ready. 

Within a minute or two I was surprised to see the hu- 
midity dial shoot across the record card, and I realized 
that our new apparatus was working with swiftness and 
accuracy. The chief reason for this abrupt approach to 
saturation point was Mr. Barton, who was sitting, soaked 
to his skin, on his side of the bathysphere. My canoe had 
tipped over alongside and he had valiantly dived over- 
board to right her and salvage the paddles just before we 
crept inside. 

We swung up and overside and then down into the 
water through a smother of foam and bubbles but with- 
out the slightest jar. Instantly I forgot the dials and records, 
for through the window appeared a dense mist of fry, ex- 
citedly swimming about us. Although there must have 
been something over a hundred degree angle between the 
sun and my eyes, yet every individual fish made an occa- 


Fig. 108. A Sea Change. 

"But Dr. Beebe? Where is he.'" 

(Drawing by Garrett Price. Courtesy The New YorJ{er) 

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sional heliograph of itself, and as it turned sideways shot 
down a blinding flash from its silvery sides. 

My ichthyo-physics were suddenly interrupted by a 
feeling of chill about my feet and ankles, and reaching 
down I found about eight inches of water. Barton leaned 
to one side and I saw a perfect cataract of water pouring 
in from both sides of the door. His saturated condition 
had made him oblivious of the new source of wetness. 
From our depth of not more than four feet I called for 
an immediate ascent and up we swung out of the green 
again into golden light. This shallow test dive had seemed 
so brief and safe that it had very reasonably been thought 
that four of the great nuts would hold the door in place 
instead of the ten used on deep dives. The result was a 
joking matter, but nevertheless showed how necessary it 
was never, for an instant, to relax precautions. The first 
fraction of a second after I discovered the inpouring flood 
aroused a subconscious reaction all its own, which will 
never quite be eradicated by the instantly succeeding ones 
of reason and humor. 

I have seen the results of an implosion in the bathy- 
sphere 2000 feet down, where, in the icy blackness, we 
would have been crushed into shapeless tissues by nothing 
more tangible than air and water; and now I had seen 
the inrush of the first few quarts of the same ocean in 
full sunlight and almost at the surface. When one is work- 
ing with an instrument like the bathysphere, which is to 
be transportation, temporary home, and in fact one's en- 


tire cosmos in the entry to a new world, accidents like 
these I am narrating, instead of being a source of worry 
or distrust, arouse only a feeling of greater security and 
confidence. Nothing insures a better seat on a horse than 
having been bucked or run away with. 

To conclude the account of our rehearsal dive, we were 
plucked forth from our four feet of submergence, dried 
out, fastened in properly and for some time sat patiently 
22 feet down on the muddy bottom of St. Georges har- 
bor, in dry silence, while the deck crew was coached in 
various activities. 

Prophecy for August seventh was squalls and uncertain 
winds. For no especial reason I selected it as a possible first 
day at sea, and the night before ordered steam up in 
the tug and the boilers of the barge. At five o'clock dawn 
a glance at the slender, motionless cedar-tips beyond my 
veranda justified my gamble. After a hasty breakfast we 
chugged down harbor in the SkJnk in pursuit of the an- 
cient Ready, with her precious globe of ultramarine just 
showing above the bulwarks and shining in the rain-washed 
air. Farther ahead the great towing cable alternately be- 
came taut and slacked off, now dipping below the surface, 
now snapping up into steel-like rigidity, flicking a vertical 
wave of foam into the air. The tug threaded its way 
through the narrow Hole-in-the-wall and we lifted 
quietly on the gentle, breathing swell of the open ocean. 

Gentle though the swell was, and flat calm as the sea 
appeared, when we transferred to the Ready, the rise and 


fall was as inexorable as the movement of some mighty 
engine, and we had to throw our gear with precision and 
time our jumps accurately to avoid serious trouble. As 
it was, part of our gunwale was torn away, and later, when 
the Skink was towing behind, at a slightly deeper swell 
than usual the stem-post was broken off, the ropes parted 
like threads and I had to send the launch back to the har- 

Two hours later Bermuda was only a string of pale 
beads seen through a mist of rain along the horizon, and 
careful sights showed that we were well within our eight- 
mile circle. Here I knew I had a mile or more of water 
under the keel, and we slowed down. 

The bathysphere had been stripped for a test dive, the 
two instruments left inside being a temperature and hu- 
midity recorder and Mr. Barton's automatic camera. 

The only difference between this dive and a regular one 
is that we were not inside, and of course no messages came 
and went over the telephone wires. 

As a prospective passenger I was idle on deck and able 
to watch the intricate routine from beginning to end. 
When everything was set, each person at his post, and the 
Ready momentarily balanced on an even keel, Mr. Tee- 
Van gave a signal, Captain Sylvester threw a thread of 
steam into the great winch and, delicately as a Swiss watch, 
the huge drum began to turn, the cable tightened and 
the bathysphere rose slowly, straight upward to the nose 
of the boom. It swung there for a moment, then a second 


winch came into play and boom and sphere moved out- 
ward. When far enough from the side of the Ready, the 
cable payed out rapidly and before the oncoming swell 
could rise and exert its effect, the bathysphere was safe, 
several feet under water. 

Then the boom winch reversed its effort and drew its 
burden back toward the Ready until the cable was within 
reach of a cluster of men at the bulwarks. These were in 
charge of the telephone cable, of which over a half mile 
lay in many oblong coils twenty feet in extent, along one 
side of the deck. A file of men lifted this heavy, solid rub- 
ber hose and passed it carefully out and overboard as the 
bathysphere descended, allowing a small amount of slack. 
Every hundred feet it was fastened by a master carpenter 
with a cunning knot and sling of rope to the steel cable. 
On ordinary dives when the first rope clamp is in place, 
word is sent down to me, and all succeeding lowering and 
raising is controlled by my orders through the telephone. 

One of the most important phases of the whole opera- 
tion is the accurate measuring of the cable as it goes out. 
When it leaves the drum the steel line is led flat across the 
deck for 50 feet to a sheave well forward. From here it 
returns to the foot of the boom, the two lines being almost 
parallel. From the second sheave it extends up the boom 
to a third mighty pulley at the tip, and thence down to 
the bathysphere itself. Streaks of white paint with ap- 
propriate numerals are placed on the deck beneath the 
cable, exactly ten feet apart. When the dive is in progress, 















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a paint marker daubs an oblong smear on the cable as it 
comes off the drum at the first, and at every succeeding 
hundred feet. His work is guided and directed by Miss 
Crane who sits in a commanding position and keeps a 
record of the exact time of passage of the cable as it moves 
from one ten-foot indicator to the next. This method was 
checked at first by a meter wheel, and the possible error 
was found to be about one foot in a thousand. 

Within ear-shot of Miss Crane and in full view of the 
whole operation Miss Hollister sits with ear-phones and 
mouth piece, recording everything I say from within the 
bathysphere, relaying my orders to Tee-Van and sending 
down whatever information concerning depth, time, and 
weather I may desire. Perkins Bass and William Ramsey 
of my staff are in full charge of the generators, both when 
steadily running and when shifting current as I require 
it. They are also responsible for the cable marking and 
for verifying its exact passage from mark to mark. 

Mr. Tee- Van has an extra pair of ear-phones in case of 
emergency and an abundance of loose, small telephone wire 
so he can walk about at will. He can thus short-circuit 
my orders directly to Captain Sylvester at the vital point 
of the big winch. The return to the deck is merely the first 
process reversed, except that the critical point is the emer- 
gence from the water. The bathysphere is drawn up flush 
with the surface, and at a propitious moment is very slowly 
pulled above water, then rapidly up to the boom. The 
slow emergence is due to the abrupt increase in weight, 


from seven-eighths of a ton in the water to two and a half 
tons in the air, a strain which if too suddenly initiated 
might easily dislocate some part of the machinery. 

On the present seventh of August the bathysphere 
swung overside at about 11:30 a.m. Less than an hour and 
a half later the cable record indicated that the sphere was 
dangling at a depth of 3020 feet. Mr. Barton electrically 
exposed 400 feet of film, and after a total of three hours 
of blazing sun, alternating with driving rain and chilling 
breezes, the bathysphere was again on deck. I peered in 
through the cold, dripping windows and could see that the 
test was perfect. Neither windows, stuffing box, nor door 
had leaked a drop; the camera's eye had blinked for five 
minutes, and now the film lay coiled within, with no one 
knew what secrets of fish or the lights of fish concealed 
in its silver coat. The card of the atmosphere recorder 
told the story of the air temperature during the round trip, 
beginning with 91° Fahrenheit at the surface and touching 
51° in the chilled, lowermost depths, while for some reason 
the humidity needle indicated saturation point at the bot- 
tom of the dive. 

Thus the way was satisfactorily cleared for our coming 

The promised squalls appeared next day and kept on 
reappearing. We made many last minute changes. The 
extraordinary efficiency of the new blower and chemicals 
and the suggested radical reduction in amount of oxygen 
rather awed us, and I thought it would be a good idea to 


see what overpuriiied air would breathe hke. So I had my- 
self immolated one day from three to five o'clock, sealed 
up tight, and breathed my best. The temperature, hu- 
midity, and pressure did exactly what they should have 
done, and at the end of two hours' time, with a combina- 
tion of one-half litre of oxygen a minute, and trayfuls of 
soda lime and calcium chloride, I emerged from a bathy- 
sphere whose atmosphere was as fresh as that of the outside 
world. One valuable thing learned was that the calcium 
chloride, under the constant stream of air, deliquesced so 
heartily that it dripped from its tray to the blower. So 
we inverted the arrangement, placing the blower at the 
top and fastening a pan beneath to catch the sticky, weak 
acid emanation. Another important discovery we made 
one day was that the old half mile of rubber hose had lost 
its resiliency and could no longer be twisted into the stuf- 
fing box without tearing. As this opening is the greatest 
danger point of all, we reversed the hose and used at the 
bathysphere end the new strip of 600 feet which I had 
bought this year. When packed with ice to make its time 
of greatest shrinkage coincide with its entry into the deep- 
est, coldest zone, we felt that we had done all that was 
humanly possible to make the descents safe. 

Again I threw my dice against unsettled weather and 
again I won, and on Saturday, August eleventh, at half- 
past nine in the morning I looked about from the deck of 
the Ready and saw the long, low swell of a calm day. We 
were well within the magic circle, six and a half miles 


southeast of Nonsuch Island, and at once slowed down, 
headed upswell and prepared to dive. 

More than three and a half years ago I dived to a depth 
of fourteen hundred and twenty-six feet, and here I was 
on the selfsame ancient barge with the identical bathy- 
sphere, and within a mile and a half of the very spot where 
I made the former descent. An equal distance to the east 
marked the spot of a more recent dive to twenty-two 
hundred feet. 

All the sights which came to my eyes are as vivid now 
as then, yet on the eve of this new venture I felt as if the 
former dives had been nothing but amazing dreams, that 
my ignorance of the world of life beneath our feet was 
almost complete. 

If any of these thoughts went through my mind at the 
time it must have been as a mere flash, for my chief con- 
cern at the present moment was to wriggle over the un- 
pleasant bolts with as little damage as possible, coil myself 
up in the window sector of the bathysphere, clamp on 
my telephone outfit and arrange all my instruments and 
small but necessary possessions. 

Adequate presentation of what I saw on this dive is one 
of the most difficult things I ever attempted. It corresponds 
precisely to putting the question, "What do you think of 
America?'* to a foreigner who has spent a few hours in 
New York City. Only the five of us who have gone down 
even to looo feet in the bathysphere know how hard it 
is to find words to translate this alien world. 


This dive turned out to be one of essential observation, 
and first hand impressions must take precedence over all 

At 9:41 in the morning we splashed beneath the sur- 
face, and often as I have experienced it, the sudden shift 
from a golden yellow^ world to a green one was unexpected. 
After the foam and bubbles passed from the glass, we were 
bathed in green; our faces, the tanks, the trays, even the 
blackened walls were tinged. Yet seen from the deck, we 
apparently descended into sheer, deep ultramarine. The 
only hint of this change of color vouchsafed those above 
was the increasing turquoise of the bathysphere as it ap- 
proached the vanishing point, about 100 feet. 

We were dropped several fathoms and dangled there 
awhile, until all the apparatus on deck was readapted to 
the vertical cable close to the ship's side. I made the most 
of my last glimpse of the upper world. By peering up I 
could see the watery ceiling crinkling, and slowly lifting 
and settling, while here and there, pinned to this ceiling, 
were tufts of sargassum weed. I could see small dots mov- 
ing just below the weed, and for the first time I tried, and 
successfully, to focus low power binoculars through the 
water. I had no trouble in recognizing a small ocean tur- 
bot and a flyingfish, trailing its half-spread wings as it 
swam. The bathysphere then revolved slightly and the hull 
of the Ready came into view. It was even more like a coral 
reef than it had appeared four years ago, great streamers 
of plant and animal life floating out from it. There is 


something wholly unreal and at the same time rather 
amusing about an upward view of the slow-rolling bot- 
tom of an unanchored boat, whose deck, a few minutes 
before, had seemed so solid and staunch. 

The sun was blazing over the ocean, the surface was 
unusually quiet; conditions were perfect for whatever the 
eyes could carry to the brain. A question came over the 
phone, an answer went, and down we slipped through the 
water. As I have said, the first plunge erases, to the eye, 
all the comforting, warm rays of the spectrum. The red 
and the orange are as if they had never been, and soon 
the yellow is swallowed up in the green. We cherish all 
these on the surface of the earth and when they are win- 
nowed out at loo feet or more, although they are only 
one-sixth of the visible spectrum, yet, in our mind, all the 
rest belongs to chill and night and death. Even modern 
war bears this out; no more are red blood and scarlet 
flames its symbols, but the terrible grayness of gas, the 
ghastly blue of Very lights. 

The green faded imperceptibly as we went down, and 
at 200 feet it was impossible to say whether the water was 
greenish-blue or bluish-green. At this depth I made my 
eyes focus in mid-water and saw small creatures clearly, 
copepods and others of the innumerable swarms which 
haunt the upper layers. 

At 320 feet a lovely colony of siphonophores drifted 
past. At this level they appeared like spun glass. Others 
which I saw at far greater and blacker depths were illu- 


mined, but whether by their own or by reflected Ught I 
cannot say. These are colonial creatures like submerged 
Portuguese men-o'-war, and similar to those beautiful be- 
ings are composed of a colony of individuals, which per- 
form separate functions, such as flotation, swimming, 
stinging, feeding, and breeding, all joined by the common 
bond of a food canal. Here in their own haunts they swept 
slowly along like an inverted spray of lilies-of-the-valley, 
alive and in constant motion. In our nets we find only the 
half-broken swimming bells, like cracked, crystal chalices, 
with all the wonderful loops and tendrils and animal 
flowers completely lost or contracted into a mass of tan- 
gled threads. Twenty feet lower a pilotfish looked in upon 
me — the companion of sharks and turtles, which we 
usually think of as a surface fish, but with only our piti- 
ful, two-dimensional, human observation for proof. 

When scores of bathyspheres are in use we shall know 
much more about the vertical distribution of fish than we 
do now. For example, my next visitors were good-sized 
yellow-tails and two blue-banded jacks which examined 
me closely at 400 and 490 feet respectively. Here were 
so-called surface fish happy at 80 fathoms. Several silvery 
squid balanced for a moment, then shot past, and at 500 
feet a pair of lanternfish with no lights showing looked 
at the bathysphere unafraid. 

At 600 feet the color appeared to be a dark, luminous 
blue, and this contradiction of terms shows the difficulty 
of description. As in former dives, it seemed bright, but 


was SO lacking in actual power that it was useless for read- 
ing and writing. 

There are certain nodes of emotion in a descent such 
as this, the first of which is the initial flash. This came at 
670 feet, and it seemed to close a door upon the upper 
world. Green, the world-wide color of plants, had long 
since disappeared from our new cosmos, just as the last 
plants of the sea themselves had been left behind far over- 

At 700 feet the light beam from our bulb was still 
rather dim; the sun had not given up and was doing his 
best to assert his power. At 800 feet we passed through a 
swarm of small beings, copepods, sagitta or arrow worms 
and every now and then a worm which was not a worm 
but a fish, one of the innumerable round-mouths or Cyclo- 
t hones. Eighty feet farther and a school of about 30 lan- 
ternfish passed, wheeled and returned; I could guess Myc- 
topbufn laternatum, but I cannot be certain. The beam of 
light drove them away. 

At 1000 feet we took stock of our surroundings. The 
stuffing box and the door were dry, the noise of the blower 
did not interfere with the telephone conversation, the 
humidity was so well taken care of that I did not need a 
handkerchief over nose and mouth when talking close to 
the glass. The steel was becoming very cold. I tried to name 
the water; blackish-blue, dark gray-blue. It is strange that 
as the blue goes, it is not replaced by violet — the end of the 
visible spectrum. That has apparently already been ab- 

Fig. 112. {upper) When the bathysphere was at its lowest level, 3028 feet, only a few 
turns of cable were left upon the naked drum. Captain Sylvester refused to let another 
foot go out, for fear the strain on the end-tie might be too great. Fig. 113. {lower) The 
temperature and the humidity record of Dive Number 32, to 3028 feet, is shown on this 
graph. The temperature rose at first, and then, as we descended into the cold depths, 
fell to 68°. The humidity fell sharply, and later, as the calcium chloride was used up, it 
rose very slowly to a normal level. 

Fig. 114. Icy cold and dripping from every inch, the bathysphere comes up into the sun- 
light from jet black darkness, and from a pressure of 5800 tons. Beebe and Barton have been 
inside for more than three hours. 

(Photo by David Knuclsen) 


sorbed. The last hint of blue tapers into a nameless gray, 
and this finally into black, but from the present level 
down, the eye falters, and the mind refuses any articulate 
color distinction. The sun is defeated and color has gone 
forever, until a human at last penetrates and flashes a yel- 
low electric ray into what has been jet black for two bil- 
lion years. 

I kept the light on for a while and at 1050 feet through 
a school of little flying snails there suddenly passed a "large 
dark body, over four feet long" (so I telephoned it). I 
shut off the light, but looked into empty gray space with- 
out a trace of lumination — the fish had dissolved. Later, 
with the light on again, ten feet lower, a pilotfish ap- 
peared, showing how easily his kind can adapt itself to a 
shift of more than 30 atmospheres and from 15 pounds an 
inch at the surface to 480 at this level. 

Lights now brightened and increased, and at iioo feet 
I saw more fish and other organisms than my prebathy- 
sphere experience had led me to hope to see on the entire 
dive. With the light on, several chunky little hatchet-fish 
approached and passed through; then a silver-eyed larval 
fish two inches long; a jelly; suddenly a vision to which 
I can give no name, although I saw others subsequently. 
It was a network of luminosity, delicate, with large meshes, 
all aglow and in motion, waving slowly as it drifted. Next 
a dim, very deeply built fish appeared and vanished; then 
a four-inch larval eel swimming obliquely upward; and 
so on. This ceaseless telephoning left me breathless and I 


was glad of a hundred feet of only blue-blackness and 
active sparks. 

At 1 200 feet an explosion occurred, not at the window 
but a few feet away, so baffling that I decided to watch 
intently for repetitions. The large fish came again, and a 
loose, open school of pteropods and small shrimps bobbed 
about. The snails were shield-shaped as I well knew from 
having handled thousands in the deep-sea nets. Their 
empty shells form most of the sea bottom hereabouts. 

Suddenly in the distance a strong glow shot forth, cov- 
ering a space of perhaps eight inches. Not even the wild- 
est guess would help with such an occurrence. Then the 
law of compensation sent, close to the window, a clear- 
cut, three-inch, black anglerfish with a pale, lemon-col- 
ored light on a slender tentacle. All else my eye missed, so 
I can never give it a name. 

One great source of trouble in this bathysphere work is 
the lag of mind behind instantaneous observation. For ex- 
ample, at 1300 feet a medium-sized, wide-mouthed angler 
came in sight, then vanished, and I was automatically de- 
scribing an eight-inch larval eel looking like a transparent 
willow leaf, when my mind shot back to the angler and 
demanded how I had seen it. I had recorded no individual 
lights on body or tentacle, and now I realized that the 
teeth had glowed dully, the two rows of fangs were lumi- 
nous. It is most baffling to gaze into outer darkness, sud- 
denly see a vision, record the bare facies — the generality 
of the thing itself — and then, in the face of complete dis- 


traction by another spark or organism, to have to hark 
back and recall what special characters escaped the mind 
but were momentarily etched upon the retina. On this 
point I had thoroughly coached Miss Hollister at the other 
end of the telephone, so I constantly received a fire of 
questions, which served to focus my attention and flick 
my memory. Again and again when such a question came, 
I willfully shut my eyes or turned them into the bathy- 
sphere to avoid whatever bewilderment might come while 
I was searching my memory for details of what had barely 
faded from my eye. At a few stops on the descent, as I 
have said, I permitted myself a minute or two of emotional 
debauch, of reciting to myself the where and the what of 
locality, surroundings, time of day, pressure, temperature, 
and so on. But all the rest of the time I allowed myself no 
rest from direct observation and reporting. The unpro- 
ductive Oh's ! and Ah's ! of my first few dives were all too 
vivid in my mind. 

Just above 1400 feet two black eels, about eighteen 
inches in length, went through the beam — distinctly Ser- 
rivamer. At 1400 feet my recent studies came to mind, 
and told me that I saw a male golden-tailed sea-dragon 
with a big cheek light (Idiacantbus) , but before it van- 
ished I saw it was black, and considerably larger even than 
the giant female of the species. So it was wholly unknown. 

At 1500 I swung for two and a half minutes, and here 
occurred the second memorable moment in these dives — 
opportunity for the deliberate, accurate record of a fish 


wholly new to science, seen by one or both of us, the proof 
of whose existence, other than our word, must await the 
luck of capture in nets far more effective than those we 
now use in our oceanographic work. First, a quartet of 
slender, elongate fish passed through the electric light 
literally like arrows, about twenty inches long, whether 
eels or not I shall never know; then a jelly, so close that it 
almost brushed the glass. Finally, without my seeing how 
it got there, a large fish swung suspended, half in, half out 
of the beam (Fig. ii6). It was poised with only a slow 
waving of fins. I saw it was something wholly unknown, 
and I did two things at once; I reached behind for Mr. 
Barton, to drag him away from his camera preparations 
to the windows, to see and corroborate, and I disregarded 
Miss Hollister's insistent questions in my ears. I had to 
grunt or say something in reply to her, for I had already 
exceeded the five seconds which was our danger duration 
of silence throughout all the dives. But all this time I sat 
absorbing the fish from head to tail through the wordless, 
short-circuiting of sight, later to be materialized into 
spoken and written words, and finally into a painting dic- 
tated by what I had seen through the clear quartz. 

The strange fish was at least two feet in length, wholly 
without lights or luminosity, with a small eye and good- 
sized mouth. Later, when it shifted a little backwards I 
saw a long, rather wide, but evidently filamentous pec- 
toral fin. The two most unusual things were first, the 
color, which, in the light, was an unpleasant pale, olive 


drab, the hue of water-soaked flesh, an unhealthy buff. It 
was a color worthy of these black depths, like the sickly 
sprouts of plants in a cellar. Another strange thing was its 
almost tailless condition, the caudal fin being reduced to 
a tiny knob or button, while the vertical fins, taking its 
place, rose high above and stretched far beneath the body, 
these fins also being colorless. I missed its pelvic fins and 
its teeth, if it had any, while such things as nostrils and 
ray counts were, of course, out of the question. 

There is a small family of deep-sea fish known as Ceto- 
vumidce, and somewhere in or close to this the strange 
apparition belongs. Only three species are known, and only 
twenty-four individuals have so far been captured, six- 
teen of which have been in our own deep nets drawn 
through these very waters. I have called the fish we saw 
the Pallid Sailfin, and am naming it BatJoyembryx istio- 
phasma, which is a Grecian way of saying that it comes 
from deep in the abyss and swims with ghostly sails. 

Although I had already seen many deep-sea forms on 
this dive, yet here was one larger than any we had ever 
taken in nets. The Sailfin was alive, quiet, watching our 
strange machine, apparently oblivious that the hinder half 
of its body was bathed in a strange luminosity. Preemi- 
nently, however, it typified the justification of the money, 
time, trouble, and worry devoted to bringing the bathy- 
sphere to its present efficiency. Amid nameless sparks, un- 
explained luminous explosions, abortive glimpses of strange 
organisms, there came, now and then, adequate oppor- 


tunity to add a definite new fish or other creature to our 
knowledge of the Hf e of the deep sea. At the possible risk of 
cumbering taxonomy with a nomen nudum j I have chosen 
to give definite names to a very few of these clearly seen 
fish/ the physical type of which must, for a time, be repre- 
sented by a drawing, made under my direction, with only 
the characters of which I am certain. With no visible in- 
crease of fin vibration, my Pallid Sailfin moved into outer 
darkness, and when I had finished telephoning the last de- 
tails I ordered a further descent. This entire volume would 
not contain the detailed recital of even a fraction of all 
the impressive sights and forms I saw, and nothing at 
these depths can be spoken of without superlatives. 

At 1630 feet a light grew to twice its diameter before 
our eyes, until it was fully the diameter of a penny, ap- 
pearing to emanate from some creature which bore irreg- 
ular patches of dull luminosity on its body. The outline 
was too indistinct to tell whether it was with or without 
a backbone. 

At 1900 feet, to my surprise, there was still the faintest 
hint of dead gray light, 200 feet deeper than usual, at- 
testing the almost complete calm of the surface and the 
extreme brilliancy of the day far overhead. At 2000 feet 
the world was forever black. And this I count as the third 
great moment of descent, when the sun, source of all light 
and heat on the earth, has been left behind. It is only a 

1 Descriptions have appeared in the Bulletin of the New York Zoological Sockty, 
Volume XXXVII, Number 6. 


psychological mile-post, but it is a very real one. We had 
no realization of the outside pressure but the blackness 
itself seemed to close in on us. 

At 2000 feet I made careful count and found that there 
were never less than ten or more lights — pale yellow and 
pale bluish — in sight at any one time. Fifty feet below I saw 
another pyrotechnic network, this time, at a conservative 
estimate, covering an extent of two by three feet. I could 
trace mesh after mesh in the darkness, but could not even 
hazard a guess at the cause. It must be some invertebrate 
form of life, but so delicate and evanescent that its abyssal 
form is quite lost if ever we take it in our nets. Another 
hundred feet and Mr. Barton saw two lights blinking on 
and off, obviously under control of the fish. 

At this level and again on the way up, I saw at the very 
end of our beam some large form swimming. On earlier 
dives I had observed this and had hesitated even to men- 
tion it, for it savored too much of imagination backed 
by imperfect observation. But here it was again. The sur- 
face did not seem black, and what outline came mo- 
mentarily to view was wholly problematic. But that it 
was some very large creature or creatures of which we 
had glimpses five separate times on dives separated by years, 
we are certain. Whether fish or squid or other organism 
we cannot say. 

At 2300 some exclamation of mine was interrupted by 
a request from above to listen to the tug's whistles saluting 
our new record, and my response was, "Thanks ever so 


much, but take this: two very large leptocephaU have just 
passed through the Hght, close together, vibrating swiftly 
along; note — why should larval eels go in pairs?" And 
with this the inhabitants of our dimly remembered upper 
world gave up their kindly efforts to honor us. On down 
we went through a rich, light-filled 2400, and to rest at 
2500 feet, for a long half hour. 

A pair of large, coppery-sided scimitar-mouths {Gono- 
stoma elongahun) swam past; Sternoptyx, the skeleton- 
fish, appeared in a group of four; a fish as flat as a moon- 
fish entered the beam, and banking steeply, fled in haste. 
One flying snail, from among the countless billions of his 
fellows, flapped back and forth across my glass. Three 
times, at different levels, creatures had struck against the 
glass and, utterly meaningless as it sounds, exploded there, 
so abruptly that we instinctively jerked back our heads. 

We tried out the full power of the 15 00- watt light, 
heating the bathysphere and window considerably, but not 
too dangerously. At 11:17 o'clock I turned the light on 
suddenly, and saw a strange quartet of fish to which I have 
not been able to fit genus or family. Shape, size, color, and 
one fin I saw clearly, but Abyssal Rainbow Gars is as 
far as I dare go, and they may be anything but gars. About 
four inches over all, they were slender and stiff with long, 
sharply pointed jaws. They were balanced in the center 
of the electric ray when it was first turned on, and the 
unheard-of glare affected them not at all. There they 
stood, for they were almost upright, and I could see only 

Fig. 115. Rainbow Gars is the only name we can think of for these fish. They are prob- 
ably not gars, but they are scarlet, blue, and yellow, and they swam through the beam of 
electric light, in this strange, upright, stiff position, at a depth of 2500 feet. 

(From a painting by Else Bostelmann. Courtesy of National Geographic Magazine) 

Fig. 116. At 1500 and again at 2500 feet this wholly unknown fish appeared suddenly in 
the beam of light. It was the color of dead or of water-soaked flesh, toothless and lightless, 
with good eyes and long pectorals, high vertical fins and a very small tail. I have called it 
the Pallid Sailfin, Bathyembryx istiophasma. 

(From a painting by Else Bostelmann. Courtesy of National Geographic Magazine) 


a slight fanning with a dorsal fin. Keeping equal distances 
apart, and maintaining their upright pose, they swam 
slowly into the uttermost dark. The amazing thing about 
them was their unexpected pattern and color. The jaws 
and head were brilliant scarlet, which, back of the gills, 
changed abruptly into a light but strong blue and this 
merged insensibly into clear yellow on the posterior body 
and tail. Unless in the light of some other fish, or in my 
electric path, their colors could never have been visible, 
and were assuredly useless by-products. 

I alternated v/ith Mr. Barton's camera at the window 
and there were hardly any seconds without lights or def- 
inite organisms coming into view. In one period of this 
duration, chosen at random, I counted 46 Kghts, ten of 
which were of unusual size, most of them pale yellow, but 
a few bluish. The sight I enjoyed most was a momentary 
glimpse of what I am certain was the same, or another, 
Pallid Sailfin. In all this vast extent in three dimensions, 
of black water, the chance of confirming at a wholly dif- 
ferent depth a new observation made my satisfaction com- 

The change in the electric beam itself from 1000 feet 
downward was interesting. At the upper layers it was weak 
but decidedly yellow, with a turquoise cap at the farther 
end of the oblique luminous shaft. As we descended, the 
yellow changed to a luminous gray, and the turquoise 
crept down, until, at this extreme depth, it reached to the 
very window. Along each side of the sharply marked beam 


extended a broad border of rich, velvety, dark blue, and 
abruptly outside of this came the black pit itself. At two 
well-separated depths, I focused very carefully on the rain 
of small creatures passing and repassing through the far- 
thest extreme end of the light. In both cases the focus 
was the same and I brought the glass to the surface with- 
out changing it. On deck, walking back from the bow 
until it was in perfect focus with the glass, I found that 
the visible end of the beam of electric light was 45 feet 
distant from the bathysphere window, five feet farther 
than I had been estimating. 

The several nodes of high lights of which I have writ- 
ten occur on every descent, but there is in addition a 
compounding of sensations. At first we are quick to see 
every light, facile in sending up notes, but when we have 
used up most of our adjectives it is difficult to ring changes 
on sparks, lights, and darkness. More and more complete 
severance with the upper world follows, and a plunging 
into new strangenesses, unpredictable sights continually 
opening up, until our vocabularies are pauperized, and our 
minds drugged. 

Over two hours had passed since we left the deck and 
I knew that the nerves both of my staff and myself were 
getting ragged with constant tenseness and strain. My eyes 
were weary with the flashing of eternal lights, each of 
which had to be watched so carefully, and my mind was 
surfeited with visions of the continual succession of fish 
and other organisms, and alternately encouraged and de- 


pressed by the successful or abortive attempts at identifica- 
tion. So I asked for our ascent. 

One minute later, at 2470 feet, all my temporarily re- 
laxed attention was aroused and focused on another splen- 
did piece of luck. A tie rope had to be cut and in this 
brief interval of suspension, extended by my hurried order, 
a new anglerfish came out of all the ocean and hesitated 
long enough close to my window for me to make out its 
dominant characters. I am calling it the Three-starred 
Anglerfish, Bathyceratias trilynchnus. It was close in many 
respects to the well-known genera Ceratias and Crypto- 
sparas, but the flattened angle of the mouth and the short, 
even teeth were quite different. It was six inches long, 
typically oval in outline, black, and with small eye. The 
fin rays were usual except that it had three tall tentacles 
or illicia, each tipped with a strong, pale yellow light organ. 
The light was clearly reflected on the upper side of the 
fish. In front of the dorsal fin were two pear-shaped or- 
gans exactly like those of the common Cryptosparas. The 
paired fins escaped me. No pioneer, peering at a Martian 
landscape, could ever have a greater thrill than did I at 
such an opportunity. (Fig. 117.) 

Once more I rearranged my aching limbs, stretched and 
twisted to make my muscles cease complaining, and 
watched the small fry slip downward through the beam, 
as the winch drew us steadily upward. Everything of in- 
terest was still relayed through the phone, but I was 
slumped down, relaxed. Suddenly I leaned forward, bang- 


ing my head against the steel but not losing a second of 
observation. A small school of luminous fish had just 
passed, when, fortunately at a moment of suspension, came 
a new and gorgeous creature. I yelled for continuance of 
the stop, which was at 1900 feet, and began to absorb 
what I saw; a fish almost round, with long, moderately 
high, continuous, vertical fins; a big eye, medium mouth, 
and small pectoral fins. The skin was decidedly brownish. 
We swung around a few degrees to port, bringing the 
fish into the dark blue penumbra of the beam, and then 
I saw its real beauty. Along the sides of the body were 
five unbelievably beautiful lines of light, one equatorial, 
with two curved ones above and two below. Each line was 
composed of a series of large, pale yellow lights, and every 
one of these was surrounded by a semicircle of very small, 
but intensely purple photophores. 

The fish turned slowly and, head on, showed a narrow 
profile. If It were at the surface and without lights I 
should, without question, have called it a butterflyfish 
(Cbcetodon) or a surgeonfish {Acanthunis) . But this 
glowing creature was assuredly neither, unless a distant 
relation, adapted for life at three hundred fathoms. My 
name for it is Bathysidus pentagrainfmis, the Five-lined 
Constellationfish. In my memory it will live throughout 
the rest of my life as one of the loveliest things I have 
ever seen. 

Soon after I returned to the surface I reviewed my tele- 
phoned notes, especially of the several new fish of which 


I had been given such excellent sights. I added all the de- 
tails that came to mind. Then, with my artist Mrs. Bostel- 
mann, I went into an artistic huddle, made scrawling at- 
tempts myself, and then carefully corrected her trained 
drawing. Little by little my brain fish materialized, its pro- 
portions, size, color, lights, fins interdigitated with those 
of my memory, and we have a splendid finished painting 
(Fig. 118), which represents the vision in front of my 
window at 1 1 152 in the morning of August eleventh, 1900 
feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. 

In the never-ceasing excitement of abounding life I 
had completely forgotten the idea of a half-mile record, 
and when on deck, in exactly another hour, we were re- 
minded that an additional 130 feet would have done the 
trick, I had no regrets. A man-made unit of measure is 
of far less importance than my Three-starred Angler which 
otherwise we should surely have missed. 

As for this particular dive, we started up from the 
lowest depth, 2510 feet, with 650 pounds of oxygen left 
in the tank and reached the surface just as the last hiss 
of gas escaped from the valve, and the recording ball set- 
tled to rest. Unfortunately for any sensational news value, 
we had a second valve and full tank ready to use. We had 
been sealed up for more than three hours and when we 
stepped out the air was as fresh as that on deck, the pres- 
sure was exceedingly slight and while we were both glad of 
the relaxing of constant tenseness, and our legs and feet 
were sound asleep, our mechanical apparatus had worked 


without a hitch, and was ready for a new dive. In fact in 
the afternoon we made an hour's contour dive near shore, 
and mapped about a mile of Bermuda's slopes some ten 
fathoms under water. But that is another story. 

Late in the afternoon as we reached the entrance of St. 
Georges harbor, the mighty Queen of the Furness Line 
passed close to us, outward bound. She saw the 2510 
chalked on the bow of the Ready and roared out a salute 
of congratulations. 

Sunday we devoted to translating and augmenting our 
notes with added remembered details, and getting every- 
thing ready for the next dive. Believing that the best kind 
of rest is a change of activity, on Monday, August thir- 
teenth, we took the Skink, our launch, and went ten miles 
out from shore to North Rock, the last forlorn hope of 
old Bermuda. Diving in the helmet in seven fathoms at 
the edge of a magnificent reef, I had the amazing luck of 
seeing all the so-called dangerous fish of Bermuda, sharks, 
barracudas, and green moray eels, within a space of twenty 
square feet. 

The following day we went to sea In the Gladisfen and 
drew deep-sea nets across the very place I had dived in 
the bathysphere so few hours before. As always we were 
delighted with the sight and touch of beings from the icy 
depths, and at the same time amazed at the meagerness 
of the haul compared with what I knew of the abundance 
of life through which the nets had passed. However each 
net was filled with glorious creatures, many of which were 


unknown. Best of all, instant transference into iced salt 
water revived many of them. 

Here again John Tee-Van was in charge of the deck 
machinery with Bass and Ramsey as aides. I was winch- 
man except at the actual incoming of the nets, when Miss 
Crane and I watched and took notes of the movements 
and colors of the living and just dead catch. A pair of 
ten-inch scimitar-mouths, such as I had seen on the last 
dive at a depth of four hundred and sixteen fathoms, were 
alive, and for the first time we had a black swallower, 
Chiasinodon niger, swimming full speed about his jar. Un- 
like most of his kind, his stomach was empty and not dis- 
tended with one of his unbelievably enormous meals. An- 
other treasure was a living, gay-colored, semi-transparent, 
telescope-eyed Dolichopteryx, the Long-finned Ghostfish, 
probably a new species. It was the sixteenth of the whole 
genus to be taken by man, and the first ever to be seen 

Day after day my weather held good and Wednesday, 
August fifteenth, was no exception. At 6:45 in early morn- 
ing we were arranging to leave St. Georges anchorage, the 
barge Ready with the bathysphere and ourselves, and the 
tug Gladisfen towing. Three hours later Mr. Barton and 
I were dropped overboard far out at sea. As well as we 
could determine from sights on the lighthouses we sub- 
merged at the identical spot into which we had splashed 
four days before. 

The same spot, but far from the same visible life. Sur- 


prises came at every few feet and again the mass of life 
was totally unexpected, the sum total of creatures seen 
unbelievable. At looo feet I distinctly saw a shrimp out- 
lined and distinguished several of its pale greenish lights. 
Although I delayed very little at the hundred foot stops, 
when the rope guys were attached, yet I dictated page 
after page of observations. I used the light as little as pos- 
sible and carefully shielded my eyes, so that very soon they 
became dark adapted. I was watching for two or three 
things which I wanted to solve. Large Melanostomiatid 
dragon-fish with their glowing port-hole lights showed 
themselves now and then, by which I mean on three sep- 
arate occasions; and more than elsewhere, in our electric 
light, we had frequent glimpses of small opalescent cope- 
pods, appropriately called Sappbirina, which renewed for 
us all the spectrum of the sunlight. 

I have spoken of the three outstanding moments in the 
mind of a bathysphere diver, the first flash of animal light, 
the level of eternal darkness, and the discovery and descrip- 
tion of a new species of fish. There Is a fourth, lacking 
definite level or anticipation, a roving moment which 
might very possibly occur near the surface or at the 
greatest depth, or even as one lies awake, days after the 
dive, thinking over and reliving it. It is, to my mind, the 
most important of all, far more so than the discovery of 
new species. It is the explanation of some mysterious oc- 
currence, of the display of some inexplicable habit which 

/ ^ 

/ /■' ^^^^ 

I ll^^ 


' J 







Fig. 117. The Three-starred Anglerfish or Bathyceratias uilynchnus is the name I have 
given to a fish, six inches long, which came within my range of vision from the bathy- 
sphere, 2740 feet down. In its tall, lighted masts, its oval glands, and its fins, it is closely 
related to well-known deep-sea fish. In mouth, teeth, and other respects it is quite different. 
(From a painting by Else Bostelmann. Courtesy of National Geographic Magazine) 

Fig. 118. Perhaps the most beautiful fish of the deep sea is this Five-lined Constellation- 
fish, which has been seen once but never captured. It appeared and vanished at 1900 feet, 
but remained long enough for me to see the front and sides, and the lines of wonderful 
golden-yellow lights, each partly or wholly surrounded by purple lamps. In shape it re- 
calls a butterfly or surgeonfish. 

(From a painting by Else Bostelmann. Courtesy of National Geogiaphic Magazine) 


has taken place before our eyes, but which, Hke a subli- 
mated trick of some master fakir, evades understanding. 

This came to me on this last deep dive at 1680 feet, 
and it explained much that had been a complete puzzle. 
I saw some creature, several inches long, dart toward the 
window, turn sideways and — explode. This time my eyes 
were focused and my mind ready, and at the flash, which 
was so strong that it illumined my face and the inner sill 
of the window, I saw the great red shrimp and the out- 
pouring fluid of flame. This was a real Fourth Moment, 
for many "dim gray fish" as I had reported them, now 
resolved into distant clouds of light, and all the previous 
"explosions" against the glass became intelligible. At the 
next occurrence the shrimp showed plainly before and 
during the phenomenon, illustrating the value in observa- 
tion of knowing what to look for. The fact that a num- 
ber of the deep-sea shrimps had this power of defense is 
well known, and I have had an aquarium aglow with the 
emanation. It is the abyssal complement of the sepia 
smoke screen of a squid at the surface. 

Before this dive was completed, I had made a still greater 
refinement in discernment, perceiving that there were two 
very distinct types of defense clouds emitted, one which 
instantly diffused into a glowing mist or cloud, and the 
other which exploded in a burst of individual sparks, for 
all the world like a diminutive roman candle. Both oc- 
curred at the window or near it a number of times, but 
it was the latter which was the more startling. 


Another advance in bathyspheric educational technique 
was unconscious and was only accidentally brought to 
conscious realization. On a succeeding dive I went down 
fifteen hundred feet and took Mr. Tee-Van and he won- 
dered at my ability to identify organisms which to him, 
on this first descent into the dark zone, were only indi- 
vidual lights. As we compared notes I realized that I had 
learned instinctively to ignore the light as soon as possible 
and look to left or right of it. Exactly as the spiral nebula 
in Andromeda can be seen most clearly by looking a little 
to one side, so the sudden flashing out of a light is less 
blinding when viewed indirectly, and simultaneously its 
author may more than likely come into focus. Before we 
returned to the surface Tee- Van had followed this method 
and we saw eye to eye in subsequent identifications. 

At 1800 I saw a small fish with illumined teeth, lighted 
from below, with distinct black interspaces; and ten feet 
below this my favorite sea-dragons, Lamprotoxus, ap- 
peared, they of the shining green bow. Only sixteen of 
these fish have ever been taken, seven of which came up in 
our own nets. The record size is about eight inches, while 
here before me were four individuals all more than twice 
that length, and very probably representing a new species. 
The green side line glowed but the long chin tentacle was 
quite invisible, certainly giving out no light. At 2 1 00 feet 
two large fish, quite three feet over all, lighted up and 
then became one with the darkness about them, a tanta- 


lizing glimpse which made me, more than ever, long for 
bigger and better nets. 

At 2450 a very large, dim, but not indistinct outline 
came into view for a fraction of a second, and at 2500 a 
delicately illumined ctenophore jelly throbbed past. With- 
out warning, the large fish returned and this time I saw 
its complete, shadow-like contour as it passed through the 
farthest end of the beam. Twenty feet is the least possible 
estimate I can give to its full length, and it was deep in 
proportion. The whole fish was monochrome, and I could 
not see even an eye or a fin. For the majority of the "size- 
conscious" human race this marine monster would, I 
suppose, be the supreme sight of the expedition. In shape 
it was a deep oval, it swam without evident effort, and it 
did not return. That is all I can contribute, and while its 
unusual size so excited me that for several hundred feet I 
kept keenly on the lookout for hints of the same or other 
large fish, I soon forgot it in the (very literal) light of 
smaller, but more distinct and interesting organisms. 

What this great creature was I cannot say. A first, and 
most reasonable guess would be a small whale or blackfish. 
We know that whales have a special chemical adjustment 
of the blood which makes it possible for them to dive a mile 
or more, and come up without getting the "bends." So this 
paltry depth of 2450 feet would be nothing for any simi- 
larly equipped cetacean. Or, less likely, it may have been 
a whale shark, which is known to reach a length of forty 
feet. Whatever it was, it appeared and vanished so unex- 


pectedly and showed so dimly that it was quite unidenti- 
fiable except as a large, living creature. 

Alexander the Great still holds the record for size of a 
deep-sea fish, when, in the Ethiopic version of Pseudo-Cal- 
listhenes, we are told that he looked out of his glass cage, 
and was shown by an angel of the Lord a monster which, 
swimming rapidly, took three days and three nights to 
pass before him! Nevertheless, my creature is a good be- 
ginning. Seriously, it shows what still remains for the 
pioneer explorer of the depths of the sea. 

Anyone who, from an airplane high above the earth, has 
tried to spot another plane somewhere near, in full view, 
will appreciate the even greater difficulty of focusing in 
this three-dimensional, stygian blackness, upon some crea- 
ture, suddenly appearing six inches from our faces, or 
forty-five feet away. Again and again before the eye can 
ref ocus, the flash and its owner have vanished. 

Mr. Barton saw no trace of the large creature I have 
mentioned, although I called out to him and got him at the 
window immediately. Soon after, when we were both look- 
ing out, he saw the first living StylophtJoalmus ever seen by 
man, which completely escaped me, although it must have 
been within a foot of the windows. This is one of the most 
remarkable of deep-sea fish, with the eyes on the ends of 
long, periscope stalks, almost one-third as long as the entire 
body. My missing the fish was all the more disappointing 
because I had recently been thoroughly studying these 
strange beings, and in fact had abolished their entire fam- 

Fig. 120. Mr. Graham reveals one of the possible tragedies of diving. 
(Courtesy of Judge) 


ily, after proving that they were the larvx of the golden- 
tailed serpent-dragons, Idiacantbus. 

The next fish of unusual size was seen at 2900 feet. It 
was less than three feet long, rather slender, with many 
small luminous spots on the body, and a relatively large, 
pale green, crescent-shaped light under the eye. Near it 
were five lanternfish, unlike all others I had seen. They 
swam so slowly that I made certain before they disap- 
peared that they were of the genus Lampadena. 

At 11:12 A.M. we came to rest gently at 3000 feet, and 
I knew that this was my ultimate floor; the cable on the 
winch was very near its end. A few days ago the water had 
appeared blacker at 2500 feet than could be imagined, yet 
now to this same imagination it seemed to show as blacker 
than black. It seemed as if all future nights in the upper 
world must be considered only relative degrees of twilight. 
I could never again use the word black with any convic- 

I looked out and watched an occasional passing light 
and for the first time I realized how completely lacking 
was the so-called phosphorescence with which we are 
familiar at the surface. There, whenever an ordinary fish 
passes, it becomes luminous by reflection from the lights 
of the myriads of the minute animals and plants floating 
in the water. Here each light is an individual thing, often 
under direct control of the owner. A gigantic fish could 
tear past the window, and if unillumined might never be 


My eyes became so dark adapted at these depths that 
there was no possibiHty of error; the jet blackness of the 
water was broken only by sparks and flashes and steadily 
glowing lamps of appreciable diameter, varied in color and 
of infinite variety as regards size and juxtaposition. But 
they were never dimmed or seen beyond or through any 
lesser mist or milky-way of organisms. The occasional, 
evanescent, defense clouds of shrimps hence stand out all 
the more strongly as unusual phenomena, and are quite 
apart from the present theme. If the surface light is emit- 
ted chiefly by Noctiluca and single-celled plants, the ex- 
planation of its abyssal absence is easy, for all surface forms 
of these groups have died out hundreds of feet overhead. 

A second thing which occurred to me as I sat coiled in 
the bathysphere, more than half a mile down, was the fail- 
ure of our powerful beam of light to attract organisms of 
any kind. Some fled at its appearance, others seemed wholly 
unconcerned, but not a single copepod or worm or fish 
gathered along its length or collected against the starboard 
window from which it poured. We sometimes kept the 
lesser beam on for three minutes at a time, so there was 
abundance of time for the plankton, which abounded in 
all parts of the path of light, to feel and react to its influ- 
ence. The reason for this demands far more study than I 
have been able to give it. One factor is doubtless not only 
lack of the rhythm of day and night, but the eternal ab- 
sence of all except animal light. 

Even in this extremity of blackness I sensed the purity 


of the water, its freedom from sediment and roiling; six 
miles from shore and a full mile from the bottom insured 
this. So there was no diffusion of light, no trails, no refrac- 
tion. When sparks or larger lights moved they were as 
distinct as when they were motionless. But reflection was 
noticeable, as upon the eye or skin from a sub-ocular or a 
lateral photophore, or upon my face when a shrimp ex- 
ploded close in front. 

Now and then I felt a slight vibration and an apparent 
slacking off of the cable. Word came that a cross swell had 
arisen, and when the full weight of bathysphere and cable 
came upon the winch, Captain Sylvester let out a few 
inches to ease the strain. There were only about a dozen 
turns of cable left upon the reel, and a full half of the 
drum showed its naked, wooden core. We were swinging 
at 3028 feet, and. Would we come up? We would. 

Whatever I thought about the relative value of inten- 
sive observation as compared with record-breaking, I had 
to admit that this ultimate depth which we had attained 
showed a decided increase in the number of large fish — 
more than a dozen from three to twenty feet having been 
seen — and a corresponding greater number of lights, 
though not in actual size of their diameters. 

Now and then, when lights were thickest, and the 
watery space before me seemed teeming with life, my 
eyes peered into the distance beyond them, and I thought 
of the lightless creatures forever invisible to me, those 
with eyes which depended for guidance through life upon 


the glow from the lamps of other organisms, and, strang- 
est of all the inhabitants of the deeper parts of the ocean, 
those blind from birth to death, whose sole assistants, to 
food, to mates and from enemies, were cunning sense or- 
gans in the skin, or long, tendril-like rays of their fins. 

Before we began to ascend, I had to stop making notes 
of my own, so numb were my fingers from the cold steel 
of the window sill, and to change from my cushion to 
the metal floor, was like shifting to a cake of ice. Of the 
blackness of the outside water I have already written too 
much. As to pressure, there seemed no reason why we 
should not be outside in a diving helmet as well as in. I 
thought of a gondola 60,000 feet up in the stratosphere 
with a pressure of one pound to the square inch. And then 
through the telephone we learned that at this moment we 
were under a pressure of 1 3 60 pounds to each square inch, 
or well over half a ton. Each window held back over nine- 
teen tons of water, while a total of 7016 tons were piled 
up in all directions upon the bathysphere itself. Yes, we 
had heard clearly, we were ready to be pulled up at once! 

At 2929 feet I heard a metallic twang through the 
phone, asked what it was, and got some noncommittal 
answer. I found out later that one of the guy ropes used 
in spooling the incoming cable on the drum had suddenly 
given way with a terrific report — a ghastly shock to every- 
one on deck until they realized it was a rope and not the 
cable. Truly we in the bathysphere had the best of it at 
all times. 


Whenever I sink below the last rays of light, similes 
pour in upon me. Throughout all this account I have con- 
sciously rejected the scores of "as ifs" which sprang to 
mind. The stranger the situation the more does it seem 
imperative to use comparisons. The eternal one, the one 
most worthy and which will not pass from mind, the only 
other place comparable to these marvelous nether regions, 
must surely be naked space itself, out far beyond atmos- 
phere, between the stars, where sunlight has no grip upon 
the dust and rubbish of planetary air, where the black- 
ness of space, the shining planets, comets, suns, and stars 
must really be closely akin to the world of life as it ap- 
pears to the eyes of an awed human being, in the open 
ocean, one half mile down. 

Appendix A 


THE courtesy and kindness of a multitude of friends en- 
couraged us from the inception to the end of our adven- 
ture. Mr. Harrison Williams and the late Mr. Mortimer L. 
Schiff stand at the head of our benefactors, and the 
Trustees of the New York Zoological Society have been 
close seconds. The activities of this present year of 1934 
have been made possible by a grant from the National 
Geographic Society. Further contributions are from Childs 
Frick, Herbert L. Satterlee, Irving Taylor, Ogden Mills, 
C. W. Wickersham, John B. Clark, William A. Read, 
Silas W. Howland, Sidney A. Mitchell, Edwin S. S. Sunder- 
land, Edward W. Mallinckrodt, Jr., Danforth Miller, 
Charles A. Marshall, Auguste Richard, Newbold L. Her- 
rick, Robert P. Bass. 

Dr. Gilbert Grosvenor, President of the National Geo- 
graphic Society, was most considerate in the details of his 
offer of making possible the 1934 dives. He demanded no 
condition of a new record, which is why I gave it to him. 
Mr. E. John Long, of the Geographic Society's staff, spent 
many weeks with us, a welcome guest who took full charge 
of the publicity, thereby relieving us of a most onerous 

task. Permission has kindly been granted to use duplicate 


228 COURTESIES OF 1 934 

electros of five colored plates which have appeared in the 
National Geographic Magazine. 

Mrs. Else Bostelmann gave of her best in the colored 
paintings of deep-sea creatures, and when there is only my 
memory to assist and check, the artist must indeed be good. 
George Swanson was of constant help with sketches and 
pen-and-ink drawings. Perkins Bass and William Ramsey, 
just out of Dartmouth, made places for themselves and 
filled them worthily, saving us no end of time and lighten- 
ing the thousand and one details which are never consid- 
ered in any prevision of an undertaking such as this. 

The Air Reduction Company designed and generously 
made for us new types of oxygen tanks and valves, an 
electric blower and four copper and brass trays for chem- 
icals, and provided for six hundred feet of hose cable; the 
Bell Telephone Company in exchange for our old ear- 
phones, which they wanted for their museum, gave us 
three sets of their latest models of telephone outfits; the 
General Electric Company, through Mr. Gerard Swope, 
had three, new, fused quartz windows made to replace the 
old ones which had degenerated, and broke under danger- 
ously low pressure tests. 

The Watson-Stillman Company, thanks to Mr. E. A. 
Stillman, overhauled the bathysphere, replacing all worn- 
out parts, and fitted the new windows in place, so per- 
fectly that not a drop of water entered. Julien P. Friez 
and Sons loaned us one of their automatic temperature- 
humidity recorders, enabling us to use our eyes every mo- 


ment for invaluable observation. The Burroughs Wellcome 
Laboratory provided a complete medical outfit, and elabo- 
rate first-aid kits. 

Others who have our gratitude for gifts of uncommon 
usefulness are: William Delano for our launch the Skink, 
Vivian Drake for a winch and wire, J. A. Roebling for 
miles of trawling wire, Maurice Ricker for the inven- 
tion and construction of a stop motion picture camera, 
L. R. Smith for the first successful deep-sea pressure gauge, 
Siebe Gorman Co., for a complete diving suit, Herbert Sat- 
terlee for a binocular telescope, and for two refrigerators 
which have kept alive some of our most amazing abyssal 

The Furness Line granted our usual low rates and took 
especial care of the bathysphere in transit. In Bermuda, 
Dr. E. G. Conklin allowed us to board at the Biological 
Station, where for six months we were comfortably lodged 
and fed, only seven minutes away from our laboratory at 
New Nonsuch. 

Commander Moorehead of the Meteorological Station 
put all his knowledge and the daily weather reports at our 
disposal, and aided our selection of propitious days for the 
dives. The Bermuda and Halifax Cable Company, through 
Mr. Rickwood, took care of all our messages at press rates, 
and in addition generously allowed one of their experts, 
Mr. A. P. Skinner, to splice the new six hundred foot hose 
cable on to the old, making a perfect connection. 

Hon. William E. Meyer let me have the Ready, the 

230 COURTESIES OF 1 9 34 

Powerful and the Gladisfen for our work. W. R. Perin- 
chief oversaw all the host of details of machinery installa- 
tion, and Captain James Sylvester for the third year spent 
a worried month, responsible for the capable working of 
the crew of the Ready, the efficient interdigitation of the 
boilers and winches, and especially the smooth running out 
and in of the main steel cable itself, once almost off the 
drum, and down to three thousand and twenty-eight feet. 
Almost all the pronouns "I" in this book should be con- 
sidered as divided into four, consisting of the permanent 
Staflf of the Department of Tropical Research; John Tee- 
Van, General Associate, Gloria Hollister, Research Asso- 
ciate, Jocelyn Crane, Technical Associate, and myself. 
Seldom, I think, have four human beings pulled so well 
together with a single object in mind — the discovery and 
recording of new facts and phases of nature, to the greater 
honor of our special departmental niche in the New York 
Zoological Society. 

Appendix B 

by Otis Barton 

THE bathysphere is a spherical steel diving chamber, or 
tank, as we generally call it. It was designed by the writer, 
and Messrs. Butler and Barret of Cox and Stevens. It con- 
sists of a single casting made by the Watson-Stillman Hy- 
draulic Machinery Company. The first casting weighed 
five tons, which proved to be too heavy for any of the 
winches procurable in Bermuda. It was therefore junked. 
Our present tank weighs five thousand pounds, is four 
feet nine inches in diameter, and has walls at least an inch 
and a half thick. 

It carries a four hundred pound door, fastened over the 
man-hole with ten large bolts. This door has a circular 
metal gasket which fits into a shallow groove. The joint, 
when packed with a little white lead, was entirely water- 
proof at twenty-four hundred feet. In the center of the 
door is a wing-bolt plug, which can be screwed in or out 

The windows are cylinders of fused quartz eight inches 
in diameter and three inches thick. They are a special prod- 
uct of the General Electric Company, the use of fused 

quartz being suggested by Dr. E. E. Free. They are fitted 



into cannon-like projections in the front of the tank. The 
joint is secured with a paper gasket and white lead, and a 
light steel frame is bolted over each one in front. In all we 
have had five quartz windows. The first was chipped in 
an attempt to grind it into its seat. The second gave way 
under an internal pressure test of one thousand two hun- 
dred and fifty pounds to the square inch. It seems probable 
that the frame in front was bent out, and that the result- 
ing shearing strains broke the glass. The third was broken 
when the frame bolts were tightened unevenly. The re- 
maining two, however, have never leaked a drop, and have 
withstood the pressure at twenty-four hundred feet, and 
will, no doubt, hold much more. 

The electric cable was specially made by the Okonite 
Company. It is one and one-tenth inches in diameter and 
has a heavy rubber insulation. Inside are two conductors 
for the lights and two for the telephone. The cable passes 
through a stuflSng-box in the top of the tank and is 
squeezed up by two glands, one on the outside of, and the 
other within, the sphere. It, too, proved entirely water- 
proof under all pressures we encountered. 

The two big conductors passed to a two hundred and 
fifty watt spot-light (loaned by E. "W. Beggs of the West- 
inghouse Company) in the right forward projection. We 
were obliged to seal the left projection with a steel plug, 
since only two quartz windows were left. At depths of over 
seven hundred feet the beam of light could be seen passing 
through the water. When more illumination was desired, 


it was simply necessary for the divers to direct the deck 
crew to speed up the generator. The hght was turned out 
by the divers when they wished to observe the effects of 
the natural submarine illumination. To facilitate these ob- 
servations the entire interior of the sphere was painted 

The small conductors passed to the telephone lent by 
C. R. Moore of the Bell Telephone Laboratory. The two 
sets were run by a twenty-two and a half volt radio battery 
on deck. At times static occurred, especially when the free 
ends on the conductors were disturbed, but on the whole 
they were a success. All observations taken in the depths 
were recorded by the deck crew. 

The breathing apparatus was designed by Dr. Alvin 
Barach of New York. On either side clamped to the wall 
an oxygen tank was carried, either of which would take 
Dr. Barach's special valve. We set this valve to allow two 
litres of oxygen per minute to escape for the two divers. 
One tank lasted about three hours at this rate. Above each 
tank was a wire mesh tray. One contained soda lime, which 
took up the CO2, the other calcium chloride, which ab- 
sorbed the moisture. Palm-leaf fans kept air in circulation. 
During our deepest dive of fourteen hundred feet we were 
comfortable and cool, although we had been inside more 
than an hour and a half. 

For lowering the bell, we used Dr. "William Beebe's seven- 
ton winch and special large reel. To operate these, we in- 
stalled two boilers on the after part of the long deck of 


our lighter which had once been the H.M.S. Ready. The 
Hghter was in turn towed by the tug Gladisfen, of the 
New York Zoological Society. This equipment was used 
on the Arcturus Expedition, as were also the three six-ton 
sheaves. One of these was bolted to the deck about 70 feet 
in front of the reel at midship. From this the cable re- 
turned to the second sheave close to the mainmast and then 
passed to the third at the end of the heavy boom. 

The cable was a special seven-eighths-inch, steel-center, 
non-spinning one made by Roebling. It was thirty-five 
hundred feet long and would hold twenty-nine tons. It 
weighed about two tons under water. On our dive of four- 
teen hundred feet, therefore, the weight of the cable let 
out was nearly six-sevenths of a ton in the water. To this 
was added the weight of the bathysphere in water, about 
seven-eighths of a ton. The amount of cable out was tallied 
by the special meter wheel also from the Arcturus, as well 
as by a system of ribbons tied around the cable. 

The comparatively light electric cable was let out by 
hand, and attached at intervals of not more than two hun- 
dred feet to the steel one. This we did at first with brass 
clamps, but later it was found better to tie them together 
with lengths of rope about a yard in length, since these 
took up much of the twisting. The winch could be stopped 
while the tie was made. 

Several problems were naturally encountered in these 
operations. At first we found that the sphere swung badly 
when raised from the deck. To remedy this we lowered the 


boom, by means of a second winch, nearly down to the 
clevis, which connects the cable and sphere. The whole 
boom, was then raised and pulled out over the side, with the 
top of the tank almost touching the third sheave. From this 
position the sphere could be lowered upon a single whip. 

Perhaps the greatest trouble was caused by the twisting 
of the rubber hose about the steel cable. Most of this was 
apparently due to the failure to stretch the latter by letting 
it all out without the rest of the apparatus and then to re- 
wind it under tension on the reel. When twisting was bad 
we would tie up the loops every two hundred feet in a loose 
coil, through the center of which the steel cable continued 
to operate. Eventually, however, we succeeded in getting 
out as much as two thousand feet without twisting. 

Besides taking observations at great depths in the open 
ocean, we tried towing the tank along under the vessel, 
endeavoring to keep the bottom in sight and not to run 
into any of the ledges which rise up quite suddenly in these 
waters. In this work we nailed a wooden rudder on each 
skid behind, by which the windows were kept always to 
the front in the direction of motion. 

I donated the affair to the New York Zoological Society 
in the autumn of 1930. 

Appendix C 

by John Tee-Yan 

IN the four years since it first plunged into the sea to a 
record depth of 1426 feet, the bathysphere has slowly be- 
come a more perfectly adapted machine for its unique 
task. In Appendix B, Mr. Barton has described the sphere 
as it was in the first year; the following account will note 
the changes that have been made since then; what the 
bathysphere is like today. For convenience, the accounts 
of the various parts of the bathysphere have been separated 
into sections. Figures 122 and 123 will help especially to 
clarify some of the statements. 

Main Casting: The bathysphere itself, as far as the orig- 
inal casting with its window turrets, cable entrance, cable 
attachment flange, wooden base, and doorway are con- 
cerned, is the same as when built. The casting, fifty-four 
inches inside diameter and five thousand pounds in weight, 
is from i ^ to i ^4 inches thick and is made of the finest 
grade of open-hearth steel. A minor change has been made 
in the windows and will be mentioned under that heading. 

Doorway: The original 400 pound door with the same 

studs and ten brass nuts is used, although the copper washer 


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Fig. 123. Internal y\rrangcment of the Bathysphere of 1934. From left to right: 
Chemical apparatus with its blower, four trays and pan; oxygen tank and valve; tele- 
phone coil and battery box — the telephones are plugged into this box and it is con- 
nected by the wire shown on the two hooks above the oxygen valve, with the telephone 
wires in the communication hose; thermometer-humidity recorder, and below it the 
left hand sealed window; barometer; switch-box at top of sphere; central observation 
window, immediately below switch-box; oxygen tank and valve; searchlight. The com- 
munication hose is shown as it enters the bathysphere through the stuffing-box. 


in the groove of the door frame has been replaced by a new 
one. The same is true of the smaller copper washer on the 
door itself, into which the flange of the wing-bolt fits. 
These two washers are subjected to tremendous pressure, 
not only by the strain of combating the pressure of the 
deep, but also by the force exerted when the bolts and the 
wing-bolt are finally tightened by hammering. The orig- 
inal washers had crystallized to such an extent that they 
were worthless. 

The brass wing-bolt that screws into the center of the 
door is also new, the old one having been damaged in 1932 
when it was hurled across the deck after an implosion of 

Windows: Two new quartz windows, 3 inches thick, 
8 inches in diameter ( 6 inches of which is free of the sup- 
porting flange) , were necessary this year as peculiar smoky 
patches had developed in the old, and in attempting to re- 
move them from their frames they had cracked. Heavier 
steel flanges were built to hold the windows in place and 
these fn turn are fastened by stronger studs and nuts than 
those used before. The left hand window frame is still 
sealed with a steel plug. An additional small hole, fitted 
with a screw plug, has been drilled on the lower side of each 
window turret in order, as will be explained, to make the 
window sealing more effective. 

Thus when the new windows were inserted into their 
frames with heavy paper washers at front and back, and 


the outer flange tightened as much as possible, the plugs 
in the top and bottom of the window projection were re- 
moved. A pressure gun was then inserted into the top open- 
ing of one window and white lead forced into the space 
surrounding the window until it came out of the bottom 
hole. The bottom plug was then screwed in and tightened, 
and additional force exerted on the pressure gun until the 
entire space around the lens was filled with white lead. 
The upper plug was then put in place and tightened. The 
movement of the white lead is facilitated by the fact that 
there is a small groove in the steel turret running around 
the circumference of the lens. 

Stuffing-Box: No changes have been made in the stuff- 
ing-box or in the glands through which the communica- 
tion cable enters the bathysphere. Four or five layers of 
^ inch square, flax, oil packing are used between the 
outer steel gland and the inner brass one, this making an 
absolutely effective joint. Although the cable was taped 
above the stuflSng-box so that if it did slip through the 
packing it would be stopped at the tape, no motion was 
observed beyond one-third of an inch slip on the deepest 

In running the cable through the glands and in tighten- 
ing the stufl&ng-box, it was found that the use of ice to 
lower the temperature of the metal was an easy method of 
making a tight joint. This also approached the condition 
surrounding the bathysphere when it was below in water 


ranging down to 46 degrees, and made us fairly certain 
that unequal contraction of metal and rubber would not 
be a factor in a faulty joint. 

Wooden Base: Three or four sets of wooden skids have 
been used on the sphere since it was built. Landing two and 
three-quarter tons on a deck and transporting the sphere 
have caused constant attrition and occasional smashes in 
these supports. 

Atmospheric System: Inside the bathysphere the appa- 
ratus for supplying the divers with suitable air has been 
considerably altered. The old system consisted of two 
oxygen tanks and a single valve, two trays for hold- 
ing the chemicals and palm-leaf fans to keep the air in 

It may be mentioned here that the system upon which 
the bathysphere's atmosphere is based is as follows: After 
entrance into the bathysphere and the sealing of the door, 
the divers turn on their oxygen valve and supply oxygen to 
replace the amount that they are extracting from the air 
originally in the sphere when the door was closed. At the 
same time they turn on the chemical blower which cir- 
culates air through and over chemicals that remove and 
retain the carbon dioxide that is exhaled and the moisture 
that is evaporated from their bodies. No attention is paid 
to the nitrogen or other gases that are in the atmos- 

If it were possible to gauge exactly the amount of oxy- 


gen that the divers were using, and if the chemicals were 
extracting every bit of the exhalations and moisture, the 
pressure would remain exactly as it was on sealing the 
bathysphere. In practice, however, in order to maintain 
adequate safety factors considerably larger quantities of 
chemicals are used than are theoretically necessary, and 
oxygen is supplied at a rate slightly in excess of require- 
ments. This excess of oxygen tends to raise the pressure in 
the sphere and the amount of rise is read on an especially 
calibrated barometer. Thus too great an increase in pres- 
sure would indicate the release of too much oxygen. Too 
little would of course not be recorded, so a larger amount 
is always necessary. 

As a result of the use of the apparatus mentioned above 
the bathysphere is exceptionally comfortable as far as air 
is concerned and its atmosphere may be summarized briefly 
as having a temperature range of 68 to 85 degrees Fahren- 
heit, depending upon the outside water temperature, hu- 
midity of 48 to 74 per cent, carbon dioxide practically ab- 
sent, and a somewhat richer oxygen content than the out- 
side atmosphere. 

Oxygen Tanks and Valves: The oxygen tanks are the 
same as those used previously, being cylinders about 17 
inches long and 4^ inches in diameter, each containing 
about 80 gallons of oxygen. Their position has been 
changed this year from horizontal to vertical, one at the 
middle of each side of the bathysphere. 


Two new oxygen valves of a type recently perfected by 
the Air Reduction Company have been installed. These 
valves will deliver oxygen accurately to within i per 
cent of the gauge reading, and are also capable of showing 
the exact amount of oxygen escaping regardless of pres- 
sure. This is in direct contrast to the single valve used 
before, in which the error of the gauge was considerable 
and which might not deliver oxygen against pressure, even 
though the gauge still showed it to be escaping. In the 
new pieces of apparatus, the indicator is not a needle 
against a dial, but a small, stainless steel ball within a cal- 
ibrated glass tube. The amount of oxygen escaping deter- 
mines the height of the ball in the tube, as the ball sits on 
top of the escaping stream of oxygen. 

The release of oxygen in the bathysphere was reduced 
in 1934 from 2 litres to i litre per minute for 2 divers. 

Barometer: A small recalibrated barometer is hung in- 
side of the sphere as a check on too great a flow of oxygen. 
Under any circumstances the increase in pressure is very 
small. Even if both oxygen tanks were allowed to escape 
into the sphere, only an additional three-fourths of an at- 
mosphere would be present. 

Chemical Blower: During the 1930 and 1932 dives the 
internal atmosphere was purified by having the air pass 
over open trays of chemicals, impetus being given to the 
air by periodically waving palm-leaf fans. This year it was 
considered advisable to have a more positive means of keep- 


ing the atmosphere wholesome, and for this purpose the 
engineers of the Air Reduction Company designed and 
constructed a device that functioned perfectly. This ma- 
chine consists of four wire-bottomed brass trays tightly 
fitted together into which the chemicals are placed, and an 
electrical blower that sucks up the bathysphere's air and 
passes it over and through the trays. Iron supports for the 
trays and blower are welded to the bathysphere immedi- 
ately to the left of the door. 

As first designed the blower was below the trays and 
sucked air from the bottom of the sphere, but tests showed 
this to be unwise, as the calcium chloride precipitated the 
condensed moisture into the motor. Consequently the en- 
tire apparatus was turned over so that the blower is now 
on top of the trays, and a small pan is fastened below the 
trays to catch the liquid. 

The blower operates at a speed sufficient to circulate the 
entire atmosphere through fully charged chemical trays 
once every minute and a half. 

Chemicals: The chemicals used in 1934 are the same as 
those used before: — calcium chloride (No. 8 mesh) for 
absorbing the moisture and Wilson Soda Lime (Sodasorb, 
4-8 mesh) for taking care of the carbon dioxide. During 
this year's preparations other chemicals were suggested 
in place of these, but our earlier use showed that these had 
functioned perfectly and there was no good reason for 
changing them. 


Each of the chemicals was supphed at the rate of about 
one pound per person per hour. Extra containers of un- 
opened chemicals were placed in the bathysphere for 
emergency use. 

Temperatjire and Hiunidity Recorder: A small auto- 
matic recorder made by Julien P. Friez and Sons gave us 
a record of temperature and humidity conditions. This 
instrument was especially useful in the first few dives in 
showing that the quantity of calcium chloride theoretically 
necessary for controlling the humidity in the bathysphere 
was wholly inadequate. 

Telephones: The general layout of the telephone system 
is the same as that of 1932. There is a complete outfit of 
ear-phones and breast transmitter in the bathysphere. This 
is plugged into a small box containing a coil and battery 
and fastened to the left side of the sphere. The box in turn 
is connected to the communication hose by wires that ex- 
tend on a series of small welded hooks around the upper 
rear side of the sphere. On deck there are two instruments, 
each at the end of a fifty foot length of wire so that the 
users can move freely to any part of the deck. A duplicate 
set to that in the bathysphere, including battery and coil 
box, is used by Miss Hollister for recording and com- 
municating with the occupants of the sphere, while a sin- 
gle ear-phone is at my command when I am in charge of 
the deck operations. 

The telephone instruments are all new, although they 


are exactly the same as those used in 1932. They were sup- 
plied by the Bell Telephone Company through Mr. C. R. 
Moore, and are the same type as those used by transoceanic 
telephone operators. 

Electrical Equipment in the Bathysphere: From the 
communication cable that enters the bathysphere through 
the stufSng-box, two electric wires lead to a switch box 
immediately* above the central window. This box is wired 
so that the current can be distributed through two switches 
on the front of the box, — one for control of the light and 
the other for the chemical blower. 

The wire for the chemical blower passes from the switch 
around the upper right hand side of the sphere on a series 
of hooks welded to the metal, until it reaches the blower 

Lamp: From the light switch, which is of 20 amperes' 
capacity, two wires lead down to the searchlight. This is 
a suitable housing with condensing lens and contains a 
1500 watt 1 10-120 volt lamp. Under usual conditions this 
lamp operated, because of the reduction in voltage due to 
the resistance of 3600 feet of cable, at from 72 to j6 volts. 
The intensity of its light was thus reduced from 33,000 
lumens (2628 candlepower) at no volts to 9020 lumens 
(732 candlepower) at 75 volts. This lower amount sup- 
plied abundant light for visual purposes from the bathy- 

When greater illumination was needed for photography. 


a shift was made on the barge to a larger generator and the 
hght in the sphere operated at full voltage. 

Hose: The communication hose was the same 3000 foot 
length used in 1930 and 1932, to which, by means of a 
pressure and water proof splice, an additional 600 foot 
length has been added. The hose contains four conductors, 
two for electricity and two for telephones. These wires of 
size 8 A and 14A respectively are suitably insulated, cabled 
together and surrounded by a thick rubber wall, the outer 
diameter of which is i.i 1 5 inches. 

Generators: During ninety-nine per cent of this year's 
descents electricity was supplied by the old Kohler gen- 
erator that was used before. This is an automatic plant 
generating no volts direct current and of 1500 watts 
capacity. It functioned perfectly during every descent. 
Although the voltage of this plant at the surface was no, 
this was reduced to 72 to 76 volts at the bathysphere by 
the resistance of the 3600 feet of wire through which the 
current passed. 

When stronger light was needed for photography the 
larger generator was used in place of the Kohler. The volt- 
age of the second generator could be controlled by a rheo- 
stat above and by a voltmeter in the sphere, the amount of 
current being regulated by directions given through the 

Emergency Signaling Apparatus: Near the generator 
and part of the electric circuit is a small box containing 


switches, a 500 watt bulb, one electric inlet and two out- 
lets. Current from the generator entered this box by the 
inlet, and under normal circumstances passed through one 
switch and the upper of the two outlets directly to the 
lamp in the sphere. If the telephones failed, the electric 
line to the bathysphere is placed in the lower of the two 
outlets. This arrangement places the bulb in the box in 
series with the lamp in the searchlight below, and, by means 
of the switches on the box and below, signaling can be 
effected by a prearranged code. 

Cable: No changes have been made in the main support- 
ing cable or in the clevis by which it is attached to the 
bathysphere. The cable's length is 3500 feet, its diameter 
Ys of an inch, and it is of a non-spinning type, alternate 
strands being wound in opposite directions to counteract 

However, non-spinning is a relative term as the cable 
does twist about somewhat on every dive. On one of the 
first 1930 test dives with an empty sphere, the communica- 
tion hose came to the surface wound many times about 
the steel supporting cable, at one time as many as forty- 
five turns being found in 2000 feet. These twists had in- 
sinuated themselves into the cable as it was wound from 
the original factory reel on to the winch, and these turns, 
as they untwisted in the water, caused the electric line to 
wind itself up. The twisting, however, is easily corrected 
by sending the bathysphere down on a test dive without 


the communication hose. As it descends, the ball turns 
until the cable takes its correct lay. Thereafter not more 
than two or three turns are found in a thousand feet. 

In the early test descents, whenever the electric hose was 
twisted about the cable, the turns, as they arrived at the 
surface, were tied together in large loops, through the 
center of which the main cable ran. This procedure oper- 
ated efficiently and required but little effort or time. After 
the bathysphere arrived on board, the coils were unwound 
by removing the end of the cable from the stuffing-box 
and uncoiling it on deck. 

During the 1930 descents the electric hose was fastened 
by double-jawed clamps direct to the supporting cable. As 
a final evolutionary chapter in fastening hose to cable, the 
clamps were discarded entirely and the lines are now fas- 
tened together by six foot lengths of ^ inch rope. Clove 
hitches were found to be the simplest and best method of 
attaching the two. Rope fastenings have certain advantages 
over the others, — they can be made fast more rapidly than 
clamps, they can be slashed by a knife and removed with- 
out stopping the ascent in case of an emergency, and lastly, 
if twists occur, the rope takes up the turns and not the 

One feature of the cable's use that Is of considerable in- 
terest Is Its winding on the drum. The original ten inch 
diameter of the steel core of the large winch was consid- 
ered too small for this size of cable. To remedy this heavy 
pieces of wood were installed, bringing the diameter to ap- 


proximately sixteen inches. On this wooden center the 
cable is spooled, great attention being paid to the tension 
and the closeness with which each revolution of cable ap- 
proaches the preceding revolution. However, no matter 
how tightly the cable is wound, after a few deep dives it 
loosens slightly and then as each line of cable goes on the 
drum, it forces itself between the lines of the cable layer 
beneath. When this happens, the cable, as it is let out, snaps 
away from the drum with a most unpleasant sound, and, 
what is worse, comes away jerkily and unevenly. Hence 
the necessity of occasionally rewinding the cable mechan- 
ically, under tension, a proceeding that occurred twice 
during the 1934 season. 

In spooling the wire on the drum a snatch-block is fas- 
tened about the cable and connected to each side of the 
ship by block and tackles. By hauling on these tackles the 
deck-hands are able to pull the wire from side to side, and 
an even winding results. 

Winches: For lifting the bathysphere the old Arcturus 
seven-ton Lidgerwood winch is still used. This has a drum 
with a solid steel core of i o inches in diameter, and a width 
between outer flanges of five feet six inches. Two strength- 
ening bars were added to the winch during 1934. 

The two winches for lowering and raising the boom and 
for moving the boom laterally are ordinary ship winches. 

All of these machines and the sheaves have been fastened 
to the deck by new steel bolts to large wooden balks that in 


turn were attached to the vessel's cross beams. In addition, 
each of the sheaves had an emergency stop of steel cable 
in case the bolt gave way. 

Sheaves: The three sheaves through which the bathy- 
sphere's cable passed are those used in our regular deep-sea 
work. They are steel lumber sheaves, of 1 8 inches diameter, 
and self-lubricating as each one carries an inner reservoir 
of oil. They were capable of withstanding many times the 
amount of strain to which they were subjected. 

Steam: Two vertical boilers supplied steam for the 
winches. They usually functioned at about no pounds 

Measuring Length of Cable: In 1930 the length of the 
cable was measured in two ways, — by a meter wheel orig- 
inally used in measuring cable length in our oceanographic 
exploration, and by tying linen tapes to the cable as it 
passed over a measured hundred feet. The first method 
was soon given up as it was too difficult to constantly 
change meters into feet, plus an additional recalibration 
caused by the fact that the meter was intended for Yz inch 
instead of % inch cable. The tapes were also discarded as 
they were often cut as they passed through the steel sheaves 
and lost. 

Eventually white oil paint was resorted to and is still 
used. When the bathysphere is at the surface a paint mark 
is made on the cable above a zero mark. As this progresses 
down the deck it passes a series of figures at ten foot inter- 


vals until the one hundred foot interval is reached. The 
engine is then stopped and a white mark again placed at the 
zero. This process continues as the bathysphere descends, 
and the recorder can, by watching the tally card and the 
white mark on the cable, instantly give the depth of the 

Appendix D 


by Jocelyn Crane 

THE following selected bibliography contains a very few 
of the references consulted in the preparation of Chapters 
II and III. For those who are interested in pursuing further 
the early history of diving, these books will serve as an in- 
troduction both to the subject and to its literature. 

Aristotle: Problematum. Sectio XXXII. 

Budge, E. A. W. The Alexander Book in Ethiopia. Oxford, 1933. 

Davis, R. H. A Diving Manual. 1920. 

Halley, Edmond. The Art of Living Under Water: Or, A dis- 
course concerning the means of furnishing Air at the 
bottom of the sea in any ordinary Depths. (Royal Society 
of London, Philosophical transactions, London, v. 29, July- 
Sept., 171^, pp. 492-499.) 

Jameson, Mary Ethel: Submarines. A List of References in 
the New York Public Library. New York, 19 18. 

KuNZ, J. F., and Stevenson, C. H.: The Book of the Pearl. 

LoRiNi, Buonaiuto. Libro strumenti ne quaki possono star gli 
huomini sotto acqua. (Le Fortification!. Venetia, 1609.) 

ScHOTT, Caspar. Technica curiosa, sive Mirabilia artis. Herbi- 
poli, 1^87. 

Thucydides. Book VII, 25. (B. Jowett's translation. 1900.) 

Vegetius. De Re Militari. Editions of 1 5 11 seq. 

"WiLKiNS, John: Concerning the possibility of framing an Ark 
for submarine Navigations. The difficulties and conven- 
iences of such a contrivance. (In his Mathematical Magick. 
London, 1^48.) 


Appendix E 

AFTER more than thirty dives in the bathysphere I felt 
the need of being checked up on observations and general 
receptivity of the unusual conditions attendant on these 
descents. On the deepest dives Mr. Barton was absorbed in 
the possibilities of photography, but I frequently disturbed 
him to make him look out and confirm what I discovered 
to be in our vicinity. I wanted, however, to see what eflFect 
a dive would have on a working ichthyologist. So I invited 
my associate, John Tee- Van, to go down 1500 feet with 
me on Dive 35, on August twenty-seventh, 1934. 

He has recorded spontaneously what he felt and saw, and 
whatever of repetition there may be in our separate ac- 
counts will be forgiven in the greater value of two indi- 
vidual impressions. ^^^^^^ ^^^^^ 

by John Tee-Van 

WE live in an era of cruises. In every magazine and news- 
paper we are importuned to forget our worries and trou- 
bles and to go around the world or to the North Cape or 
to spend five days in a journey to Halifax, Bermuda, and 

New York. My last cruise, fortunately for me, was in a 



sea-going conveyance with an exceedingly limited pas- 
senger list. It was a journey that had long been hoped for 
and desired, but when the invitation came, it was quite 

As I stood at the rail of the Ready watching the untying 
of the electric cable at the looo-foot level, I was im- 
mensely thrilled when I heard on my telephone the Di- 
rector's statement that he would take me down on the 
next dive. We had been working with the bathysphere 
for so long, watching and thinking of every bolt and wire 
and gasket, that I was delighted to think that at last I 
would see it working from below. I was exceedingly 
anxious to see what was happening in the depths from 
which we had hauled so many strange fish. 

After a hurried lunch, we placed fresh calcium chloride 
and soda lime in the chemical trays and installed a new 
duplicate tank of oxygen, and as soon as possible the Di- 
rector and I squeezed through the door. Tests of the ma- 
chinery and apparatus revealed that the telephones were 
not functioning, and examination of the lines showed that 
someone had stepped on a deck connection and that two 
wires had crossed. This required but a few minutes to re- 
pair and we were then quite ready to go. 

The door and wing-bolt were hammered into place with, 
I suppose, no more than the usual clanging thoroughness. 
But to me, accustomed to a racket much modulated by the 
open air of the deck, the noise was both deafening and in- 
terminable. At last we were a detached part of the world. 


sealed tight inside our metal ball, with no possible chance 
of opening the door. Our telephones were connected and 
we were nothing but a voice to those outside on the deck. 

Out there, preparations were being made to lift the 
sphere, and in a few moments we felt the gentle heave and 
sway that showed we were off the deck and swinging in 
the air. The Director called "Brace yourself!", and I, seated 
in Mr. Barton's usual position, held onto the chemical ap- 
paratus and an oxygen tank until, with a plainly audible, 
gurgling splash, we landed in the water. We rested there 
a moment or two, alternating, as we rose and fell with the 
roll of the Ready, between blue of sky, top of sea, and the 
more tenuous, yellow green of under-surface. Then we 
started slowly down past the weed- and barnacle-encrusted 
hull to the clear waters beneath. 

From this moment we practically discarded all senses but 
sight. We became, like the bathysphere itself, two huge 
eyes looking out upon a world that had existed with little 
change for countless centuries. 

The reversed waves, seen from below the surface, were 
much more satiny and less troubled than they had seemed 
just a short while ago. Immediately below the top were all 
the familiar surface-living animals, present in vast num- 
bers and easily visible as the sun shone on their upper 
sides. Copepods were to be seen, and small shrimp-like 
creatures. Occasionally a sagitta became something more 
than an indeterminate bit of matter, or a pteropod could 
be identified. 


Word came from above that the guys had been shifted 
and that we were ready to go down whenever we wanted. 
We read all of the instruments and checked the door and 
stuffing-box. With everything in order, the Director gave 
the command to lower away. 

From here on down we were glued to the windows, the 
Director at half of the central and I with my choice of 
half the central or all of the right hand one, trying to ab- 
sorb and retain as much as possible of what went on be- 
yond the quartz lenses. On the way down the after effects 
of the brilliant sunlight above told on our eyes, and we 
were not able to see as clearly as we were later on, when 
our eyes became dark-adapted. Nevertheless, beyond the 
window and before our eyes, went on the ceaseless flow 
of animal life — minute flecks and darts of paleness, and oc- 
casional larger organisms. 

I was constantly aware that my journey under-sea was 
enhanced tenfold by my going down with the Director, 
for his ability to recognize what we saw was demonstrated 
to a marvelous extent during this bathysphere descent. 
Years ago in the jungle I had given up questioning his 
observations — I had been along on too many stalks where a 
single hurried glance at a vanishing bird or insect would 
produce an intelligible estimate of size, pattern, and color, 
which in a few minutes or days would be verified by the 
specimen itself, hunted and captured and brought to the 

And here below, in the bathysphere, far from the great 


trees of South America, I was treated to another example 
of splendid seeing and interpretation. My own observations 
at first were hazy and ill-defined — usually mere gropings 
after words to express the hurried glimpses of the creatures 
beyond our windows. Now and then a fish would be seen 
by both of us at the same instant. To me, at first they were 
but vague shapes punctuated by lights, while to the Di- 
rector they were definite animals that were intelligibly 
named or described. And as I listened to these descriptions 
going up through the telephone to the deck above, my re- 
action, time and time again, was to think, "Why, of 
course — that fits exactly the shape and form and lights of 
the creature that I just saw." Soon my eyes began to be 
accustomed to the absolute three-dimensional field of 
vision, and to focus more quickly and accurately. 

So to the excitement of going down in the bathysphere 
were added the experience and companionship of an able 
interpreter. It is of interest that three factors contribute 
largely to the Director's ability to describe the Bermuda 
under-sea creatures. First, he possesses extraordinary ob- 
servational powers, produced after a lifetime of watching 
and thinking and describing. Second, he has more or less 
complete knowledge of the forms likely to be found out- 
side the bathysphere, — a knowledge gained by six years of 
study of the animals as they came fresh into the laboratory 
in Bermuda from our deep-sea trawling nets. Thirdly, he 
has accomplished a sufficient number of bathysphere dives 
to have trained his eye and brain to see beyond the lumi- 


nescent spots to the dimness of a fish's bulk beyond them. 
In any evaluation of the observations made during the 
bathysphere dives, these factors must be given first rank 

My impressions of what we saw in the greater depths 
and of how I felt have kaleidoscoped. Darkness and flash- 
ing lights have become inextricably mixed, and parts of the 
descent might be compared to a journey through the 
heavens on some yet-to-be-invented machine at unheard- 
of speeds — a constellation suddenly appearing and dis- 
appearing, a quick flash as some larger celestial body came 
into view — all of them disappearing with the rapidity of 
meteors arriving in our atmosphere. 

The journey from the surface to the depths and back 
again divided itself rather unevenly, as far as interest was 
concerned, between what happened inside of the bathy- 
sphere and what occurred outside. Although I had de- 
scended before to shallower depths in the sphere, I was 
again impressed by the amazing amount of room that 
existed within a globe of fifty-four inches inside diameter. 
Surrounded as we were by blowers, chemical trays, oxygen 
tanks, and valves, searchlights, switch-boxes, telephones, 
thermo- and humidostats, minor instruments, and tools, 
there still remained considerable space, and we could oc- 
casionally stretch one portion of our anatomy after an- 
other, although by no means could we stand upright. 

Within the sphere one forgot completely that outside, 
pressing all about us, were the vast accumulated tons of 


pressure that were increasing with every foot that we 
dropped down. We breathed air richer and purer than the 
air of our streets, for our oxygen was escaping at a Httle 
more than the normal rate of consumption. So much a 
part of the bathysphere does one become that the machin- 
ery is soon forgotten, and it is with an effort or at Miss 
HolHster's request from above that one remembers that 
the oxygen gauges must be read, and that stuffing-box, 
door, and chemical trays had better be examined. 

Once below the surface no noise from outside the sphere 
reached us, principally because there was no noise and no 
air to cause a gurgle. Inside, the only sound — not counting 
our excited speech and occasional scuff of shoe — was the 
continuous drone of the air-blower, which changed its tone 
whenever the searchlight was switched on or off. 

Although we accepted our immediate metallic surround- 
ings with little or no questioning, it was far different when 
we looked through the quartz lenses out into the sea. Here 
was something totally and unbelievably different from 
anything that I had ever imagined before. Color and light 
were not as they were in the world that I had lived in. 
When we left the region just below the surface everything 
had been a yellow-blue-green, which as we went down 
soon lost its yellow and became more blue-green. Still fur- 
ther on the green disappeared and, as it became darker and 
darker even the blue was less noticeable, and at 1200 feet 
nothing remained of color outside the window — every- 
where was a dull, dark, tenuous gray that grew less and less 


in intensity as wc descended, a nondescript color that held 
within itself all of the uncertainty of an unknown world. 

As I watched through the central window, the Director 
turned on the searchlight and we saw still a different phase 
of this aquatic world. The searchlight's beam charged out 
through the water to a considerable distance. Most unex- 
pected was the associated color that went with the greenish 
light. All along the upper and lower edge of the beam was 
a wide area of rich, deep, intense blue overlaid with a slight 
touch of violet. At the end of the beam, where it disap- 
peared into the distance, the blue was even more vivid, and 
as we were lowered farther into the sea it became still 
deeper, but always retained its richness and texture — a 
texture of the softest of delicate royal velvets. 

Interesting as the light beam was, it was nothing when 
compared with what it brought forth outside, and, even 
more important, with what we saw when it was turned off. 
Somewhere about 700 feet, as we looked downward 
through the windows into the darkness below, a flash of 
light reached our eyes, its brilliancy accentuated by the 
blackness. It was unexpected, and for a moment I be- 
came inarticulate (a common condition in the bathy- 
sphere) . From this depth on, lights were constantly visible, 
sometimes single and shining continuously or flashing on 
and off, sometimes in groups that moved along without 
changing their relationships to one another, which indi- 
cated that they belonged to a single fish or other animal. 
At other times the lights moved about independently of 


each, other showing that they were lights on different fish 
in a school. 

Certain o£ these lights stand out above the hundreds that 
I saw. Thus a single very brilliant one first showed itself 
on the opposite side of the searchlight's glare. As it passed 
through the lower edge of the beam I saw quite plainly 
that it was the brilliant light carried on the tentacle of an 
anglerfish or sea-devil. As the fish passed beyond the 
bathysphere's light its tentacle still blazed forth in an at- 
tempt to advertise itself to the other inhabitants of the 
watery wastes. 

Two ghostly green lights, followed by a dim, colorless, 
tapering body and attenuated tail, showed near the right 
hand window through which I was looking and passed over 
to the Director's window. As the light went beyond my 
window I heard the Director describe it as "Two cheek 
lights on a macrourid-like fish about six inches long," this 
description fitting perfectly what had passed beyond my 
quartz lens. 

As far as size is concerned, most of the illumination was 
rather small, with, now and then, brilliant spots or a suc- 
cession of beads. However, here and there in the blackness, 
a larger light would appear. One light, especially, stands 
out as it slowly blinked three times before disappearing, 
each blink at least half the size of an American penny. This 
must have been on a fish of considerable size, larger than 
any we have ever brought up in nets. 


Some of the combinations of lights were unintelligible 
to me until the Director explained their significance. Thus 
one of the commonest sights were groups of lights that dis- 
ported themselves immediately before the windows and 
which the Director spoke of as hatchet-fishes, Argyrope- 
lecus and Sternoptyx. With the key to what they were in 
my mind, no doubt could be entertained, as the lights cor- 
responded with what I knew of the creatures as they came 
up in our deep-sea nets. 

Other lights constantly broke into our vision as small 
crustaceans or larger shrimps came close to the window, 
some of the latter throwing out diffuse showers of light. 

The Director called my attention to the fact that the 
light that we saw was rarely diffuse, but practically always 
in the form of definite, isolated spots, totally different from 
the luminosity that we have at the surface. 

Thirty minutes at the greatest depth left me exhausted 
with excitement, full of too many things seen and in- 
capable of absorbing more; fish succeeded fish, and shrimps 
followed shrimps. We started upward at last, our search- 
light alternately being turned off and on. A siphonophore 
four inches long with delicate upper bract and trailing 
tentacle passed the window. Two or three leptocephalids 
came into sight, one of them about eight inches in length, 
elongate and narrow and probably of the common Ser- 
rivomer type. As we approached the surface, larger or- 
ganisms became fewer, while the abundance of minute life 


in the sea again manifested itself; outside our window were 
the myriad motes of creatures that scintillated in the dilute 
yellow sunlight. 

A few minutes later we rolled at the upper edge of the 
sea, waiting for the moment when swells were least in evi- 
dence. Unfortunately, the sea, with its usual undependable- 
ness, fooled those on deck by sending a number of the 
largest swells that we had experienced just as the bathy- 
sphere left the surface. 

As we swung in the air like a giant-child's ball on the 
end of a string, telephone warnings came to brace ourselves. 
The swings increased as we crossed the bulwarks and 
through the droplet-covered window I could gather in- 
stantaneous glances of those on deck as they watched the 
whirling globe. A sudden shock showed us that we had 
hit something which later turned out to be the port bul- 
wark, and a second, uneven, tilting bump left us sitting 
motionless on the deck. 

As we steamed homeward after the day's diving, I sat 
gazing at the bathysphere and reliving my experiences. 
Certain aspects of the descent stood out in strong con- 
trast to what I had expected. As far as ability to observe 
was concerned, I had been agreeably surprised. True, my 
knees had hurt where they rested on the steel and my legs 
had been badly cramped, but nothing interfered with con- 
centration on the life outside the sphere. This I had been 
able to observe with ease through half of the central win- 
dow when the searchlight was on, and through the whole 


of the right hand one when the hght was off. How I envied 
Mr. Barton his many trips with the Director. 

What I had seen out of the windows was unexpected, 
even after all of the reports I had heard coming over the 
telephone wires. For years I had watched our deep-sea nets 
arrive at the surface after having been towed in the ocean 
for four or five hours, each net containing a scant pint or 
so of minute animal life plus occasional larger fish or 
shrimps. From these results I had visualized the depths of 
the ocean as beautifully transparent and rather sparsely 
populated. But through the bathysphere's windows was 
evidence that our nets, which are the best of oceanographic 
nets, gave a totally false picture of the abundance of life 
in this part of the ocean. Discounting the larger fish and 
shrimps that constantly advertised themselves by flashing 
lights, we passed through vast numbers of small and mod- 
erate-sized organisms, distributed through a wide range 
of the phyla of the animal kingdom. Nothing that our 
nets had produced had prepared me for as much life as I 
had seen. 

Appendix F 


by William Beebe and Gloria HoUister 

August II, 1934. Dive to 2510 feet. 

Weather fair, light southerly breeze, and long low swell. 

Left Nonsuch ^.45 a.m., with entire staff, Beebe, Tee-Van, 
Hollister, Crane, Bass, and Ramsey. 

Arrived at Ready at Darrell and Meyer wharf at 7 a.m. 

7.30 A.M. Left St. Georges with tug Voiuerful towing; motor- 
boat Gregory aft. Those on board in addition to Nonsuch 
group, Otis Barton, F. Dalrymple, E. John Long — Nat. 
Geog., Joseph Ramft, — associated press, E. T. Sayer — rep- 
resenting Royal Gazette, United Press, and Central Press of 
England, David Knudsen, Bermuda Government Photog- 
rapher. Also Thatcher Adams, and Robert Hartley. 

7.50 Through Town Cut. 

Gadgets fitted inside of bathysphere in preparation for 
dive. Oxygen tanks numbers one and three placed in 
bathysphere, number one with 1700 pounds was used and 
completely exhausted by end of dive. Stuffing-box not 
satisfactory, so put in another layer of packing and kept 
ice around outside of box where telephone cable enters 

9.15 Door and wing-bolt prepared, cleaned, sand-papered, and 
white lead put on threads. 

9.20 Small generator started. Chemicals put in. 

9.22 Slowed Poiuerftd, position calculated to be 32° 14' 40'' N. 
Lat.; 64° 35' 40" W. Long., 6J/2 miles South-by-East of 
Nonsuch Island. 



9.25 Beebe and Barton in bathysphere, Beebe with ear-phones 

and mouth-piece. 
9.29 Door in position and nuts screwed on. 
9.32 Blower turned on. Hammering nuts home. 
9.37 Wing-bolt going on. Oxygen turned on and set at i litre 

per minute. 
9.40 Watching swells, ready to lift bathysphere during a calm. 

Feet Stop Start Observations by Beebe 

Time a.m. (Rope tie at 20 feet and each 

100 feet.) 
Surface 9.41.20 9.43.40 Same puckered ceiling. 2 inch 

flyingfish. Red sponges on 
side of Ready. Can see shells 
and regular reef growth on 
20 9.44 9.45.10 Rays of light like those coming 

through cathedral windows. 
Looking up, can see last of 
the hull of Ready. (Boom 
swung in bringing cable close 
to side of Ready, and ist rope 
tie made, telephone hose to 
steel cable.) 
40 9.4^ 

100 9.4^.40 9.47 2 little fry, 2 inches long near 

lower edge of glass. 

no 9.47.45 (Bathysphere still in sight.) 

170 9.48.30 Many tiny copepods, look like 

little silver motes. 

200 9.49 9.49.30 

2^0 9.50 Color getting bluish-green rap- 


300 9.51.30 9.52.20 Humidity 54%; Temperature 

90°; Barometer jj, same as at 

320 9.53 Perfect string of siphonophores. 

3^0 9- 5 3 '30 Silver fry i inch long going 





Observations by Beebe 



past; several roundish fish, 




Silvery brown squid went past 2 

inches long. 
Another silvery squid same size 

as before. 




A dark fish went past swim- 

mmg up. 

Think there will be no twist 
in telephone cable. I will risk 
it. Let us go down. 
^00 9.58.30 9.59 Water a deep blue. 

587 9.59.10 10.01 (Pulled back from 600 feet to 

put on extra rope tie for hold- 
ing splice in telephone hose.) 

Beam on, fan running slowly. 

Many little copepods. Water 
filled with tiny creatures, like 
a dust cloud. 

Beam off. 

Atmosphere and humidity fine, 
no need for handkerchief on 
mouth in front of window. 

Water dark, rich blue. 

First little flashes, much lower 
than usual. 

Walls very cold. Humidity 

Several sparks, close together, 

from some creature. 
Barometer reading y6. 
Big single light. 
Beam turned on. 
Thousands of tiny creatures as 

we descend, chiefly copepods. 


















Feet Stop Start Observations by Beebe 

Time a.m. 

20 pteropods, long tubular 
kind, Creseis. Larval fish, i 
inch. Jellyfish i inch across. 
Beam turns into pale turquoise 
where it disappears at farthest 
Many strings of salpa-like ani- 
mals. I leptocephalus, 3 
inches, not very deep, i larval 
fish, I inch. 
(2 big CorypJjcena on surface 
around cable.) 
10.09 Beam off. 

900 10.10.30 I O.I I 1400 pounds pressure left in 

number one oxygen tank. 
920 10.11.30 4 inch fish with 6 bluish-white 

lights along side. 
950 10.12.30 Worms; no, they are round- 

mouths. Light colored ones. 
"Water blackish-blue, a dull 
1000 10.13 10.14 Pteropods. Then a brilliant flash 

appears and goes out. 
1050 10.15. 5 12 flashes going on and off. 

Large dark body passing. 
Squid or fish? 
1 100 lo.i^ 10.19.30 3 fishes went past, appeared out 

of darkness. 
10.17 3 full-sized Argyropelecus 

swimming upright and to- 
gether. Larval fish. Whole 
string of luminescence spread 
out like net-work. 
Many copepods and sagitta, all 
very active in beam. Nothing 
very large. 


Feet Stop Start Observations by Beebe 

Time a.m. 

Jellyfish very luminous from 
I O.I 8 First eel, lighted up from beam, 

Serrivomer? 8 inches long, 
did not go into beam. 

Something large up close to 
edge of light, a very deep fish. 

4 inch leptocephalus, not deep, 
swimming obliquely upward. 

Small siphonophore and pyro- 
soma, I foot long with no 
10.19 Beam turned out. 

Beam on. 

Ctenophores with no light. 

Beam out. 

Sparks in all directions, dozens 
of them, died out. 

Large creature back again, out 
in distance, may be longer 
than I thought. 
10.22.15 Pteropods, shield-shaped, shin- 

ing by reflected light. Clio. 

Big glow in the distance, 6 to 8 
inches across, the light going 

Pediculate, 3 inches long, very 
deep, a pale lemon-yellow 
colored light on illicium. Now 
it is close to window. Same 
fish went past again. Between 
me and illumined front of this 
fish swam another 3 inch fish 
which was faintly lighted all 
over with a silvery lumines- 

1 140 











Feet Stop Start Observations by Beebe 

Time a.m. 
1250 1 0.25.30 Same fish back again, with small 

tail and no lights of its own. 
Copepods brilliantly-lighted in 
1290 10.25.45 Another flash, a pale rose-red. 

1300 10.2^.10 10.29.30 Pediculate around window, 4 

inches, very near glass, dull 
luminous teeth, Melanocetus- 
10.27 Beam on. As many organisms as 

as ever. 
Bathysphere rolling up and 
down very gently. 
lo.27.4j Big leptocephalus, 8 inches by i 

inch deep, rapidly vibrating. 
Few worms and a siphonophore. 
Beam fading off into rich tur- 
10.29 Melanostomiatid-like fish, i inch 

long. Smallest fish with 
double, lateral lights ever 
Beam off. 
A lavender light right up to 

window, cheek light. 
Slim, slender fish like a male 
Idiacanthus, but seems much 
longer, with a yellow cheek 
Now a siphonophore, or jelly- 
fish, with luminous tentacles. 
1450 iO'33 Same large fish again. 

Plankton abundant. 
Beam on. 
1500 10.34 10.3^.15 Argyropelecus, four of them 









Feet Stop Start Observations by Beebe 

Time a.m. 

spinning around beam, their 
lights glowing downward. 

10.24.30 4 of the slimmest fish I have 

ever seen. They streak through 
light, about 15 inches long. 
Long slender jaws, yet quite 
different from known eels. 
Barometer reading jj. 

10.35.30 Pale flesh-colored fish around 2 

feet long, no lights. It is a 
pale pasty whitish-buff and 
very high melanostomiatic 
fins. Grand clear view, mem- 
orized details. 

Humidity 60%, temperature 

o . 

Beam out. 
1530 10.3^.30 Lovely, bright, solid, pale blue 

light close to glass. Prob- 
ably — , oh, I don't know. 
1600 10.37.10 10.39.10 Beam on. Walls of bathysphere 

very cold. 
10.38 Beam off. 

1700 10.40.10 10.41.50 Beam on. Trying to catch sight 

of what makes the larger 


3 Melanostomiatids, 6 inches 

long, black, with pale yellow 


Several fish swimming around 

beam of light, now a big one. 

1730 10.42.50 20 lights in sight at once, all 

swimming like mad, now and 
then an organism that swims 
steadily, a pale bluish. 


Feet Stop Start 

Time a.m. 
i8oo 10.43 10.45.30 




1900 10.46.30 10.49 



2000 10.50 



Observations by Beebe 

Ptax-Vike, 6 inches, glistening 
silvery, lighted by reflection, 
silvery all over. Beam on. 
Water in beam all getting 

Again a school of 3 to 4 inch 
fish around beam. Shield- 
shaped Pteropods going 
through beam. 

Another melanostomiatid-like 
fish with light organ in head 
which lights up own eye, its 
body lighted brightly and ir- 

Beam out. 

Maze of Hghts, saw fish, another 

Beam on. Something went out 
of light when it was put on, 
a body of indefinite size, 
dashed out of sight. 

Never have seen things so abun- 
dant. Barton sees a baby 
squid. Later a Stylophthalmus 
a foot away in beam. 

I missed it. 

Beam out. 

String of port-hole lights 3 feet 

Beam on. 

Never less than 10 pale yellow 
lights or bluish ones in sight. 
The size varies from a pin- 
prick to an American penny. 

Pyrosoma lighted up. 

Beam out. 


Feet Stop Start Observations by Beebe 

Time a.m. 
2050 Mass of light. Area of 2 by 3 

square feet of net-work of 
light threads. Not the slight- 
est idea what it is. 
Melanostomiatid with brilliant 
scarlet light on head. 
2100 10.53 10.53.20 

2130 10.53.30 Masses of lights. Barton sees two 

lights blinking on and off, 
these under control. There are 
masses of lights. 
2200 10.54.10 10.5^ Beam on. More lights than ever 

seen before. 
10.55.45 ^^ distance a pale colored thing 

again, much bigger than the 
one seen before. 
Beam off. 
2300 10.57 1 1. 01 Oxygen reading 950 pounds 

Humidity ^2%, temperature 

10.59 Beam on. Many small organisms. 

2 large leptocephali, big ribbon- 
like type, 10 inches long, one 
swimming a foot behind the 
other undulating along. 
Query: Why should larval 
eels go in pairs? Small squid 
with pale red and pale green 
luminous lights. Myctophids, 
only three or four together, 
In a loose school. 
10 to 15 lights steadily coming 
and going outside of beam. 
Always sagitta. Beam out. 
2400 11.02 11.05 Beam on. 


Feet Stop Start Observations by Beebe 

Time a.m. 

11.04 Whole beam of light now tur- 

quoise blue. 

Many sagitta. 

2 Gonostoma, same size as those 
we caught lately. Saw coppery 
color on side, light organs 
same color as reflectors behind 

11.05 Sides of bathysphere very cold. 
4 large and i small Sternoptyx, 

can see silvery side and lateral 
Beam out. 
2500 11.06^.10 11.39 Beam on. Much plankton. Flat- 

test fish ever seen. Solitary 
pteropod, shield-shaped kind. 
Many little larval fish, often 
going around beam of light; 
now something going through 
beam, may be a fish, it is 5 
to 6 feet long. 
1 1. 14 Shift generators from small to 

large. Beam out, fan off. Bar- 
ton watching voltmeter which 
is increasing. Stop when it 
reaches 100. Fan running 
evenly and slowly. Pale fish 
back again. 
1 1. 17 2 Melanostomiatids, macrourid- 

like fish. Also 4 fish with 
pointed scarlet bills and 
heads, the rest of the body a 
light blue fading into clear 
yellow. Gar-like. Bully view. 
They are swimming slowly 


Feet Stop Start Observations by Beebe 

Time a.m. 

out, their position obliquely 

1 1. 1 8 Window getting pretty hot 

from the big light, am wor- 
ried about it, as the sphere 
and glass are icy cold. Barton 
running motion picture cam- 
era. Plate holders jam several 
Beam out. 

11.22 Shift generators back to little 

Beam on. 

11.24 Biggest squid yet, 2 feet across, 

like dead ones we have found 
on surface, brick brown color 
and one tentacle knotted up 
as though it had something 
in it. 
11.24.30 Taking pictures again. 

11.25 Switch generators back to big 

one again. 

Beam out. 
11.27 Counted 4^ sparks in 10 sec- 

onds, 10 of these are large, 
most of them pale yellow, and 
a few bluish. 
11.29 Beam on again. 

Barometer reading y^V^, oxygen 
6<)0 pounds, humidity 68%, 
temperature 71°. 

Barton says only 2 inches of 
telephone hose has slipped in. 

More large fish than ever before, 
flesh-colored one back again 
but can't see outline. 


Feet Stop Start Observations by Beebe 

Time a.m. 

11.34 String of some lighted organism 

3 feet long, looks like a nar- 
row Christmas tree. 
Change to big generator again 
for photographing. 

11.35 Beam on again. 

Shift generators back to small 
11.37 (Cable slipped down to 2510 

feet. ) 
Small beam on. Thank God, the 
window is cooling. Turquoise 
color extending through 
whole beam of light. Beam 
extends out about 30 to 40 
feet without doubt. Must find 
out somehow. 
11.39 (We are cutting last rope tie 

getting ready to pull up 
bathysphere. ) 

2470 New fish 6 inches long, with 3 

illicia on head, big one in 
front and 2 behind it close to- 
gether. Fish not very deep. 
Good view; will enlarge on 
11.40 Biggest flash yet. Longest lot of 

2400 1 1. 4 1. 30 Largest lot of flashes just ob- 

served are the largest lot of 
Myctophids seen yet. 50 to 
60 still with us. 




11.45. 10 

Beam on. 


Leptocephalus, with eye glowing 
very brilliantly. 








Observations by Beebe 




3 little Myctophids. Small pink 




500 pounds pressure in oxygen 

(Shifting guys.) 

Leptocephalus and another lar- 
val fish. 

Lots of salpa or related organ- 




Beam off. 

Many sparkling lights always. 

3 fish close to window, 3 inches 
long. Myctophids along side, 
I Lampanyctus, 4 coccoi. 
Very plain. My eyes are in 
perfect shape, can see details 
of lateral photophore hiero- 

2000 I I.JO Absolute dead black. 

i960 6 lights in a row on separate 

animals close to window. 

1930 II. 51 Something like a rocket burst- 


1900 11.52 School of luminous fish, not 

Sternoptyx, not Argyropele- 
cus; a 5 by 6 inch fish with 
4 or 5 lines of lights, yellow, 
with purple circles, 2 lines 
very distinctly curved up 
above middle line and 2 more 
curved below. More about it 
when I come up. Remind me. 
It disappeared by turning 
head on. New fish! First faint 
glimmering of sun's light on 


Feel: Stop Start Observations by Beebe 

Time a.m. 

white quartz window pack- 

1800 1 1. 54.10 No lessening in brilliancy of 


1770 School of fish like Myctophids, 

3 to 4 inches, they light up 
as they weave in and out, 
about 30 in school. 

1730 Decided luminosity. Can see a 

little with eyes. 

1700 11.5^ Barton can see my face in the 

dilute daylight; can count 
fingers against window. 
More light than on other dives! 

1^70 11.57 Haven't seen any really blue 

luminescence before, these are 
decidedly blue. 

1660 11.58 Bright light. 

1630 11.59 Light as big as an American 

penny, this creature with 
patches on it. Barton saw 
something explode and break 
Brilliant animal lights, water 
color a cold colorless light 
slowly increasing. 
Brilliant animal light still. 

More lights going by. 

Still brilliant lights. 

Beam on. Bright lights in 

2 Serrivomer 18 inches long, jet 

black, went through beam. 
Beam out. 


II. 59. 10 

Time p.m. 












Feet Stop Start Observations by Beebe 

Time p.m. 
1300 12.04.30 3 squids, 6 inches, one light on 

1200 12.0^.10 Fairly brilliant lights still pres- 

1 175 12.07 Oxygen reading 300 pounds. 

1 165 12.07.30 Barometer reading 83. Discov- 

ered oxygen escaping at rate 
of lYz litres per minute, 
must have been jarred. Reset 
to I litre per minute. 
1 100 12.08.20 Light still very bright. 

1060 12.10 Big 5 inch fish, pretty deep, in 

shape like a chub, with no 
lights and sharp jaw. Animal 
light dim. 
Color of water a gray blue; pal- 
est of blues. 
Temperature 70°. 
Humidity 77%. 
Water a decided blue, pale 

grayish blue. 
Few sparks. Greatest number of 
Myctophids seen yet, about 
35. They come sideways, turn 
and swim oflf and down when 
they see beam of light. 
800 12. 13. 15 

760 12.14.30 Faint sparks outside of beam of 

light. But nothing like below. 
Many little organisms. 12 
pteropods. Leptocephalus, 2 
700 12.14.50 Beam turned out. Water a 

lovely, rich, steel blue. 
674 12.1^ Barometer reading 84. 

650 12.1^.30 Oxygen reading 200 pounds. 














Feet Stop Start Observations by Beebe 

Time p.m. 

^00 12.17.30 (Splice coming, pulling up 

slower. ) 

590 12.18 (Cut splice tie.) 

"Water a beautiful blue, looks as 
though I could read easily but 
can see nothing at all. 

500 12.19.30 2 little Myctophids. 

490 12.20 Caranx ruber, about i foot, blue 

along sides, comes up from 
under bathysphere. 

400 12.21 Ocyurus chrysurus suddenly ap- 

Large ctenophore. 

340 12.22 I pilotfish, about 6 inches, looks 

in window. 

Barometer reading 84. 

100 pounds of oxygen left. 
Humidity 85%, temperature 

Sargassum weed seen above. 
12.31 (Last rope tie cut and boom 

swung out away from ship.) 
Hull close in front. 
Oxygen all gone from tank 
Number one. Barometer read- 
iiig 75V2' Temperature 71°. 
Deck temperature about 100" 
in sun. 
Wing-bolt out 12.3^ Marked outward rush of air 

when unscrewed, indicating 

built up pressure. Careful 

Nuts off door 12.39 measuring showed that no 

Door oflF and divers out. telephone cable has slipped in. 




















e 12.32 


August 15, 1934. Dive to 3028 feet. 

Weather clear, hot, almost no breeze, sea almost dead calm. 
6.40 A.M. Left Nonsuch Laboratory. All regular staff and John 

6.45 Arrived at Ready at Darrell and Meyer Wharf. 
7.25 Left with tug Gladisfen towing. 

Oxygen tanks mounted in bathysphere; number five on 

left with 1800 pounds, and number seven on right with 

2050 pounds. 
7.45 Through Old Channel. 

All equipment being fitted in bathysphere. 
8.00 Humidity-Temperature device mounted. 
9.15 Barometer set at jj and put in bathysphere. 

American Flag and that of the National Geographic So- 
ciety tied on cable and photographed, flying just above 

9.25 Door and wing-bolt cleaned and white lead put on 

9.45 Chemicals going in bathysphere, 8 pounds of each. 

Position calculated, 32° 15' 15" N. Lat.; 64° 36' 45" 

W. Long. 

6 miles South-by-East of Nonsuch Island. 
9.50 Beebe and Barton in bathysphere. Both dryer than usual. 
9.55 Door lifted into position. Nuts screwed on. Oxygen 

turned on, tank number five used. 
9.59 Hammering nuts home with sledge hammers. 
10.02 Wing-bolt going on. 
10.04 Bathysphere lifted up and swung over side. 



Feet Stop Start Observations by Beebe 

Time a.m. 
Surface 10.05.06 10.05.40 (Rope tie between telephone 

cable and steel cable made at 
20 feet and each 100 feet.) 
20 10.06 10.09.10 Can see hull growth by looking 

Red almost gone in spectroscope, 

only orange left. 
(First rope tie.) 











First Aurelia. 





Barton sees pteropod. 



Beam on. 



Beam off. 





Beam on. 



Beam off. 





Water a luminous dark blue. 



Barometer going down a little, 
lower than jj, just below this 





(Extra rope tie on telephone 
cable splice.) 





Only gray visible in spectro- 



One flash, now three more. 
Beam on. 

Copepods abundant. Sagitta, 
pale ones, and larval fish. 





A mist of copepods and other 
plankton. Turquoise one half 
the distal length of beam of 
light, this considerably more 
than on Dive 30. 



8 inch fish shot past. 


Stop Start 

Time a.m. 




10.21.30 10.21.50 




Observations by Beebe 

String of salpa or siphonophores. 

6 Cyclothones close together. 

Leptocephalus, 5 inches, with 
2 black spots, swimming right 
into beam. 
900 10.23 10.24.20 Beam out. 

Oxygen 1900 pounds. Humidity 
55%. Temperature 85°. Hose 
all right, door all right. Ba- 
rometer j6y2. 

970 10.25 "Walls getting very cold. No 

fish, only little lights now and 

1000 10.25.35 10.2^.30 6 or 8 lights, pale greenish color; 

it is a shrimp with 6 pale 
greenish lights. 
Beam on, and off. 

1050 10.27 Fish with 6 lights in a row, near 

front of body. Circle below 
eye of pale yellow, and 5 or 
6 separate lights behind, rest 
of body a long slender tail. 

1 100 10.27.50 10.28.05 Lights getting thicker, 4 or 5 at 


1 1 50 10.29 Aurelia, unexpected at this 

Large pale green light just glow- 

1 170 10.29.10 A net- work of light. 

1200 10.29.32 10.30.54 A fish, 4 inches, lighted up all 

over, grayish silver like Ptax, 
must be luminous mucus. No 
spectroscope reading possible. 


Feet Stop Start Observations by Beebe 

Time a.m. 

No hose has come in bathy- 

1220 10.31 Fish, appears as only a flash of 

light and an indefinite out- 
line. Here comes a beauty, 3 
inch fish, with pale greenish 
light, must be on side of fish, 

1250 10.31.30 A very big flash. 

1300 10.32.08 10.33.09 Beam on. 

A fish swam right up to win- 
dow and moved about. It had 
decided lights coming out of 
sides, and big nostril-like 
3, 8 inch fishes, with head lights 
pale green, looks like big Di- 
aphus but bigger than largest 

1380 IO-34 Many streaks, these are sagitta, 

the light kind. Many cope- 

1400 10.34.18 10.34.51 Turquoise creeping up, rich pale 

blue. 8 or 10 salpa hung to- 
Beam off. 

1500 10.3^.02 10.39.29 Oxygen reading 1300, still feed- 
ing at I litre per minute. Ba- 
rometer j6. Humidity 55%. 
Temperature 86°. Probable 
reason for temperature being 
high is because it is so close to 
the hot chemical trays. I am 
moving device to a forward 
hook on same side. 

1530 10.40 Beautiful Melanostomiatid, 6 to 


Feet Stop Start Observations by Beebe 

Time a.m. 

7 inches, and another and an- 
other, grayish skin. Can see 
whole outhne but not from 
own lateral lights. 

1^00 10.40.31 10.40.5^ Many worms, can see lights on 

window glass, as many as 50. 

1620 10.41 Another light. Big fish after 2 

others, the pursuer is 3 or 4 
times larger. Now another 
pale lemon yellow light. 
Think it is a shrimp. 

1680 10.41.45 Saw shrimp sending out light, 

when near glass, they turned 
sideways as they hit and I 
saw them, in their own lights, 
send sparks out like skyrock- 
ets. This explains much that 
has puzzled me, and is the big- 
gest discovery yet. 

1700 10.42.1^ 10.42.41 Faint glow of light on window 


1770 No telephone hose has slipped in. 

1790 Argyropelecus. 

1800 10.44.10 10.45.04 Life getting thicker. 

Here's a fish with nothing but 
teeth illumined, mouth i inch 
across, does not close com- 
pletely. Teeth are lighted 
from the bottom upward with 
black between. 

1 8 10 10.45.20 Siphonophore, 6 to 8 inches, 

with all net-work lighted up 
and oval in shape. Now a co- 
pepod which looks like a fish's 
light, but is not luminous. 


Feci Stop Start Observations by Beebe 

Thne a.m. 

3 more fishes, 18 inches, with 
irregular Hghtning-like hne 
around side, and another one 
which may be same kind. 
We have colored plate of these 
but this is record size. 

1900 10.46.24 10.46.51 Sides of bathysphere as cold as 

the devil. Whole atmosphere 

1950 10.47.30 Fish crash again and again, no, 

it is shrimps throwing out 
light, letting it go every time 
they hit the glass. 

1990 10.48.20 Beam on. 

Big fish seen above are Lampro- 
toxus. Remember this. 

2000 10.48.28 10.49.58 Lights here are great. 

1650 pounds oxygen, humidity 
60%, temperature 86°. 

2030 Lots of lights that come and go. 

2060 10.50.30 4 to 5 inch big Myctophids. 

2090 10.52.30 Now ghostly things in every di- 

rection, like meteors in every 

2100 10.51.32 10.52.43 Colors of lights are pale blue, 

pale lemon yellow, and pale 
Now 2, 12 Inch fish, one lights 
up the other, then both light 
up. Their lights are under 
control. Big cheek lights and 
lights along sides, both fish 
elongate like Melanostomia- 

2150 iO'54 Big siphonophore, and now 4 or 


Feet Stop Start Observations by Beebe 

Time a.m. 

5 inch fish and something 
wiggKng hke mad. 

220O 10.54.24 10.55.36 Shrimp explodes in midwater, 

no trace of any color. 
Oxygen 1550 pounds, tempera- 
ture 85°, humidity 60%, ba- 
rometer 76^. 
Have never seen such a dark 
place, it is the darkest in the 
world. Can see radiolite mark- 
ings on the barometer glass in 

2290 bathysphere. 15 Myctophids 

in a school. 

2300 10.57.07 10.57.30 

2330 Little forms, like separate sparks, 

like net-work. Can this be the 
fluid, luminous tissue let out 
in the water by shrimps? 

2400 10.59.15 10.59.38 2 twin lights, light up. 

Beam on. 

2430 Turquoise extends over four- 

fifths of beam, very delicate 

2450 11.00 Big fish or cetacean came quite 

near, could just see his outline. 
Was at least 20 feet long, one- 
third of this deep. 
It is icy cold in here. 

2500 11.01.18 11.03.03 Beam off. 

Barton says not more than one- 
quarter inch of hose has 
slipped in. 
Oxygen 1500 pounds, humidity 
63%, barometer 76. 

2540 Another shrimp. 


II. 05. 01 




II. 06.21 



1 1.07. 1 6 


Feet Stop Start Observations by Beebe 

Time a.m. 

Ctenophore completely lighted 


Another big shrimp at window, 
whole thing very clear now 
about the luminous substance 
they shoot out. 

Beam on, and off. 

Millions of sparks when hit 

Big 12 inch heteropod, like 
Firola. Luminous all over but 
no luminous spots. Another 
big shrimp shooting out lumi- 
nous material which looks 
like a veil. 
2690 The walls of bathysphere are icy 

2700 11.07.58 11.09.08 Hose in about one-half inch 


Oxygen 1450 pounds, barometer 
y6, temperature 80°. 
2775 II. 10 So black outside can't look, and 

what lights! A fish with long, 
slender, pointed tail, this a 
big fish. 
2800 1 1. 1 0.5 9 1 1. 1 1.49 Here's a telescoped-eyed fish, it's 

Argyropelenis, and its eyes 
are very distinct. 

Barton sees something like a 
huge necklace of silvery 
lights. Now another big 

Beam off. 

Marvelous outside lights. "Water 


Feet Stop Start Observations by Beebe 

Time a.m. 

filled with lights, more so than 
on our last dive at 2500 feet. 

2900 II. 13. 31 II. 1 4. 52 Now a curved, pale-green light 

under eye, eye lighted up by 
it. It is crescent-shaped. The 
fish at least 3 feet long. 5 inch 
Myctophids, swimming so 
slowly that I can see whole 
light pattern. Several close 
lines of lateral lights, and con- 
stantly lighted plates. Lainpa- 
dena, sure, try to look up 

2940 Not a flash in sight. 

2950 Now a light coming toward me. 

3000 1 1. 16.24 1 1. 17.30 Siphonophore, a big one. 

Oxygen 1400 pounds, barometer 
j6, temperature jj°i humid- 
ity 61%. 

3028 1 1. 19. 14 11.22.03 Beam on. 
11.20 Beam off. 

Long lace-like things again. 
Salpa-like with big head and 
long slender tendrils. Now 
another one. 

3000 11.22.35 11.23 (Guy ropes shifted for winding 

in of cable.) 

2990 Animals seem to stay in field 

longer than on higher levels, 
but here comes a flash like 

2905 II. 25. 1 5 11.26.30 (Guy rope broke with a ter- 
rific snap.) 

2900 11.26.38 11.27 A lovely light. 


Feet Stop Start Observations by Beebe 

Time a.m. 

(Guy rope re-rigged, but broke 
again with a sickening thud.) 
Oxygen 1300 pounds, still com- 
ing at I Htre per minute. Ba- 
rometer 75/4, temperature 
73°, humidity 6z%. 
Now 3, very round fish, saw no 

lights at all on them. 
It is bitter cold inside, hand feels 
icy when touching window 

2880 A squid 8 inches, with i pale 

blue light and could see whole 
body when it passed by other 

2830 Now many things again, as thick 

as I have ever seen them. 

2800 11.29.58 II. 30.15 

2750 1 1.3 1 Mass of copepods and other 

plankton, can see them about 
40 feet out away from bathy- 
sphere. Can see a mass of little 
lights given out. 
Barton sees a big body with i 
light on each end, it may be a 

2705 II. 31. 57 II. 32. II 

2700 II. 32. 15 11.32.45 

2680 ii'34 (Both generators going.) 

2^30 Beam on. 

2600 11.34.28 11.34.53 (About 6 turns of telephone 

hose around bathysphere 

2540 Saw a fish with literally hun- 

dreds of lights, about 8 inches 


Feet Stop Start Observations by Beebe 

Time a.m. 

long, from head to tail its 
body was peppered with very 
brilliant but small lights. 
Color of lights was pale 
2500 1 1.37.3 1 11.43.50 (Changing generators for 

Oxygen 1200 pounds, barometer 

1 1.4 1 Barton photographing. Light at 

no volts, very hot and daz- 

2490 1 1*44 Beam out. 

2430 1 1-45 Lovely outside now. Fish with 

light below eye, when light 
went out rest of head not 
lighted up at all. 

2400 11.45.2^ 11.45.34 

2380 Going through kind of a desert- 

darkness, just a black hole be- 
cause of lack of animal light. 

2300 11.47.18 11.52.57 (Generators shifted to big one.) 

Barton photographing, still 
11.52.57 (Generators shifted back again 

to little one.) 
Beam off. 

Lots of lights. 5 inch lepto- 
cephalus with 3 lines of black 
marks showing, in the beam, 
one line along the middle, and 
one above and one below. 

2200 11.54.43 11.55.05 Note: Distant dimly lighted fish 

are often dying-out emana- 


Feet Stop Start Observations by Beebe 

Time a.m. 

tion, shot out by shrimp. Just 
saw one. 
Oxygen 11 50 pounds, at i Htre 
per minute. Barometer 78, 
temperature 68°, humidity 


2140 11.55.50 11. 57.02 (Fixing guys on cable.) 

2120 Gray body, very dark, which 

excited several other organ- 
isms which lighted up because 
of its motion, may be squid or 
fish, think it a very large fish. 

2100 11.58.45 11.59.07 All little copepods appear to be 

going down, because of up- 
ward motion of bathysphere. 

2060 11.59.30 (No turns of telephone hose 

around steel cable, these un- 
twisted themselves.) 
Timev.M.. Another school of 40 to 50 


2000 11.59.39 12.00.04 Now a fish with only cheek 

lights, and then one with all 
body lights. Now 2 with long 
tails, not eels, not Macrourids. 
Now a foot long pediculate 
with I brilliant pale blue light 
on illicium. Fish very pudgy 
like Melanocetiis. 

1940 12.01.20 Faint animal lights on window. 

Note: At 1900 feet, first day- 
light on window packing. 

1900 12.01.45 Barton taking a still photograph, 

time exposure with light on 
in bathysphere. 

1875 12.06.53 12.16.57 (Shifting guys.) 


Feet Stop Start Observations by Beebe 

Time p.m. 

Oxygen 1000 pounds, barome- 
ter 78/2. 
Lovely light. Can distinguish 
"' light at 1900 feet because on 

way up eyes are dark adapted. 
1800 12.07.59 12.08.15 Big mass of organisms lighted 

1780 12.09 Now a round fish with light. 

Light as big as an American 
penny, pale greenish light that 
glowed the whole time fish 
was in sight. Fish quite deep, 
3 inches long, enormous round 
light on, whole time. 
1700 12.09.57 12. 10.15 
1680 12.10.35 12.12.50 (Guys shifted.) 

Lights in water brilliant. 
Daylight very evident here, can 
see fingers, but still deadly 
Good sized Myctophid. 
Beam on. 

Animal lights brilliant. 
Beam out. 

A few quite brilliant lights. 
More brilliant lights. Now a 
very brilliant one. Light of 
water seems much more bril- 
liant until I see animal light. 
1350 A blaze of lights streak by. 

1320 Light very brilliant. 

1300 12.17.28 12.18 Fish swimming down with back 

toward me, and pectorals with 
lot of beads of luminescence. 
Could see no direct lighting 
of body. It was 12 or 13 















Feet Stop Start 

Time P.M. 

1200 12. 19. 14 12.20.28 

1 100 









12. 25. II 












585 12.30.45 12.31.28 

12.32.14 12.33.31 

Observations by Beebe 

inches long. Base of tail a mass 
of beads and could see in- 
direct glow along side. 

(Guys shifted.) 

Oxygen 900 pounds. Barom- 
eter j^, temperature 68°, hu- 
midity 73%. Lower tray of 
chemicals still warm. 

Dead spot with no life. 

Still no hfe. 

Water a dark blue with a few 

Just recalled when our diving 
record was 800 feet. 

Shark, a small one, which turned 
obliquely upward, and it was 
about 4 feet long. 

Strange cold color in this light; 
looking up can see brilliant 
blue; looking downward it is 
a grayish black. 

5 sparks. 

(Guys shifted and moving very 
slowly to get cable spooled 

Few more sparks. 

Beam on. 

Beam off. 

3 little dim flashes. Have seldom 
seen sparks so high up before. 

(Double tie for telephone 

Oxygen 800 pounds, barometer 
80, humidity 74%, temper- 
ature 68°. 




Stop Start 

Time p.m. 


12.44.32 12.44.4^ 


12.35.42 12.36.07 

Observations by Beebe 

Rapid increase of daylight in 
water so bright it makes my 
eyeballs ache. 
Nothing in water. 
200 12. 37.1 1 12.37.32 Beam on. Beam off. 

Couldn't see a thing. 
Now a linuche jelly, brown one, 
5 or 6 vibrating past. 
120 12.39.10 12.39.35 Oxygen 750 pounds. 

(Bathysphere just in sight.) 
100 12.39.55 12.40.16 Barometer 80, humidity 73%. 
50 12. 14. 1 5 12.41.22 (Flags tied to cable plainly 

20 12.41. 3 1 12.42.12 (Untying flags and first rope.) 

Sargassum weed on surface looks 
pale sage green in color. 
Surface 12.42.29 12.43.45 (Swinging cable boom out away 

from side of Ready.) 
Ceiling looks like a queer wavy 
carpet upside down. 
On deck 12.44 Temperature outside 75°. 

Oxygen 700 pounds, barometer 


12.48 (Wing-bolt out.) 

12.53 (Nuts and door off and Beebe 

and Barton emerge, very 

cramped and uncomfortable.) 

Appendix G 


by William Beebe and Jocelyn Crane 

IDENTIFICATION: This is the most important and the 
most responsible phase of the present work. For authen- 
ticity and accuracy is required undisturbed concentration, 
dark-adapted vision, a priori famiUarity with the location 
of the photophores and general appearance of abyssal fish, 
and the proper resolving of unexpectedly appearing and 
vanishing individual and colonial lights, in sight only from 
one to ten seconds. 

It required many dives in 1930 before I could distin- 
guish between Cyclothones and worms, while constantly 
recurring, conspicuous groupings of lights defied classifica- 
tion even as to phylum. Only on the last two deep dives 
did I realize that what I had taken for occasional, dim, dis- 
tant fish of small size, as well as the "exploding" of organ- 
isms against the windows, were, in fact, the sudden emana- 
tion of luminous matter by shrimps. Pteropods were easy 
to identify in the beam, and their abundance was expected 
from the patch of Pteropod Ooze which characterizes this 
small area about Bermuda. Pyrosoms, medusse, siphono- 
phores, shrimps, and squids were the more abundant of 
the larger invertebrates. 




Order siphonophora 

Siphonophores were seen on nearly every bathysphere 
descent, and at almost every hundred-foot level from loo 
to 3000 feet. 

Correct identification of this group was especially diffi- 
cult, as Calyconid nectophores — one of the commonest 
forms of plankton in our trawling nets — were difficult to 
distinguish from small, single salpse, since their relatively 
short chains of food and reproductive polyps were usually 
indistinct. On the other hand, it is probable that many 
of the innumerable, short, beaded strings, which were fre- 
quently seen in the beam, were these very strings of polyps, 
their transparent nectophores being completely invisible. 
The more complicated types of siphonophores, however, 
were readily referable to that group, although their fam- 
ilies could not be determined with any certainty. 

At least a dozen of these large forms were observed. 
My impressions and similes were of course instantaneous, 
inspired as are the labels on pyrotechnic fireworks, the 
sparks and flashes from these artificial displays being desig- 
nated as vases of flowers, fountains, water wheels, etc. I 
find I have used such terms as inverted lilies-of-the-valley 
and narrow Christmas trees. Rarely, the entire outline was 
luminous, and a larger lighted mass at the top indicated the 
float, filled with its delicately adjusted amount of gas, 


exactly balanced to sustain its load at just the right level. 
The chains of polyps trailed behind for sometimes a full 
yard. The light was almost always pale yellow. In the 
majority of cases, however, no illumination was apparent 
and the colonies were visible only when they entered our 

In the plankton of the trawling nets the nectophores of 
Calyconid siphonophores are abundant, but we have taken 
the more highly organized forms in only the fragmentary 
condition. A few broken and distorted nectophores and 
several ragged bits of other polyps are the only traces of 
their presence in the water. 

Classes hydrozoa and scyphozoa 

Medusae were among the commonest of all the organ- 
isms observed. They were reported altogether seventy-nine 
times, from 20 to 2750 feet, but were actually seen on 
many other occasions and at all depths. The majority were 
noticed above 1000 feet. This, however, does not necessa- 
rily indicate that they are less common at lower levels, be- 
cause, as relatively few forms are luminous, these are in- 
visible except when they enter the electric beam, or are 
illumined by the light of other animals. 

Most of the jellies were small, measuring from one-half 
to three or four inches in diameter. Large numbers were 
pale and transparent, but pink-tinged aurelias were fairly 
common in the upper levels, as well as brown linuches, 


and once, at 550 feet, a jet-black, three-inch jelly passed 
the window. In spite of their usual transparency, however, 
even small jellies at the lower levels could be seen far out 
near the end of the beam, forty-five feet away. 

Luminescence was relatively rare in this group, being 
reported only about ten times, that is, in about one-eighth 
of all the medusse. One small luminous jelly was seen at 
400 feet, the others between 800 and 2100. When the 
source of the illumination could be determined, it was 
found to arise variously, from luminous bands on the um- 
brella, from a luminous spot at the base of each tentacle, 
from eight pale blue spots on the edge of the umbrella, or 
from the tentacles themselves. Once, at 1650 feet, an entire 
school was brilliantly illuminated with pale green lights. 
One of the largest medusas seen, which measured fully a 
foot in diameter, seemed to have luminous food in its 
stomach, although it did not carry lights of its own. 

The majority passed singly, or rarely in loose groups of 
from several up to thirty or more. Their pulsations at the 
lower depths were as rapid and rhythmical as near the sur- 
face, and once or twice small jellies showed unusual activ- 
ity, spinning around in the beam. Usually, however, the 
beam had no effect upon them whatever. 

The only genera which could be identified with certainty 
were Aurelia (reported six times between 20 and 170 feet, 
and once at 11 50 feet) and Limiche (identified five times, 
between 100 and 350 feet). 

In the trawling nets small jellyfish are common, and. 


rarely, besides Atolla and Periphylla, fragments of other 
large, dark-red medusae are taken. No haul that I ever 
made prepared me for the abundance of medusas which I 
saw on some of the bathysphere descents. On one espe- 
cially rapid ascent I counted twenty-four jellyfish close to 
the window between 200 feet and the surface. In vertical 
net hauls from the same depth, we have never taken more 
than a single specimen. 


Ctenophores were sighted seven times, between 300 and 
2450 feet. Each was four or five inches long, and trans- 
parent or salmon-colored. Although four were seen below 
1000 feet — well within the zone where animal light is 
clearly visible — only one was luminous. Always they were 
easily distinguished from medusas by their ciliate motion, 
which carried them steadily along with no hint of jerk or 
pulsation. Once the cilia themselves were plainly visible 
when a ctenophore passed close to the window. On three 
of the occasions when I saw them, several of the animals 
were in view at once. Deep-sea ctenophores are rare in the 
trawling nets, as only one is taken, on the average, for 
every fifteen nets drawn. Most of these are in poor condi- 


Arrow worms were seen in great numbers upon every 
dive, and at all levels. The longest measured about two 
inches. All of those which could be closely observed were 
colorless or white, even at the lowest levels. In our trawling 
nets the scarlet species are usually not taken above 3600 
feet, and so it is not surprising that we saw none of them. 
I could never catch clear views of the lateral pairs of fins, 
but a number of times the brown bristles around the mouth 
stood out sharply in the beam. No hint of luminescence 
was ever observed, although one good-sized worm had 
obviously just swallowed a luminous animal. The worms 
looked like little white threads, shooting vertically upwards 
and downwards through the water as often as horizontally, 
and, like true plankton, they never seemed to make much 
actual progress. At the greater depths there was no decrease 
in their activity. The electric beam apparently did not af- 
fect them. Two or three hundred arrow worms is the 
usual number taken in a single trawling net, drawn 
through the water for four full hours. Whenever I 
switched on the bathysphere's beam, if my attention was 
not distracted by some more important creature, I could 
almost always see arrow worms, by shortening the focus 
of my eyes. 


Few segmented worms were observed, and the host of 
small ones which inhabit the waters completely escaped 
notice. Those which were reported were seen between 130 
and 1600 feet. The largest worm, glimpsed at 1503 feet, 
was about six inches long and brightly luminous. Another 
luminous worm, its whole body aglow, was sighted at 1208 
feet. At 1600 feet a group of about fifty individuals was 
seen, each one dully illuminated. Once only, at 550 feet, 
several long-tentacled worms appeared briefly, but no de- 
tails of structure or color could be distinguished. In fact, 
no taxonomic characters were visible in any of the annelids 
observed. Worms other than Chaetognaths are uncommon 
in our trawling nets, fifteen or twenty being the maximum 
number caught in the four-hour horizontal towing of a 
single net. 


Order copepoda 

Bathysphere observations constantly emphasized the fact 
that copepods are the most abundant of all marine organ- 
isms, with the exception of the microscopic plankton. At 
no time were there less than several dozen in sight, 
within a few feet of the window, and though at the lower 
depths a definite decrease of their numbers was noticeable, 
there was nevertheless no instant when a mist of plankton 


— with copepods of course as the dominant visible organ- 
ism — ^was not swirhng in the path of the beam. 

Usually the individual animals were indistinct, forming 
only an ever-shifting, unobtrusive atmosphere of tiny 
silvery motes through which larger organisms were ob- 
served. But whenever, by an effort of concentration, I 
focused on a small copepod group close to the glass, I 
could segregate one or two large individuals and catch 
momentary clear impressions of color and activity. Thus 
occasionally I saw every detail of a brilliant blue copepod, 
its cephalothorax almost as slender as its abdomen, and the 
caudal rami fully three times its total length, and recog- 
nized it as a species, so far unidentified, which is fairly 
common in our trawling nets. At lower levels the large 
scarlet form with purple eggs, HeteromalUa dubia, stood 
out in similar manner. The plankton in the beam always 
tended to break up and reflect the rays back towards the 
sphere in faint opalescent flashes, which resembled the 
sparks of truly luminous animals. But occasionally a flash 
of brilliant iridescence was seen in the beam, and I am sure 
I saw simultaneously the broad, flat oval of a male Sap- 
phirina. This genus is the commonest of the larger forms 
of copepods in our nets. 

Luminescence is rare among the copepods. One indica- 
tion is that luminous individuals were reported only three 
times. Another, and this is the more important of the two, 
is the following: Although, as has been said, large num- 
bers were visible every time the beam was switched on, yet 
the sparks outside of its path were few in number com- 


pared with the copepods; when identifiable these were 
always traceable to larger animals, except in the three 
cases mentioned. 

Movement was of the well-known jerking character, 
accomplished by an oar-like use of antennae. This motion 
was apparently unaffected by the beam, which was occa- 
sionally switched on for several minutes at a time, a pe- 
riod ample for indicating any positive or negative photo- 
tropism. When I focused with low-power binoculars at 
the very end of the beam, forty-five feet away, I could still 
see traces of plankton. 

Orders schizopoda and decapoda 

Shrimps and schizopods were recorded thirty-nine times 
during the bathysphere dives. These were all of fair size, 
ranging between one and eight inches in length. Innumer- 
able small ones, of course, must constantly have escaped 

The gradation of one color zone into another was well 
illustrated by these animals. Down to 400 or 500 feet, all 
those observed appeared pure white. For several hundred 
feet below this, white, white-and-pink, and pale pinkish 
shrimps were seen in about equal numbers. Finally, be- 
ginning at about 1400 or 1500 feet, the first of the large 
scarlet shrimps and schizopods of the true deep-sea types 
appeared, fully 1000 feet higher than we usually take them 
in our trawling nets. 

Luminescence was repeatedly observed. Two general 


kinds were produced, one type, by the photophore-like 
luminous spots characteristic of all euphausids and a few 
shrimps, and, another, by a discharge of luminous fluid. 
As is well known, the Hoplophorid Sysiellaspis is capable 
of producing both kinds, but in most other deep-sea 
shrimps luminous spots are almost, or completely, lacking. 
Shrimp-like animals with characteristically arranged light 
organs were observed several times from 650 feet down- 
ward; in one case the glow was distinctly greenish. These 
were unquestionably euphausids. Again, one good-sized 
shrimp at 1300 feet had six or eight scattered lights, and 
one long, slit-like light near the center of its body, which 
identified it with almost complete certainty as Systellaspis 
debilis. This, with Acanthephyra purpurea, is the com- 
monest shrimp in our trawling nets. Both euphausids and 
Systellaspis were observed too briefly to enable me to time 
the duration of the glow on separate individuals, although 
in each case it lasted several full seconds — much longer 
than the momentary flashes the animals give in aquariums 
on the very rare occasions when they are brought alive to 
the surface. 

The luminous discharge of large, Acanthephyra-\\\LQ 
shrimps was a very different sort of illumination. Whereas 
the photophore-like organs of euphausids may serve chiefly 
as recognition marks, or other non-defensive capacities, the 
luminous matter was obviously discharged only when a 
shrimp was startled, as when it bumped against the bathy- 
sphere window. When this happened, a rocket-like burst 


of fluid was emitted with such violence that the psycho- 
logical effect was that of a sudden explosion. This occurred 
time and again at the lower levels, and I learned to dis- 
tinguish two separate types of discharge, one uniformly 
luminous, the other dimmer but interspersed with dozens 
of brilliant stars and pinheads. For an instant the shrimp 
would be outlined in its own light — vivid scarlet body, 
black eyes, long rostrum — and then would vanish, leaving 
behind it the confusing glow of fluid. The light died out 
gradually, but the discharge disappeared even more slowly. 
It was not until one of my last dives that I learned that 
certain grayish bodies which I had been reporting as un- 
lighted fishes were in reality these burnt-out masses of 
fluid. Once or twice in the laboratory a dying shrimp has 
sent out a luminous puff from its thoracic glands, but the 
flash was only momentary and not to be compared with 
the feeblest of the displays seen from the bathysphere. 

The larger shrimps, measuring three inches or more in 
length, were always seen singly; but small varieties usually 
swam in fairly large groups. As with other animals, they 
were unaffected by the beam, and swam as actively at 3000 
feet as at 300. 

Although over 1500 nets have been drawn off Bermuda, 
only about a dozen shrimps and schizopods of six inches 
and over have been taken. Yet on one deep dive of the 
bathysphere I saw at least half that number. 



Order opisthobranchiata 

The Bermuda region is the only area in the northwestern 
Atlantic where Pteropod Ooze forms the characteristic 
bottom deposit. Therefore, although pteropods are not es- 
pecially numerous in our deep-sea nets, it is not surprising 
that they were constantly seen from the bathysphere at all 
levels. Indeed, they were so prevalent that it was only 
when larger animals were absent that I reported them. 
They did not, however, compare in numbers with the 
copepods and sagitta. The shell shapes of the various genera 
are so characteristic that with a little practice I had no 
difficulty in identifying them from the bathysphere win- 
dow. They showed no trace of luminescence, though in the 
beam their shells looked silver by reflected light. In swim- 
ming they flapped their fleshy wings rapidly up and down. 
Like all the other small creatures they were constantly in 
motion, and were unaffected by the beam. 

Order prosobranchiata 

Firola was observed at three separate depths; 400 feet 
(two fifteen-inch individuals); 1700 feet (several), and 
2650 feet (one, twelve inches long) . This latter appeared 
dully luminous all over, but showed no distinct illumined 
areas. Several times we have taken specimens, measuring 


three to five inches long, in our trawling nets, and smaller 
ones more frequently; never, however, have we caught one 
even approaching in size those listed above. 


Order dibranchiata 

Squids were seen about a score of times from 200 to 2900 
feet. They measured from two inches to two feet in length, 
and the body color varied from white and pink to red and 
reddish brown. The majority of those observed below 600 
feet had light organs — blue, red, or green — scattered over 
the whole body or encircling the eye. The illumination 
seemed to be steady, not intermittent. The majority of 
squids were single, but occasionally several swam together, 
and twice large schools appeared. They swam more slowly 
than any of the other large animals. The following observa- 
tions were made on some of the individuals most clearly 
seen, and are sufficiently varied to warrant publication: 

200 feet. Two. Small. Not together. 

3^0 feet. One. Five-inch. Red. Shot past. 

400 feet. One. Two-inch. Silvery. 

440 feet. One. Two-inch. Silvery. 

^00 feet. One. Luminous, with head-lights. 

900 feet. Twenty or thirty in a mass. Each twenty-four 
inches. They had pale bluish lights, with two enormous 
lights in front which were reddish. Small lights surrounded 
the large head-lights. 

900 feet. One. Four-inch. Through light. 
1000 feet. One. Very large. White. In beam. 


1 200 feet. One. Three-inch. 

1200 feet. Several. Two-inch. Around Hght. 

1300 feet. One. Small. Seemed to have no lights. In beam; went 

down to bait. 
1300 feet. Three. Six-inch. One light on each. 
1900 feet. One. Small. 
2000 feet. School. All had net-works of light all over their 

2000 feet. Small group of three or four. 
2160 feet. One. Small. Pink. 
2300 feet. One. Small. Pale red and green lights. 
2500 feet. One. Twenty-four-inch. Like dead ones picked up 

on surface. Brick brown in color, and one tentacle was 

knotted up as though it had something in it. 
2880 feet. One eight-inch. One pale blue light. Could see 

whole body when it passed by other lights. 

Squids are relatively rare in the trawling nets, one small 
one appearing in about every three or four nets drawn. 


Subphylum tunicata 


Order astigmatea 

Salpae were recognized down to 1400 feet, and were 
fairly common. The single, barrel-shaped varieties, as has 
been said, were difficult to distinguish from small siphono- 
phores. Large examples, however, were clearly seen a num- 
ber of times. These were four or five inches in length and 
perfectly transparent except for the translucent vertical 
bands, and the small brown gut in one end. Once a long 


String, with as many as thirty of the brown bodies, was 
seen. No luminescence was observed. Locomotion was a 
slow, steady advance. 

In the trawling nets salpae are rare compared with their 
abundance near the surface in other localities, although 
remains of several small individuals usually occur in every 


Order ascidiae luciae 

Pyrosoma colonies up to one foot in length were 
observed a half dozen times, between 980 and 2000 feet. 
All except one of these was completely aglow with tiny 
pin-points of light. These organisms are rare in the 
trawling nets, as usually only one small colony, several 
inches in length, is caught for about every twenty nets 
drawn. Occasionally, during certain months, the nets are 
almost filled with long, rope-like colonies several feet in 

Subphylum leptocardia 
Order amphioxi 

Amphioxides was observed at iioo and again at 1503 
feet on the last of the deep-sea dives. At least forty, of 
mature size, were in the first group. The beam was going 
full strength and I was focused on several unknown, 
rounded organisms only about two feet from the window, 
when this school suddenly came into focus. I thought for a 


moment that they were Sagitta, and then knew them un- 
questionably. Their pointed ends were perfectly distinct. 
They jerked a little in different directions, but kept amaz- 
ingly quiet for creatures of this group. In the laboratory 
both Amphioxus and Assymetron dart about, coming to 
rest only on the bottom. The deep-sea forms seemed to 
have sufficient buoyancy to keep quietly suspended in mid- 
water. The great glare appeared to affect them not at all. 

The second group was composed of about twenty. They 
came toward the sphere, swimming down the light beam 
obliquely to my line of vision. The sight of a second lot 
was wholly unexpected, and this time I saw several Sagitta 
just above them, and the comparison left no room for 
doubt. I call them Amphioxides because this is the only 
form I have taken in my deep-sea nets. 

Although they were recognized only twice from the 
bathysphere, Amphioxides must be fairly plentiful off 
Bermuda, as they are common in the deep-sea hauls. A 
dozen specimens are often taken in each net of a haul, 
from the surface down to looo fathoms. 

Subphylum vertebrata 


Sharks appeared outside the bathysphere at loo, 250, 
650, and 800 feet. The uppermost one, about two feet in 
length, was a puppy shark, probably Carcharias platyodon. 
A pilotfish {Naucrates ductor) swam just underneath. 


The other sharks could not be identified. The two largest 
of these, fully eight feet long, were seen at 650 feet. Both 
appeared dusky black, due doubtless to light conditions. 
They kept close together, one a few feet in front of the 
other, and swam slowly around the bathysphere. 

Hand-line fishing about Bermuda will occasionally bring 
a shark up from 200 feet, but these few observations show 
that they reach a considerably greater depth. 



Order isospondyli 
Family stomiatidae 

Stomias was identified on two occasions, at 1250 and 
1426 feet. Although I was in each case confident of the 
genus, the identification was made without conscious re- 
cording of significant characters. It was a case of facies 
— of some configuration of general appearance. One of the 
fish was about five inches long. 

In our trawling nets no Stomias was taken above 1800 
feet, while specimens of over two inches in length were 
captured only at 3000 and below. 

Family melanostomiatidae 

In this family I have included all the slender, black fishes 
which I observed to have lateral rows of evenly spaced 


lights, and which I did not identify as members of other 
Stomiatoid famihes such as Astronesthidae or Idiacan- 
thidae. Some of these forms, however, such as the six-foot 
fish I have placed in the new genus Bathysphaera^ may 
actually belong in quite different or wholly unknown 

In the great majority of cases, it was quite impossible to 
make accurate generic identifications. By the time I had 
satisfied myself that I was looking at a member of this 
family, the bathysphere or fish would move. So I invari- 
ably lost the chance of seeing the barbel and its light. In 
Bcithysphcera I thought, on the occasion of their first pass- 
ing, that a parti-colored jelly or small fish was swimming 
beneath. Only on their return did I suddenly realize that 
the bobbing red and blue lights terminated a dangling, in- 
visible barbel thread. One other time I thought I saw a long 
strand of tissue studded with minute lights, but I am not 
certain, and so far as identification by barbels is concerned, 
my dives are quite ineffective. This may indicate that bar- 
bels in general subserve a tactile rather than a luminescent 

The two rows of lateral serial organs were usually dis- 
tinct, though not brilliant, and as far as I could tell glowed 
steadily. I cannot generalize on their tint, except that they 
often seemed faintly yellowish. It is interesting to note that 
on freshly caught dead specimens these organs are always 
clear violet or purple. One unexpected observation was 

1 Bull. N. Y. Zool. Soc, Vol. XXXV, No. j. 


the brightness of the tiny, non-serial organs scattered in 
large numbers over the heads and bodies of these fish. In 
newly caught specimens these are very inconspicuous in 
comparison with the much larger serial organs, and usually 
show no vestige of color. Yet a number of times in the 
bathysphere I noted Melanostomiatids with these tiny pin- 
pricks of light glowing with considerable brilliancy. 

The cheek lights seemed under control, and were seen 
occasionally to blink. Their color, whenever a definite tint 
could be assigned, was yellow or red. Every time they were 
rolled down into sight, these organs illumined the fish's eye 
and most of its head. Why the creature is not momentarily 
blinded by the light is a question which has always puzzled 

Another point I cannot explain is how I could see out- 
line after outline of the fish when they were in absolutely 
black water, while their lights had very little reflecting 
power. Perhaps there was a general coating of luminous 
mucus, as trawled specimens frequently exude a whitish 
slime, or a loose epidermal membrane. 

My memory of the Melanostomiatids is of slenderness, 
and of agile, eel-like, but rather slow twistings in progres- 
sion. None of them seemed to be affected by the beam. 
Usually only one of these fishes was seen at a time, but 
occasionally two or three appeared swimming together. 

Members of the family were observed twenty-six times, 
between 750 and 2750 feet, and ranged from one Inch to 
six feet in length. Excluding a few colorless larvae, Melan- 


ostomiatids were not taken in the trawling nets above 1800 
feet. The largest specimen we have ever captured, an 
Echiostomaj was only fifteen inches long, while most of 
the others measured less than four inches. 

As this is one of the most interesting groups of deep-sea 
fishes, I am appending an annotated list of the individuals 
seen in the course of the various dives. 

750 feet. One, thirty-six-inch. It had the usual two rows of 

lights, but a long, slender, macrourid-like tail. 
800 feet. One, five-inch. Eustomias-Wke. Outline very dis- 

1000 feet. One. Row of lights seen twice in the distance. 

1 100 feet. One, twelve-inch. Body covered with minute lights. 

1 100 feet. One. Lights only seen in distance. 

1300 feet. One, twenty-four-inch. Two lateral rows of lights; 
body covered with minute pin-pricks of light. 

1300 feet. One, one-inch. This was the smallest fish with double 
rows of lateral lights ever seen. 

1390 feet. One. Mass of lights in distance. 

1400 feet. One. Slender fish like a male Idiacanihus, but it 
seemed much longer than the latter. Cheek light large and 

1500 feet. One. Echiostoma-\ike. Tiny lights scattered all over 

1503 feet. Two. Brilliant red and yellow cheek lights. Prob- 
ably Mdacosteus. 

1503 feet. One, four inches long and about three deep. Hun- 
dreds of lights all over it. Echiostoma type of photophores. 
Resembled Bathophilus hrevis in general character. 

1528 feet. One six-inch. Subocular light winking three separate 
times. Echiostoma-Viike. 

1530 feet. Three, six- or seven-inch. Gray. Could see their en- 
tire outlines, but not from their own lateral series of lights. 

1533 feet. One, three-inch. Two rows of lights, but no head- 


lights. I think the fish turned tail on, for a moment later 
every light vanished in total eclipse. 

1700 feet. Three, six-inch. Black with pale yellow lights. 

1780 feet. One, three-inch. Quite deep and rounded. Cheek- 
light as large as an American penny. A pale greenish glow 
surrounded it the whole time the fish was in sight. Re- 
sembled BatJjophilus brevis. 

1800 feet. Several. Double rows of lateral lights distinct. 

1800 feet. One. Subocular organ lighted up the eye. The body 
had irregular, luminous lines. 

1 8 10 feet. Three, eigh teen-inch. Lamprotoxus, without ques- 
tion. The irregular, lightning-like line around the side was 
distinct. Whether from reflection, I do not know, but the 
whole interior of the lateral loop seemed dully luminous. 
A fourth fish, which may have been of the same species, 
was glimpsed. 

2050 feet. One. A single brilliant scarlet light on the head. 

2100 feet. Two large, elongate. Barracuda-like fish, larger than 
any others seen. They passed within eight feet, and were 
fully six feet long. No lights visible on head, yet eye was 
clearly distinct, and outline faintly. A single row of strong, 
pale blue lights along body. Mouth and fangs illumined 
either by mucus or by indirect internal lights on branchl- 
ostegals. General shape of Barracuda, with deeper jaws 
open all the time. There were two barbels, each with two, 
separate, luminous bodies, the anterior more red than the 
posterior. These twitched and jerked along beneath the 
fish. One undoubtedly arose from a mental base, the other 
so far back that its origin must have been from the anal 
fin. I have given these fish the name Bathysph^ra intacta. 

2100 feet. Two, twelve-inch. Elongate. Large cheek lights and 
two lateral series, the organs apparently under control. One 
fish lighted up the other, then both were illumined. 

2500 feet. Two. 

2750 feet. One. Eight-inch. Very deep body. One light at each 
end. Noted by Barton. 


Family astronesthidae 

At 1 200 feet two Astronesthes were seen, close against 
the glass and in the beam. One fish was head-on, and might 
have been anything. The second, which was the larger, 
slowly revolved, and I saw, not only the general shape, but, 
like tinsel, the so-called luminous blotches. They may or 
may not have been luminous, but in the light they glistened 
like tin-foil. In the trawling nets we have taken no 
Astronesthes above 1800 feet. 

Family chauliodontidae 

Seven Chauliodus appeared once at 1700 feet, all headed 
in the same direction. Each was about seven inches long. 
The eyes shone with a dull glow, from indirect photophore 
light; their bodies were covered with multitudes of small 
lights. One dashed toward me, and head-on I could dis- 
tinguish the flash of long fangs, although I do not know 
whence the illumination came. It turned, close to the 
window, and for a second was silhouetted clearly, showing 
the hexagonal scales, and the long dorsal filament, which 
it raised and lowered nervously. The fish had every fin ex- 
tended. The body outline and basal part of the vertical 
fins were distinct. Yet the light did not come from its 
lateral lights, nor from the lights of near-by organisms. 
Young Chauliodus are frequently taken in the trawling 


nets at 1800 feet, but large specimens are exceedingly rare, 
and caught much deeper. 

Family idiacanthidae 

Black Idiacanthiis females, from five to eight inches in 
length, were recognized four times, between 800 and 
1503 feet. Three of the identifications were very accurate, 
as I had been studying the genus and the fish was in my 
mind, so that I was subconsciously prepared for instant 
analysis. The remaining report, however, is questionable, 
for females have a most degenerate cheek light, and the 
light I saw seemed much too large. Two eight-inch fish 
were seen together, the others singly. Fully pigmented fe- 
males have not been taken in our trawling nets above 3000 

At 1900 feet, when we were both looking out of the 
window, Mr. Barton saw the first living Sfylophthalmus 
ever seen by man, a sight which completely eluded me, 
although it must have been within a foot of the windows. 

Family gonostomidae 

Cyclothones are by far the most numerous deep-sea fish 
in this area, and many were seen on every dive from 400 
feet downward. During the first few dives I confused these 
small fish with worms, but once I had recognized them, I 
had little diflficulty in distinguishing between the two 


organisms. On the last few dives I did not bother to report 

I could never detect any illumination, although their 
photophores are well developed, and at the lower levels the 
fish were quite invisible outside the electric beam. 

Although we frequently take a hundred or more in a 
single net, I am convinced that Cyclothones do not live in 
schools; there is too great a uniformity of numbers in each 
net drawn. From the bathysphere I usually saw only sev- 
eral at a time; even on the rare occasions when we passed 
through a group of thirty or forty, only two or three 
individuals were in view at the same moment. 

The fish appeared uniformly whitish or grayish. The 
majority of those seen at our diving levels were probably 
Cyclothone signata and young Cyclothone ■microdon, as 
mature specimens of the latter, dark species do not usually 
occur in our nets above 3000 feet. No specimen has been 
caught above 1200 feet. 

At 2400 feet I once recognized a pair of ten-inch 
Gonostonta elongatiim. The coppery iridescence of their 
sides shone out clearly, and the serial photophores, with 
their characteristically large reflectors, were distinct. I 
probably saw several more of these fish, confusing them 
with Melanostomiatids, but my eye was too slow to make 
out more than the merest outlines. 

In our trawling nets we have taken a score of specimens 
of about this size, but all came from 3000 feet or lower. 


Family sternoptychidae 

Sternoptychids were reported twenty-eight times, be- 
tween 650 and 2800 feet. During the early dives I did not 
distinguish between Argyropelecus and Sternoptyx, but 
when I began concentrating only upon what I was watch- 
ing, and refused to be distracted by succeeding flares, I 
could easily tell one form from the other, if they were 
close to the window and side on. 

I could plainly see the lights of their downwardly- 
directed photophores when the fish swam above me or 
turned partly over. Usually the light was of no definite 
tint, but once five Sternoptyx showed a definitely blue 
radiance. Almost always the illumination was obliterated 
when the fish passed through the beam. 

About a third of the time I saw single individuals, but 
usually members of this family swam close together in 
groups of four or five. Once, at 800 feet, a school of 
twenty small fish passed. Members of both genera were 
always exceedingly active. They paid no attention to the 
beam, frequently swimming right through it without de- 
flecting their course. 

Individuals two inches or more in length were seen sev- 
eral times, at 1000 feet and below. The largest was an 
Argyropelecus fully four inches long and three deep, twice 
as large as any we have ever captured in our nets. Although 
we have taken a few very young Sternoptychids as high up 
as 300 feet, none fully grown has been caught above 1800, 
and the majority are taken far below this depth. 


Order apodes 

Fully metamorphosed eels were sighted twenty times 
between 400 and 1700 feet. They measured from five 
inches to three feet in length. I could identify only two 
genera with certainty: Six or seven times, between 750 
and 1500 feet, I recognized SerrivomeTj the commonest 
deep-sea eel of this area. Some of these individuals were 
fully twenty-four inches long. Once, at 400 feet, several 
six-inch Labichthys swam into view. In the nets no meta- 
morphosed Nemichthyid was taken above 1800 feet, and 
only three times have we caught specimens as much as 
twenty inches long. 

None of the eels ever showed any light of its own. Move- 
ments were characteristic of surface forms, the undula- 
tions sometimes exceedingly rapid, sometimes slow. Once 
a pair hovered at the bait, and again two, twenty- four- 
inch fish kept in sight for twenty feet as the sphere de- 
scended. Eels were frequently seen in the beam and occa- 
sionally in the light of other animals, when the silvery sides 
of Serrivomer-W^e forms caught and reflected every ray. 
Less than half of the eels observed were alone; the others 
moved in pairs, and, more rarely, in small groups of from 
three to five. The individuals of a group were always of 
about the same length. 

Leptocephalid larvas were a fairly common sight from 
the bathysphere. I reported them thirty-three times, from 
80 to 2300 feet. They were all between two inches and a 


foot in length. Most of the large larvae which we capture 
in our trawhng nets are of the slender, Nemichthyid type 
and are taken below 2400 feet. Yet from the bathysphere 
I recognized this form at 1500 feet. Much higher than this 
I saw large, very deep leptocephalids, of which we have 
captured only one specimen off Bermuda. 

The iridescent silvery eye led almost always to the dis- 
covery of a leptocephalus. I would then look in the path 
of the eye movement, and the body would appear. Several 
times black markings were clearly observed. There was 
never any trace of luminescence. Usually the larvse vi- 
brated swiftly along, unaffected by the beam. Twice, very 
large leptocephalids swam by in pairs. 

Order iniomi 
Family myctophidae 

Myctophids have been recorded about thirty times, but 
they were probably seen on many other occasions and not 
recognized. They ranged in depth between 400 and 2900 
feet, and in length up to six inches. A dozen times they 
were seen singly; the remainder swam in schools, often 
forming loose groups only, consisting of from several to 
fifty or sixty individuals. The larger numbers moved to- 
gether, all facing, or all turning at once. The lateral lights 
were sometimes dim, sometimes bright, but without excep- 
tion seemed to glow steadily. Their tint was usually pale 
yellow, but several times a reddish tinge was observed. 
Their course was occasionally deflected by the beam; some- 


times the fish swam right into it, and frequently turned 
and came close up to the glass. Except in the following 
cases the genera and species could not be identified with 
any certainty: 

MyctopljiiTn coccoi: This species was recognized twice 
at 750 feet (a single one and seven together) , once at 800 
feet (eleven individuals) , and once at 2060 feet (four M. 
coccoi in company with a single Lampanyctus) . The ven- 
tral flash was seen twice, pale blue. Recognition was pos- 
sible because of the characteristic pattern of their photo- 
phores, and the narrowness of the caudal peduncle. The 
uppermost trawling record for this species off Bermuda is 
1800 feet. 

Lampanyctus sp. This genus was recognized once, at 
2060 feet. A single individual was swimming with four 
M. coccoi. It was identified by means of its luminous scales. 

Diaphtts ssp. Members of this genus were recognized 
once at 800 feet (three individuals, each three inches long) , 
twice at 1500 feet (a school of about twenty individuals, 
and one single one) , and once, questionably, at 1533 feet. 
The headlights were always large and brilliant. 

Lampadena sp. At 2900 feet several five-inch members 
of this genus swam past so slowly that their luminous cau- 
dal plates and photophore patterns were very distinct. It is 
possible that they were Lampadena minima. 

No Myctophid has been taken in our trawling nets above 
1800 feet, but the majority of bathysphere records of this 
group were made at higher levels. 


Family cetomimidae 

At 1500 and again at 2500 feet I saw an entirely new 
fish which I have named Bathyembryx istiophasma and 
tentatively placed in this family.^ It was at least two feet 
in length, moderately slender, and an unhealthy-looking 
buff in color. Its most striking characteristic was the very 
large and sail-like vertical fins, which were placed far 
back, immediately in front of the degenerate button-like 
caudal. The fish entirely lacked illumination of any kind. 

Family macrouridae 

Large-headed, rat-tailed, macrourid-like fishes were 
sighted five times from the bathysphere between 1000 and 
2500 feet. They were six to eighteen inches in length. On 
four occasions single ones were seen; on the fifth, three six- 
inch fish were together. Each of the latter group and one 
of the single fish showed at least six good-sized lights. Two 
of the remaining individuals had only a single light — one 
under each eye — and one completely lacked illumination. 

Half a dozen specimens of this family have been taken 
in the trawling nets well above the sea-bottom, between 
3000 and 6000 feet. None of these measured more than 
several inches in length, and none showed any signs of 

1 Bull. N. Y. Zool. Soc, Vol. XXXVII, No. 6. 


Order synentognathi 
Family exocoetidae 

Three times I have seen flyingfish pass, and vanish into 
the air above the quilted ceiling of water above me. 

Order berycoidei 
Family melamphaidae 

Although Melamphces is fairly common in our trawling 
nets, it was recognized from the bathysphere only four 
times, at 750, 1200, and 1800 feet. This genus is never 
taken in the trawling nets above 1800 feet. The fishes ob- 
served were three inches to a foot in length, while the 
largest specimen we have ever captured measured only 
eight inches. Most of those in our collection are less than 
an inch long, so it is not surprising if many of similar size 
escaped notice from the sphere. 

Twice Melamphces was seen singly, and once a pair 
swam past. The bodies of the latter seemed to glow dully 
after they had swum out of the beam. This may have been 
from the slight reflection from the beam, but I doubt it. I 
think there was some slight bodily illumination. The fish 
were always seen first in the beam, and hung motionless 
there for several seconds. 


Order percomorphi 
Family gempylidae 

Single, P fax -like fish were seen twice, at 700 and at 1800 
feet. They were two inches and six inches long, respec- 
tively, and looked brilliant silver, shining by reflection. 
Pfax has frequently been taken in the trawling nets at 
these relatively slight depths, but most of our specimens 
are less than an inch in length. 

Family coryphaenidae 

A single Coryphcena, two feet in length, was clearly 
recognized at 500 feet, an unexpected depth record for 
this form. 

Family nomeidae 

Brilliantly silver Psenes were observed sixteen times, 
from 50 to 700 feet. All of them were two or three inches 
long, and mostly swam alone. Occasionally, however, two 
or three were seen together, and once a group of twenty 
appeared close to the window. Members of this family are 
fairly common in nets drawn at these upper levels. 

Family carangidae 

Carangid fishes were noted a dozen times between 50 
and 700 feet. The commonest form was Naucrates ductor. 


which was seen seven different times all the way down to 
600 feet. From 200 downward it appeared either as pure 
white, or as white with eight jet black bands. One indi- 
vidual at 100 feet was swimming underneath a small puppy 
shark. A foot-long Caranx ruber, with blue along its sides, 
was recognized at 490 feet, and two Seriola zonata once 
appeared at 700 feet. 

Family lutianidae 

Snappers were seen at 400 and 500 feet. The upper one 
I identified without doubt as Ocyurus chrysurus. 

Order plectognathi 

One, two-mch triggerfish was seen at 100 feet. It had 
alternate black and white bands from snout to tail. 

Small puffers, from one to four inches in length, were 
observed at 400, 500, and 600 feet. At the lowest level half 
a dozen passed, swimming together, one of the six being 
swollen up. These were quite unlike any of their group 
which are known to me. 

Order pediculati 

Eight pediculates were seen between 1200 and 2470 feet; 
they ranged in length from one and one-half inches to two 
feet. No well-developed specimen has been taken in our 


trawling nets above 3000 feet, and the largest pediculate 
we ever caught was only about three inches long. All of 
those seen from the bathysphere were swimming alone. In 
half of the specimens the illicium was lighted, the glow 
being pale lemon yellow in two specimens, and pale blue 
in a third. One fish with unlighted illicium had luminous 
teeth, and another had several foci of dim lights elsewhere 
on the body. All in general resembled Melanocetus or 
CeratiaSj rather than genera of other families. It has been 
thought worth while to include the following list of the 
individuals observed. 

1200 feet. One, three-inch. Very deep. Light on illicium pale 
lemon yellow. Close to window. Repassed. 

1300 feet. One, four-inch. Luminous teeth. Very near glass. 
Melanocetus type. 

1500 feet. One, one and one-half inches long. Lighted illicium. 

1503 feet. One, three-inch. Ceratiid type, with illicium, no 
light visible. 

1507 feet. One, eight-inch. Mancalias- or Cry ptos paras-like. 
No lights. In beam. 

1900 feet. One, twenty-four-inch. In general Melanocetus 
rather than Cryptosparas type. Long, unlighted tentacle 
visible in beam, but several foci of dim lights elsewhere 
on body. Opened mouth and partly closed it twice before 
it disappeared. 

2000 feet. One, twelve-inch. Very pudgy, like Melanocetus. 
One brilliant, pale blue light on illicium. 

2470 feet. One, six-inch. Fish not very deep. Three illicia on 
head, large one in front and two behind it close together. 
Their light was pale, clear yellow. This fish I have de- 
scribed as Bathyceratias trilychnus.^ 

1 Bull. N. Y. Zool. Soc, Vol. XXXVII, No. 6. 


At 200 feet a porpoise swam past, going obliquely down- 
ward, with possibly another in the distance. 

At 2450 a very large creature, at least twenty feet in 
length, came quite near to the bathysphere. I could just 
see its outline. Perhaps it was a porpoise or a small whale, 
but it may equally well have been a fish. 


I have one hundred and fifty-four separate and distinct 
notes on Unknown Fish, and two hundred and thirty-five 
notes on Unknown Animals. To list these would most ex- 
cellently reveal my abyssal ignorance of the majority of 
sparks, lights, half outlines, and glimpses of heads, tails, or 
eyes. But the fractional character of exact identifications 
has been thoroughly presented, and the few following notes 
will serve as samples of all the rest, notes which will be of 
value only when I or some other diver descends and re- 
solves them into something understandable. 

400 feet. Four. Myctophid-shaped, but not Myctophids. 
550 feet. Black forms in distance; four coming nearer. 
600 feet. Large, indistinct bodies moving in distance; seemed 

uniformly pale: squid or fish? 
920 feet. One, four-inch. Six bluish-white lights along side. 
1060 feet. One, five-inch. Deep fish, like chub. No lights and 

sharp jaw. 
1 1 00 feet. Hundreds of pale blue, double lights. 
13 10 feet. A luminous head seen for an instant. 


1440 feet. Fins spread like flyingfish; many lights on basal half 

of fins. No outline. 
2090 feet. Ghostly forms in every direction. 
2200 feet. One, six-inch. Deep. Outline of fish visible from 

reflected light of invisible photophores. 
And so on. 

Appendix H 

hy William Beebe 










(d) SIZE 



In the course of the oceanographic work of the Depart- 
ment of Tropical Research of the New York Zoological 
Society during the last six years off the southern coast of 
Bermuda, we have made the following investigations 
within an eight mile circle, the center of which is at 32° 12' 
North Latitude and 64° 3 6' "West Longitude, nine and one 
quarter miles south-southeast of Nonsuch Island, Ber- 



Meter Net Hauls: 1929 to 1934, 1500 nets. Surface to 1200 
fathoms. Bathysphere Dives: 

1930: 250 feet 5.5 miles south of Nonsuch 
5.75 miles south of Nonsuch 
miles south of Nonsuch 
miles south of Nonsuch 
miles south of Nonsuch 
miles south of Nonsuch 

1932: 1000 feet 6 miles south of Nonsuch 

miles south of Nonsuch 

1934- 550 f^c^ 5 miles south of Nonsuch 

miles south of Nonsuch 
miles south of Nonsuch 
miles south of Nonsuch 
miles south of Nonsuch 
miles south of Nonsuch 
miles south of Nonsuch 
miles south of Nonsuch 


(a) Daylight 

In my report on the 1930 dives ^ I gave the spectroscopic 
readings from the surface to 800 feet. At this depth the 
spectrum showed as a narrow band centering at the wave 
length 5 20 mil. In Dr. Hulburt's analysis of these observa- 
tions ^ he says, "Using the light absorption coefl&cients of 
sea-water as measured in the laboratory and the Ramon- 
Einstein-Smoluchowski theory of the scattering of light in 

1 Bull. N. Y. Zool. Soc, Vol. XXXIII, No. 6. 

2 Jour. Opt. Soc. Amer., Vol. 22, No. 7. 

250 feet 


410 feet 


800 feet 


800 feet 


803 feet 


1428 feet 


1000 feet 


2200 feet 


550 feet 


1 1 50 feet 


1208 feet 


1503 feet 


1507 feet 


1533 feet 


2510 feet 


3028 feet 



liquids, it is found that the spectrum of the dayUght at 
800 feet in the sea has a maximum brightness at about 
500 mfi; this agrees well enough with the observation." 

In the course of Dive 20 (2200 feet, Sept. 22, 1932) 
although my eyes were perfectly dark-adapted, I could de- 
tect not the faintest glimmer of light, with my naked eye, 
at 1700 feet. On Dive 30 (2510 feet, Aug. 11, 1934) and 
Dive 32 (3028 feet, Aug. 15, 1934) the last light on the 
white packing of the quartz windows was observed at 1900 
feet, both going down and coming up. The additional 200 
feet of visible daylight penetration was undoubtedly the 
result of the unusual clarity of the sunny day, plus the 
very calm surface. From 2000 feet down, as far as the 
unaided human eye was concerned, conditions of absolute 
darkness existed. 

(b) Temperature 

Temperature records are as follows: 

800 feet lowest inside 75° Fahr. outside 65° Fahr. 
2200 feet lowest inside 70° Fahr. outside 53° Fahr. 
2510 feet lowest inside 70° Fahr. outside 51° Fahr. 
3028 feet lowest inside 68° Fahr. outside 45° Fahr. 

(c) Pressure 

Inside the bathysphere we had, of course, no means of 
recording the increasing pressure. At the end of the several 
two to three hour dives, when the wing-bolt was removed 


on deck, after two or three minutes of gradually escaping 
air under pressure, the final blowout was less severe on our 
ears than from a rapid descent to four fathoms in the 
diving helmet. 

Careful records with a deep-sea pressure gauge in this 
area give the usual mathematical ratio of increase, as 
known for the deep sea in general. The pressures with- 
stood by the bathysphere were as follows: 

Pounds per Tons on Each Total Tons 

Sqtuire Inch Window on Sphere 

2510 feet 1129.1 15-95 5822.3 

3028 feet 13^0.3 19.22 7016.3 

(d) Clarity of Observation 

The fused quartz windows and the remarkable clarity 
of the deeper layers of the ocean combined to give unusual 
clearness in our field of vision. The 1000 and 1500 watt 
electric lights, from 1000 feet down, cut a brilliant swath 
through the blackness. By accurate focusing with a num- 
ber three, Zeiss binoculars, and then checking up the un- 
changed focus on deck, I discovered that the limit of visiv- 
bility in this beam, and hence of recognition of organisms, 
was 45 feet away. Although the sides of the beam seemed 
to become abruptly blackish blue, yet organisms passing 
out of the direct glare reflected the light for many feet 
above and below. Yet organic lights and flashes stood out in 
strong contrast, even a few inches from the path of arti- 
ficial light. 


The most important fact in bathysphere work at the 
greatest depths is to keep the eyes dark adapted. This was 
constantly attested both by my own difficulties in seeing 
and identifying, and by those of Barton and Tee- Van. 
Mr. Barton's photographic efforts at the deepest levels 
required frequent use of the 1500 watt light, speeded up to 
125 volts, which lighted up the whole interior of the 
sphere, of magnesium flash bulbs, and of ordinary hand 
flash-lights. One magnesium bulb which went off in front 
of Barton's face blinded him for many hundred feet, 
showing how complete was the darkness in the interludes 
of illumination. 

Although he came to the window, in his own words 
"hundreds of times" whenever I saw anything of unusual 
interest, he missed many of the organisms which I dis- 
tinguished, due apparently to the frequent use of the 
various sources of interior illumination, as well as to divided 
interest between observation and photography. Mr. Tee- 
Van, who sat in Barton's place during one 1500 foot dive, 
saw quite as much as I did, as we did away with all illumi- 
nation and concentrated on the windows every possible 
second. I found that even a momentary distraction, like 
examining the instruments, diminished my visual powers 
for a few minutes, very considerably. 

There was a decided dazzling power in the larger organic 
flashes, and the sudden emanation of shrimp luminosity 
startled one by its unexpectedness. Yet the immediate 
vicinity of sustained animal illumination was never wholly 


obscured by the flare. I soon learned to encircle a light with 
my eyes, and on one side or the other I often could detect 
the body of the organism, and frequently, details of its out- 
line and size. If this method were not followed, the only 
things seen from the windows were meaningless lights and 
flashes, shining in impenetrable darkness. To undisturbed, 
complete concentration, there were many more planets 
than stars in these abyssal constellations. 

Second only in respect to dark-adaptiveness is the factor 
of familiarity with the organisms. Tee-Van and I have 
been capturing and examining many of the more common 
of these creatures for six years, some of them even coming 
up alive in the nets, so it was not difficult to recognize on 
sight a considerable number. Yet I mistook Cyclothones for 
worms many times at first. Indirect recognition is by cor- 
relation of the isolated spots of light with remembered 
positions of photophores on the bodies and heads of pre- 
served specimens. Now that I have completed another sea- 
son, I realize how terribly imperfect and inadequate are my 
observation and interpretation of this astonishing fauna of 
the deep sea. 


(a) Abundance 

A vertical haul with a meter net in these waters yields 
but a meager amount of life. A thin scattering of plankton 
with perhaps a few Cyclothones and Myctophids. Even a 


horizontal haul of four hours at any depth produces at the 
most a pint of plankton and ten to thirty fish, all small, 
except perhaps one or two twelve inches or so in length. 
Yet every descent and ascent of the bathysphere showed a 
fauna, rich beyond what the summary of all our 1 500 nets 
would lead us to expect. Bermuda is in the Sargasso Sea, 
which is accounted an arid place for oceanic life, but my 
observations predicate at least an unsuspected abundance 
of unknown forms. 

It is notable that my deepest dive was 504 fathoms, and 
our net trawls at this depth show usually the maximum 
captures. On almost all the dives there were zones or strata, 
sometimes of considerable extent, where no life was visible 
except a few sparks. The unconscious emphasis placed upon 
these sparks in the telephoned observations often concealed 
the extent of the successive black voids, which must be of 
great extent. 

(b) Illumination 

Heretofore we have had three sources of information 
with regard to the illumination of deep-sea organisms: 

1. Examination of the photophores of preserved or re- 
cently dead specimens. 

2. Dark room observations on the light of fish brought 
up alive. 

3. Comparison with luminous terrestrial coleoptera and 
other forms. 


I have elsewhere ^ described what I believe to be several 
distinct uses of illumination in living Myctophuin coccoi, 
and during six years of trawling off Nonsuch we have 
made many records of flashes or more continuous lighting, 
in abyssal fish which have survived from ten minutes to as 
many hours. 

Under cloudy conditions I have detected sparks of light 
in the bathysphere dives as far up as 400 feet. From 2000 
feet down, animal light is the only source of external illu- 
mination. The nonhalation of these lights was marked 
throughout. This must be due to the clarity of the mediums 
traversed by the light. At times there were flashes from un- 
known organisms so bright that my vision was confused 
for several seconds. Often the abundance of lights was so 
great that the comparison was unavoidable with the major 
stars on a clear, moonless night. The constant movement 
tended to confuse direct, concentrated vision, but by con- 
tinual effort I managed to follow definite, related groups of 
lights, and in many cases could ultimately make out the 
outline of the fish. 

Occasionally the head of a fish would appear conspicu- 
ously against the surrounding black, illumined by some 
unknown source of indirect lighting. Eyes especially stood 
out with no definite source of light visible. When teeth 
were thus silhouetted I knew it was from a luminous 
mucus which covered them. Cheek lights flashed and 
dimmed, or vanished altogether, showing some control 

1 "The Arcturus Adventure," pp. 214-218. 


Other than the usual disappearance into an opaque, epi- 
dermal trench. The visibility of hundreds of minute photo- 
phores scattered over the surface of the body of certain 
Melanostomiatids was unexpected. These are inconspicu- 
ous, minute, and in living trawled specimens show no sign 
of luminosity. 

On early dives and on the first observations of Dive 
Number Thirty, I reported small, dim fish of uncertain 
form as not uncommon, and frequently fairly close to the 
sphere. Also, that from time to time some organism struck 
the glass and exploded. I discovered on the last dive that 
the cause of these phenomena was the fluid ejected by 
shrimps, Acanthephyra and others. Two kinds of emana- 
tion were observed, one, a homogeneous, luminous cloud 
which diffused with great rapidity at first and then hung 
suspended for a considerable time as a faintly luminous 
area. The other was a discharge of a multitude of very 
bright sparks, which died out much sooner than the first 
type. These sparks were much more startling, making us 
jerk back our heads as from a blow when they occurred 
close against the glass. 

I cannot hazard even a guess as to the number of blind, 
unlighted organisms which passed, or those whose lights 
were dimmed as long as they were in the vicinity of the 
bathysphere. The number of creatures illumined, the num- 
ber of functional photophores on individual fish, and the 
strength and colors of these lights — all these have been far 
beyond all my expectations. 


(c) Activity 

It has been thought that the activity of fish and other 
organisms is less at great depths than at the surface, and 
the bizarre shapes, globular and angular, of many abyssal 
forms would seem to support this theory. In the many 
cases where I was able to watch fish and other creatures in 
motion down to a half mile, there was no hint of slowness, 
other than that imposed by the absence of stream lines. 
This was foreshadowed by the fish from our nets, taken 
from a half to a full mile, which we have kept alive in 
refrigerators and have filmed. These have swum about, and 
snapped at my fingers with as much accuracy of balance 
and swiftness as surface fish. 

(d) Size 

A 12-inch fish is accounted a giant in our trawling oper- 
ations. The largest we have ever captured was a deep-sea 
eel more than 4^ feet long. On my dives there was a de- 
cided increase In general average of the size of fish the 
farther we descended. 

In the first 1000 feet I saw altogether 16 fish from 6 to 
18 inches, and 2 (excluding sharks and dolphins) over 24 
inches. In the second 1000 feet these two figures increased 
respectively to 54 and 13. I entered the third 1000 feet 
only three times out of thirty-odd dives and recorded the 
same sizes as 9 and 5. If these are multiplied by ten, thus 


equalizing the relative number of dives, the 6 to i8 inch 
fish would number 90, and the 24-inch-plus ones, 50 

(e) Vertical Distribution 

Too thorough an idea of this phase can be gained from 
the resumes of the various groups in Appendix G to re- 
quire any extended comment here. It is sufficient to say 
that in almost every group of organisms, I saw individuals, 
from the bathysphere, at much higher levels than we have 
ever trawled them. This may be due in part to the ease 
with which creatures in the upper, more lighted levels, 
perceive and avoid the slow, oncoming nets. Yet the fact 
also holds good as well for organisms in the deeper, lightless 

It would be futile to attempt any explanation of this 
great discrepancy in size, distribution, illumination, etc., 
between trawling captures and bathysphere observations. 
I never anticipated it, and I have no adequate theory to 
account for it. The fact remains that a much more abun- 
dant and larger-sized fish fauna exists in these waters than 
is in any way adumbrated by six years of trawling with the 
best possible oceanographic collecting outfit. 


Acanthephyra purpjirea, 304, 338 
Alexander the Great, 33-41, 219 
Avipbioxides, 309, 310 
anglerfish, 173, 202 
anglerfish, three-starred, 211, 213 
Antony, 32, 33 
Argo, 28 

Argyropelecus, 125, 127-130, 162, 
167, 201, 267, 269, 284, 

287. 319 
Aristotle, 30, 31, 42 
arrow worms, see Sagitta 
Astronesthes, 316 
At oil a, 299 
Aurelia, 160, 281, 282, 297, 298 

Bacon, Sir F., 43 

barracuda, 83, 214 

Barton, Otis, 91, 92, 95, 103, 104, 
105, 106, 108, III, 112, 113, 
114, 116, 117, 125, 127, 130, 
131, 132, 134, 139, 158, 160, 
163, 167, 172, 181, 184, 187, 
188, 189, 191, 194, 204, 207, 
209, 215, 220, 231-235, 236, 
252, 254, 263, 264, 265, 271, 
272, 273, 274, 277, 280, 281, 
286, 287, 289, 290, 291, 294, 

315. 317. 334 
Bathyceratias trilychnus, 211, 327 
Bathyembryx istiophasma, 204- 

206, 323 
Bathysidus pentagrammus, 212, 

Bathysphcera intact a, iji, 173, 

312. 315 
bathysphere, 92-94, 231-250 
atmospheric system, 94, 239 
barometer, 241 

bathysphere (Cont.)' 
cable, 93, 144, 246 
chemical blower, 241 
chemicals, i^j, Z/^z 
crew, ^j, 98 
doorway, 93, 236 
electrical equipment, 94, 244 
emergency signaling, 245 
generator, ^6, 245 
hose, electric, 94, 245 
lamps, 244 
main casting, 236 
measuring cable, 249 
oxygen, 94, 240 
sheaves, 249 
steam, 249 
stuffing-box, 238 
telephones, ^6, 243 
temperature-humidity recorder, 


winches, 95, 248 

windows, 92, 237 

wooden base, 239 
bathysphere fish, untouchable, 173 
Batuta, Ibn, 28 
beetles, whirligig, 21 
blackfish, 220 
black swallower, 215 
Borelli, 45 
Budge, 35 

Butler, Capt. J. H., 91 
butterflyfish, 82 

cable tangle, loi 
Callisthenes, Pseudo-, 34, 35 
carangids, 325 
Caranx ruber, zy^, 326 
CarcharJas platyodon, 310 
Carinaria, 166 




cetacean, 286 

Charles V, 43 

Chaiiliodus, 166, 316 

Cbiasmodon niger, 215 

chromis, blue, 142 

clam giant, y6 

clarity of observation, 333, 334 

Cleopatra, 32, 33 

Clio, 268 

color of sea, 119 

coney, 83-85 

constellationfish, five-lined. 



2 1 6, 

copepods, 130, 198, 200, 

Coryphcena, z6y, 325 
Creseis, 267 
crustaceans, 126 

ctenophores, 164, 219, 287, 299 
Cyclothone, 122, 125, 130, 163, 

168, 200, 267, 282, 295, 317, 

318, 335 
Cyclothone microdon, 318 
Cyclothone signata, 318 

Davis, R. H., 32 

daylight in sea, 331 

demoiselle, 68 

Demoisellea cyanea, 142 

Desis, 23 

Diaphus, 125, 322 

diving-cage, Alexander the 

Great's, 37, 40 
diving suit, metal, 90 
Dolicbopteryx, 215 
dragonfish, 133 
Drebel, 48, 49 
drone-fly larvae, 21, 22 

Echiostoma, 314 
eclipse, sun, 148 
eel, 122, 163, 164, 165, 203, 268, 

291, 320 
eel, bronze, 125, 126 

eel, larval, see leptocephalids 
eel, moray, 82, 83, 214 
elephants, 30 
explosion of light, see shrimps 

Firola, zSy, 306 

fish, macrourid-like, 128 

flyingfish, 197, 324 

flying-snails, see pteropods 

fry, 188 

Fulmen Maris, 48 

gars, abyssal rainbow, 208, 209 

ghostfish, long-finned, 215 

Glaucus, 28 

Gonostoma, 273 

Gonostoina elongatum, 208, 318 

Great Barrier Reef, y6 

gull, herring, 135 

Halley, 57-59 

Hanno, 18 

hatchetfish, see Argyropelecus 

Hazard, 64 

Herodotus, 17, 18 

Heteromallia dubia, 302 

heteropods, 166, 287 

Homer, 28 

Houdini, 65 

Ibu Batuta, 28 

Idiacanfhiis, 125, 128, 129, 221, 

implosion, 153-155 

jack, blue-banded, 199 

jellyfish, 119, 120, 121, 124, 125, 
132, 162, 201, 204, 267, 268, 
269, 294, 295, 297, 298, 299 

Johnson, 62 

Joyce, 64 

Kleingert, 61 
Kobbe, G., 28 

Labichthys, 320 
Lampadcna, 221, 288, 322 
Lampanycius, 276, 322 
Lam prof oxus, 218, 285, 315 
lanternfish, 122, 125, 136, 164, 
165, 167, 168, 199, 200, 221, 
276, 278, 279, 283, 285, 286, 
288, 291, 292, 321, 322, 335 
leptocephalids, 122, 124, 208, 
267, 268, 269, 272, 275, 276, 

278, 282, 290, 320, 321 
Lethbridge, J., 59 
Limacma, 167 

Linuche, 298 

Livy, 32 

lobster, Bermuda, 174, 175 

Lorini, 45, 46 

macrourid-like fish, 323 
Matsumara, 64 
medusse, see jellyfish 
Melampbces, 324 
melanostomiatids, 166, 216, 312, 

313. 314 
Milne-Edwards, Prof., 63 
monkey, 26 
monsters, Alexander the Great's, 

38, 39 
myctophids, see lanternfish 
Myctophum affine, 136 
Myctophum coccoi, zj6, 111, 337 
Myctophum laternatum, 200 

Naucrates ducfor, 120, 121, 199, 

279, 310, 325 
Necho II, 17, 18 
Noctiluca, 222 

octopus, 69, 75 J 76 
Ocyur2is chrysurus, 279, 326 
oysters, 27 

parrotfish, blue, 143 
parrotfish, giant cjerulean, 142 


Patroclus, 2 


8, 29 

pearls, 27 

pediculates, 268, 269, 291, 326, 

Periphylla, 299 
Periplus, 17 
Phipps, W., 47 
Phoenicians, 17, 18 
physical conditions in ocean, 331- 

pilotfish, see Naucrates ductor 
Plutarch, 32 
porpoises, 328 
prawn, see shrimp 
pressure, 332, 333 
Psenes, 121, 266, 325 
Ptax, 325 
pteropods, 121, 123, 124, 125, 

126, 162, 166, 167, 169, 201, 

202, 208, 267, 268, 271, 273, 

278, 295» 306 
puffer, 84, 85, 122, 326 
Pyrosoma, 268, 271, 294, 309 

rat-tailed larvje, 21, 22 
Rotterdam ship, 48 
Round-mouths, see Cyclothone 
rudderfish, 162 

Sagifta, 130, 200, 300 
sailfin, pallid, 204, 205, 206, 209 
Salpa, 283, 308, 309 
Sapphirina, 122, 216, 302 
Sardinella anchovia, 142 
sardine, smooth, 142 
sargassum weed, 197 
Scar us ccer ulcus, 143 
schizopods, 303, 304, 305 
Schott, Father, 44 
scimitar-mouth, 208 
sea-dragon fish, yj, 218 
Seriola, 162 
Seriola zonata, yz6 



serpent dragon, golden-tailed, see 

Serrivomer, 125, 126, 164, 203, 

268, 277, 320 
shark, 84, 85, 214, 293, 310, 311 
shrimps, 118, 122, 129, 130, 168, 

202, 216, 284, 285, 286, 287, 

295. 303. 304. 305 
shrimps, luminous, 169, 202, 208, 

217, 222 
siphonophores, 121, 162, 164, 198, 

265, 268, 269, 282, 284, 285, 
288, 295, 296, 297 

skeletonfish, 208 

snapper, 326 

snapper, scarlet big-eyed, 123 

spiders, water, 22, 23, 24, 25 

sponges, 3 I 

squids, 123, 131, 167, 168, 199, 

266, 267, 274, 276, 278, 2J9, 

2-95y 307» 308 
Sternoptyx, 208, 273, 319 
Stomias, 133, 311 
Stylo phthalmus, 220, 271, 317 

Syracuse, 27 
Systellaspis dehilis, 304 

Taisnier, 43 
temperature, 332 
Theodoros, Emperor, 35 
Thucydides, 29 
triggerfish, 326 
turbot, ocean, 197 
"Two-horned," see Alexander the 

unknown organisms, 328, 329 

Vegetius, 42 

viperfish, saber-toothed, 166 

whale, 220, 328 
Whymper, 47, 6z 
Wilkins, J., 49 
worm, 162, 301 
wrasse, 142 

yellow-tails, 199