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The Deep-Sea Fishes of the “Talisman”

Nature volume 29, pages 483485 | Download Citation



AMONG the many wonderful animal forms collected during the voyage of the Talisman none surpass the fishes in interest. In the exhibition, now open at the Jardin des Plantes, Paris, of the various specimens collected during this voyage, the collection of fishes holds a chief place. During the cruises of the Travailleur, owing to the apparatus employed, the capture of a fish was a rare event, but by the employment of a kind of drag-net on board the Talisman the number both of species and individuals taken was quite surprising. Once, on July 29, in 16° 52′ N. lat. and 27° 50′ W. long., in one haul of the dragnet no less than 1031 fishes were taken from a depth of 450 metres. The chief surface fish noted in M. Filhol's very interesting papers, which are in course of publication in our French contemporary La Nature (to the editor of which journal we are indebted for the illustrations accompanying this notice), were the well-known shark (Charcharias glaucus), very common between the Senegal coast and the Cape de Verde Islands; its strange attendant fish, the so-called pilot fish (Naucrates ductor), and the very curious and odd-looking fish of the Sargassum Sea, Antennarius marmoratus. It is noted that not only were the pilot fishes never molested by the sharks but that they constantly swam around them, sometimes even they were seen placing themselves against the shark's sides between their pectoral fins. Many observations were made on the strange Antennarius, the colour of whose body so closely approaches to that of the alga amidst which it lives that it enables these fish to approach almost unseen, and so quite easily take their prey. It is not, however, altogether unworthy of remark that this prey, consisting for the most part of small Crustacea and mollusks, is also of the same general shade of colour as the mass of the weed, so that the assuming of this uniform dull tinge of colour must mean a heightened danger to some of these forms of life.

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