G. Brown (George Brown) Goode.

The fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) online

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Rissoa, Melampus, and Bittium, of which it can only be said that they serve a very useful purpose as
scavengers, swarming upon the mud exposed at low tide and greedily devouring carrion of fishes,
etc., which would otherwise decay and pollute both air and water. The same good service is done
by the small mollusks previously noticed as "Borers," and many following.

This brings us to the beautiful family of Abaloues, Ormer-shells, or Sea-ears, in which there is
a very large trade on the Pacific coast, under the industry of the Chinese there, to which will be
given a special chapter.

In the Limpets (Crepidula and Acmea) the oystermen consider they have a friend, since when
they see these clustering upon thtir planted beds they look forward to a profitable harvest the



THE EDIBLE LAND SNAILS. 701

coining autumn. A California!! species (Fissvrella aculeata) was usea as money by some of the
native ml men of the coast.

In respect to the odd pill-bug-like shells of the several species of Chiton of onr eastern
shore I can say nothing ; but in Bermuda a larger Chiton is gathered for soup, and the broth is
said to be very good. The Bermudans also make use of that Chiton as a bait with which to take
the large lobsters of the island, themselves intended to act as bait for fishes.

The sea surrounding Bermuda is of great transparency, and the fishermen can readily discern
the long horns of the lobster protruding from his hiding place among the rocks, at a considerable
depth. The only plan by which they can get him, however, is to entice him out of his refuge.
To do this they mat together a quantity of Chitons until they have formed a ball several inches in
diameter. To this they attach a string, and having previously baited the bottom in front of the
lobster's den and left him to enjoy it until his confidence was captured let the ball dangle before
his nose. Thinking this only a larger tidbit, he seizes it, and, to his amazement, is swiftly drawn
up to daylight and torn to pieces to form a lure for equally unwary fishes.

"These shells have been called by different names, all, however, indicative of their form, such
as Wood-louse,' ' Sea-boat,' ' Rattle-snake's Tail,' ' Lobster's Tail,' ' Sea- bug,' and ' Sea-caterpillar.'
The French say that the animal may be eaten, and we are told that the Iceland fishers swallow it
raw to quench thirst, and pretend that it is good, also, against sea-sickness." The American
Indians of the Northwest coast, South Sea Islanders, and other savages find the Chiton acceptable
as food.

In Melampnts b-identatun we have a small shell which swarms upon the mud and among the
eel grass, affording food to many fishes and acting as a scavenger of the marshes. In addition to
this, it has a place in these remarks because it belongs to the division of air-breathing mollusks,
and introduces not only the fresh-water shells Limnea, Physa, Planorbis, etc.. that feed the inland
fishes, but also the edible land Snails. To these latter interesting mollusks I lately devoted a
chapter in my "Friends Worth Knowing," 1 from which I quote whatever applies to the present
1 purpose:

" Snails, being great eaters, meet their just reward in being eaten. The paludine forms are
sought after by all sorts of water birds, particularly ducks and rails; while the thrushes and
other birds crush the shells of the land Snails and extract their juicy bodies. The woodland
birds, however, will not eat the naked-bodied Slugs : the slime sticks to their beaks and soils their
feathers; but the ducks seem to have no such dainty prejudices. Some mammals, like the
raccoons and wood-rats, also eat them ; insects suck their juices, and the carnivorous Slugs prey
upon one another. Lastly, man, the greatest enemy of the brute creation, employs several species
of Snails for culinary purposes. By the Romans they were esteemed a great luxury, and portions
of plantations were set apart for the cultivation of the large, edible Helix pomatia, where they
were fattened by the thousand upon bran sodden in wine. From Italy this taste spread throughout
the Old World, and colonies of this exotic species, survivors of classical ' preserves,' are yet fonnd
in Great Britain whe: ' *''0 Roman encampments were. They are still regarded as a delicacy
in Italy and France, the favorite method of preparation being to boil in milk, with plenteous
seasoning. Frank Buckland says that several of the larger English species are excellent food for
hungry people, and recommends them either boiled in milk, or, in winter, raw, after soaking for
an hour in salt and water. Some of the French restaurants in London have them placed regularly
upon their bills of fare. Thousands are collected annually and sent to London as food for
cage-birds. Dr. Edward Gray stated, a few years ago, that immense quantities were shipped

'Harper and Brothers, New York, 1880.



702 NATURAL HISTOEY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

alive to the United States 'as delicacies'; but I am inclined to consider this an exaggeration
growing out of the fact that, among our fancy groceries, 'a few jars of pickled Snails, imported
from Italy,' figure as a curiosity, rather than something needed for the table. The same author
records that the glassmen at Newcastle once a year have a snail feast, collecting the animals
in the fields and hedges on the Sunday before.

" Mr. W. G. Binney, for whom a sirup of Snails was prescribed by two regular physicians in
Paris in 1863, points out how old is the belief that land mollusks possess valuable medicinal
qualities. In the Middle Ages the rudimentary shell of the Slug acquired a high rank among the
numerous bezoars and amulets which were supposed to protect the body from evil influences, and
to impart health and activity. The accounts of these virtues, copied from one author to another,
have perpetuated the early superstitions until it is difficult to overcome them by the light of the
present day, when, even in England, Snails are supposed to possess a useful power in cases of lung
trouble. A full relation of all the absurdities which gained credence would form a curious and
marvelous page in the history of credulity. They have, also, from very early times, been used in
the preparation of cosmetics ; and no longer than two or three centuries ago the water procured
from them by distillation was much celebrated, and employed by ladies to impart whiteness and
freshness to the complexion. Finally, I hear that there is celebrated in Eome, even now, a
midsummer festival, upon which occasion all family feuds may be made up, or any differences
between friends easily adjusted, since that is the spirit of the day; and a sign or token of this
renewed friendship and good-will is the present of a Snail from one party to the other, or an
exchange of mollusks between them. The symbolism and virtue reside in the alleged amicable
influence of the head and 'horns' why, perhaps comparative mythologists may be able to tell us.

" In this country no such fanciful notions have ever gained credence. The Snails are too
habitually hidden to attract the attention of any but a few ; and even when their existence is
known, they are unfortunately regarded with such a disgust as would preclude any acceptance of
them, either for food or medicine."

In Thomas De Voe's "Market Assistant," p. 312, is the following information, which refers to
about the year 1860 : " From the French journals we learn that there are fifty restaurants and
more than twelve hundred private tables in Paris where Snails are accepted as a delicacy by from
eight to ten thousand consumers. The market price of the great vineyard Snails is from 2 francs
50 centimes to 3 francs 50 centimes (47 to 66 cents) per hundred, while those of the hedges, woods,
and forest bring only from 2 francs to 2 francs 25 centimes (38 to 43 cents). Snails are, and have
been for several years, imported [into New York] from Europe, but are principally used by
foreigners. They are generally stewed after having been scalded out of their shells."

The custom house counts this import among "fancy groceries," so that no separate record is
obtainable of the amount consumed. In the case of several of the large Southern species, such as
the Apple-snail (Ampularia), the Kulimi, and the large pond Snails, their remains in the shell-
heaps show that in prehistoric time they formed a regular part of the food of the red men. The
Seminoles, of Florida, and various native races west of the Kocky Mountains, eat them yet.

207. THE WING-SHELLS PTEROPODA.

The Pteropods, or wing-footed mollusks, are a small group which swim freely throughout the
broad ocean. Their shells are of small size, fragile, and semi-transparent. They form, therefore,
available food fora large number of surface-feeding fishes, and particularly of thecetacea; the
right whale, indeed, is said to live almost wholly upon certain species of them which abound in



THE BIVALYK MOLLU8K8. 7<>:',

arctic seas and swarm near the surface at night, so that he need only drop his jaw and engulf
them by the hundred in his capacious mouth as he swims along with his head half out of water.
Probably the same thiiig is true of the other baliunoids.

208. THE TUSK-SHELLS SOLENOCONCHA.

The class denominated in Professor Verrill's Check List Solenoconcha includes only one
mollusk that may concern us at present Dentalium. This mollusk (chiefly /'. pretionum) occurs
all ailing i In- northern Pacific coast of America, and is known to Americans as the " Tusk -shell,"
id Russians as "Sookli," and to the Alaskan Indians as "Hya-qua." From Northern California
all ilu- way to the arctic regions the coast tribes collected this shell, polished it, and arranged it
on strings as money a circulating medium of trade, similar to the wainpum of the eastern coast.
There were certain rules as to fineness, arrangement, size, and measurement, which decided the
value of the shells before and after stringing; and so useful was this allocochick, as the California
Indians called it, that the Hudson's Hay Company and other traders adopted it as current coin
in their buying and selling of peltries and provisions.

The strings of Dentalia were also worn as necklaces by the women, or twined in the hair of
both sexes; as trimming for garments, and ornaments for horse-trappings and the equipments of
war and the chase. Among other methods of employing them to enhance personal charm was to
insert two of them, point to point, from opposite sides, through a perforation in the partition
which separates the nostrils, which decoration was further increased by sticking a bright feather
in the large end of each of the hollow shells. This money is going out of use now, and only the
old Indians, conservators of ancient customs, attempt to hoard it up. A full account of it may be
found in the article upon ''Wampum" already alluded to, printed in "The American Naturalist"
for May, 1883.

209. THE BIVALVES LAMELLIBRANCHIATA.

It is in the class of plate-gilled or lamellibranchiate mollusks, more i>opularly known as
" bivalves," that we find the most examples of direct utilization by man, or immediate contribu-
tion to the fisheries. Bivalves are widespread and well-known. They afford luxuries as well as
solid nourishment for onr tables, enter largely into manufactured products, serve as ornaments,
and are so beloved by food-fishes generally that they are useful as bait.

The partial list of bivalved mollusks that are ascertained to enter into the diet of Ameri-
can food-fishes includes the following, mainly from the northern Atlantic coast as in the case of
the gasteropoda, and is instructive as showing how extensively fishes depend upon molluscau
food:

Erwatella americana, Crytodaria siliqua, Mya arenaria, Spuiula otali*, Macoma *abulo*a, Angulm
tfiier, Petricola pholadiformix, Venus mercenaria, Cyprina inlandica, Cardium pinnulatvm, Canliinn
ixlandicum, Cryptodon Gouldii, Venericardia borealis, Antarte quadrant, Nucitla proximo, Nucula
tennis, Yoldia limatula, Yoldia sapotilla, Yoldia myali*, Yoldia thraciformis, teda tenuinulcata,
Argina pexata, Mytilus eduli*, Modiola modiolus, Modiolaria dicor, Crenella glanduta, Pecten
tenuicostatus, Pecten islandicus, Pecten irradian*, and Ostrea virginica; to which must be added
Unto, Anodonta, and other fresh-water bivalves, and the brachiopods Rhynconella psittacus and
Terebratultna septentrional**.

In this ILt many species are of importance otherwise, and some worth notice, although not
fed upon by fishes, are not mentioned ; the first to be named in this latter class is the dreaded
Ship-worm (Teredo), of which there are seven species in the United States:



704 NATURAL H1STOEY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

Teredo navalis, Linne". Cape Cod to Florida ; Sweden to Sicily.

Teredo norvegica, Spengler. Cape Cod northward.

Teredo megotara, Hanley. Massachusetts Bay to South Carolina.

Teredo dilatata, Stimpson. Massachusetts to South Carolina.

Teredo Thompson*, Tryon. Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Xylophaga dorsalis, Forbes and Hanley. North Atlantic.

Xylotrya fimbriata, Jeffreys. Long Island Sound to Florida ; British Columbia; Europe.

The most commonly observed of these is the Teredo navalis. This is the same species that has
attracted so much attention in Europe, during nearly two centuries, on account of the great
damage that it has done, especially on the coast of Holland. Its history has been reviewed at
length by Professor Verrill iu his " Invertebrates of Vineyard Sound," from which the present
account is principally derived.

"Although popularly known as the 'Ship-worm,' these creatures are not at all related to the
worms, but are true mollusks, quite nearly allied, in many respects, to the common 'Long Clam'
(Mya) and to the Pholas. Like those shells, the Teredo excavates its holes or burrows merely for
its own protection, and not for food ; but the Teredo selects wood in which to form its holes, and
when these have been excavated it lines them with a tube of shelly material. The holes are very
small at the surface of the wood, where they were formed by the young Teredos, but they gradually
grow larger as they go deeper and deeper into the wood, until they sometimes become ten inches
or more iu length and a quarter of an inch iu diameter; but the size is generally not more than
half these dimensions. The holes penetrate the wood at first perpendicularly or obliquely, but if
they enter the side of the timbers or planks across the grain the burrows generally turn horizon-
tally in the direction of the grain a short distance beneath the surface, unless prevented by some
obstruction, or by the presence of other toredo tubes, for they never cross the tubes of their
companions or interfere with each other in any way, and there is always a thin layer or partition
of wood left between the adjacent tubes. It is, however, not necessary that they should follow
the grain of the wood, for they can and do penetrate it in every direction, and sometimes not more
than half the tubes run in the direction of the grain, and they are often very crooked or even
tortuous. They rapidly form their burrows in all kinds of our native woods, from the softest pine
to the hardest oak, and although they usually turn aside and go around hard knots, they are also
able to penetrate through even the hardest knots in oak and other hard woods. The Teredos
grow very rapidly, apparently attaining maturity in one season, and therefore, when abundant,
they may greatly damage or completely destroy small timber in the course of four or five months,
and even the largest piles may be destroyed by them in the course of two orthree years.

" When removed from its tube the animal is found to have a very long, slender, smooth, soft,
whitish body, tapering somewhat toward the outer or posterior end, which has a muscular, circularly
wrinkled collar, by which the animal is, when living, attached to the inside of the shelly lining of
its tube. To the inside of this collar two shelly plates, known as the ' pallets,' are attached by
their slender basal prolongations; their outer portions are broad and flat, and more or less
emarginate or two-horned at the end. These are so connected with the muscles that when the
animal withdraws its tubes into its hole the free ends of these pallets are made to fold together
and close the opening, thus serving as an operculum to protect the soft tubes against enemies of
all kinds. Between the bases of the pallets arise the siphonal tubes, which are soft and retractile,
united together for half their length or more, but separate and divergent beyond ; they are nearly
equal, but the ventral or branchial tube is perhaps a little larger than the other, and is fringed
with a few small papillae at the end. The tubes are white or yellowish, sometimes speckled with



IIAHITS OF THE SHIP- WORMS.

reddish-brown. At the anterior end of the body, mid furthest from the external owning of the
hole, is seen the small but elegantly sculptured white bivalve shell. The shell coven* the mouth
ami palpi. livi>r, foot, and other important organs. The foot is a short, stout, muscular organ,
broadly truncate or rounded at the end, and appears to be the organ by means of which the
excavation of the burrow is effected. The shell is covered by a delicate epidermis, anil probably
does not assist in rasping off the wood, as many have supposed. The gills are long and narrow,
inclosed mostly in the naked part of the body, and are reddish-brown in color.

" The Teredos obtain their microscopic food in tbe same manner as other bivalve inollusks, viz,
b\ means of a current of water constantly drawn into the branchial tube by the action of vibrating
cilia within; the infusoria and other minute organisms are thus carried along to the mouth at the
other end, while the gills are supplied with oxygen by the same current; the return current
passing out of the dorsal tube removes the waste water from the gills, together with the fteces
and excretions of the animal, and also the particles of wood which have been removed by the
excavating process.

"As the animal grows larger the burrows are deepened, the lining of shelly matter increases
in length and thickness, the shell itself and the pallets increase in size, and the terminal tubes
grow longer. But as the orifices of the terminal tubes must necessarily be kept at the external
opening of the burrow, the muscular collar at the base of the tubes constantly recedes from the
entrance, and with it the pallet s ; at the same time imbricated layers of shelly matter are usually
deposited in the upper end of the shelly tube, which are supposed to aid the pallets in closing the
aperture when the tubes are withdrawn. When the animal has completed its growth, or when it
has encountered the tubes of its companions and cannot pass them, or when it approaches the
exterior of a thin piece of wood and cannot turn aside, it forms a rounded or cup-shaped layer
of shelly matter, continuous with the lining of the tubes and closing up the burrow in front of
its shell. Sometimes it retreats and forms a second partition of the same kind.

"This species produces its young in May and probably through the greater part or all of the
summer. The eggs are exceedingly numerous, probably amounting to millions, and they are
retained in the gill-cavity, where they are fertilized and undergo the first stages of their develop-
ment. The embryos pass through several curious phases during their growth. In one of the
early stages they are covered with fine vibrating cilia, by means of which they can swim like
ciliated infusoria; later they lose these cilia and develop a rudimentary bivalve shell, which is at
first heart-shaped, and the mantle begins to api>ear and larger retractile cilia develop upon its
edge, which serve as organs for swimming; but at this period the shell is large enough to cover
the whole body when contracted. In this stage they swim actively about in the water; later the
cilia become larger, a long, narrow, ligulate foot is developed, by means of which they can creep
about and attach themselves temporarily to solid object*; the shells become rounder, a pair of
eyes and organs of hearing are developed. After this the little animal begins to elongate, tin-
locomotive cilia are lost, the eyes disappear, and the mature form is gradually assumed. These
young Teredos, when they finally locate upon the surface of wood-work and begin to make their
burrows, are not larger than the head of a pin, aud consequently their holes are at first very
minute, but owing to their rapid growth the holes quickly become larger and deeper." '

This species is very abundant along the southern coast of New England, from New York to
<'ape Cod, wherever submerged wood-work, sunken wrecks, timber buoys, or floating pieces of
driftwood occur. It also infests the bottoms of vessels not protected by sheathing. At Province-
town, (ape Cod, about forty feet of the end of the steamboat wharf wa *> witkengfl by it>

1 Report, U. S. Fih Coniniiwion, part i. 1*7:!, pp. MMM.
45 F



706 NATURAL HISTOEY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

borings that it completely gave way under a ship-load of merchandise stored upon it. This pest
is not confined to pure sea-water, but occurs in the piles and timbers of wharves in harbors that
are not only brackish, but also muddy and contaminated with sewage. Capt. B. J. Edwards
told me that formerly when the cedar channel-buoys in Buzzard's Bay, Massachusetts, were not
taken up they would last not more than two years, owing chiefly to the attacks of this Teredo;
but under the present system there are two sets of buoys, which are alternately taken up and
put down every six months. After a set has been allowed to dry thoroughly they are scraped
to remove the barnacles, etc., and then receive a thorough coat of verdigris paint each time
before they are put down. With this treatment they will last ten or twelve years, but they
are more or less perforated and injured every year, until finally they become worthless. This
statement does not apply to the spar-buoys, which are taken up only once a year, in April
and May. Captain Edwards says that the Teredos would destroy an unpainted spar buoy in
one year, but when painted with verdigris they will only work where the paint becomes rubbed
off. They first attack buoys or piles just below the water's edge, but eventually will destroy
the entire submerged wooden portion. Commenting upon this information, Professor Verrill says:

" Inasmuch as the Teredos produce their young all through the summer, and they develope to
a very large size in one season, it is evident that the best time to take up the buoys would be in
midsummer, before the early crop of young have grown large, and leaving too little time for the
later crop to become large, in the buoys thus put down, before winter, when most of them would
probably be killed by the cold weather. In this way the damage might be materially diminished,
if not inconsistent with the other duties of the oflicers of the vessels employed in this service.
There are, as yet, no means of estimating the extent of the damage done to our wharves, shipping,
etc., by this and the various other species of Teredo found on our coast, but, judging from their
abundance along the whole coast, it is much greater than is generally supposed.

"The Teredo navalis is also abundant on the coast of Europe, from the Mediterranean and
Black seas to Christiania and the coasts of Great Britain. Its habits have been quite thor-
oughly investigated by several Dutch naturalists, owing to the great damage that it has done
on their coast, at times even threatening a general inundation of the country by destroying the
wood-work of the dikes. This Teredo occupies a zone of considerable breadth, for it often lives
considerably above low-water mark, and extends several i'eet below it, even to the depth of four-
teen feet, according to some writers.

"The best remedies in common use to resist or prevent its attacks are copper sheathing, used
chiefly on vessels ; broad-headed nails, closely driven, used for piles and timbers ; creosote and
coal-tar, frequently applied. The various poisonous substances that have been applied to timber
for this purpose, however useful they may be in other respects, have little or no effect on the
Teredo, for it does not depend upon the wood for its food, and even protects its body externally
with a layer of shell, lining its holes. The only remedies that are likely to succeed are those
calculated to prevent the lodgment and entrance of the young ones beneath the surface. Even
creosote, thoroughly applied uu-.er pressure at the rate of ten pounds per square foot, has been



Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 117 of 146)