G. Brown (George Brown) Goode.

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

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the muscular system is very powerful, ami so arranged as to enable these Worms to roil them-
selves up into the shape (.fan open spiral, like a corkscrew, and then to rapidly rotate them-chcx
on the axis of the spiral. When the -h. up head is inserted into the loose mud or sand and the
body is thus rotated, it penetrates with great rapidity and disap|M>ars almost instantly, liolh
these species are t'ound on sandy as well as on muddy shores and flats near low-water mark, and
also in deeper water. The one usually most abundant is 7i. ililn-nnchidtux. This is readily distin-
guished by having a simple gill both on the upper and lower sides of the lateral appendages.
The other, It. nirri<-itnnx, has gills that arc more or less branched on the upper side of the
appendages, but none on the lower side; the appendages are also longer, es|M-<-ially posteriorly,
ami differently shaped. The proboscis is remarkably long and large, and when fully protruded it
shows four large, black, sharp, fang-like jaws or hooks. Both these Worms are destitute of true
bloodvessels, such as most of the allied Worms possess, but have the general cavity of the Ixxly
filled, between the various organs, with bright red blood, which shows through the skin, giving a
i or less red or purple color to the whole body and proboscis."

The principal species of marine Worms which are used as bait are the Nereis vireii*, Herein
1iih<itti, l>i(>i>ti- ciijirea, Arenicola marina, Clymenella torquata, Marphyxa xaiiiiniiii-n, Arabella
t>l>alinn, and h'lii/iH-liobnhix dibranchiatux.

The Karth Worm might also be mentioned in this connection, as it is likewise very commonly
used as a fish -bait, especially in fresh waters. All sportsmen, from boyhood up, are acquainted
with this simple form of bait, which is more easily obtained than any other. Large quantities arc
used annually, but no statistics can ever exist to determine the amount, which is irregularly
distributed over the country.

234. THE LEECHES.
THE AMERICAN MEDICINAL LEECH MACROBDKLLA DECOBA, Vernll.

Structure of teeche*. In the true Leeches, which belong to the order Hirvdinca, the body is
flattened, divided into numerous short and indistinctly marked segments, and bears neither bristles
nor appendages of any kind. The head is small, with five pairs of minute, simple eyes, and each
end of the body terminates in a sucker. "The mouth is armed internally with three pharyngeal
teeth arranged in a triradial manner, so that the wound made in the flesh of i>ersons to whom tin-
Leech is applied consists of three short, deep gashes radiating from a common center." The
stomach is large, and the nervous system consists of a "brain" and ventral cord. The Leech is
hermaphroditic. The eggs, which range from six to fifteen in number, are contained in a sort of
spongy, slimy cocoon, from half an inch to an inch in diameter. These are deposited near the
\\ ater's edge and hatched by the heat of the sun. Respiration in the Leeches is carried on through
small ai>ertures arranged along the under surface of the body. The Leech swims with a vertical
undulatory motion and moves both in and out of the water by means of ite suckers, fastening itself
first by one and then by the other, and alternately stretching out and contracting it* body.

There are two or three species of Leeches, known as medicinal Leeches, which afford the
most convenient means of drawing blood from the human body. They have been used by
physicians for this purpose for many years, and have given rise to a very extensive and profitable
trade. One of the species belongs to North America.

Distribution and xtructure of the American Leech. Although numerous species of Leeches
abound in the fresh waters of the United States and are related to the fisheries in various ways,
ft3 F



834 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

this region has so far afforded only a single species of true blood-sucking- Leech, the MacroMella
decora of Verrill. This is, therefore, the only known Leech in our country of economic value. It
is very widely distributed in the Northern United States, and was at one time quite extensively
used by physicians. Being somewhat inferior in quality to the European Leeches, however, it
has, since they have begun to import the latter regularly into this country, ceased to be consid-
ered as an officinal Leech excepting in a few places.

The American Leech has, according to Professor Verrill, a large, stout, and broad body,
which is considerably compressed throughout. It is strongly annulated, and in extension is much
elongated, gradually tapering anteriorly. The larger specimens measure twelve inches or more
in length, and have a breadth of upwards of an inch. The head is rounded in front, and is
furnished with three stout and prominent maxillae, having the outer edge denticulate with numer-
ous acute teeth. The eye-spots are ten in number. The breeding season is in the spring. The
color above is a dark livid brown or olive green, with a median dorsal row of about twenty to
twenty-two bright or pale red spots, which are sometimes obsolete, and a row of rounded black
spots near each margin, corresponding in number, and nearly in size, with the red oiies. The
lower surface is a bright or dark orange red or reddish brown, sometimes with black spots near
the margin. " This species is very common, and widely diffused in the fresh waters of the
Northern United States. Its range northward and southward is unknown. It is the only true
blood-sucking Leech known from the Northern States. It is capable of drawing blood from the
human skin, but ordinarily subsists upon fishes, frogs, and tadpoles. It often attaches itself to
the throat, and speedily kills them, even when of considerable size." 1

While the American Leech sometimes attains a length of twelve inches, four to five inches
is the average adult size, and the majority of those sold in the shops measure only two to three
inches. American Leeches are now seldom used by physicians. The foreign species are so easily
obtained, so cheap, and so much more reliable in the majority of cases, that they are now given
the preference nearly everywhere. The American Leech was formerly extensively employed,
before they began to import the foreign species, and even for some time afterwards, in conse-
quence of the continued high price of the latter. With the gradual decline in the practice
of leeching the import trade in Leeches has also fallen off from year to year, the imports for the
past few years being less than half those for 1856, and the price about one-fourth what it was then.

Cultivation and economic value of the American Leech. Attempts have been made to breed
and raise the American Leech in artificial ponds after the plan pursued in Europe, but always
without success. The Leeches in these inclosures have never thrived well, and, in addition, the
slight demand for them has tended to render all the attempts in this direction decidedly unprofit-
able. Mr. Herman Witte, of New York, has perhaps experimented more extensively in leech-
culture in this country than any other person. His ponds, constructed very much like those in
France, to be described further on, are located between Winfield and Newtown, Long Island,
New York. They are live in number and cover an area of over fifteen acres. At present they
serve merely as preservative ponds for surplus supplies of imported Leeches. Other artificial
ponds have been started in the State of New Jersey and near Saint Louis, Missouri, but they
were all speedily given up. Turtles, snakes, birds, and insects were said to have destroyed great
quantities of the Leeches and discouraged operations. American Leeches, when they were in
common use, were probably collected to a greater or less extent in most of the regions where they
were employed. Eastern Pennsylvania, Bucks and Berks Counties especially, seems, however, to
Lave furnished the principal collecting ground, in past limes as at present. Numerous ponds in

'VEBBILL: Report, U. 8. Fish Commissioner for 187-J-'7:i, p. 669.



LKKOI CULTtTUI-:. -. .;;,

KaM.-rn Massachusetts, including ih,- southern part of I'apc r,,,|. ,-i,- loniieily noted lor thf
large number- of Leeches they contained. iin.I during tin- curly purl of this century many Leeches
were collected from them for mcdieinul purposes. Philadelphia is now the only large city \\heie
American l.eeehe- arc used 1>.\ physicians, whopnfcr them to the European for certain kinds ,,f
tivalmeiii. The latter Leech is the more powerful, and extracts the most I, I,,,,.!. According to
the statements of Philadelphia lecchers, about four American Leech.-, an- iv.|iiiivd to ilo the work
of one European. and the chief merit of the former arises from the fact that ihcy can lie used more
freely and with less danger to the patient, and can also be employed on the more delicate pails
of the body, where the European Leech would act too vigorously . They are especially recom-
mended for the re-ion about the eye, and several are sometimes used, distributed over a wider
space, when it is thought best not to extract the blood from a single spot by the aid of an
imported specimen. The American Leech does not attach itself as readily as the foreign, and often
several specimens have to be tried before one can be found to fasten itself. They bite much 1.
readily out of water than in. The bites of the two Leeches are different; that of the European
being deeper and more pronounced and bleeding much longer after the Leech has been detached.
The wound of the American Leech generally closes very soon after the Leech has been released,
and sometimes immediately.

The European Leech. The European Leech belongs to a different genus from our own, Jlinulo,
and by some authorities is considered to constitute two distinct species, H. medicinalis, the Gray
I.eeeh, and II. officinalis, the Green Leech. By others the Green Leech and Gray Leech are placed
in the one species, H. medicinalis of Linuwus. "They are both marked, with six longitudin d
dorsal ferruginous stripes, the four lateral ones being interrupted or tesselated with black spots.
The color of the back varies from a blackish to a grayish green. The belly in the first variety is
of a yellowish color, free from spots, and bordered with longitudinal black stripes. In the second
it is of a green color, bordered and maculated with black. This Leech varies from two to four
inches in length. It inhabits marshes and running streams, and is abundant throughout
Europe."

Prior to thirty years ago nearly all the northern countries of Europe contained Leeches, but
most of the supplies came from Sweden, Russia, Poland, and Hungary. The swampy regions in
which they lived were drained from time to time, for one reason and another, until finally vast
areas which had once been profitable became dried up, to the almost entire destruction of the
I .i-.-ches. Then, and for the first time was the extent of the injury fully realized over all Europe,
and strenuous efforts were made to remedy the evil. Several governments, including the French,
Prussian, and Hanoverian, offered premiums for successful results in leech-culture, but these
cllbrts were rewarded only in the former country. At present the larger share of the Leech e^
used in Europe and this country come from the artificial ponds or meadows of Southern I-' ranee.
although many are also raised in Hungary and in other countries of Southern Europe. Paris is.
lln principal receiving center, whence they are sent to England, to the English colonies, and
the United States. The export trade to South America and the West Indies is largely carried
on through the United States.

I. "i-li culture. The localities selected for leech-raising are swampy meadows, where the
bottom is more or less firm and solid. A certain area having been chosen, it is divided into
rectangular plots of different sizes by means of ditches. The breeding season is in .Innc ami
July. At this time water is admitted only into tin- ditches, the meadow Hats remaining dry.
The eggs are laid in the loose, swampy soil at the margins of the ditches, and when the young
creep out about six weeks, more or less, afterwards, the meadows are overflowed artificially to a



836 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

depth of six to eight inches. Before the young appear, however, as many of the old ones as
possible are caught anil transferred to other places. Otherwise they would consume too much ot
the food required for the young. The young Leeches are fed upon the blood of living animals,
horses, cattle, etc., which are driven into the shallow water about twice a week and allowed to
remain a certain length of time. The Leeches attach themselves merely to the feet, but find in
those portions of their prey enough sustenance to cause them to grow rapidly and quickly attain
the required size. Fresh blood obtained from the slaughter-houses and deprived of its fibrine by
agitation is also supplied to them, or they are placed in it, while it is still warm, for a short time.
The feeding is carried on principally in September and October, and again in April and May.
During the winter the Leeches remain torpid at the bottom.

Extravagant statements have sometimes been published as to the manner of feeding Leeches
in France. It is said that many of the owners of ponds are accustomed to buy up old and diseased
horses, drive them into the ponds, and allow them to be overcome by the Leeches, which fasten to
all parts of the body and kill them by a slow process of torture. This may occasionally take
place, but we are assured by one who has had considerable personal experience in the matter
that it is by no means a common practice. The quantity of blood sucked from the feet injures
the horses but little ; and they are taken out in time to prevent harm. Some single breeding
establishments in Southern Europe cover an area of one hundred and twenty hectares. In about
three years' time, the young Leeches, without being forced in their growth, attain a good medium
size and are suited to the wants of physicians. Medium Leeches are about two inches long, and
weigh three and one-half to four pounds to the thousand. The large Leeches weigh about five to
five and one-half pounds to the thousand, and this is the preferred size. The European Leeches
are graded in the markets as small, medium, and large. Only the medium and large Leeches are
used in this country. The very large ones, however, are generally considered too dangerous for
use, and are kept for breeding purposes. The foreign Leeches are transported and generally
stored in wooden cases or pails, containing swamp earth or mold. The American Leeches, how
ever, are usually kept in glass vessels of water.

American Leech pond*. Mr. Witte's ponds on Long Island, where he attempted the breeding
of American Leeches, occupied about three and one-half acres each, and were divided into five
compartments by ditches, like the French ponds. As before stated, his efforts were unsuccessful,
or at least iinprotttably rewarded. In connection with these large ponds, Mr. Witte has since con-
structed thirteen others of mucli smaller size (about twelve by fifteen feet each) for the storage
and feeding of Leeches, which are generally imported in larger quantities than are required to
Miipply the immediate demands of the trade. He has had as many as one hundred thousand
Leeches in these small ponds at a time, but the number varies.

UM of foechex. Leeches are not now used nearly as much as formerly, and the practice of
leeching is gradually declining. From year to year the imports have constantly fallen off, and the
price of Leeches has rapidly decreased. Whether this will continue until the old custom of leech-
ing is entirely replaced by other methods of treatment or not cannot be predicted. It is evident,
however, that in Philadelphia the practice has greatly revived during the past few years, and the
best physicians are once more advocating the application of Leeches. About ten years ago the
leeching practice reached its minimum in Philadelphia, and it has remained at a low stage until
very recently. A well-known Philadelphia leechcr says that thirty or forty years ago many m,:re
American Leeches were used in that city than European, but during the past year he has applied
only alx>ut one hundred of the former. Another leecher of the same city states that formerly he
applied on an average over three thousand American Leeches a year, while now he uses but a
very few.



TIII: YAIMF.TIF.S OF i i:i:< IIFS. 837

. Tin rnrirtirx of l.mhex. The trims Spani>h Let-Hies" and "Swedish Lcccho" have ill this
country lost their distinctive meaning. We are informed by a large importer Ilia) the Spanish
Leech was a smaJl green Leech brought here occasionally, thirty or forty years ago, by sea
captains. The\ \\cre inl'crior to other varieties, and during tin- pa>t twenty \earn none have
been brought into the country, at least not through regular import inn houses. Tlic name
Spanish Leech" is, however. Mill used in the trade, and we ha\r heard it frequently referred to
liy cuppers and leechers. who are pn>bal>ly ignorant of tfie real sources of their supplies. AH to
the Swedish Leeches, they were probably the first variety brought to this country when the
import trade began some fifty years ago. They then came from the country whence they
derived their name. Since the beginning of leecli-cnltnre iu France, this same Leech has been
raised there artificially, and it is claimed that tin- American supplies from France arc wholly of
this kind. The Leeches used in England are also said to lie mostly descendants of the Swedish
stock raised in France. Having been shipped originally to London by way of Hamburg, they
received there the name of Hamburg Leeches, which they still retain. The Leeches used almost
exclusively in France come from a native stock, which is now propagated artificially. The> arc
small and of a green color.

In the (ienuanleech trade two 1 kinds of Leeches are recognized, one of which is called the
dermaii Leech and the other the Hungarian Leech. The former has a black s|M>t ted In-lly, while
in the latter the belly is uniform in color. The first is a native of Germany, where it has become
rare on account of the extent to which it has been caught up. It is now raised artificially. The
Hungarian Leech is imported from Hungary, whence come most of the supplies now used in
< lei-many. Other sources of supply are the principalities of the Danube and I'lagacx en I Nisei i.
Tin- Island of Porto liico and other islands of the West Indies are said to contain medicinal
Leeches. Most of the South American countries, however, on both sides are supplied from
Europe via the United States, and Mexico receives some supplies from the same source.



ZA. THE RADIATES.

235. THE ECHINODERMS.

THE SEA CUCUMBERS, OR TREPANG UOLOTHUKIA FLORIDANA, Pourtales ; HOLOTHURIA

PRINCEPS ; PENTACTA FRONDOSA, Jteger.

The Sea Cucumbers, or Holothurians, are the highest members of the group of Echinoderms,
whicli also includes the Sea Urchins aud Star-fishes. They usually have an elongate, cylindrical,
flexible body, covered with a muscular skin, which varies greatly in thickness in the difl'eivnt
species. The mouth is located at one end of the body, and is surrounded by a circle of more or
less complex tentacles or feelers. That division of the Hololhurians to which the economic species
belong are furnished with the so-called ambulacral feet, which are sometimes arranged in five
longitudinal rows or series, ami at others are scattered without order over the surface of the body.
The body wall frequently contains numerous minute calcareous plates, of various shapes, whicli
are often peculiar to the different species. Many of the species are quite worm-like in external
appearance. The Trepang of Chinese commerce is the dried skin of a large species of Ilolothurian
living in the South Pacific Ocean, and used as food iu China.

The largest and one of the most conspicuous of the New England Holothurians is the PeutuHu
frondom, which inhabits the northern Atlantic coasts of both Europe aud America, from low-water
mark to a depth of one hundred fathoms or more. It is of a brown color, and measures from a
few inches to about a foot in length when expanded. The ambulacral feet form five double and
irregular rows, and the tentacles are ten in number, and much branched. Dr. William Stimpson
remarks concerning this species that, made into a soup, it is very palatable ; but it has never
been regularly used as food.

Holothuria floridana is a large dark-brown species, with the feet scattered irregularly over
the body, and with smaller tentacles than Pentacta. It occurs abundantly on the Forida reefs, just
below low-water mark, and grows to about fifteen inches in length. Holothuria princeps is
another large Florida Sea Cucumber. One or both of these species, but more probably the former,
gave rise, about 1870, to a limited industry on the Florida coast, to be described hereafter. Large
quantities were collected on the reefs, cleaned of their internal organs, boiled, and then dried
and shipied to China; but the industry was abandoned after two years' trial, probably having
been unprofitable. Chinese coolies assisted in the work.

THE SEA URCHINS STRONOYLOCENTROTUS DROBACHIENSIS, A. Ag.; STRONG YLOCENTROTUS
FRANCrsCANUS, A. Ag. ; EciIlNARACHNirs PARMA, Gray.

The Sea Urchins are related to the Sea Cucumbers, but differ from them in form, and in the
character of their external covering. The body is generally somewhat spherical in shape, but
more or less flattened below, the mouth being placed near the center of the lower surface. The
outer covering is built up of calcareous plates, closely fitting together, from which project a
multitude of spines, sometimes of small, sometimes of large size, there being generally a great
variation in size in the same individuals. The larger spines are generally arranged in regular

series. There is a water system; five double rows of feet, which run from the center above to
838



TIIK SAM) DOI.I. AH. s::i

the imintli below; ami many pedicellate. The oesophagus is small and tin- stoniarh and intestine
somewhat lengthened and curved upon it sol I'. Tin- sexes among Sea I'lchins an- distinct, the

different individuals containing cither ovaries or spermai ics only. These arc live in n IMT. ami

resemble those ..f tin- Star-Hsu. This iortioii of tin- Sea I'rcliins (the ovaries) arc the most
important in an economic point of view, the ovaries alone In-ing eaten.

The common or -riven Sea Urchin (StroHgylwntrotux ilrolxtfhifiixix) has a very \\ide range,
and is very abm.dant n|ioii our northern const. It extends from New Jersey to the May of

Fnndy. Imt .south and \vc.st of the eastern part of Long Island Sound it is raiv. Its Itathy trieal

range is from low water mark to depths of over four hundred fathoms. Outside of the I'nited
States, it ranges from Nova Scot in to the Arctic Ocean; from Spifzbcrgen to (ireat Britain; from
I'.ering Strait to the Gulf of Georgia; and along Eastern Siln-ria to Okhotsk Sea. and De
Castries' Kay. This species "feeds partly on diatoms and other .small alga-, etc., which it cutsfrom
the rocks with the sharp points of its teeth, and it is also fouil of dead fishes, which arc scon
devoured, lioncs and all. In return it is swallowed whole, in large quantities. by the wolf li>h
and other large lishes." The green Sea Urchin is not now eaten U]KII our eastern coast, and
most Americans would probably regard its use as food with much repugnance, but it was formerly

eaten l>y s e of the native east coast Indian tribes, and is still favorably regarded by the

Alaskans. Mr. Henry Elliott states that at Saint Paul's Island the villagers, principally Aleuts,
search for it at low tide, under the shelter of the bowlders, which stand in the tide pools, on tin-
rocky shores, during nearly all seasons. Usually the shells are broken, the ovaries removed and
spread out like raw oysters on a plate, and eaten with salt, IK>PIMT, and vinegar. The old women.
called "barbies," despise these condiments, however, and suck the Sea Urchins as small boys do
eggs. The native Alaskan name for this Sea Urchin is " Kepkie."

The common west coast Sea Urchin (Strnntfyloeenlrotu fraiiciHcanun) inhabits the coasts of
Southern Alaska, British Columbia, and the United States, as far south as San Diego, California.
It attains a much larger size than the green Sea Urchin, and is used as food in some localities.
In Southern Kurope a related species, Ntrnnyi/loft-ntrotitg liriiJus, in much esteemed as food.



Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 138 of 146)