G. Brown (George Brown) Goode.

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

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The "Sand Dollar," or "Flat Sea Urchin" (Ecliinarachniu* parma), of the New Kngland coast
diners so much from the. Green Sea Urchin in appearance that it would scarcely appear to belong
to the same group of animals, from a superficial examination. Its principal points of dinYrcnei-
are its extremely compressed form and very small spines, which are nearly uniform over the
entire body. The lower side is perfectly flat, and the upper but hlightly convex. Its only
Importance from an economic standpoint arises from the fact that it furnishes an indelible ink,
which might possibly be utilized in the arts, as it now is to a slight extent by the tishcrmcn of
some parts of the coast.

The Sand Dollar is commonly met with on sandy shores, but is seldom found living -except
at extreme low water of .spring titles, when it may sometimes be tound on Hats or bars of line sili
ceous sand in great numbers, buried just beneath the surface, or even partially exposed. It creeps
along beneath the sand with a slow gliding motion, by means of the myriads of minute extensile
suckers with which it is furnished. It is far more abundant on sandy bottoms at various depths
oft' shore. It has a very wide range, for it is found all the way from New Jersey to Labrador, and
also on the North 1'aeitic coast; and in depth it ranges from low-water mark to four hundred and
thirty fathoms, off Saint George's Bank, where it was dredged l>\ Me^r-. Smith and llai-ci.
When living its color is usually a rich purplish-brown, but it soon turns green when taken from
the water. It gives a dark green or blackish color to alcohol, which stains very injuriously an>
other specimens put in. with it. The fishermen on the coast of Maine and New Brunswick some-



840 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

times prepare an indelible marking-ink from these ' Sand Dollars,' by rubbing off the spines and
skin, and, .after pulverizing, making the mass into a thin paste with water. A number of fishes
have been found to swallow this unpromising creature for food, and the flounders consume large
numbers of them." '

THE STAR-FISHES ASTEKIAS VULGARIS, Stimpsou ; ASTEBIAS FORBESII, Verrill.

Only two species of Star-fish merit our attention in this report, not from any good they perform,
out from their destructive attacks upon our oyster-beds, which they are said to damage to the
extent of perhaps two hundred thousand dollars annually. These two Star-fishes, called Asterias
vutgaris and Asterias Forbesii, are so closely related to one another and so similar in appearance
as to require considerable skill at times to point out their differences; but when living the Axtcrinn
Forbesii can generally be recognized by its bright orange madreporic plate on the upper side of the
body, the corresponding plate in A. vulgarw agreeing more closely in color with the surrounding
portions of its disk. The fishermen do not distinguish between the two species; to them they are
both alike, and both are designated under the common but descriptive terms of " Star-fish," u Five-
finger," " Sea Star," or simply " Star."

The Star-fish, as its name implies, is a star-shaped animal, consisting of a central disk from
which radiate, in the case of the species now under discussion, five elongate arms, which are not
marked off or separated in any way from the disk, but exist merely as prolongations from it. The
upper and lower sides arc quite different from one another. " The upper side presents a rough
surface of a greenish, brownish, reddish-green, or purple hue, which when it is dried turns to a
yellowish -brown. This is the leathery membrane covering the skeleton of the animal, which con-
sists of small limestone plates, united together at their edges by a sort of cartilage. This forms
the framework of the arms and disk, and acts as a chain-armor, encircling and protecting all the
soft parts within. On the lower side of the Star-fish this framework terminates in two series of
larger plates. This armor is sufficiently flexible to allow the Star-fish to bend himself clumsily
over or around anything he is likely to wish to climb upon or grasp." The entire upper surface
is covered with many short spines, which are largest and thickest at the edges of the rays and
upon the plates bordering the lower sides of the rays. Around the base of each spine there is a
circle of curious little claw-like appendages called pedicellariai, which may serve to aid in clearing
the upper surface, but whose functions are not satisfactorily made out. Scattered between the
spines are little soft water tubes, and at one side of the disk on the back is a sieve-like arrange-
ment, called the madreporic plate, for the admission of water.

The under side of the body is softer than the, upper and much lighter in color. The month is
in the center of the disk; it bears no teeth, but is surrounded by an elastic tube. Five furrows
run from the mouth down the center of each arm. They are filled with numerous extensible soft
tabes, terminating in a disk and arranged in four rows. These are the so-called feet of the Star-
fish, and by means of them it moves about. The majority of the Star fishes are bisexual, but in
the two species under discussion the sexes are distinct.

Our common Star-fishes, and especially the Asterias vulgaris, attain a large size, specimens
often measuring fifteen inches across, and upwards, on the Maine and Massachusetts coasts.
From this extreme we find all the intermediate sizes down to the very smallest. They inhabit
various kinds of bottoms, from above low- water mark to twelve or fifteen fathoms and deeper, but
it is in shallow water that they do the most damage. They live on muddy, sandy, rocky, and shelly
bottoms, and even on the piles of wharves, and are most abundant where they can find the



1 VBERILL: Vineyard Sound Report, pp. 362, 363, 1871-'72.



mi: COKAI.S AND .in.i.v FISHES.

greatest ainoiint of food, and it is for tin- pmposc of feeding that they visit the oyster-tads in
such large droxcs. They arc not always abundant in (lie same places, hut seem ti> move ahunl.
I'lcili'-snr Verrill thinks "their habit of coming up to the shore may be connected with their
icpiodiictivc season." They do ubt enjoy too brackish water, and o\.>lcis in such locations are
sale iVoni their attacks.

Ax/i'i-iiix riilt/in-in ranges from Ix>ng Island Sound to Labrador, and A.Ftirbrxii from Massa
chusetts May to the (lull of Mexico. The former species is, therefore, essentially a northern one,
and the latter a southern one, but over a certain region they oveilap. and it is through this region
and juM to the souih of it tliat most of the dam.ige is done. .-I. Forbexii is the shore species where
the uii-.iifi |i.u I of the oyster-beds occur, and it must assume most of the blame for the thousands
of oysters destroyed on these beds.

236. THE CffiLENTERATES.
THR COKALS.

Many of the (Common Florida Corals, from their graceful shapes and delicately sculptured
surfaces. ai<- highly prized for ornamental purposes, and have come to |H>SSCSS a certain coniincr
eial value. They are regularly kept for sale in most of the larger cities, such as Moston and New
York, and unusually tine specimens frequently command a high price. The group of Corals, as
popularly understood, includes members of two classes of the Cuslenterata, the I'olyp Corals and
the Hydroid Corals, both of which, and especially the former, present a great variety of forms.
The principal ornamental Corals found on the coast of Florida are as follows: Among the
(iorgonians occur the Sea-fans (Gorgonia Jhtbellu iw), and the Sea-feathers or Sea-plumes ((iurt/niiut
i',;i;>xn and (Inrijnn'ut xetoxti). Among the true stony corals are the Stag horn Corals (Mutlrepora
iitt. /<>! ifcrti, and palmtita); the Brain Corals (Meanilrina labyrinthiformi*, rliruxu, and
i, l>ii>l<>ria cerebriformis, and Maniclna arcolata); the Fungus Corals (Agarieia iif/m-ii-itix
and Mi/irilinni frnyilr); the Star Corals (Orbicella annularix and carernona), and many others
without eouiinon names, such as the Oculina diffuxa and Ixophyllia (liptuicea. ( nly a single speciea
of Ilulroid <'oral is commonly seen in show collections ; it is the so-called Finger < 'or.il or Sea
(linger lMilli']>(>rn nU-icnrnix), the latter common name having reference to the smarting sensation
which it imparts to the skin, on handling, soon after it is taken from the water. .Many foreign
species of Corals, belonging to the above groups, are often to be seen in the natural history stores;
they come mainly from the West Indies and the Pacific Ocean. Neither the precious Coral
(Coralliiim rubrum) nor any other species approaching it in value to the trade occurs in American
waters, but large quantities of the former are imported annually from Europe for making into

jewelry.

TOE JELLY-FISHES.

The Jelly-fishes, Sun-fishes, or Medusas, which are well known to the sea-coast inhabitants as
transparent and delicate floating animals, most abundant in the summer months, are, at times, a
source of gn at annoyance to the net fishermen. These watery creatures, whose bodies contain only
a \ery small percentage of solid matter, vary greatly in shape, and belong to several orders of the
Ceelenterata. They have often been described and figured in popular books on natural history, to
\\liich the reader is referred for details concerning their structure and habits. The commoner
.species found on the New England coast are referred to as follows by Prof. A. E. Verrill. 1

" A fine, large specimen of the beautiful Jelly-fish Tima formoaa has been sent me l>y Mr. V.
N. Edwards, who captured it at Wood's Holl, April 30. He states that the same species was very

1 Vineyard Sound Report, p. 449, 1871-'72.



#42 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

abundant in February, 1872. It has not been previously recorded as found south of Capo Cod.
Among the most common of the larger species iu summer were Mnemiopsis Leidyi, which occurred
in abundance at nearly all hours of the day and evening, and was very phosphorescent at night;
Cyanta arctica, which occurred chiefly in the daytime, and was here seldom more than a foot in
diameter; Aurelia flavidula, which was not unfrequently seen in the daytime; fiactylometra
quinquccirra, which was quite common both by night and day in August and September; and
Zygodactyla grcenlandica, which was common in July, both in the day and evening, but was seldom
seen later in the season. In the winter season the Afnemiopsis Leidyi is often abundant in Long
Island Sound, and I have also observed it in New York Harbor in February, in large numbers.
At Wood's Holl, Mr. V. N. Edwards found the Pleurobruchia rhododactyla, both young and nearly
full-grown, very abundant in February and March. At Watch Hill, April 13, I found both adult
specimens and young ones not more than one-eighth of an inch in diameter. It probably occurs
through the entire year, for we frequently met with it in midsummer in Vineyard Sound. Mr. S.
1. Smith also found it very abundant at Fire Island, on the south side of Long Island, in
September. The Idyla roseola, so abundant on the coast of New England north of Cape Cod, was
only occasionally met with, and in small numbers, while the Bolina alata, which is one of the most
abundant species on the northern coast of New Englar.cl, was not seen at all. The Aurelia
Jtavidula is less common than north of Cape Cod, but was found in abundance in Buzzard's Bay,
in May, by V. N. Edwards."

Many accounts have been given of the damage done to the nets of the fishermen by Jelly-
fishes, when they have congregated together in large numbers. Mr. Fred. Mather, writing from
Say brook, Connecticut, in 1881, says that "the Jelly-fish, called Sun-fish here, are a source of
great annoyance this year. They clog up the meshes of the nets, and the tide sweeps away either
the net alone, or with its stakes."

The following extract from a letter by Mr. R. H. Stannard, of Westbrook, Connecticut, dated
June 1, 1881, refers to the destruction occasioned in former years. "The Jelly fish have been
very destructive to pound fishing several times within the past thirty-five years, and there have
been more or less of them every year in the Sound. In 1861, the best part of the season was
destroyed, and, in 18C8, one-half of the shad-fishing season was destroyed by the Jelly-fish taking
away the nets and stakes. In 1878, Jelly-fishes were very plentiful ; they stopped the shad fishing
with pounds almost entirely, and to such an extent that the company did not pay expenses. This
year, 1881, they have destroyed about one-third of the catch or season. If no Jellyfish had
appeared I believe the catch would have been one-third larger than it is."



ZB. THE POKIFERS.

237. THE SPONGES.

GENERAL CONSIDKK \TIONS. The natunil group of SjKjnges with which the public have
become familiar, through their constant use of the domeslic varieties, remained until comparatively
recent limes in ilie iniieli disputed ground between the animal and vegetable kingdoms. The
careful investigations of several distinguished modern naturalists, however, finally established
fl.eir animal nature he ond all question, and they were accordingly transferred to the kingdom in
\\Iii-.-Ii tliey properly jelong. Hut some years were yet to pass before their true atlinilies with
other animals could be definitely determined, and they were grouped provisionally with the-,,
called rft<>:,,,i. :\ somewhat heterogeneous assemblage of such low forms as did not agree stiue
tin-ally with any of the four great branches or subkingdoms, then rccogni/cd as composing the
animal kingdom. Still later researches have clearly proved that the Sponges have a much higher
organi/ation than the Protozoa proper, and propagate by means of eggs, while the members of the
latter group do not. Compared as a whole with all the groups above the Pn>tiw>n, the Sponges
appear to be the lowest iii structure, and, moreover, they stand apart by themselves as a distinct
group, which, in the more recent division of the animal kingdom by most authoiities into some
seven suhkingdoms or branches, in place of the original four, assumes the rank of a subking-
dom called Porifera, and comes into the plan of classification between the Pruttwm and the
Ccelentera rt< .

The term Sponge conveys to the minds of most people simply the idea of an irregular, sofi,
llexible mass of open structure, whose exterior is generally much roughened by projecting |xiints.

and pierced by numerous holes, leading toward the interior, and whose .structure, re closely

examined, is seen to consist of a fine net-work of small, horny fibers. This typical Sponge, as we
may term it, from its being the form most commonly known and observed, is the ordinary Sponge
of commerce, which, though limited in its range to but a few tropical and subtropical regions, is
collected in great quantities and sent to all parts of the world. Tue commercial S|Mngcs. which
are the only ones of economical importance to mankind, all belong to a single natural genus,
s'/wH///(f. and form, so far as the number of species are concerned, but a small portion of the en tin-
branch Porifera.

As stated above, the general conception of a Sponge is a fibrous skeleton, and nearly all
Sponges possess a skeleton or the rudiments of one, but this varies greatly in character in the
di 1Vercnt. divisions of the branch. In the commercial Sponges and their allies, the skeleton is
horny and more or less flexible, consisting of tine tibcrs interwoven and joined together. In
another group, the skeleton is composed of horny fibers intermingled with which are many
siliceous spiciiles, causing it to have a much stiller and harsher structure. In a third group, the
so-called siliceous Sponges, the skeleton is entirely made up of siliceous spiciiles, which may In-
scattered singly through the soft substance of the Sponge, or joined together in bundles. These
^picnics vary in shape, some being simple and straight, and others pyramidal, star shape, or
granular. A fourth group, the calcare.nis Sponges has a skeleton of calcareous materials. <li>p.i-. il

in lines or columns at right angles to the walls. The recent members of this group have the

843



844 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

skeleton made up of calcareous spicules, while the fossil forms referred to the same have calcareous
columnar supports, instead of spicular.

The soft and fleshy part of the Sponge, which is the truly organized portion, and upon a
knowledge of which we must rely for a perfect understanding of the relations of .Sponges, is the
most difficult to study, as it is also the least known. It collapses and begins 1o decay almost on
the moment of the Sponge being taken from the water, and alcoholic preparations are of compara-
tively little value for investigation. The structure of some forms has, however, been sufficiently
well made out to give us a tolerably clear idea of what it must be in the entire group. Prof. A.
Hyatt describes the general structure of the Sponge as follows: 1

4i They are structurally remarkably uniform, though differing greatly in external aspect. They
consist internally of a mass or layer of sarcode or mesoderm, containing a greater or less number
of true cells, and have an ectoderm and endoderin of cellular tissue. The majority of the forms
are supported by a skeleton of interwoven threads or spicules, or both, of various forms. The
exterior is perforated by innumerable pores, leading into channels in the interior, which enlarge
and join with groups of neighboring channels, forming large branches. These, in turn, form
junctions with other branches, and finally all of them unite, into one or several large trunks,
which open outwards, like minute craters, on the external surface. These are lined with another
membrane, differing from anything else of its kind in the animal kingdom. It is composed of
minute cells, furnished on the free side with a long whip or flagellum, surrounded by a collar.
Their interiors contain .1 nucleus and digestive vacnoles, and they, in all respects, resemble the-
independent animals known as flagellate infusoria. They take in and digest food in the same
manner, and eject excrements in great profusion from the area inclosed by the membraneous collar.

"The eggs and spermatozoa are derived from moditied cells of the mesoderm, whereas the
skeleton is either built up partly from the external membrane, and partly from the sarcode by
exogenous growth, or by the transformation of the loose cells of the sarcode into spicuhi'. The
function of the smaller external pores is to admit the water, which is thus strained and deprived
ol' its coarser floating material. It. is then carried along the canals, by the motion of the cilia,
and conveys its load of minute food to the ampnllaceous sacs and zooidal cells. The hydraulic
pressure occasioned by the inward flow of the innumerable minute streams forces it through the
larger trunks and out at the craters or ostioles with great rapidity."

Their peculiar cellular structure caused the Sponges when they were first carefully studied to
be looked upon as compound animals, but this idea has been refuted by more recent studies, and
each individual Sponge is now considered, "in its simplest adult form, as homologically a single
animal with the internal structure and functions of a colonial organization."

The branch or subkingdom Par if era is divided into two classes, the Calci Spongiee (calcareous
Sponges) and the Carneo-Sponfii(e (horny and siliceous Sponges).

The Otbt-SffHfia are again divided into two orders, and the Carneo-Spongia; into four orders,
the Halixarcoidea, Keratoidea, Kerato-Siiicioidea, and Silitioi<lc.

The Keratoidea includes all the purely horny Sponges, and the only genus, Spongia, of direct
importance to mankind. According to Professor Hyatt, the horny Sponges "appear to require
for the production of the forms in abundance tropical or subtropical seas, and obtain by far their
greatest, development in the number of the forms and species in the West Indian seas. The
typical forms, the commercial Sponges, are essentially confined to the waters of the Caribbean
Islands, Bahama Archipelago, and the southern and western coasts of Florida, in this hemisphere.
and to the Mediterranean and Hed Seas in the other.



'Memoirs Boston Soc. Nat. Hist., ii, 187r>-'77.



IHSTmr.l TION <>|- Sl'ONV.KS.

Australia allords a tew forms, and I have heard, though I cannot substantiate the I'M.-I. of
some species on the Atlantic coast of liraxil. Bermuda also lias a few of tht> commeicial kinds,

which, according: to Mr. (mode's n port, anil the unite of specimens forwarded, arc n li COMI-I-I

than (lie Key West, darker in color, ami, in tact, junt about intermediate betw.-.-n these and those
of Australia. They are occasionally found in the stores, hut, as a rule, are used .nils liy the
lislierincn themselves, about their boats, the Bahama Hjwnges being preferred for domestic
imrposcs ly the inhabitants.

The true Sp,>H<,i,r are all shallow-water forms. In the Mediterranean, according to Kckhel,
they are not found below thirty fathoms, and in onr own seas about the same, probably, though
not tished to greater than five fathoms. The greater part of the fishery is accomplished between

the depths of three and twenty feet, according to the report of Dr. Palmer, from \vh these

remarks are principally derived. The commercial grades coincide very closely here and in
Kurope, but it is quite easy to show that each of them may be considered a distinct species, if one
has an inclination to multiply in this direction. The three grades [of American Sponges]. Glove
SjMHigc iSiHHtiiiii officinal!*), subspecies tubulifera, Wool Sponge (Spongia r//i/m), subsides go*-
xi/i>inii, and Yellow and Hard Head, both under the name of (Spongia agaricina), subspecies ,-,,,
toxin, correspond with remarkable accuracy to the three principal grades of commercial Sponges
in Kuropc. These are the Bath Sponge, Spongia officinal!*, the Horse Sponge, Spoiii/iti M/iiiim. and
the Xiinocc.a Sponge, Spongia agaricina. This result, in which three species appear on both sides
of the Atlantic, as representing alone the marketable, qualities of the genus Spongia, becomes
of double interest when these varieties, or local species, as they might be called, are compared
with one another. It is then found that the aspect of the surface is closely similar in each
of the three; that subspecies tubuUfera represents Spongia offieiiutli*, subspecies goiutypina offsets
H/ionf/ia equina iu the same way, and, lastly, subspecies corloitia has the same relation to Spongia
iii/nricina.

"The whole group of Keratosa is confined to seas in which the differences observable
between the winter and summer isotherms are not excessive. None are found north of Cape
Hatteras and the island of Bermuda, and doubtless a similar limit occurs to the southward of
the equator.

"The liner skeletons of the Keratoza, those of the genus Spongia, are only to be sought in
the intermediate zone, where the waters are of equable and high temperature. Again, in examining
the species of this genus with relation to each other, it becomes equally evident that they arc
finest and most numerous in archipelagoes or off coasts which are bordered by large numbers of
islands or long reefs, or in sheltered seas.

"The Sponges near Nassau lie on reefs very much exposed to the action of the waves, often
thirty miles from land, and always in currents, sometimes running three or four miles an hour.
Such currents are usual wherever groups of islands confine the tide water within certain definite
channels, and they have also the effect of concentrating the floating food in the channels, or
wherever tides meet. Both of these conditions are essential to successful sponge growth, namely,
a continuous renewal of aerated water and a plentiful supply of food, and are probably partially
the cause of their abundance in such places.

"The shallow-water Sponges arc coarser than the deep-water forms. This is probably due, in
part, as in other species, to the quantity of sediment, which is, of course, less in deep than in
shallow water, as, for example, at Key West in the winter time. I am informed that no fine
qualities of any Sponges are found within the limits of the milky water, but all the liner qualities
of the marketable kinds in the deepest water in which the species occur, except perhaps in the



846 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

case of the Reef Sponge. Glove, Reef, and Hard Head are fished in shallow waters, greatest



Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 139 of 146)