G. Brown (George Brown) Goode.

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

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appears to be very minute, yet it indicates that a large quantity of eggs, confined, in a small,
air-tight space, would consume the oxygen to an injurious extent, during a long journey,
and sufficient ventilation is to be considered as one of the necessities in packing eggs for
transportation. The sawdust that filled the space around the inner can, in the California
shipment, was crowded down with a piece of board, and may have, in consequence, rendered the
package more completely air-tight than in the shipments referred to similarly packed. A later
.shipment arrived in most excellent condition. The cups in the cases were made four by four
inches square, by two deep, with no packing between the cans, and the eggs packed in moss.
The most ample ventilation was provided for in the egg-cases. The oxygen given off by live moss
is probably the principal reason for its special adaptation in packing eggs for shipment.

" Dr. Ransom's experiments on the effect of heat have also a practical value in the treatment
offish ova, both in transportation and in the troughs. He says: 'Some eggs on the stage of active
contraction were cooled until the thermometer placed on the cell stood at 32 F. They all became
still, and their yelks globular. They were not frozen ; and I do not doubt that their temperature
was higher than that indicated by the thermometer.' The contractions were afterwards restored
by a weak galvanic current. In another observation, ' I froze the water in which the eggs were
placed, so that some of them were completely, and others incompletely, frozen. The frozen eggs
were all more or less opaque, and had their inner sacs ruptured and emptied of yelk in various
^. and their formative yelks tabulated jnid darkly granular. Those which were least frozen



CULTI KI: OK TIM: \\IIITK nsn.

were slightly opalescent only, and when allowed to thaw they contracted as before, ultimately
goin^ on ii> fleave in an irregular manner, the ruptures in their sacs having healed. Slighter
reduction.-' of temperatures to 40 F. ami Is ' K. retarded without destroying the contractions. In
such eases the commencement of cleavage was delayed. By raising the temperature moderately
the movements were accelerated ; but at about 80 P. (it is difficult to speak with certainty of the
temperature actually obtained by the object) the contractions were arrested, the yelk-ball
becoming globular, and the oil-globules being scattered. Such eggs, however, soon recovered
themselves when left at 58 P., and cleft in even less time than eggs did which had not been
warmed. In other eggs, heated in a chamber at 102 P., the cleavage was retarded to three times
the usual period, and when it took place was wanting in symmetry. The yelk began to become
opalescent at about 103 F. ; but a true coagulation of the albumen did not take place, the yelk
being thud and opaque. Thus a temperature too low or too much elevated retards or arrests
the contractions, but they are not destroyed before commencing physical and chemical changes
set in.'

"Whether the point at which the contractions of the yelk ceased was the point at which
vitality left the egg, might or might not have been the fact, but it is quite evident that the egg
was, at the temperatures stated, in an abnormal state, and the necessity of sustaining a tempera-
ture around the eggs of fishes between these extremes is apparent, if they are to be kept in their
most favorable condition.

"Mr. Green and Mr. Wil mot both procured eggs this season from the Detroit River. Mr.
Green made use of a newly devised .apparatus for hatching, that proved to be a most excellent
contrivance, both for the economy of space and the facility for caring for the eggs. By this
method he will be enabled to hatch five or six times the quantity of eggs in the same building.
The young fishes were distributed in accordance with the excellent plan adopted by the New York
commissioners for supplying demands from all parts of the State, without expense, on application.

"The success attained by these persevering experiments is now complete, and the White-fish
may be restored by artificial propagation, to the same extent as the Salmon, or the Brook -Trout, or
the shad. As has been shown, the White-fish has advantages in this particular that the other
species have not. The obstruction of streams is no obstacle in the way of their multiplication,
because they have no necessity of ascending them, and, unlike the Trout and the Salmon, they
cannot be suspected of eating each other.

"Attempts at feeding the young fishes have all been failures, and the only natural food that
has been found in their intestines is the species of Diatomacew reported by Mr. Briggs. But as
they are more vigorous and strong in the earlier stages of growth, there is not the same necessity
of caring for them until they are partly grown, and they should be put into the waters they are
to inhabit soon after the ovisac is absorbed, and allowed to find their natural food for themselves,
just as the young shad are treated when hatched artificially.

"Artificial propagation affords advantages that compensate for all the overfishing and losses
that the fish fauna) suffer from man and natural causes. The great numbers of eggs found in the
ovaries of fishes in reality afford little evidence of their capacity for populating the waters. It is
a fact, illustrated in nearly if not all branches of the animal kingdom, that the most fecund species
do not, by any means, increase the fastest in numbers, but from the greater evils they are subject
to, and the greater number of enemies they encounter, there is such a fatality during the earlier
stages of growth that the losses balance the numbers produced, and less fecund species, by being
better protected, equal them in numbers. The most perfect illustrations of this tact may be found
among our lake fishes. The muskellunge, Esox nobilior, has a very large number of eggs. A cast



534 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

of the ovaries of a large female specimen, made by Dr. E. Sterling, of Cleveland, Ohio, is in the
possession of the Smithsonian Institution. The ovaries measure over two feet in length, and the
eggs are about the same diameter as those of the White-fish; they contain at least five times
as many eggs as a pound White-fish, and yet, as regards numbers, the muskellunge is a compara-
tively rare fish. There are, undoubtedly, exigencies attending the egg stage of this fish that will
account for this fact.

"In the case of the White-fishes, though annually depositing millions of eggs, the delicate
nature of the embryo, and the numerous spawn-eaters, effect a certain balance of numbers with
relation to the general faunae of the lakes, so that, up to the time of the early settlement of the
Lake region, the fish were found in great abundance. The nets now came in as an additional agent
in preventing the increase, the pound-net, particularly, killing a large percentage of the fishes that
liad not matured sufficiently to assist the increase by depositing spawn, and in consequence, the
numbers of fishes were rapidly reduced.

"The care of the eggs in the hatching troughs has proved, beyond question, the frail nature
of the eggs of the White-fish. They are smaller, and have a much thinner in vesting membrane, or
shell, and have not the same enduring vtf ality that the ova of the Trout and Salmon have. So that
in the open water of the lakes and rivers by far the greater number are lost because of the
disturbance of the bottom by the autumn storms and the deposit of sediment from the muddy
water, the failure of many of the eggs to come in contact with the milt of the male fish, the
myriads devoured by the army of spawn-eaters, and the additional evils of pollution of the waters
from the drainage of cities, manufactories, and saw-mills, and the dragging of seines over the
spa wniug beds.

"A quantity of White-fish eggs taken from the bottom of the Detroit River, a very extensive
spawning ground, while dredging in company with Mr. George Clark, at the close of the spawning
season, were found to be dead and white, or so coated and stained with the black ooze that they
could not have survived. In the pond on Grassy Island, where as many as ten thousand female
White-fish deposit their spawn in a season, we succeeded in taking between fifty and sixty embryo
fishes, by drawing a seine lined with millinet, and a diligent search through several hours at the
surface in the month of April.

" In obviating all of these evils, artificial propagation asserts its advantage, and though the
number of eggs that may be handled is exceedingly small compared with the millions sown by the
fishes, yet the number of fishes produced may really exceed the present production in a state of
nature. This assertion has ample proof in the restoration of fishes in regions where they have
been nearly exterminated, and even where no change was made in the restrictions upon the fishing
that might have assisted the increase.

" The experience of the past few years has proved entirely the possibility of increasing the
numbers of the White-fish by artificial propagation. The running water in the troughs supplies
the conditions required by the eggs; the fertilization of the ova in the pan brings every egg in
contact with the milt; they lie undisturbed and free from injurious sediment or filthy water; the
spawn-eaters have no access to them whatever, and the dead eggs- are immediately removed from
contact with the living ones; the young fish are under control in the troughs until the ovisac is
absorbed, when they are ready to be placed in their natural home, the cold waters of the Northern
Lakes.

" The experiments of Mr. Seth Green and Mr. N. W. Clark have reduced the loss of the eggs
to an inconsiderable number, and with a small outlay of money this fish may be restored with a
success equal to that of the shad in the rivers of the Atlantic coast.



CULTURE OF T11E WHITE-FISH. 535

"The losses iii tin- ti\ stage merit consideration, though tin-re is every evidence to believe
that .they an- very small. One great advantage in favor of tin- \onng White-fish is its strength
and vigor almost from the time it leaves the egg, aiul its disposition to seek the surface, as
observed in the troughs and where they were seen in their natural eondition in Detroit River."

DisKAsi.s. Nothing definite has been ascertained regarding the diseases to which White-
lish are liable. A roughness, however, on the scales may be observed from about November 15
to November -II. This roughness has the appearance of small tubercles, and is most apparent on
the sides toward the vent. The male fish is said to exhibit this possible symptom of disease the
more plainly.

Mr. Milner's observations on the White-fish, with regard to its being infested with parasites,
led him to write :

'' The White-fish, as far as my observations have extended, is infested witli two external and
two intestinal parasites. The external ones are a crustacean, a l.< nui. and an annelid, the Jclttky-
i>h<l<lln fiiim-tata. The lernean was found only in the Detroit River, adhering to the fish on the
dorsal region, and with its bell-shaped sucker buried in the epidermal sheath of the scales. Oil
the White -lish swimming in schools near the surface around the edge of the pond in Detroit River,
it could be detected by close examination fastened to the fish. There were seldom more than four
on one fish. The Lake Herring, confined in the same pond, swam in close contact with the White-
tisli, but in no instance, although careful observations were made repeatedly of the Herring while
in the water and after capture, was the lernean found upon them. In Lake Superior they are
found to be numerous on the siscowet.

"The Ichthyobdella, a leech of three-fourths of an inch long, grayish- white in color, with
brown tesselated markings, was seen in great numbers in the mouth of April, while the fishermen
were lifting their nets from about fifty fathoms some fifteen miles out from Keuosha, Wisconsin.
They covered the nets and fishes of all species, and fell in such numbers on the deck that it became
slippery, and an old coat was thrown down for the man who was lifting the gang to stand upon.
They were very tenacious of life, living for a long time on the deck, and for several days in the
bilge-water of the fish-boats. They were in such numbers that it was difficult to decide whether
they had a preference for any species, and were found filled with blood both in the gills and while
attached to the body, though it was difficult to imagine that they could fill themselves with blood
from the epidermal sheath of the scales. They were thought to be most numerous on the White-
fishes, as they were iu greater numbers on them than on the Trout, the Lawyer, or the Cisco, the
only other fishes taken.

"A prevailing but mistaken opinion in the vicinity was that the White-fish fed upon the leech.
Dr. Hoy's investigations disproved the notion, and all examinations of stomach contents confirmed
this fact. One of the intestinal parasites resembled the leech somewhat in form. The other was
an Echinorhynchus. They were never found within the stomach, but always in the duodenal
portion of the intestine near the mouths of the caecal tubes."

METHODS OF CAPTURE. The methods employed whereby the largest numbers of this ti>h
may be taken varies in different localities. At Whitefish Point, Lake Superior, the greater
part of the catch is made with pound-nets. About the Apostle Islands the gill-net is used
at all times. The best grounds are along the shore from Ashland to Outonagou. From Grand
to Sauk's Island the catch of White-fish is made with pound-nets in the spring and gill-nets iu
the fall. At the south end of Lake Michigan there are no pound-nets; the lish, consequently, are
of large si/e. The White-fish fishery of Saint Joseph is carried on far out in the lake, formcily
nearer shore. About Little and Grand Traverse Bays all the pounds were blown away on



536 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

October 26, 1880. They were reset and were again destroyed at the end of November. From
Bay View to Evanston pound-nets are used exclusively.

Across the northern end of Lake Huron, from the Straits of Mackinac to the Detour Passage,
the White-fish are followed by the fishermen with pound-nets as far as twelve or more miles from
shore, and with gill-nets fifteen to twenty miles. At Port Ontario, Lake Ontario, gill-nets are
extensively used in the capture of White fish, and at Wolfe Bay it is remarked by Mr. Peter Kiel
that they cannot be caught with hook and line at any season of the year. Mr. Lauinan says
that they are occasionally taken along Madawaska River, and that he has caught them with rod
and line below the falls of that river, at its confluence with the Saint John, in the early part of the
summer. The same writer states that in Eagle Lakes the White-fish is caught abundantly by torch-
light with dip-nets. Of its capture in the Grand Lake, Mr. Laninau writes :

"Some years since this fish was abundant in the Grand Lake, where the writer, in the month
of May, saw great numbers taken out of gill-nets set for gaspereau, and thrown away by the fish-
ermen as worthless. At the same time, the writer caught a number of them with rod and line, in
one of those small pieces of water connected with the Grand Lake, usually called 'key-holes.' It
is occasionally taken in the Saint John, throughout its whole extent. In the harbor of Saint John,
in spring, it has been often caught iu the seines and weirs with the gaspereau, and salted with
that fish, because its value was not known."

The White-fish caught in Green Bay, Lake Michigan, are thus prepared for shipment, if as
fresh fish : the gills and viscera are removed and the fish carefully washed.

Referring to the west shore of Lake Michigan, down as far as Manitowoc, Wisconsin, Kumlien
thus writes in 1880 in regard to the White-fish market: "The demand for No. 1 White-fish is steadily
increasing, and as high as seven and eight cents are often realized when the supply is not abun-
dant. The average price for the whole season Mr. Niquette estimates will be a trifle over four
cents per pound, three and a half being paid to the fishermen. The demand for fresh fish is such,
and the facilities for shipping so good, that very few White-fish are salted now. In 1870 there
were about 3,000 packages sent from Two Eivers, while in 1867 there were above 6,300, and for
1879 there were not over 1,000 ; but a much larger amount of fresh fish has been shipped. The
vicinity of Two Rivers has long been a noted White-fish ground, and still keeps up its reputation ;
but only a few miles to the south, off Manitowoc, it no longer pays to fish for White-fish."

At Waukegan, Lake Michigan, White-fish are largely smoked. At Oswego and vicinity, Lake
Ontario, no White-fish have been salted for five years. Of those shipped from Port Clinton and
vicinity, at least two-thirds to three-fourths come from Canada. Five years ago not more than
one-half were received for shipment from Canada. At the present time more are being sent from
this place than ever. This business has steadily increased since 1855, the increase being the most
striking since 1865. "At the falls, on the Madawaska River," writes Mr. Lanman, " the inhabitants
take about forty barrels every autumn, which are cured in pickle for winter use."

ABUNDANCE. The following observations on the abundance of White-fish in the Great
Lakes were made by Mr. Kumlien :

At Duluth, at the extreme west end of Lake Superior, and iu this vicinity, the White-fish
ranks first in importance. Mr. McClau thinks that their numbers have not decreased since 1870,
but that the fishing must be carried on in deeper water than was then necessary.

Three reasons are assigned for the decrease of White-fish in Huron Bay, south of Keweeuaw,
Lake Superior, and vicinity, during the past fifteen years: sawdust, navigation, and overfishing.
The fish are here placed in a "live-box" until required for shipping. As many as seventy-two



ABUNDANCE OF WHITE-FISH. 537

half barrels have been taken in one pound-net at one lift (net thirty-five feet). They hero rank
first in importance, are abundant and very large.

Along the shore of Lake Superior, from Ashland to Ontonagon, White-fish rank first in impor-
tance. In the vicinity of Marquette the decrease of this fish, according to Parker, has been vei \
great within the last fifteen years, and especially since 1877. At White-fish Point this species
ranks first in importance.

Down Green Bay White-fish are becoming more abundant, at Guamico the proportion as com-
pared with the abundance of Herring being about one half barrel of White-fish to fifty of Herring.
Ten years ago White lisli were the most important, but have been driven from their spawning beds
in i lie rivers by saw-dust and other causes. The largest hauls here are made by gill nets through
the ice in winter. The appearance of this fish here is very irregular, often absenting itself for
several years I'rom hitherto favorite localities. In June, 1877, Mr. Levelle", of Pensankee, caught in
one pound-net seven hundred half barrels, besides shipping a large quantity fresh. They were all
No. 1 fish. As high a number as fifty barrels were taken from the net in one morning; other nets,
which were set on either side of his, took no fish. Mr. Levelle" chose a ledge of rock, having a
light coating of mud, for the spot on which to set his net. One of the fish which he caught weighed
eleven pounds ; since this large catch many other attempts have been made to catch fish in the
same place, but without any great success.

The most important fish on the west coast of Green Bay is the White-fish. In 1843 the prin-
cipal spawning beds for this fish were in the rivers. In 1863 thirty six barrels were taken at one
lift of a pouud-net; now, five hundred pounds are regarded as a very good catch. In 1878 the
largest catch on record was eight hundred and fifty pounds. In 1850 the most profitable grounds
of this region were in the Menomonee River, where they were taken in racks on their return from
spawning. Six hundred barrels were often taken on one rack during the autumn; now, not one
example has been caught in the river for twelve years. The same cause is assigned for their dis-
appearance as from other grounds already spoken of. About 1859, and a few years previous to the
introduction of the pound-net, the greater part of the White-fish was taken in seines close inshore,
usually having a warp of only thirty rods. In July and August of 1879 there were large runs of
small White-fish five or six inches in length on Peshtigo Bar; one fisherman took out several
boat-loads, and, on account of their small size, was obliged to throw them away. It was thought
by the fishermen that these fish had been artificially hatched by the Wisconsin State fish com-
mission. A more sensible plan on the part of the fishermen would have been to replace them in
the water to grow, finding them too small for market.

The temperature of the water is supposed to have a great influence upon the movements of
this fish, especially at the time of their arrival upon the feeding grounds in spring. "In winter,"
says Mr. Eveland, ''they seek deep water and live upon the 'winter feed' the so-called 'White-
fish worm,' which they seek upon a muddy bottom ; but about the middle of June, on an average,
the water becoming warm enough, they strike inshore on sandy or on slightly gravelly shoals
and bars and entirely change the character of their food ; at this time feeding on the 'shell feed'
(small mollusks)."

Towards Cedar River the White-fish are more plentiful than between Peshtigo Point and Me-
nomonee. They alone are taken almost exclusively in deep-water pound-net*.

At and near Green Bay City the White-fish has been for years past the most abundant species
of fish. It is now, according to the fisherman's language, " played out."

This fish is first in importance in the waters at the north eml n! (Ireen Bay. The principal runs
occur during the spawning season. There are a great many spawning grounds in this section, es|>e-



538 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

cially about the islands. After spawning they retire to the deep water in the lake. In 1879 there
was an increase in the catch of White-fish in these waters. A point opposite the mouth of Esca-
iiaba River is regarded as having very superior advantages for the profitable establishment of a
hatchery. In 1879, near the mouth of Manistigue River, a specimen weighing twenty-nine pounds
was caught.

Between Manitowoc and Whitefish Bay the White-fish is of the first importance. At nearly
all the fisheries the best runs occur during August and September. A very few are taken in the
spring in the pound-nets at Cedar Grove. A great many small White-fish are taken in the vicinity
of Milwaukee. The White-fish ranks first in importance in this section. In 1800 the average catch
was one hundred to the net; it is now not more than one-eighth of that number. Overfishing and
the capture of the spawning fish are assigned as reasons for this decrease. Their size has also oi
late diminished, many being so small that, were the meshes of the nets not stiff from being tarred,
the fish could easily escape. In this vicinity there are no spawning grounds of note.

At the south end of Lake Michigan two varieties or grades are recognized, viz, the "shore"
and the "outside" fish. The latter are firmer than the " shore" grade and bear shipment with less
loss. The "outside" fish are taken in gill-nets, and the others in pound-nets. The "outside" fish,
moreover, lias a smaller head and reddish fins. There are no spawning grounds on this coast,
and no White-fish, consequently, are taken in autumn.

Between Glen Haven and Saugatuck the White-fish ranks first in importance. Capt. J. J.
Brown says that at least three-fourths of the fish taken here are White-fish. He recognizes no
different varieties, and knows nothing of the "blood-fish."

There has been a decrease during the last ten years in the waters between the Straits of
Mackinac and the Detour Passage ; the principal cause being, probably, that the fish have been
disturbed there on their spawning grounds. Captain Bennett is of the opinion that fishermen
should be prohibited by law from taking White-fish after the first of November. This gentleman
asserts positively that some of the once most famous spawning grounds are now entirely abandoned,
and he assigns the above as the cause for this desertion. Too small fish are taken by reason of



Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 91 of 146)