G. Brown (George Brown) Goode.

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

. (page 115 of 146)
Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 115 of 146)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


" 2. By the second week in July, the first hatched of the June Squids have grown to the size
in which the body (or mantle) is 30 mm to 48""" long; but these are associated with others that are
younger, of all sizes down to those just hatched. They begin to show a disposition to go in
'schools ' composed of individuals of somewhat similar sizes.

"3. By the second week in August, the largest June Squids have become 50 mm to 08 mm in
length of body, and the later broods are 5 mm to 30 mm long. As before, with these sizes occur others
of all ages down to those just hatched. It should be observed, however, that in those of our
tabulated lots taken by the trawl the very small sizes are absent, because they pass freely through
the course meshes of the net.

"4. By the second week in September, the June Squids have the mantle 60 miu to 82 mm long.
All the grades of smaller ones still abound. A few larger specimens, taken the last of August
and in September, 84 mm to 110 mm long, may belong to the June brood, but they may belong to
those of the previous autumn.

"5. In the first week of November, the larger young Squids taken had acquired a mantle-
length of 79 mm to 8o mm , but these are probably not the largest that might be found. Younger
ones, probably half lied in September and October, 8 mm to 20 mm in length of body, occurred in vast
numbers November 1, 1874. The specimens taken November 16, off Chesapeake Bay, having the
mantle 40 mm to 70 mm long, probably belong to the schools hatched in the previous summer.

"ti. In May and June the smallest Squids taken, and believed to be those hatched in the
previous September or October, have the mantle 62 mm to 100 mm long. With these there are others
of larger sizes, up to 152 mm to 188" 1111 , and connected with the smaller ones by intermediate sizes.
All these are believed to belong to the various broods of the previous season. In these the sexual
organs begin to increase in size and the external sexual characters begin to appear. The males
are of somewhat greater length than the females of the same age.

" 7. In July, mingled with the young of the season, in some lots, but more often in separate
schools, we take young Squids having the mantle 75 mm to 100 ram long. These we can connect by
intermediate sizes with those of the previous year taken in June. I regard these as somewhat
less than a year old.

"8. Beyond the first year it becomes very difficult to determine the age with certainty, for those
of the first season begin, even in the autumn, to overlap in their sizes those of the previous year.

"9. It is probable that those specimens which are taken in large quantities, while in breeding
condition, during the latter part of May and in June, having the mantle n5 mm to 225 mm long in
the females and 200 mm to 275 mm long in the males, are two years old.

"H). It is probable that the largest individuals taken, with the mantle 300 mn) to 425 01111 long,
are at least three years, and perhaps in some cases four years old. The very large si>ecimen8
generally occur only in small schools and are mostly males. The females that occur with these
very large males are often of much smaller size, and may be a year younger than their mates.

" 11. When Squids of very different sizes occur together in a school, it generally happens
that the larger ones are engaged in devouring the smaller ones, as the contents of their stomachs
clearly show. Therefore, it is probable that those of a similar age keep together in schools for
mutual safety.

"12. Among the adult specimens of var. pallida taken November 16 and December 7, at
Astoria, there are several young ones, from 75'""' to 120 min in length, with rudimentary repro-
ductive organs. These may, perhaps, l>e the young of the year, hatched in June."


Young Squids in inconceivable numbers, and even the adults, are greedily devoured by
bluefish, black bass, striped bass, weakfish, mackerel, cod, and many other marine animals.
Thus they are really of great importance as food for our most valuable market fishes.

North of Cape Cod the Squid is represented by the Sea-arrow or Flying Calamary, Omma-
8trephf8 illecebrosus, sometimes called "short-finned" in contrast to the long "fins" characteristic
of the Loligos, which they resemble in size and color.

Professor Verrill has given the following graphic account of this species :

" When living, this is a very beautiful creature, owing to the brilliancy of its eyes and its bright
and quickly-changing colors. It is also very quick and graceful in its movements. This is the
most common 'Squid' north of Cape Cod, and extends as far south as Newport, Rhode Island, and
in deep water to the region off Cape Hatteras. It is very abundant in Massachusetts Bay, the
Bay of Fundy, and northward to Newfoundland. It is taken on the coast of Newfoundland in
immense numbers, and used as bait for codfish. It occurs in vast schools when it visits the coast,
but whether it seeks those shores for the purpose of spawning or in search of food is not known.
I have been unable to learn anything personally in regard to its breeding habits, nor have I been
able to ascertain that any one has any information in regard either to the time, manner, or place
of spawning. At Eastport, Maine, I have several times observed them in large numbers in mid-
summer. But at that time they seemed to be wholly engaged in the pursuit, of food, following
the schools of herring, which were then in pursuit of shrimp (Thysanopoda norvegica), which occur
in the Bay of Fuudy, at times, in great quantities, swimming at the surface. The stomachs of the
Squids taken on these occasions were distended with fragments of Thysanopoda, or with the flesh
of the herring, or with a mixture of the two, but their reproductive organs were not in an active
condition. The same is true of all the specimens that I have taken at other localities in summer.
From the fact that the oviducts are small and simple, and the nidamental glands little developed,
I believe that it will eventually prove that this species discharges its eggs free in the ocean, and
that they will be found floating at the surface, either singly or in gelatinous masses or bands, not
having any complicated capsules to inclose them. Nothing is known as to the length of time
required by this species to attain its full size. It probably lives several years.

"This Squid is an exceedingly active creature, darting with great velocity backward, or in
any other direction, by means of the reaction of the jet of water which is ejected with great force
from the siphon, and which may be directed forward or backward, or to the right or left, by
bending the siphon. Even when confined in a limited space, as in a fish-pond, it is not an easy
matter to capture them with a dip-net, so quick will they dart away to the right and left. When
darting rapidly the lobes of the caudal fin are closely wrapped around the body and the arms are
held tightly together, forming an acute bundle in front, so that the animal, in this condition, is
sharp at both ends, and passes through the water with the least possible resistance. Its caudal
fin is used as an accessory organ of locomotion when it slowly swims about or balances itself for
some time nearly in one position in the water.

"The best observations of the modes of capturing its prey are by Messrs. S. I. Smith and Oscar
Harger, who observed it at Provincetown, Massachusetts, among the wharves, in large numbers,
July 28, 1872, engaged in capturing and devouring the young mackerel, which were swimming
about in ' schools,' and at that time were about four or five inches long. In attacking the mackerel
they would suddenly dart backward among the fish with the velocity of an arrow, and as suddenly
turn obliquely to the right or left and seize a fish, which was almost instantly killed by a bite in
the back of the neck with their sharp beaks. The bite was always made in the same place, cutting
out a triangular piece of flesh, and was deep enough to penetrate to the spinal cord. The attacks


were uot always successful, and were sometimes repeated a dozen times before one of these active
and wary ttsbes could be caught. Sometimes, after making several unsuccessful attempts, one of
the Squids would suddenly drop to the bottom, and, resting upon the sand, would change its color
to that of the sand so perfectly as to be almost invisible. In this position it would wait until the
fishes came back, and when they were swimming close to or over the ambuscade, the Squid, by a
sadden dart, would be pretty sure to secure a fish. Ordinarily, when swimming, they were thickly
spotted with red and brown, but when darting among the mackerel they appeared translucent and
Vale. The mackerel, however, seemed to have learned that the shallow water was the safest for
them, and would hug the shore as closely as possible, so that in pursuing them many of the Squids
became stranded and perished by the hundreds, for when they once touch the shore they begin
to pump water from their siphons with great energy, and this usually forces them farther and
farther up the beach. At such times they often discharge their ink in large quantities. The
attacks on the young mackerel were observed mostly at or near high water, for at other times the
mackerel were seldom seen, though the Squids were seen swimming about at all hours, and these
attacks were observed both in the day and evening.

It is probable, from various observations, that this and other species of Squids are mainly
nocturnal in their habits, or at least are much more active in the night than in the day. Those
that are caught in the pounds and weirs mostly enter in the night, evidently while swimming
along the shores in 'schools.' They often get aground on the sand-flats at Provincetown,
Massachusetts, in the night. On the islands in the Bay of Fundy, even where there are no flats,
I have often found them in the morning stranded on the beaches in immense numbers, especially
when there is a full moon, and it is thought by many of the fishermen that this is because, like
many other nocturnal animals, they have the habit of turning toward and gazing at a bright
light, and since they swim backwards, they get ashore on the beaches opposite the position of the
moon. This habit is also sometimes taken advantage of by the fishermen, who capture them for
bait for codfish. They go out in dark nights with torches in their boats, and by advancing slowly
toward a beach drive them ashore. They are taken in large* quantities in nets and pounds, and
also by means of 'jigs' or groups of hooks, which are moved up and down in the water, and to
which the Squids cling, and are then quickly pulled out of the water. They are also sometimes
caught by fish-hooks, or adhering to the bait used for fishes.

"Their habit of discharging an inky fluid through the siphon, when irritated or alarmed, is
well known. The ink is said U> have caustic and irritating properties.

" This Squid, like the Loligo, is eagerly pursued by the cod and many other voracious fishes,
even when adult Among its enemies while young are the full-grown mackerel, who thus retaliate
for the massacre of their own young by the Squids. The specimens observed catching young
mackerel were mostly eight to ten inches long, and some of them were still larger.

"This species, like the common Loltgo, has the instincts and habits of a cannibal, for small
Squids of its own species form one of the most common articles of its diet. From an adult female
of ordinary size (G, of our tables), caught at Eastport, Maine, I took a great mass of fragments
of small Squids, with which the stomach was greatly distended. These fragments coropletely
tilled a vial having a capacity of four fluid ounces.

"From the rapidity with which the Squids devour the fish that they capture it is evident
that the jaws are the principal organs used, and that the odotitophore plays only a subordinate
part in feeding. This is confirmed by the condition of the fowl ordinarily found in the stomach,
for both the tishes and the shrimp are usually in fragments and shreds of some size, and smaller
creatures, like amphipods, are often found entire, or nearly so; even the vertebrae and other


boues of herring are often present. On the other hand, in some specimens, the contents of the
stomach are finely divided, as if the odontophore had been used for that purpose." 1

The loss which the fisheries sustain through their voracity, however, is probably equalized by
the food which Cuttle-fishes furnish the carnivorous fishes and various other denizens of the deep.
For example, the sperm whale seems to rely largely upon a diet of big Squids, sinking to the
bottom where they are groping about, to drag them up, or nipping off their large arms as they
swim about iiear the surface. Dolphins and porpoises also prey upon the Cuttles, and all the
flesh-eating fishes pursue and devour them at every opportunity, particularly the cod and bluefish.

Knowledge of this fact long ago led to the Squid being taken by fishermen as an attractive
bait. More than half of all the Bank fishing is said to be with such bait. When the shoals of
this mollusk \Loligo Squid] approach the coast hundreds of vessels are ready to capture them,
forming an extensive cuttle fishery, engaging five hundred sail of French, English, and American
ships. Their habit of moon-gazing, also, is sometimes taken advantage of on the coast of Maine
by the fishermen, who capture them for bait for codfish; they go out in dark nights with torches
in their boats and by advanciug slowly toward a beach drive them ashore. Violent storms heap
great windrows of dead Squids on the beach, where they are gathered up, and they are also
sometimes taken on lines adhering to the bait set for fishes. These "drives" and accidents
happen in the spring, when Cuttles are flocking into shallow water to lay their eggs.

Since this solidly-fleshed animal is so extensively eaten by other animals it is not surprising
to find that men also should number it among the edible products of the sea. "The flesh of the
large cephalopodous animals," says Simmonds, 2 " was esteemed as a delicacy by the ancients.
Most of the Eastern nations, and those of the Polynesian Islands, partake of it and relish it as
food. They are exposed for sale dried in the bazaars or markets throughout India, and . . .
dried Cuttle-fish may be seen among the articles of Chinese, Japanese, and Siamese food. In
Chili the flesh is also considered a delicacy, and in Barbados the bastard Cuttle-fish or 'Calmar'
(Loligo gagittata Lam.) is used as an article of food by the lower classes."

In the Mediterranean also, particularly near Tunis, and along the Portugal coast, the catch
and consumption of Cuttles is large, amounting to nearly a million pounds a year, most of which
is sold in Greece, after being salted and dried or pickled. These are Octopods. The same sort of
Cuttle-fish (Octopus punctatus) serves the double purpose on the Pacific coast, from California to
Alaska, of bait for the fisheries and food for the Indians. For the latter purpose it is chiefly
sought in Puget Sound, where the coast tribes hunt and kill Octopods often large enough to be
dangerous foes in a quarrel, by going to their haunts in canoes and spearing them. To some small
tribes the Octopus affords the chief supply of animal food. There is no reason why squid-flesh
from the northern Atlantic Ocean should not become available as food, and prove desirable to
those who like it. It would be both wholesome and cheap; and a single Architeuthis would
furnish a meal for a frigate's crew. In Bermuda the Octopus granulatus regularly forms a portion
of the fare of the fisher families. As the Bermudan fish and methods of capture prevail across
among the Florida reefs, no doubt this habit prevails there also. In New York City there is a
considerable sale of fresh Squids to foreign residents, and the trade is increasing. There seems
no reason why on some coasts this flesh should not be far more thoroughly utilized than it
is at present.

In addition to its value as a bait, or as a source of oil (our Ommastrephes has been thus
utilized somewhat), and as possible food, the cephalopods contribute two or three useful articles

1 Report U. 8. Pish Commission, part vii, 1882, pp. 305-308.
"Commercial Products of the Sea, p. 116.

THE SEA-SNAILS. i','.i;;

to commerce. A large portion of them carry iiuder the skin of the back a long, Hat, calcareous
'bone" or plate, which serves as a stay or support to the frame in lien of a skeleton. In some
species it is long and slender like a quill-pen. This bone, reduced to powder, forma a useful
pounce, " used in rewriting over erasures to prevent blotting, and in medicine as an antacid." It
is also combined into a dentifrice. The principal use for it, nevertheless, is for feeding to caged
birds requiring lime for their health. For this purpose several hundred- weight of "cuttle-bone"
are brought into the United States annually. It is furnished chiefly from Chinese waters,
but is also collected floating in the Mediterranean. None of our American species afford a useful
cuttle-bone, however; so that this import can scarcely be diminished. The name "Calamary"
is often applied to a Cuttle-fish, and arises from the fact that each of them carries in an internal
gland a supply of blue-black, ink-like liquid, which upon the slightest alarm he discharges into
the water, making a dense cloud under cover of which he rapidly retreats. 1 This ink, removed and
dried into little cakes, with a greater or less adulteration, forms the sepia of painters and the
India ink of draughtsmen. Now it is brought almost wholly from Oriental ports, via London,
but it might probably be saved on our coast as well. Provided with pen and ink on all occa-
sions, these mollusks seem truly to stand at the head of the class of animals they represent
not wholly because of their superior size and loftier brain and organization, but also on the score
of literary accomplishments.


The Gasteropod mollusks, bearing a shell in a single piece and usually spirally whorled, are
not of much direct utility to man, as a rule, on this side of the world, north of the tropics; but there
are a few species which deserve mention. Their principal claim to notice in this connection lies
in the fact that they figure upon the habitual bill of fare of various fishes. No doubt the list
appended might be greatly enlarged if we were better informed, particularly in respect to the
southern coast. Thus far the chief knowledge possessed in respect to the molluscan food of
American fishes is derived from Gould's " Report upon the Invertebrates of Massachusetts," and
Prof. A. E. Yen-ill's report to the United States Fish Commission. From this and other sources
is compiled the succeeding catalogue of species of Gasteropod mollusks that are fed upon by
fishes; these, it must be observed, are confined to the Atlantic coast, and, to a great extent, to the
waters of New England, through lack of information in respect to the similar food of the fishes of
the southern and the western coast. The list includes about fifty species, and reads:

Bela turricula, Bela harpularia, Bela pyramidalis, Bela decussata, Adinet6 CouthouyJ, Ncptunea
despecta, Buccinum undatum, Buccinum ciliatum, Tritia trivittata, llyanawa obtoleta, Trophon
dathratu*, Trophon clathratus var. scalar if or mis, Purpura lapillwi, Astyri* ronacca, Astyris lunata,
Natica clausa, Lunatia heros, Lunatia grcentandica, Lunatia immaculate, Amauropsiti islandica,
Velutina sonata, Velutina, laicigata, Lamellaria perspicua, Littorina several species, Triforis nigro-
cinctutt, Bittium nigrum, Turritella erona, Trichoiropis borealig, Grepidula fornicata, Crepidula plana,
Aporrhais occidental!*, Scalar ia grccnlandica, Scalaria Novanglice, Margarita cinerea, Margarita
grcenlandica, Margarita argentata, Machcnroplaj; obscura, Puncturella noachina, Tonicella marmora,
Trachydermon albu*, Trachydermon ruber, Chiton various species, Auricula veatita var. Emeronii,

"There are frightful tales abroad of the ferocity with which the larger of these creatures will attack man, and they
are greatly dreaded by the shell-divers of the South Seas; but the truth is the Cuttle-fish ia timid, and will hide or run
away whenever ho can from anything so large and strange as a man; that is, any Cuttles smaller than the giants of
Newfoundland. A diver who touched a large Octopus would instinctively be seized, of course, since the creature would
know no different course of action; but voluntary attack is not credited by those who know most about the habits of the


Odostomia stria-tula, Philine lineolata, Amphisphyra hi emails, Amphisphyra debilis, Diaphana Goulflii,
and Cylichna alba among salt-water forms; with many species of Melampm, Paludina, Planorbis,
Limnea, Physa, and other fresh-water genera.

But many of these species, and several not mentioned here, have additional claims to our
notice. For example, Buccinum undatum, the Cape Ann "Periwinkle," might well serve as food,
since in Europe it has long been thus utilized. In all the coast towns of England and Scotland
this shell is peddled for food, under the name "Whelk" or " Wilk," and it may be bought at all
the street-corners in the poorer quarters of London, where it is esteemed a great luxury. Our
Whelk might equally well be eaten, and is very common northward from Cape Cod to the arctic
regions, living chiefly on rocky shores, but also inhabiting muddy bottoms. It is thus accessible
to castaways upon bleak arctic coasts where no other edible shell-fish of consequence occurs, and
ought not to be forgotten by those who take the risk of shipwreck in Labrador or Greenland.

Next demanding attention are two of the largest mollusks on the Atlantic coast north of the
tropics Fulgur carica and Sycotypus canaliculata. North of New Jersey these two are confused
under the general names of " Periwinkle," " Winkle," and " Wrinkle." The former of these species
extends "northward only to Cape Cod," and is uncommon beyond Long Island, while the second
is of more frequent occurrence in Vineyard Sound and along the Connecticut shore than south-
ward. Both are carnivorous, and find in the Oysters a quiet, easy prey ; they consequently do
great damage to the beds, and are properly destroyed by fishermen whenever a chance occurs. I
believe this is especially true of the Sycotypus. On the coast of New Jersey and southward,
where the Fulgur reaches an immense size, and is known as the "Conch," the oystermen complain
very little of it.

The Sycotypus is more common north of New York, though it does not exist at all beyond
Cape Cod; while along the coast of New Jersey and southward it is the Fulgur which is charge-
able with nearly all mischief perpetrated, since the other species is rarely seen. Occasionally, as
Verrill mentions, specimens of both may be found crawling on sandy flats or in the tide-pools,
especially during the spawning season, but they do not ordinarily live in such situations, but in
deeper water, on hard bottoms off shore. It is needless to say that they do not burrow at all,
though they are able to insert the posterior part of the foot into the sand sufficiently to afford
them a strong anchorage against currents. A very soft or a very rocky bottom they equally

The curious egg-cases of these mollusks, to which the names "sea-ruffle" and "sea-necklace"
are often given by fishermen, always attract the attention of visitors to the sea side, who find
them cast upon the beaches; and we can well echo the pious exclamation of the old historian of
Martha's Vineyard, "The Author of nature makes a wonderful and copious provision for the
propagation of this worm!" The eggs are discharged in a series of disk-shaped, subcircular, or
reniform, yellowish capsules, parchment-like in texture, united by one edge to a stout stem of the
same kind of material often a foot and a half or two feet in length. "The largest capsules, about
an inch in diameter, are in the middle, the size decreasing toward each end. On the outer border
is a small circular or oval spot, of thinner material, which the young ones break through when
they are ready to leave the capsules, each of which, when perfect, contains twenty to thirty or
more eggs or young shells, according to the season." Verrill adds interesting particulars, as

Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 115 of 146)