G. Brown (George Brown) Goode.

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

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small size, it is very destructive to all kinds of submarine wood-work, which it rapidly eats away.
Its body, which is subcyliudrical iu shape, consists of fourteen segments, the anterior one being
the head ; the two ends are rounded and the sides are nearly straight and parallel to one another.
The first seven segments, not including the head, bear each a pair of short legs. It makes its
burrows by means of stout mandibles or jaws. In color it is grayish, the upper surface of the
body being covered with minute hairs, to which more or less dirt usually adheres.

The Gribble generally lives above and just below low-water mark, but has been found at
times, though very rarely, as low down as seven to ten fathoms. It gnaws burrows into all sorts
of sunken or floating wood near the shore, and lumber or drift-wood left for some time on muddy
shores is pretty certain to be attacked by it. The burrows are made to a depth of about half an inch,
and when they become numerous enough to reduce the superficial layer of wood to a mere honey-
comb, it scales off, leaving a fresh surface, which is at once attacked. Much damage is done by
this little creature to the piles of wharves and other submarine wood-work all along our Atlantic
coast, and numerous methods of stopping its ravages have been devised. It has been observed
attacking the gutta percha of submarine telegraph cables. Professor Verrill describes its habits
and the damage it has done on the American coast, as follows: 1

"It has the habit of eating burrows for itself into solid wood to the depth of about half an
inch. These burrows are nearly round, and of all sizes up to about a sixteenth of an inch iu
diameter, and they go into the wood at all angles and are usually more or less crooked. They are
often so numerous as to reduce the wood to mere series of thin partitions between the holes. In
this state the wood rapidly decays, or is washed away by the waves, and every new surface
exposed is immediately attacked, so that layer after layer is rapidly removed, and the timber thus
wastes away and is entirely destroyed in a few years. It destroys soft woods more rapidly than
hard ones, but all kinds are attacked except teak. It works chiefly in the softer parts of the wood,
between the hard, annual layers, and avoids the knots and lines of hard fiber connected with them,
as well as rusted portions around nails that have been driven in, and consequently, as the
timbers waste away under its attacks, these harder portions stand out in bold relief. Where
abundant it will destroy soft timber at the rate of half an inch or more every year, thus dimin-
ishing the effective diameter of piles about an inch annually. Generally, however, the amount is
probably not more than half this, but even at that rate the largest timbers will soon be destroyed,
especially when, as often happens, the Teredos are aiding in this work of destruction. It lives in
a pretty narrow zone, extending a short distance above and below low-water mark. It occurs all

! Vineyard Sound Report, pp. 379, 380, 1871-'72.


along our shores, from Long Island Sound to Nova Scotia. In the Bay of Fundy it often does
great damage to the timbers and other wood-work used in constructing the brush fish-weirs, aa
well as to tin- wharves, etc. At Wood's IIoll it wns found to be very destructive- to the piles of
the \\harves. The piles of the new government wharves have been protected by broad hands of
tin-plate covering the zone which it chiefly affects. North of Cape Cod, where the tides are much
greater, this /one is broader, and this remedy is not so easily applied. It does great damage also
to ship timber floating in the docks, and great losses are sometimes caused in this way. Com-
plaints of such ravages in the navy-yard at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, have been made, and
they also occur at the Charlostown navy-yard and in the piles of the wharves at Boston. Probably
the wharves and other submerged wood- work in all our sea-ports, from New York northward, are
more or less injiirril l>y this creature, and, if -it could be accurately estimated, the damage would
be found surprisingly great.

"Unlike the Teredo, this creature is a vegetarian, and eate the wood which it excavates, so
that its boring operations provide it with both food and shelter. The burrows arc made by means
of its stout mandibles or jaws. It is capable of swimming quite rapidly, and can leap backward
suddenly by means of its tail. It can creep both forward and backward. It> legs are short ami
better adapted for moving up and down in its burrow than elsewhere, and its body is rounded,
with parallel sides, and well adapted to its mode of life. When disturbed it will roll itself into a
ball. The female carries seven to nine eggs or young in the incubatory pouch at one time.

"The destructive habits of this species were first brought prominently to notice in 1811, by
the celebrated Uobert Stephensou, who found it rapidly destroying the wood-work at the Bell
Rock light -house, erected by him on the coast of Scotland. Since that time it has been investi-
gated and its ravages have been described by numerous European writers. It is very destructive
on the coasts of Great Britain, where it is known as the ' Gribble.'

"The remedies used to check its ra/ages arc chiefly copper or other metallic sheathing;
driving broad-headed iron nails, close together, into the part of the piles subject to their attacks;
and applying coal tar, creosote, or verdigris paint, once a year or oftener."


This is the largest species of Isopod liviug upon the New England coast, and attains a length
of two inches and a breadth of one inch. It occurs as a parasite on the cod and halibut In addi-
tion to its large size, when adult, it may be readily distinguished by its large eyes, which nearly
cover the upper surface of the head, and approach closely together at their anterior extremities.
The first three pairs of legs are adapted for clinging to the surface of the fish on which it lives.
The body is oval, and broadest just in front of the middle. The Salve Bugs are used as an unguent
by the fishermen, who sometimes collect them in large quantities.


This dhler of crustaceans includes a vast number of small, generally minute, free-swimming
forms, frequently called water-fleas, which abound in both fresh and salt waters, and other and
generally larger species which occur as parasites on fish and other aquatic animals. The former
serve as an important article of food for many fishes, such as the menhaden and mackerel, while
the latter are frequently injurious to them, being often strangely modified, and burrowing deeply
into the flesh, from which they suck the juices, causing great irritation and at times perhaps



Several species of Barnacles (which belong to the natural group of Crustacea, despite the
hard, tuollusk-like shell of most of the species) occur upon our coast and serve as food for some
of our fishes, but it is mainly their intrusion upon certain of the marine industries that gives
them a place in this volume. A large species of Barnacle, Coronula diadema, Liune, growing upon
the skin of one or more species of whales, is eaten to some extent by the west coast Indians.

In one group of Barnacles the animals are furnished with a fleshy stem or peduncle, by means
of which they remain permanently attached to floating objects in the sea. The species of this
group bear the general name of "Goose Barnacles." Our commonest species is the Lepas
fagcicularis. The other group of Barnacles, represented upon our coast by the " Rock Barnacle"
(Balanus balanoides), "Ivory Barnacle" (Balanus eburneus), and other species, has no peduncle,
but the several valves forming the conical shell are attached directly and permanently to the
rocks or wood on which they happen to dwell. Some of the species of both groups grow upon the
hulls of ships below the water-line, and in connection with seaweed and other species of marine
animals cause the so-called fouling of the bottom, necessitating constant cleaning and scraping of
the bottoms of vessels at considerable expense. Barnacles also stand as a serious obstacle in the
way of oyster culture, as shown by the recent experiences of the United States Fish Commission.
They grow with exceeding rapidity, very much faster than the oyster, and are so hardy as to defy
any attempts at extermination. In the spring of 1880, when the experiments in the artificial
breeding of oysters were being carried on in Chesapeake Bay, slates coated with plaster were
used as collectors. To these the oyster embryos attached themselves in large numbers, and began
their growth with good promises of success ; but at the same time embryos of the Ivory Barnacle
were fully as abundant in the water, and, attaching themselves in even greater numbers, rapidly
outgrew the less hardy oysters. In many places they completely crowded the oysters out of
place, and soon occupied entire surfaces. In other places, however, they were less numerous and
interfered less with the oyster growths. It is very certain that this inconvenience must always
remain as a certain check on all oyster- cultural experiments on our coast, and must seriously
interfere with any attempts at artificial oyster-breeding. It is to be hoped, however, that future
experiments will prove that the Ivory Barnacle cannot entirely destroy the profits of such an
important industry, which, in consideration of the greatly impoverished character of some of our
formerly rich oyster regions, it is very necessary should be started at once, and, if possible, carried
to a high state of perfection.

The Ivory Barnacle ranges from Massachusetts Bay to Florida and the West Indies, while the
Kock Barnacle inhabits the entire North Atlantic coasts of both continents. The habitats of our
common species are given as follows by Professor Verrill:

"The common Barnacle of the rocky shores, Balanus balanoides, is also common on the piles
of wharves and bridges, between tides, and also on the bottoms of vessels, etc. It never grows
very large, although it may become so crowded together as to form a continuous crust. It is
easily distinguished from the other species by its membranous base, which never forms a solid
plate like that of the other species. The ' Ivory Barnacle,' Balanun eburneus, is also common on
all kinds of submerged wood-work, whether fixed or floating. It is usually abundant on the piles
and timbers of wharves, buoys, oyster-stakes, bottoms of vessels, etc. It is chiefly found below
low-water mark if on fixed objects, and is even more common in the brackish waters of estuaries
than in the purer waters outside, and it is capable of living even in pure, fresh water, for Prof.


Jeffreys Wyman has sent me specimens collected by himself about sixty-five miles up tin- Saint
.luliii's K'iver, in Florida, where the water is not at all brackish. This species is sometimes found
adhering to the carapax of Crabs, the shell of Limvlvt, and various mollusks. It is easily
distinguished (nun most species on account of its low, broad form and its smooth, white exterior.
It has a shelly base. The />'. rrcnatwi, common on shells and stones in deep water, also occurs on
vessels. Other species are often found on the bottoms of vessels that have couie from warmer
latitudes. Some of them are of large size. One of the most frequent of these is Balantm


The curious form of marine animal called "Horseshoe Crab," "King Crab," and " Horse
foot," ranges along our entire Atlantic coast, from Casco Bay, Maine, to Mexico, and gives rise
to an important industry in at least one region Delaware Bay. It is not, however, a true Crab,
and its exact position in the animal kingdom is still involved in much obscurity. Some natu-
ralists regard it as a low type of crustacean, while others place it among the Arachnida, or
scorpions and spiders. Its nearest allies all occur as fossils, through many geological ages down
to nearly the oldest of the fossiliferous series. Another species of the same genus, however, still
lives upon the eastern coast of Asia.

The carapax of the King Crab is very large, with a regularly rounded outer margin, termi-
nating in a spine at the posterior angles on both sides. The abdomen is much smaller, and from
its hinder end, to which it is jointed, runs out a long, tapering spine. The basal portions of the
feet on the lower side of the carapax serve as masticating organs.

The King Crab is sluggish in its movements, and spends mnch of its time more or less buried
in the mud and sand of shallow water, coming up occasionally to high-water mark. It is most
abundant on the muddy bottoms of shores and estuaries, where it burrows just beneath the
surface, and feeds upou various small animals.

" At the breeding season, however, it comes up on the sandy shores to deposit the eggs, near
high-water mark. According to the statements of Rev. S. Lockwood, the spawning is done at the
time of high tides, during May, June, and July; they come up in pairs, the males, which are
smallest, riding on the backs of the females and holding themselves in that position by the short
feet, provided with nippers, which are jteciiliar to the males. The female excavates a depression
in the sand and deposits the eggs in it, and the male casts the milt over them, when they again
return to deeper water, leaving the eggs to be buried by the action of the waves. In aquaria,
under favorable circumstances, the eggs hatch in about six weeks, but in their natural conditions
they probably hatch sooner than this; under unfavorable conditions the hatching may be delayed
for a whole year. The eggs are very numerous."'

From several intelligent observers living on the Delaware Bay side of Southern New Jersey
we have received interesting notes on the habits of the King Crab, as exemplified in that region,
and which may also hold good for others. While this Crab is comparatively rare on the outer
side of Southern New Jersey, on the inner side, along the shores of Delaware I'.ay. from Cape
May to Reed's Island, it is unusually abundant. It is not, however, always present in the very
shallow water near shore. During the breeding season, which is mainly confined to the months
of May and June, but also extends slightly into .Inly, the males and females approach and ascend
the beaches in countless numbers, the latter to lay their eggs, the former to impregnate them. It

: Vineyard Sound Report, pp. 340, 341, 1871-'72.


is not an uncommon thing for the female, as she crawls up the beach, to be accompanied by two,
three, and even as many as six males, the forward one clinging to the abdomen of the female, and
the remainder fastened to one another in the same manner. As a rule, however, each female brings
with her only a single male. After the spawning has been accomplished, they retreat from the
beach in the same order. King Crabs are not equally abundant at all times during the spawning
season, bnt are most plentiful on the beaches during the spring tides, which occur about the times
of the new and full moon. Westerly winds suit them best for spawning, and they will not come
ashore in large numbers during an easterly wind. They approach with the floor! tide and leave
soon after the ebb. The eggs hatch in July and August, at which times the sands become literally
alive with the young Crabs. These soon disappear, not to return to the shore until they have
attained a considerable size. After the close of the spawning season the adult Crabs are not seen
in abundance about the shore, but probably live in slight depths of water near at hand. During
the winter they are often taken out in Delaware Bay by the oyster dredgers. They are very
much less abundant now than formerly, on account of so many having been caught from year to
year for use as a fertilizer. It would appear as though a few years more of indiscriminate capture
would.result in their being entirely exterminated from the region. The men catch them mainly
in their hands, as they come upon the beaches, but they are also captured in pounds and weirs.

The King Crab is rarely used as food for man, bnt is often fed to swine and poultry, and,
after drying, is extensively employed as a fertilizer. It also serves as bait for eels and some
species of fish. This species of Crab has been introduced on the west coast of the United States,
the young, it is supposed, having been carried over mingled with the spat of the eastern oyster,
which has been largely transplanted into the shallow waters of San Francisco Bay. It has also
been introduced on the European coast.



Marine Worms of many different kinds occur in great abundance along the entire Atlantic
mill I'arilic coasts of the United States, ami are available as bait, for which purpose a few species
are t'ir<|iientl.v employed by both professional and amateur fishermen. They are generally easily
obtained by dig.uing with a spade or trowel into sandy or muddy shores, but are not common on
c\po>ed beaches of dear sand. They usually require for their existence a greater or less
admixture of mud, gravel, and organic matter, the latter to serve as food. Shores which furnish
the common clam (Mi/a arenaria) usually abound in Marine Worms of several varieties, which are
iivcrtimied in digging for that niollusk. So far as we know, there is no regular trade in this
marine product on any part of our coast; but occurring as they do within the convenient reach of
most of the shore fishermen, these Worms may be obtained at short notice, and deserve mention
here as forming an element of some importance in our marine fisheries. The following account of
the habits of Marine Worms in general and of some of our commoner species is extracted from
the report of Prof. A. E. Verrill: 1

"The Marine Worms or Annelids are very numerous under the rocks between tides, ami
concealed beneath the surface of the gravel and mud that accumulates between and beneath the
stones and in crevices. Many kinds also live in the pools, lurking among the roots of the
algae, burrowing in the bottom, or building tubes of their own iu more exposed situations. Many
of these Annelids are very beautiful in form and brilliant in color when living, while most of them
have curious habits and marvelous structures. Several species are of large size, growing to the
length of one or two feet. Some are carnivorous, devouring other worms and any other Miiall
creatures that they can kill by their powerful weapons ; others are vegetarians ; but many are
mud-eaters, swallowing the mud and tine sand in great quantities, for the sake of the animal and
vegetable organisms that always exist in it, as is the case with clams and most of the bivalve
shells and many other kinds of marine animals.

" All these Annelids are greedily devoured by most kinds of marine fishes, whenever they can
get at them, and, since many of the Annelids leave their burrows in the night to swim at the
surface, or do this constantly at the breeding season, they make an important element in the diet
of many fishes besides those that constantly root for them in the mud and gravel, like the tantog,
scup, haddock, etc. The young of nearly all the Annelids also swim free in the water for a
considerable time, and in this state are doubtless devoured in immense numbers by all sorts of
yonng and small fishes.

"One of the largest and most common Annelids found under rocks, burrowing in the sand
and gravel, is the Nereis virens. It lives both at low-water mark and at a considerable distance
farther up. It grows to the length of eighteen inches or more, and is also quite stunt in its
proportions. The color is dull greenish, or bluish green, more or less tinged with led. and the
surface reflects bright iridescent hues; the large lamellae or gills along the sides are greenish

1 Vineyard Sound Report, pp. 317, 318, 341, 342, 1871-'72.



anteriorly, but farther back often become bright red owing to the numerous blood-vessels that
they contain. It is a very active and voracious Worm, and has a large, retractile proboscis, armed
with two strong, black, hook-like jaws at the end, and many smaller teeth on the sides. It feeds
on other Worms and various kinds of marine animals. It captures its prey by suddenly thrusting
out its proboscis and seizing hold with the two terminal jaws ; then withdrawing the proboscis,
the food is torn and masticated at leisure, the proboscis, when withdrawn, acting somewhat like a
gizzard. These large Worms are dug out of their burrows and devoured eagerly by the tautog,
scup, and other fishes. But at certain times, especially at night, they leave their own burrows,
and, coming to the surface, swim about like eels or snakes, in vast numbers, and at such times fall
an easy prey to many kinds of fishes. This habit appears to be connected with the season of
reproduction. They were observed thus swimming at the surface in the daytime, near Newport,
in April, 1872, by Messrs. T. M. Prudden and T. H. Kussell, and I have often observed them
in the evening later in the season. At Watch Hill, Rhode Island, April 12, I found great
numbers of the males swimming in the pools among the rocks at low water, and discharging their
milt. This Worm also occurs in many other situations, and is abundant in most places along
sandy and muddy shores, both of the sounds and estuaries, burrowing near low-water uicirk.
It occurs all along the coast from New York to the Arctic Ocean, and is also common on the
northern coasts of Europe.

" With the last, in this region and southward, another similar species, but of smaller size, is
usually met with in large numbers. This is the Nereis limbata. It grows to the length of five or
six inches, and can easily be distinguished by its slender, sharp, light amber-colored jaws, and by
the lateral lamellae, which are small anteriorly and narrow or ligulate posteriorly. Its color, when
full grown, is usually dull brown, or smoky brown or bronze-color anteriorly, with oblique light
lines on the sides, and often with a whitish border to each of the rings, which form narrow, pale
bands at the articulations ; posteriorly the body and lateral appendages are pale red, and the
longitudinal dorsal bloodvessel is conspicuous.

"Annelids are quite numerous on the sandy shores where the conditions are favorable. It
is evident that these soft-bodied creatures would be quickly destroyed by the force of the waves
and the agitation of the sand were they not provided with suitable means for protecting them-
selves. This is effected mainly in two ways: the sand-dwelling species either have the power of
burrowing deeply into the sand with great rapidity, or else they construct long, durable tubes,
which descend deeply into the sand and afford a safe retreat. Many of the active burrowing
species also construct tubes, but they usually have but little coherence and are not very perma-
nent, nor do they appear to be much relied on by the owners. There is, however, great diversity
both in the structure and composition of the tubes of different species, and in the modes by which
the rapid burrowing is effected.

" The large green Nereis (N. virens) is found on the sandy shores in places that are somewhat
sheltered, especially if there be an admixture of mud or gravel with the sand to give it firmness
and solidity. This species burrows deeply beneath the surface and lines the interior of its large
irregular burrows with an abundant mucus-like secretion, which gives smoothness and some
coherency to the walls, but does not form a solid tube. With this, and in greater numbers, the
smaller species, Nereis limbata, is also found, and its habits appear to be essentially the same.
Both this and the preceding can burrow rapidly, but much less so than some other worms, and
consequently they are not well adapted to live on exposed beaches of moving sands, but prefer
coves and harbors. The two large species of Rliynchobolus are much better adapted for rapid
burrowing. Their heads are very small and acute, and destitute of all appendages, except four


minute tentacles at the ml; the body is long, smooth, and tapers gradually to both ends, ami

Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 137 of 146)