Friday, 11 April 2014

pelagic or teuthology

During the golden age of exploration—which continued charting well into the early twentieth century—most notable were expeditions to the ends of the earth, planting flags at the poles, however one adventurous researcher cast his ambitions towards an unknown middle-distance, under the waves.  Restricted to plumbing the depths from the surface, Carl Friedrich Chun launched an excursion on the steamship Valdivia from the port of Hamburg to explore the deep seas.  The zoologist and resident expert in marine biology (a teutholog is one who studies cephalopods, octipuses, cuttlefish, nautilus and squids) at the University of Leipzig contrived new ways to fish for specimens and bring his haul to the surface.
True to the mission and cutting the figue of a Jules Verne character, the voyage rounded the southern cape of Africa and made calls in the South Seas before heading into the subantarctic (below/above) region.  Collection efforts were difficult, as many of the strange and never before seen monstrosities harvested disintegrated due to having adapted to the great pressures of the deep, and most samples, like the anglerfish, with its lantern and gaping maw, defied study and classification for years, unobserved in their native environment.  Chun, however, does have several new creatures credited to his name, including the vampire squid (from Hell), so called for its black cloak that draped its tentacles, arrayed with spines—and outfitted with night-lights.