In Cold Blood Essay

4258 words - 18 pages

N I N E

In Cold Blood:
The Tale of the Icefish
In all things of nature there is something

of the marvelous.
-Aristotle

It was a long way just to go fishing.
The us-foot converted wooden sealing boat Norveg/a put to sea out of
Sandcford Harbor, Norway on September 14,1927. Its primary destination was
perhaps the most remote piece of land on the planet. Tiny Bouvet Island, a
speck in the vast Southern Ocean, lay more than six thousand miles from
Norway, sixteen hundred

miles from the tip of Africa, and more than three

thousand miles from South America.

In the mid-1920S, commercial
invention

whaling was booming. The Norwegian

of factory ships allowed greater ...view middle of the document...

As the

whal ing fleet.
The Norregta thus had a three-pronged mission - commercial, political,

Norvegta made its \yay south, the sea temperature dropped quickly and very

and scientific. It was outfitted and financed by a leading whaling businessman,

soon another hazard - icebergs - appeared. On November 30 the crew got

but equipped

a first glimpse of Bouvet Island, but a snowstorm prevented the crew from

largely for research. Thc young zoologist aboard, Ditlef

Rustad, was to carry out investigations of marine life, paying close attention to

rowing ashore. Finally, on December

whale populations (Figure

erect a pole bearing the Norwegian flag (Figure 9.3)· The first mission had

9.2).

1,

it was possible to land a party and to

where it was prepared for the more treacherous leg of the voyage to Bouvet.

been accomplished.
Surveying of the waters around the island was constantly interrupted by

The ship was equipped with a coal-fired steam cngine, but could do just seven

storms, rough seas, and hazards to navigation. On some occasions it was very

knots at bcst on a calm sea. The "Roaring Forties" and the "Furious Fifties,"

difficult for the shore boats just 10 return to the mother ship. On December 3,

the names sailors had given to the wind- and storm-battered latitudes that lay

during a storm, the Norvegta struck a rock off thc coast of the island, which

further south, were anything but calm. The ship needed to take on all the coal

tore off some of her icc protection, damaged the keel, and opened a leak.

After two months at sea, the Norveg/a reached Cape Town, South Africa

Despite the hazards, the ship spent about a month around Bouvet. Rustad

it could in order to face the uncertain weather and to maximize its range as it

spent as much time as he could trawling for plankton and fish with a net. On

explored BoU\ et and its environs,

the day after Christmas. at a depth of about one hundred feet, he caught some

Sixty tons of coal were placed in sacks on deck, which soon created probthe rolling in

unusual looking fish he ca11 "crocodilc-fish'' on account of their large. procd

large waves, When water poured onto the ship's deck in rough seas, the

truding jms full of teeth. About twenty inches long, they had large pectoral

lems. The sacks made the ship top-heavy and exacerbated

_ .............

170

PART IV

EVOLUTION

CHAPTER

IN ACTION

9

IN COLD BLOOD

THE fALE Of THE

CEflSH

111

and tail fins, but were very pale, almosttransparCIll. When he sliced one open,
Rustad immediately noted their most peculiar feature of all - their blood was
colorless. He took some photographs but did not keep the fish.
The leak in the Norveg/a grew to the point where hand pumps had to be
used to keep her afloat. As the pack ice increased, and the coal supply
decreased, the decision was made to head to South Georgia Island for repairs.
...

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