February 10th, 1897
A Short Sail In the Bay of Fundy
An Extract from My Diary
Tis true I never had a more glorious sail, not withstanding there was hardly enough wind to keep the sails full, or even steady. The water was as clear as crystal, that is, I could see into the placid water quite a depth, seated as I was on the deck gazing over the rail. The fishes were the things that interested me the most. Those round, clear, jelly fish, I think they were called, which when examined are nothing but a shapeless mass of jelly and when dried are simply film. But in the water they were superb, those circular beings, twisting, contracting, expanding, as they went and quite rapidly too. The water was simply alive with them, ranging in size from that of a pigeons egg to that of a water pail. The larger ones were colored beautifully.
Then there was another variety, still more interesting with their long snake-like hairs writhing around the jelly-like body. Those hairs seem to act as propellers to the horrible thing. This kind was mostly blood-red and some I saw would have measured several feet in length. I tried to catch some of those but the wretched things fell all to pieces at my touch and I suppose are still pursuing their journey.
Once in a while I saw what is called in fisherman's language a toadfish. They were very interesting fish as well.
The most important sight of the sail was a shoal of porpoise or black fish. Those enormous fish would have measured 15 to 20 feet in length, and there was probably forty or fifty in this shoal. The noise they made was terrific. They would break the water with their enormous dorsal fin then seemingly rear and the next second plunge into the seething foam. The noise could easily be heard two or three miles, possibly more on a day like this. We tried to get a shot at one of these creatures but as they are only in sight about a second and never show in the same place twice, we had to give it up as a bad bargain. It was laughable to see my companions with their rifles pointed in the direction of the playful porpoise waiting for a chance to shoot and then with disappointment written on their faces lower the weapon, wipe the moisture from their faces and regretfully watch the "deceitful fish". I fear they used more unsuitable language than "deceitful".
Black fish are much prized by fishermen as they yield a goodly quantity of oil the price of which I was not able to ascertain.
I had barely ceased laughing at the antics of the black fish and gone below, I mean to the cabin, when I was called on deck to witness a curious fight between two sea monsters. My companions informed one was a swordfish and a small whale called a thresher. As I have never heard of swordfish in these waters I have begun to doubt their statement. Nevertheless it was a battle and a severe one too judging from the blows of the contestants which could be heard quite a distance but only one fish could be seen and a small part of the second. It seemed as if the swordfish, if such it was, attacked the other from beneath and to escape from its tormentor it left its natural element and took to the air, for it seemed almost continually above the water. When it touched the water it swam for some distance then would spring into the air as if by magic. It was then that we had the pleasure of seeing the second fish. We could have had a fine shot at the pursued several times but thought the poor thing was fighting for life and liberty so did not disturb them. Anxiously I awaited the result of this conflict, but was doomed to disappointment. The combatants in their mad fury battled to where the setting sun illuminated the water and shone like a sheet of fire, still we could hear the battle raging till we passed out of their range. Those fish mush have battled within gunshot of us upward of an hour. Soon after night overtook us and we could see no more fishes. I will not tire you with an account of my adventure any longer. So old diary I bid you good-night.