Thursday, March 22, 2007

the dear devoured one

I happened upon this book by Henry Lee, published in 1875:

Mr. Lee was the Naturalist at the Brighton Aquarium in England. Here is an excerpt from Chapter II, titled "Octopods I Have Known":

"The first octopus received at the Brighton Aquarium was caught in a lobster-pot at Eastbourne in October 1872, and great was the joy that reigned in "London-by-the-sea."...The new octopus became "the rage." Poor fellow! his career was short, and his end sudden and shocking...

It became necessary to clean out a tank in which were some "Larger spotted dog-fishes," Scyllium stellare. No hostility between them and the octopus being anticipated by their attendant, they were temporarily placed with it, and, for a while, they seemed to dwell together as peaceably as the "happy family" of animals...the octopus usually remaining within the "Cottage-by-the-sea" which he had built for himself in the form of a grotto of living oysters, and the dog-fish apparently taking no notice of him.

But one fatal day--the 7th of January, 1873--the "devil-fish" was missing, and it was seen that one of the "companions of his solitude" was inordinately distended. A thrill of horror ran through the corridors. There was suspicion of crime and dire disaster. The corpulent nurse-hound was taken into custody, lynched and disembowelled, and his guilt made manifest. For there, within his capacious stomach, unmutilated and entire, lay the poor octopus who had delighted thousands during the Chrismtas holidays. It had been swalled whole and very recently, but life was extinct.

"The dear devoured one," as a local journal called it, was at once immersed in methylated spirits. The dog-fish was stuffed. Both are still preserved at the aquarim."

R.I.P., little guy. R.I.P.


Anonymous said...

Yes! Another Cephalopod enthusist! (Small world too... I grew up near Boston in the town of Acton).

Did you know NOVA|PBS is airing a show devoted to the cuttlefish soon???

Check out my blog for more info. :)

Cheers, Amanda

Anonymous said...

OK. Really REALLY small world... :) I was just reading that you went to the Monterey Aquarium to see the cuttelfish... I plan to be moving out of Arizona as well. Not to Massachusetts, but to Santa Barbara very soon. I have already convinced my BF that we are going to the Monterey Aquarium. Not a matter of if -just a matter of when! Cuttlefish, prepare for my digital camera!

I miss all the apple orchards and farms in New England. Fresh local produce was always around my house when I was a kid. Sadly, AZ farmer's markets, well... just suck by comparison. SB has AWESOME farmers markets and access to wine counrty. Yep. Life is good!

Cheers, Amanda

P.S. Feel free to drop me an e-mail anytime: