Field notes from the past (9): colorful samples

Hauling the fishpots. Four of these were constantly in use during our stay and were hauled about once in three days. They were anchored out near the reefs and secured a good catch of reef fishes, many of them excellent for food and nearly all brilliantly colored. Hardly any other experience during the cruise was more interesting than contemplating the extraordinary vividness of the contents of the fishpot. No flower bed nor collection of tropical butterflies could surpass the bright color of these fishes, and we all immensely enjoyed surveying the contents as they were brought in. Of course these colors faded very soon after death, and nothing in the preserved specimens indicates their real appearance in life.

-CC Nutting, 1919


In contrast to previous caribbean research journeys, the expedition to Barbados-Antigua was not based on a ship but in a building that would serve as a biological station. Already settled at Pelican island, the expedition team noticed that biodiversity surrounded them on every direction, starting just a few meters from their rooms.


Cover image: Dactylopterus volitans, a tropical fish also known as the “flying gurnard” because of its wing-shaped pectoral fins.

Obtained from:
Bloch ME. (1793). Allgemeine Naturgeschichte der Fische. TFH. 


– Nutting CC. (1919). Barbados-Antigua Expedition: Narrative and Preliminary Report of a Zoological Expedition from the University of Iowa to the Lesser Antilles Under the Auspices of the Graduate College (Vol. 8, No. 3). Iowa city, The University.

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