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The Catalina Islander
Avalon, California
March 8, 1934     The Catalina Islander
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March 8, 1934

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PAGE FOUR THE CATALINA FISH HAVE TROUBLES l)uring a series of long-time experi- nttnts in the fish laboratories at the Scripps lnsntution of Oceanography at La Jolla, the fishes suddenly, for no apparent reason at all, died and put an eml to all the experiments. A new lot of fishes were brought in and they died. Therefore, an entirely new in- vestigation was undertakert to find out what was killing tile fish. Mr. N. A. Wells, who lost his experimental fishes, and Dr. C. E. ZoBell, interest- ed in the bacterium making the trou- ble, together discovered skin ulcers which killed all the fishes that had them, and over 80% of the fishes did 'have them. Further study revealed that not culy the fishes brought into the laboratory and aquaria had this disease, but that the fishesin nature also had it. When the men went to Mission Bay to collect their experi- mental killifish, they observed them in the bay with ulcerous skins. Fisher- men aloffg the water front had also uoticed the spots on their bait fish. but of course did not knew what they meant. Some fishermen had noticed, however, that there had been a great scarcity of bait fish the last year or two. The reason that the sick fish had not been mole noticeable is that as soon as they became crippled or in- capacitated by the disease they itnme- diately became prey to predatory crea- tures in the water, or to birds when thvy came t,~ the surface on becom- ing sick. On auother occasion the men were invited to San Diego to inspect a ser- ies ,.J commercial fish-bait tanks where the fishes were dying. Several th,:m- sand bay-smelt had been brought mto the tanks about an hour and a half previously, and at least 15% of them sh,,wed the typical ulcers of this skin disease. Besides the disease first disccvered in the killifish, it has been observed in gobies, blennies, and others. It is probable that it also attacks so-called sardines, although it has not yet been observed in the latter. It seems probable that the scarcity of bait fish during the last year or two is due to the ravages of this ulcerous skin disease. And from studies that have been made it is probable that the disease is more prevalent and serious of late years due to the.t:older temper- ature of the ocean water. It has been found by experiments with fishes in water of various temperatures, down to' about 40F. and up to as 'high as 95F., that the bacterium which causes the ulcers will live for long periods of time in cold water, but dies quickly in w:mner water. It has also been found that when fishes are in cold water, practically 100% of those that have come in contact with the bacter- ium have died; but when in warmer water they will recuperate, or will never get the disease at all. That is, as the water becomes warmer the dis- ease is not so serious and very few fish die. It is believed that the scientific re- port of these experiments, which is to appear soon, will attract attention be- cause of this narrow temperature range between which fishes get the disease and are cured of it. This is pre,bably the first tithe that experi- ments have been performed with fish of a nature sinfilar to the hyperther- mic treatments which are now being extensively used to cure various dig- eases in human beings. Hyperthernfic treatment means the raising of the body teinperature a little above nor- real, the body thus becoming able to ward off disease. In medicine it is possible to cure certain stubborn dis- eases by causing a fever o.f 105 to 108 .degrees in the body. With the fish it ts possible to raise his temperature merely by raising the temperature of the water in which he lives, which can not be done with warm-blooded aui,nals. Only by very special, often dangerous procedures can the temper- atures of warm-blooded experimental animals be raised above normal. Fishes subjected to this treatment become well and exhibit considerable immun- ity for at least several weeks. This "immunological" process may have an application to human medicine be- cause it gives this excellent experi- mental material on which to study the basis of immunity. Blue mud, green mud, red clay--all at the bottom of the sea! Sonle of the red clay so fine that it takes a hundred )-ears for it to reach the bot- tout, and yet red clay covers one- fourth of the earth's surface! The exquisitely beautiful shells of a nti- croscopic animal give its name to an- other cue-fourth of the earth's sur- face. Such a substance as petroleum owes its origin to material laid down in the sea. These are some of the things discussed by Director T. VCay- land Vaughan cf the Scripps Institu- tion in a radio talk recently. WERE GIANTS PEOPLE? By Science Service The American public may scoff a bit at fairies, but it would like very nmeh to believe in giants. At least, so it appears from the thin but steady stream of letters re- ceived ,at the Smithsonia'n Institution in Washingt~m. Ever). month in the year brings these letters. They come from people eager to tell that they have found the bones of a race of seveu or eight ioot giants that stalked about the country- side in the aucient times. It is the task of the Smithsoniau anthropologists to explain to these giant-finders the facts about giants. It ts a thankless task, and sometimes the people who so eagerly asked the Smithsonian's opinion are downright annoyed to have their folktale illu- sions shattered. On the other hand, the Snfithsonian anthropologists grew somewhat weary of the giants. There is such a santo- hess about them, for nearly all of them are conjured up into being by the Same set of nfistaken ideas. If you come across something that looks mightily like a giant, therefore, pause, and consider these points on the anatomy of giants vs. ,:rdinary mortals, as explained by Dr. Ales Hrdlicka, the S:nithsonian's curator of physical anthropology : "The estimate ot stature," he ex- plains, "is usually based on the thigh bone of a man of ordinary size. But the person unfamiliar witl~ human an- atomy does not know that the upper joint of the femur is several inches higher in the sacral region than would appear from superficial examination of the living body. The finder makes a hurried comparison of the length of the fossil thigh bone with his own, applying the specimen usually to the front of his body, and from this cal- culates roughly the size of his hypo- thetical 'ancient giant'. The height usually appears between seven and eiglit feet. "The jaw bones of the 'giants' al- most invariably fit into a series of the jaws of extant peoples. Some may be rather massive, but seldom excessively s. But the first act of the finder is to fit the jawbone over his own. He generally finds that he can do so, and jumps to the conclusion that the own- er nmst have had an abnormally large jaw. Actually, most adult jaw bones, unless uarrow, can be fitted over those of living persons, to a certain extent at least." Occasionally, Dr. Hrdlieka says, the bones that are thought to belong to giants are not htnnan at all. This is especially true in Mexico, where bones of extinct mammoths are nfistaken for some marvelously huge race of uteri. Out of the lot of the reports, an oc- casional abnormal hmnan being is re- vealed. After all, there are giants in the circus today for us to wonder at. But the size of such big men and wo- meu is generally attributable to glan- dular disorder. And they are rare types. The Smithsonian will tell you, at any rate, that there was no prehistoric race of giants--or pygmies either-- am