Monday, September 13, 2010

BibliOdyssey: The Cephalopoda

In 1898, the steamship Valdivia left Hamburg for a nine month scientific voyage to the Atlantic, Indian and Great Southern oceans [map]. Known as the German Deep-Sea Expedition, the mission was led by Leipzig University Professor of Zoology, Carl Chun and investigated chemical, zoological and physical characteristics encountered in the oceans during the voyage.
The Valdivia was equipped with state of the art biological and chemical laboratories, a first-class scientific library and ample storage space for marine specimens collected while at sea. With these specialist ship fittings and overall expedition objectives as well as vessel size, the Valdivia resembled the famous HMS Challenger from the 1870s, which had essentially established oceanography as a scientific discipline.
And like the Challenger expedition, the German Deep-Sea Expedition gave rise to an extensive series of post-voyage scientific publications. Professor Chun contributed a book on cephalopods (with a corresponding illustration/photograph atlas) to a multi-volume work called 'Wissenschaftliche Ergebnisse der deutschen Tiefse eexpedition auf dem Dampfer Valdivia' (From the Depths of the World Sea: Descriptions of the German Deep Sea Expedition).
Setting some of the groundwork for people like David Attenborough and his fantastic series, Life, these illustrations are fantastic. Watching the Humboldt Squid and the the Fried Egg Jellyfish last night gave me pause about resuming my diving career.

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