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The World's News Wednesday, February 4, 1931

This article is titled:  Weird Submarine Sights

 

One curious fact attending recent submarine explorations is afforded by the light, which forms a strange blend of green and violet light, the color being a little similar to that of the caverns which are to be seen in icebergs.  At a depth of 32 yards, the light begins to get more and more diffused, and the sun viewed through the mass of superincumbent water appears like a reddish opaque globe: but— and this is somewhat strange— when sheltered from the rays of the sun (behind a rock, for instance) the stars become visible even at midday.

"One day, about noon, I saw," states De Plury, "a never-to-be-for-gotten  sight at a depth of 129 feet.  The sun was right at the zenith, the bottom upon which I stood consisted of fine white' sand, and the reflection of standing upon a plain of molten goal.

 At a depth of 226 feet, the obscurity is complete; at 327 feet the darkness is impenetrable, and it is necessary to have recourse to electricity for purposes of vision. I use electric lamps of 10,000 candlepower, but even these cannot diffuse their light beyond a radius of 90ft.

A most tragic spectacle is then presented by sunken vessels, broken boats, splintered hulls, gaping decks, and broken masts. No scenes of horror can be surpassed, by the awful panoramas of death and disaster which have been witnessed by De Plury.  "In the vicinity of Ostend," he relates, I was requested once to examine the wreck of a vessel which had sunk not long ago.  This was the occasion upon which I was assailed by a veritable horde of those giant crabs of which you may have heard. They were at the time busy devouring the corpses of the dead sailors. One of these monsters seized me by, the leg, which would have been crushed, as if squeezed by a jaw of steel, had it not been protected by the powerful armor of my diving dress.  I had a kind of sword in my hand, with which I succeeded in killing two of these monsters the shells of which I still possess. All objects at the bottom of the sea are covered with a kind of curious powder, and a terrible gloom and silence prevail. What a scene of melancholy! The floor of the ocean is strewn with bones, not a few of them of human origin.

THE DEAD IN CALM SLUMBER.

A very singular fact which I have observed is that the sea, for a certain period of time, keeps bodies in a perfect state of preservation. I once visited the hull of a vessel which had gone down with all hands. The crew were mostly asleep at the time when the disaster occurred and had thus passed practically instantaneously from sleep to death. So far they had not been bitten or gnawed by any fish, as most of the hatchways were closed. The men still appeared as if asleep. There they lay, wrapped in a calm and mysterious slumber. I approached, and climbing down to the hatchways, touched one of the corpses with my hand; the flesh seemed to dissolve and vanish under my hand, leaving nothing but a grinning skeleton!  "And the treasures of the seas!  Millions alone are engulfed not far from Vigo. Personally, I have never been there, but one of my men once went down there clad in the old diving dress. This was before I had invented my present dress. The unhappy man died as he reached the surface for a second time; but he had had time to see several galleons lying at the bottom, with the masts still standing, and the timber-work still sound.

These, of course, were some of the famous treasure ships; but I do not think it would be possible to recover them. All metals would have been destroyed by rust by now, as they have been below water since 1707. I have seen personally, the vessel which, about 1808, was conveying Napoleon's treasures to Holland, but it was wrecked in route and sank with three hundred millions of gold on board; of these, fifty-six million have been recovered, but the remainder, as I have said, is still in the bosom of the ocean. The Prince of Monaco states that he has found near Cyprus a gulley still full of objects of art at the bottom of the sea. This is where submarine boats will have such a great future before them, as by their aid, we shall one day be able to explore unknown depths, sea grottoes, rich in unknown forms of life, vaults of untold wealth and the tomb of many a poor sailor. Science Siftings."