Main content area

Endeavour journal, 12 April 1770 (Series 03.596)

Notes: Page header reads: 'Towards New South Wales'
Author: Banks, Joseph, Sir, 1743-1820
Date: 12 April 1770
Series title: Series 03: The Endeavour journal of Joseph Banks, 25 August 1768 - 12 July 1771
Frame numbers:
Transcript: 12. Calm again: I again went out in my small boat and shot much the same birds as yesterday; took up also cheifly the same animals to which was added indeed Actinia natans. I again saw undoubted proofs that the Albatrosses eat Holothurias or Portugese men of War as the sea men call them. I had also an opportunity of observing the manner in which this animal stings. The body of it Consists of a bladder on the upper side of which is fixd a kind of Sail which he erects or depresses at pleasure; the edges of this he also at pleasure gathers in so as to make it Concave on one side and convex on the other, varying the concavity or convexity to which ever side he pleases for the conveniency of catching the wind, which moves him slowly upon the surface of the sea in any direction he pleases. Under the bladder hang down two kinds of strings, one smooth and transparent which are harmless, the other full of small round knobbs having much the appearance of small beads strung, these he contracts or extends sometimes to the lengh of 4 feet. Both these and the others are in this species of a lovely ultramarine blew, but in the more common one which is many times larger than this being near as large as a Goose egg, they are of a fine red. With these latter however he does his mischeif, stinging or burning as it is calld if touchd by any substance: they immediately exsert millions of exceeding fine white threads about a line in lengh which peirce the skin and adhere to it giving very acute pain. When the animal exserts them out of any of the little knobbs or beads which are not in contact with some substance into which they can peirce they appear very visibly to the naked eye like small fibres of snow white cotton.