During the winter and spring of 1884, Baird loaned the Albatross
to the U.S. Navy to undertake hydrographic surveys in the Caribbean
Sea. These investigations confirmed the existence of a suspected
underwater ridge stretching between St. Croix in the Virgin Islands
and Puerto Rico, and located an extensive shoal (promptly named
the Albatross Bank) east of Jamaica (U.S. Navy, 1884:146–147).
Equally important, according to the ship’s navigator, these
investigations proved the “non-existence” of a number
of shoals reported by other mariners in this area (Smith, 1889:937).
During the cruise, the ship’s crew also had the secondary
mission of collecting biological specimens. Then, from late July
to early October of 1884, the ship proceeded to her summer base
at Woods Hole. While en route to that location, the ship once
again sought to trace the movements of pelagic species between
Cape Hatteras and the Gulf of Maine.
Figure 12c. - The upper laboratory.
But the focus of the Albatross’s summer activities
was in the deep waters
of the northwest Atlantic. Here, collections and data were obtained
from waters as deep as 2,600 fathoms off the coasts of New England,
Long Island, and New Jersey. Although Baird continued to observe
that one of his purposes was to search for the tilefish along
the Gulf Stream Slope, the fundamental contribution made by these
oceanic operations was the illumination of the biological and
physical characteristics of the deep-ocean environment (Tanner,
1886:78–79; USFC, 1886:xviii;xx)(9).
By this time, work was underway on two important research projects
that used many of the materials gathered by the Albatross.
One was the effort by Addison Verrill and his associates to study
deep-sea invertebrates. Eventually this group published more than
100 papers, most of which appeared after Verrill ended his connection
with the Fish Commission following Baird’s death in 1887
(Schopf, 1968:F5–F10; Allard, 1978:337–338). The second
undertaking was a two-volume work entitled “Oceanic Ichthyology,”
published by the Fish Commission and authored by George Brown
Goode and Tarleton H. Bean (1895), two of Baird’s associates
at the National Museum.
Goode and Bean acknowledged the utility of the deep-sea specimens
that Alexander Agassiz assigned to them after collecting these
materials during the Blake’s 1880 cruise north
of Cape Hatteras (Agassiz, 1888:I, xx). But they noted that their
work rested primarily on specimens collected by the Albatross,
supplemented by those from other Fish Commission ships and by
Figure 13. - The Edison dynamo and Armington
& Sims engine.
It is of interest that Goode and Bean (1895) questioned the scientific
importance often ascribed to the famed cruise of the Challenger
in 1872–76 (Allard, 1978:338–339). In the front matter
to “Oceanic Ichthyology” they claimed that the 47
new genera and 147 new species of deep-water fishes described
in their work were more numerous than all of the oceanic fishes
collected by the Challenger during that ship’s
entire world cruise (Goode and Bean, 1895:I, v–vi).