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Wonders of the Deep, the Williamson Submarine expedition: The Williamson brothers prepare to set off from New York. They choose the Bahamas as the most suitable location to film the first underwater motion picture.

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A considerable time elapsed before the Williamson Submarine Expedition was fully equipped for its work and ready to set out for its destination. Many preparations had to be made; numerous details had to be worked out; the necessary photographic apparatus and special lenses had to be purchased; the members who were to comprise the party had to be selected; and it was essential to decide upon a suitable locality for the operations of the expedition.

Obviously, the selection of a convenient and desirable spot was a matter requiring very careful consideration, because a number of important factors had to be taken into account. After considerable deliberation, the party decided to proceed to the Bahama Islands. Several reasons led to the choice of this locality. One was the suitability of the climate, for this would permit of the conducting of a series of uninterrupted operations. Another reason was the beautiful crystal clearness of the waters in this region. A third deciding factor, and one which weighed greatly with the members of the expedition, was the unrivalled beauty of the coral formations, the remarkable diversity and beauty of the submarine plant life, and the large number of interesting forms of fish life with which these waters abound. Then it was also necessary to determine the best time of the year to set out. As the wet season begins in May and lasts until December, this fact had likewise to be taken advantage of.

The members of the Williamson Submarine Expedition comprised the Williamson brothers, Keville Glennan, the historian of the expedition, and Carl Gregory, an experienced cinematograph operator.

En route for the Bahama Islands

Late one afternoon, on a windy day in March, 1914, the Williamson Submarine Expedition sailed out from New York harbour, bound for Nassau, the capital of the Bahama Islands. As the party left the harbour they obtained a magnificent view of the splendid bronze Statue of Liberty erected on Bedloes Island. This statue, which is reputed to be the largest in the world, is the work of Bartholdi, a famous French sculptor, and was presented to the United States of America by the people of France - a gift from one republic to another. Measuring over one hundred and fifty feet from the base to the top, and standing on a huge pedestal, the statue is designed in the form of a female figure personifying “Liberty Enlightening the World”, and holding a torch, which is lighted at night-time by electricity.

A pleasant voyage of four days brought the expedition to the surf beaten coral coast of the Bahamas, which form a group of the West Indies. The steamer was obliged to anchor some distance outside the harbour of Nassau, as it is impossible for steamers of any size to enter the harbour owing to the presence of an immense sandbank at its entrance. Passengers and freight have therefore to be transported to the dock by means of a tender.

A few facts about this charming group of islands will not be out of place here. The Bahamas, appropriately described as the “Land of the Pink Pearl", lie to the west of the United States, and extend from Florida, in a south easterly direction, for about four hundred miles to the island of Hayti. They form an archipelago of twenty-nine islands, six hundred and sixty "cays", or islets, and over two thousand rocks. The area exceeds four thousand four hundred square miles, equivalent in size to about one-seventh the area of Scotland. The chief island is New Providence, on which stands the capital.


The Bahamas

Keville Glennan (Edward, 1880-1955)

Carl Gregory (1882-1951)

Bartholdi (Frederic Auguste (1834-1904)

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