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Wonders of the Deep: The Story of the Williamson Submarine Expedition, Chapter 3, At Nassau, Native children greeting the expedition and diving for coins, the Nassau marine gardens, flora and fauna.

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CHAPTER III

AT NASSAU

A native tying an anchor on the bed of the ocean

From the sea the view of Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas and the seat of the Government, is very striking, especially to anyone who is not familiar with tropical scenery and grandeur. At the entrance to the harbour stands a lighthouse; this is rendered necessary as a safeguard to shipping, owing to the presence of the immense sandbank previously referred to. About five hundred feet from the harbour runs a slope which reaches a height of ninety feet, and along which the town of Nassau has been constructed. Flowers of every description and colour abound with tropical profusion, and it is the presence of these, together with the beautiful tints of the sky and the water, that make the place appear to be a veritable garden of enchantment.

Native boy picking coins from the ocean bed
A group of native boys

As soon as a vessel nears the harbour a group of native boys collect on the shore by the side of the dock. The visitors encourage them to do this by throwing coins down into the water for them to pick up. When the coin has been located, the native boy places it in his mouth, which, in his case, is the only place of safety. Some of the youngsters are clever enough to catch the coin as it sinks through the water. Most of the natives, as will have been gathered, are as much at home in the water as they are on the land. A few of the more daring of these young divers can stay below the surface of the water for a space of three minutes! In time, however, this practice tells upon their health, for the constant retention in the lungs of air mixed with water gives rise, when they grow older, to serious bronchial trouble.

Sea ferns bending in the direction of the ocean currents

Probably the greatest attraction of Nassau is the beautiful Marine Gardens, exhibiting an extraordinarily wonderful development of marine organisms. The colours of the flora and the fauna are absolutely beyond description, and the kaleidoscopic masses of vivid purples, blues, reds, greens, and yellows are simply bewildering.

A deep-sea grotto

One who was for several years a resident at Nassau gives the following picturesque account of Nassau's natural Marine Gardens: “These Marine Gardens are made up of the most exquisite submerged coral bowers and grottoes, rivalling the choicest productions of the vegetable world in form and colour. One can hardly believe one's eyes when all their unexpected beauties are revealed for the first time. The madrepora, or branching coral, is very abundant, as are also the astræa, or brain coral, alcyonoid polyps (delicate coral shrubs), and algæ, all of which are of fairy form and attractive in colour. Gorgonias and sea-fans, much diversified in size and colour, and clusters of purple sea feathers, wave gracefully in the clear water, like flowering shrubs in the wind.


EXTERNAL LINKS:

The Bahamas Government

The Nassau Harbour Lighthouse

Marine Gardens

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