Salmon Acclimatization in New Zealand, by W. Lauder Lindsay, M.D., F.R.S.E., F.L.S.,
Honorary Member of the New Zealand Institute, and of the Otago Institute.
|1.||It led the way among the New Zealand Provinces in this department of scientific experiment; while,|
|2.||All experiments of the kind will probably be made, in the first instance, at least, in some of its mountain rivers. For such reasons, I have been induced to address the Otago Institute on the general subject of Salmon Acclimatization in the Colony.|
The paper I have now therefore the honour of submitting consists of and contains—
1. A history of my connection with the two experiments of 1867 and 1873.
|(a)||The necessity for speed mess of transport; the importance of shortness of interval between the collection of ova and their deposition in the breeding pond.|
|(b)||The desirability of substituting steamers for ordinary sailing ships, in order to minimise the duration of the voyage.|
|(c)||The propriety of selecting California instead of Britain, as the source of supply.|
|(d)||The advisability of making a variety of experiments on means of preservation of ova, calculated to secure greater certainty of result at a less expenditure than package in icehouses on shipboard.|
|(e)||The necessity for skilled supervision throughout the steps of the procedure of collecting, transporting, and hatching ova.|
|(f)||The importance of making due preparation for the reception of the ova in ponds, not only constructed on suitable sites, but competently supervised by skilled superintendents.|
|(g)||The possibility of transporting live parr or smolt, or even mature salmon, on short voyages in swung tanks or decked wells.|
|(h)||The necessity for swinging the ova-boxes on gimbals, and so fixing their supports as to prevent upsets or violent jolts.|
|(i)||The importance of keeping the ova cold throughout the voyage—by ice-cooling or refrigeration of the water, or other substances in which they are embedded.|
|(k)||The propriety of extending the experiments over a series of years, so as to guard against contingencies.|
|(a)||Representatives of the New Zealand Government, or of the settlers interested specially in the subject of salmon acclimatisation.|
|(b)||Authorities connected with various British salmon fisheries and experimental pond.|
|(c)||Naturalists, or experimentalists on pisciculture—including various authors—showing their respective opinions on details, regarding which considerable difference of opinion exists.|
|1.||John Auld, W.S., F.R.S.E., Home Agent (in Edinburgh) of the Otago Government.|
|2.||Dr. Robert Burns, Dunedin, member of Council of the University of Otago.|
|3.||Dr. Featherston, M.D., Agent-General (in London) of the New Zealand Government.|
|4.||Dr. Buller, Sc.D., F.L.S., author of "The Birds of New Zealand" and many other memoirs on New Zealand Zoology, who some time acted as Deputy or Assistant Agent-General in London for the Colonial Government.|
|5.||Jas. A. Youl, Esq., of "Waratah House, Clapham Park, London, a retired Tasmanian colonist of 20 years experience, who has personally conducted all the experiments that have latterly been made in the introduction of salmon to Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand.page 3|
|6.||Dr. Buckland, F.R.S., editor of "Land and Water," author of a work on Pisciculture, constructor of the Model Breeding Ponds connected with the Kensington Museum, London, and one of H.M. Commissioners of Salmon Fisheries for England and Wales.|
|7.||The late Robert Buist, Esq., Perth, Superintendent for the Protection of the Tay Salmon Fisheries, Director and Historian† of the Stormontfield Experiments between 1853 and 1866, the well-known "Peter of the Pools,"¶ of the "Field" newspaper.|
|8.||William Brown, Esq., Perth Academy, author of a work on the Scotch Salmon,* and associated with Mr. Buist in all the Stormontfield Experiments.|
|9.||Jas. Ritchie, C.E., F.G.S. Edinburgh: constructor of the Stormontfield Breeding Ponds.|
|10.||The Tay District Fishery Board, its Secretaries, and Mr. Alex. Croll, the present Superintendent of River Police and Fisheries, Perth. To the said Board the Stormontfield Ponds belong, and are under the direction of Mr. Croll, with the now well-known Peter Marshall—the real "Peter of the Pools"—as Resident Curator.|
|11.||The Lord Provost of the City of Perth, John Puller, Esq. of Neinfield, an ex officio member of the Tay District Fishery Board.|
|12.||J. Watson Lyall, Esq., editor of the "Perthshire Constitutional and Journal," one of the chief amateur salmon fishers in or about Perth.|
|13.||Professor Turner, Chair of Anatomy in the University of Edinburgh, and one of the editors of the "Journal of Anatomy and Physiology."|
|14.||Professor Macalister, Chairs of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy in the University of Dublin, and Director of the University Museum.|
|15.||Dr. Ransom, of The Pavement, Nottingham, who has long distinguished himself by his experimental researches on the impregnation of fish ova.|
|16.||Dr. Mcintosh, of Murthly, near Dunkeld, the author of many important zoological memoirs in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Linnean Society of London, who has himself conducted experiments on the Hatching of Tay Salmon-ova, and has written on the Natural History of the Tay salmon.|
|17.||Dr. Robert Brown, Ph.D., F.R.G.S., commander of the Vancouver Island Exploring Expedition, who spent several years as Naturalist Explorer on the Pacific Seaboard of North America, and has written many papers on its Zoology or general Natural History.|
|18.||Professor Cunningham, Chair of Natural History in Queen's College, Belfast, author of a work on the "Natural History of the Straits of Magellan," Naturalist of H.M. surveying vessel "Nassau" in 1867.|
|19.||Professor Bastian, F.R.S., F.L.S., Chair of Pathological Anatomy, University College, London, author of "The Beginnings of Life," and various memoirs on Heterogenesis.|
† His History of the "Stormontfield Piscicultural Experiments," of 1853 to 1866, was published in Edinburgh in 1866, as one of Mossrs. Edmonston & Douglas' series of "Odds and Ends," No. 14, Price 6d.
¶ If This nom de plume was founded on the fact that the name of the resident superintendent of the Stormontfield Pond was, and still is, Peter Marshall.
* "The Natural History of the Salmon, as ascertained by the recent experiments at Stormontfield on the Tay." Glasgow, 1862. This, along with Mr. Buist's brochure, I commend to all students of Pisciculture in New Zealand.
After acquiring a general knowledge of the topography of the interior of Otago, and especially of its river and lake system, by means of the admirable maps of the Survey Department, Dunedin, and conversations with various members of the Survey Staff, I had occasion to visit the Lower Clutha district. While there I had been much struck with the apparent adaptability of the Clutha (or Molyneux) and other rivers of the Province for the acclimatization of salmon and trout, and the desirability of giving attention to experiment in this direction was one of the subjects to which I ventured to draw the special notice of the settlers in my Dunedin pamphlet, [p. 29.]
The first intimation I had that the subject was attracting the attention of the provincial authorities was contained in a letter from Dr. Robert Burns, of Dunedin, of date June, 1867.
Dr. Burns intimated that the Otago Government might make application to me for assistance in carrying out their scheme for stocking their rivers with British salmon, and this hint determined me to lose no time in studying the subject, and in putting myself in communication with our first British authorities on Pisciculture. At this period, I had correspondence with Mr. Youl, Dr. Buckland, Mr. Buist, and Mr. William Brown. The most important communication I received was the following from Mr. Youl, of date September 27, 1867:—
"On my return from Paris," [the International Exhibition,] "I found your "letter of the 20th inst., and, in reply, have to state that I am very pleased to "learn the Government of Otago have determined to get a supply of salmon "ova direct from England, instead of waiting until they have multiplied in "sufficient numbers to justify the Government of Tasmania in supplying their "neighbours. This course I have advocated for some tune past; and, in 1864, "induced Mr. John Morrison, the agent for some of the New Zealand Governments, to send out a working model of the Stormontfield Ponds to Southlaud, so that ponds might be ready to receive the ova when they arrived.
"Having last August received from my friend, Mr. Thomas Ashworth, one "of the best and most successful pisciculturists of the day, a letter recommending me to advocate with the several Australian Colonies the desirability "of each of them getting a supply of ova direct from England, I sent his "letter, with one from myself, to the different local Australian leading journals for publication. It is therefore very pleasing to find the Otago people"have anticipated our appeal.
"I may just state that, since 1854, I have been at this work, and failed in "two attempts; but at last hit upon the plan of placing the ova in moss in an "ice-house. The only two shipments made in this way, were eminently successful; and I believe it is the only plan by which Salmon or Trout ova can be "sent to the Antipodes. I would earnestly urge you to follow it out exactly, "I shall be very glad to give you every assistance in my power. But you "must come and see me, as it is impossible to convey the necessary information "in writing. If the ova are to be sent this winter, no time should be lost in "arranging the details and ordering the ice. I would strongly. Recommend "that the ova be shipped in a vessel sailing direct to Otago. The cost would "be from £550 to £750, depending upon the price of the vessel and the cost page 5 "of obtaining the ova. The best time for the ship to sail from London, would "be the month of December—about the 20th, I would prefer; and you ought "to have a clear month to build the ice-house properly on board ship,—as, "after all, the cost and expense in other matters will be lost unless the icehouse is an efficient one, and well placed in the ship.
"As I personally superintended both the successful shipments—as well as "both the failures—and packed the ova in the little boxes myself, I will be "glad to do the latter for you at the proper time; and to give you all the "assistance in my power to accomplish such a boon to the Southern Hemisphere as that of stocking its rivers with the king of fishes."
While thus corresponding with Mr. Youl, I received the following official communication from Mr. Auld, as representing in Britain, the Government of Otago—
"Edinburgh, 25 September, 1867.
"Sir,—It has been suggested to me by his Honor the Superintendent of "the Province of Otago, New Zealand, to request the favour of your advice "and assistance in the following matter:—
"The Provincial Government having voted a sum of money towards the "introduction of salmon ova into the rivers of the Province of Otago, the "Government has resolved to make the experiment from Britain direct; and "his Honor the Superintendent has, with this view, instructed me, as their "Home Agent, to forward a quantity of salmon ova to the Province; and has "also instructed me to engage the services of a suitable person thoroughly "conversant practically with the art of Pisciculture to accompany the ova, and "who should be able to superintend the breeding of the fish for the first year "or two in the Province.
"In a subsequent letter received by me at the same time, his Honor further "requests that a quantity of the ova of the Red Trout of the Rhine shall be "procured and transmitted along with the others. He states that, from what "he can learn, the Societies of the other Colonies have committed a mistake "in introducing the common Brown Trout, which never attains any size, and "is inferior as an article of food. While, on the other hand, the Rhine Trout "attains a large size, and, as an article of food, is little inferior to the salmon,† "It would appear that the roe of this latter fish are supplied in any quantity, "carefully packed, and forwarded to England and Scotland; so that probably "there will not be much difficulty in having them sent to the Province along "with the salmon ova.
"His Honor also suggested for consideration the practicability of sending "out fish alive in swing tanks under proper care and attention; and remarks "that fish of groat delicacy have been sent from Java to Australia alive in "this way."The mode of transit suggested by his Honor, is by the steamship 'Great "Britain,' which carries an ice-house to Melbourne, from which place hispage 6 "Honor would have to make arrangements for continuing the passage. But "in another letter, he states, as a somewhat remarkable circumstance, that "the Victorian Acclimatization Society did not avail itself of this mode of "conveyance; and he thinks, therefore, that there must have been some "objection to it, arising perhaps from the oscillation caused by the engine; "and he is desirous, before this mode of transit be adopted, that the opinions "of competent judges should be taken on this point, before I commit myself "to any special mode of conveyance.
† I am unaware whether the attention of the New Zealand Colonists has been drawn to he "hucho" of the Danube [Salmo hucho], which weighs from 20 to 601bs; or to the "Lake Trout" of the Eastern United States and Canada, which are sometimes as large as salmon, weighing as much as 601bs., [e.g., Salmo alipesespecially—with S.fontinalis—S. amethyatus—S. namaycush—S. siscowe. and S. erythrogaster]. In all probability some of the salmonidæ of the Easternses board of North America are common also to its Pacific coast rivers—a circumstance of importance in connection with my remarks on the salmoiudæ of California. On this subject Dr. Robert Brown remarks [in a letter of December 6, 1872,] "as to the question of Salmonidæ common to the Eastern and Western States. I believe there is no doubt but that there are several—among others, the best of them, all, s. quinnat.
"In these circumstances, his Honor,' knowing the deep interest you take in "this subject, has expressed to me his conviction that, if applied to, you would "kindly give me such information and advice as may enable me to carry out "my instructions with a reasonable prospect of success. This, and the very "great importance of the subject in reference to the progress and prosperity of "the Province, in which I believe you also to take an interest,—and I may "add, my own ignorance in regard to this matter, must be my apology for "intruding upon you.
"May I therefore very respectfully request that you will kindly favour me "with any instructions and advice which your experience may suggest on the "points before mentioned? and if, in addition, you can inform me who are "the most trustworthy persons to whom I may apply to procure the ova—"what is the most suitable time to do so!—and what precautions ought to be "observed?—I shall esteem it an especial favour."I have the honour to be Sir,
"Your most obedt. servt.,
"Jonsr Auld, W.S."Agent of the Provincial Government of Otago."
I had been so struck with the unique experience of Mr. Youl, and with his willingness to undertake all the trouble connected with the more difficult and delicate details of the collection, package, and shipment of ova, that I did not hesitate to recommend Mr. Auld to place himself entirely in Mr. Youl's hands, expressing, however, certain strong views of my own (e.g.) regarding the port of shipment, which I thought ought to be the Clyde, and the preparations necessary for the reception of the ova on their arrival in Otago, pointing out, as regards the latter, that all arrangements in Britain would be rendered utterly futile by any failure in those connected with breeding ponds in Otago.
Mr. Auld replied to my suggestions to the following effect of date 2nd October, 1867:—
"I have to thank you most kindly for your full and obliging letter of 26th "ult., and also for that of the 28th, enclosing letters from Mr. Youl to you" [and above quoted],
"Your observation about the necessity for having proper ponds constructed. "in Otago for the reception of the ova is most important, and I am not aware "that anything has been done in that direction. I yesterday, however, wrote "to his Honour the Superintendent on the subject, and pointed out that a "model of the Stormontfield Ponds had been sent to Southland."
"I have written to Mr. Youl. . . . . . It is gratifying to find, from "his letter to you, that he is willing to advise and assist. I believe that the "wisest course for me will be to follow his advice—find, in the first place, a "suitable person to superintend the construction of an ice-house, and the collection and package of the ova; and when l ascertain the time these can be "had, to have a ship in readiness. I believe the only course to be followed page 7 "will be to send them by sailing vessel, as it would appear that transshipment "from Australia to New Zealand would probably prove fatal."†
"You will, I trust, allow me to apply to you again for advice, as occasion "may require."
Ultimately, my suggestion regarding the acceptance of Mr. Youl's offered services was acted upon, whereupon, believing the experiment to be in the best hands, I ceased to take any further personal share in its practical details. I had a third letter from Mr. Auld on the 18th March, 1868, after the shipment had been made, under Mr. Youl's directions, wherein he remarks—"I can only "say that I feel very grateful for the kindness shown, and trouble taken, by "yourself and others, which far exceeded anything I could have supposed at "the outset."
Of the progress of the experiment I heard nothing of consequence till I received copies of the "Otago Daily Times" of May 5 and 16, 1868, with 12 or 13 columns devoted to narratives by "special correspondents" of the triumphal reception and deposition of the ova—a series of proceedings that amounted literally and figuratively to a public "ovation." Notwithstanding the tone of self-congratulation that pervaded these newspaper accounts, the details given convinced me that the experiment deserved to fail, and probably would ultimately do so; and this opinion I felt bound to express at the time in private letters to various Dunedin friends. I sent a copy of the newspapers in question to Mr. Buist, and the impression produced on him was similar, as the following extract from a letter to me of date 27th July, 1868, sufficiently shows:—
"Many thanks for sending me the two numbers of the 'Otago Daily Times' "of May, which I am reading with much interest. What has been done is "truly wonderful. No labour nor expense has been spared to promote the "great object, and the enthusiasm at Dunedin is astonishing. I am sorry to "say that from much I have read of what appears in the accounts of the "transmission and plantation of the ova, a sad disappointment awaits our "countrymen. I shall say no more at present than that it will give me much "pleasure to find my fears disappointed and their sanguine hopes realized."
|(1).||The duration of the voyage, consequent on shipment, per sailing vessel, from London, which is probably the worst port of any in Britain from which ova could be shipped!|
|(2).||The premature package of the ova before the ship was quite ready for sea thus protracting the interval between collection in Britain and deposition in New Zealand.|
|(3).||The mouldy condition of the packing material and moss.|
|(4)||The faulty position of the ice-house on board the "Celestial Queen," and imperfect fixture of the ova boxes.
† Transhipment is, no doubt, vexatious, but it is inevitable. In the Otago experiments the ova were transhipped from Port Chalmers to the Waiwera and up the Clutha. In the experiment of 1873 they will have to be sent a further distance—first from Port Chalmers to Invercargill, and then to the Makarewa. Were ova to be sent from California by mail steamer to Auckland, transhipment would be necessary to Invercargill. But the chief danger of transhipment rises simply from the additional delay in depositing the ova in the hatching troughs of the breeding ponds. According to the present principle of package and transport, there should be no opening of the ice-house—no intermeddling with the ova in the interval between their package at the port whence they are shipped and their unpacking at the Colonial Breeding Pond. Provided, then, the ice-house and ova botes are not tampered with, transhipment is much less likely to prove mischievous than protracted voyage in the same ship of over 100 days.
|(5).||The faulty Bile and condition of the Waiwera Breeding Ponds.|
The "special reporter" of the "Otago Daily Times" of May 16, 1868, remarks, in regard to the first Waiwera experiment—"If it should happen to "be bungled, through mistaken economy in small matters, or ignorance as to "minor constructive details, after the expenditure at home and the labours of "love which no expenditure could buy, the thing would be a long-lasting "disgrace to the Province and its Government." And now, bearing in mind that a model of Stormontfield was sent out in 1864, and that Mr. Auld, acting on my suggestion, made a special communication on the subject to Mr. Mac-andrew, the Superintendent of Otago, in 1867, let us see what was the actual state of affairs at Waiwera, when, after a protracted voyage, the invaluable ova arrived in Otago! The same "special reporter" above-mentioned, in the same number of the "Otago Daily Times," in his article headed "Port Molyneux "to the Waiwera," thus animadverts on the shortcomings of these provincial imitations of Stormontfield—"The pond will not be completed for three "weeks or a month;" of the Resident Superintendent's house "the framing "and a portion of the flooring were all that could be seen;" of the breeding boxes, "they leaked most confoundedly, and nearly everybody was aghast at "the bare suggestion that the leakage would be continuous The "water was going through the bottom of the boxes in streams rather than in "drops. . . . . That the substructure was not what it ought to have "been remained an uncontested statement." .... And no wonder, he adds, "It is an unpleasant task to have to state these things."* The nominal constructor of the pond was Mr. Robert Grigor, C.E., a member of the Survey Staff, but he divested himself of all responsibility for such a state of matters by the assertion that he had not been allowed to construct it according to his own ideas of the fitness of things—in short, that his operations had been controlled by red tape at headquarters. I accept the evidence of the resident authorities themselves as to how far proper preparations had been made for the reception of the ova, supposing all had gone well with them up to that point.
* Again, the site of the ponds was a mistake, in so far as they were connected with a tributary of the Clutha, which contains the washings of so many goldfields.
I heard nothing more of the Otago experiment of 1867 for five years. I had concluded that my anticipations had proved incorrect, and that success had been the ultimate result, notwithstanding the many elements of failure above narrated. It was with much surprise, therefore, that I received the following official communication from Dr. Featherston, the Agent-General in London for New Zealand:—
"7, Westminster Chambers, Victoria Street, Westminster, S.W., November, 22, 1872.
"Sir,—Knowing the deep interest you take in everything connected with "New Zealand, I venture to apply to you for assistance in a further attempt "now about to be made to introduce salmon into that Colony.
"The Colonial Government has authorised the necessary expenditure, and "I have succeeded in making arrangements with Messrs. Shaw, Saville & Co., "for a fast-sailing clipper ship to sail on the 20th prox. The next thing is to "make sure of a sufficient supply of ova at the right moment. I have applied "to the Board of Conservators of the Leven fishing district, and I am depending on other sources of supply so as to guard against any failure at the last, "it being very essential that the ova should be brought in when the vessel is "on the point of sailing."
"Having been informed that the Tay† would be a suitable river for the "necessary operations, I am anxious, through your local influence, to obtain "permission to take say 30,000 to 50,000 ova from that source."
"In the event of this permission being granted, Mr. James Youl, who has "kindly undertaken to superintend the practical part of the operations, will "send a reliable agent to Perth to take and pack the ova and bring them to "London."I have the honour to be, Sir,
"Your most obedt. servt.,
'Ie. Featherston, "Agent-General."
In reply, I intimated my willingness to co-operate with the General Government in its effort to introduce salmon into New Zealand, but took advantage of the opportunity to explain the details whereupon I differed from the authorities charged with, the present and former experiments. I specially pointed out (e.g.) my strong objections to London as the port of shipment, my preference for steamers over sailing vessels, of California instead of Britain as the source of supply of ova, and my opinion as to the desirability of varying the mode of preservation or package. Dr. Featherston wrote me of date "Nov. 30, 1872—"I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of your letter "of the 27th inst., on the subject of the transportation of salmon ova to New "Zealand, and to thank you for the valuable suggestions contained therein, all "of which I shall at once communicate to Mr. Youl."
† The Tay seems to have been specially selected on this occasion—chiefly, apparently, on Br. Gunther's recommendation, as supplying to the London market the largest and finest-flavoured salmon in the world.
Never doubting that the New Zealand Government in 1873 would avail itself of the lessons so Obviously taught by the errors of the Otago ventures of 1867 and 1868, I lost no time in the endeavour to secure the privilege of taking ova from the Tay for shipment from London on 20th December, 1872. The securing of the privilege, however, involved much trouble in correspondence, personal communication, and newspaper-article-writing. During the long period that had elapsed since the establishment of the Stormontfield Ponds (nearly 20 years), notwithstanding that many applications had been laid before the Tay District Fishery Board—the owners of the said ponds, as well as of the River Salmon Fisheries—for permission to take ova for scientific purposes from the Tay, all of these requests, without exception, had been reused*, and there was the strongest possibility that a petition from the New Zealand Government would meet a similar fate. So extremely unlikely was it that any exception would be made, that five years previously, when making inquiry in connection with the Otago experiment of 1867,1 was advised by all the salmon authorities in and around Perth not to make any request for ova to the Tay Board; and I accordingly recommended Mr. Auld and Mr. Youl not to look to the Tay for ova, which were taken from the Leven and Tyne (England), Tweed (Scotland), Ush (Wales), and Sereal (Co. Gal way, Ireland) to the number of 300,000 (according to a letter in the "Times" of December 30, 1868, by Mr. Youl). On the present occasion, however, I determined on ascertaining definitely the feelings of the noblemen themselves, who, as the great Strath-Tay landowners and river-bank proprietors, constitute the leading members of the Tay District Fishery Board. The shipment was to take place on 20th December; Dr. Featherston's application to me was in November; there was no ordinary meeting of the Tay Board till January; and it was, therefore, arranged with the secretaries of the said Board that a formal communication from myself should be submitted at a special meeting on 6th December. This was done; it was favourably received, the coveted privilege being at once granted, for the first time, to the surprise of many local influential friends, who had predicted the certainty of failure. To give ample time for his arrangements between the 6th and 20th December, I telegraphed next day to Mr. Youl, and wrote to Dr. Feathers ton. The former replied as follows, of date December 9, 1872:—
† Mr. Youl, however, as will be seen from his letter of November 29, 1872, considers it possible that salmon of British parentage really exist in Otago; but, as in the case of Tasmania, one or more must be caught, and exhibited to competent judges, before their existence can be proved or admitted.
* Dr. Buckland, in a letter of date November 28, 1872, says, in reply to a query of mine: "I am not aware of any ease in which applications for ova for Tasmania or New Zealand have been refused"—a circumstance that makes the repeated refusals of the Tay Board the more inexplicable.
In a subsequent letter of December 14. 1.872, he continues:—
"I have read the letters you sent to Dr. Duller, and note the great trouble "you have taken to get permission to take some ova from the Tay—a favour "never granted to anyone before. I congratulate you on the tact and perseverance you have evinced being crowned with success. I am so "vexed that the ova cannot be shipped in the vessel sailing on the "20th, the time I had selected as the very best, for the purpose. The AgentGeneral and the owners believe they have bigger, better, and faster-sailing "ships for me to sail on the 15th January. But I know, from painful "experience, how difficult it is to get salmon ova after Christmas; and the "packing of them in January, with from 10 to 20 degrees of frost in the docks, "is almost enough to kill an old fellow like me. However, there is no help for "it now. As soon as I have the ice-house sufficiently advanced so as to be able to "judge when it will be ready to receive the first ova, I-will despatch Mr. Thos. "Johnson to Perth with a letter to you. He will assist Mr. Peter Marshall in "catching the fish; and after Marshall has manipulated the spawn he will "bring them up to me. This is a delicate and difficult matter to do properly, "requiring great care and attention, and Johnson is capital in the performanceof this part of the work. I hope to have two other persons at work at the "same time (elsewhere), so as to insure, if possible, a good supply (of ova), "and not to have all my eggs in one basket."
Dr. Featherston's acknowledgment of the intimation of the success of the application to the Tay Board was as follows, of date December 17, 1872:—
"I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 7th inst. reporting the consent of the Tay Fishery Board to the taking of a certain quantity "of salmon ova from the Tay for the purpose of transportation to New "Zealand, while congratulating you on the success that has attended your application to the Board, I take this opportunity of thanking you, in the name of the "Colony, for the assistance you have so for rendered me in this very important "undertaking. I need hardly add that it will give me great pleasure to bring "your valuable services tinder the notice of the Colonial Government when I "submit my final report on this subject. In the meantime, I regret "to have to inform you that, for reasons which Mr. Youl "will explain more fully, it has been found impossible to ship the "ova by the 'Lutterworth,' as originally intended, and that it is arranged to "send them by the 'Oberon,' appointed to sail on the 15th prox. "I trust that this necessary alteration in our plaus will in no way interfere "with the proposed taking of ova from the Tay.
It will be noticed from the last-quoted letters of Mr. Youl and Dr. Featherston that when the much-desired concession by the Tay Board was at length granted, the authorities in London were not prepared to take advantage of it. It ultimately proved, indeed, that all efforts made, so far as regards Tay ova, became futile in consequence of the change of arrangements in London. The weather during the interval between 6th and 20th December, 1872, was dry and fair, and the Tay was comparatively low, so that all local circumstances were favourable to the collection of ova. But, subsequently, the weather became very wet and stormy—the Tay rose—heavy floods; and all page 12 the local conditions became as unpropitious as before they had been favourable. Hence it happened that when Mr. Johnson came to Perth on 7th January, "There was," as Mr. Croll expressed it, "no chance on the Tay, and little prospect, the river is running so high."* He left next day for the Tyne, accompanied by Mr. Peter Marshall, of the Stormontfield Ponds. Here, too, he was virtually unsuccessful, probably from a similar cause. He next tried the Tweed district, and though the Ettrick also was in flood, Marshall there succeeded in obtaining the requisite quantity of ova, the spawning of the fish' and impregnation of the ova, being conducted by Marshall on 10th and 11th January.
Having now given the history of the experiments of 1867 and 1873, on salmon acclimatization in New Zealand, so far as I have been myself connected with them, it remains to discuss some of the general topics mooted in the foregoing correspondence; or, some of those considerations to which a study of the whole subject of salmon acclimatization in New Zealand has led me.
* Holding the views I do, I cannot say that I regret the result so far as concerns the Tay. Because I hope that before the next season for the collection of ova arrives, (November and December, 1873,) the promoters of the experiment will have seen fit (1) to order a shipment—if, from Britain at all, direct from the Clyde; and (2) to adopt various forms of preservation, and package or storage of the ova.
† Or, in actual figures, according to the circulars issued by Messrs. H. Stow & Co., London Agents for the said steamers—From San Francisco to Honolulu, 2,100 miles, or 10 days' sail. Honolulu to Auckland, 3890 miles, or 14 days' sail.
|(1)||The quality of the North-West American salmon.|
|(2)||Their abundance; and|
|(3)||Their general suitability for acclimatization in New Zealand.|
I therefore applied to my friend, Dr. Robert Brown, of Edinburgh, who spent several years as Naturalist Explorer in Vancouvers Island, British Columbia, the Queen Charlotte Islands, Oregon, and California; and who has published many memoirs on their Natural History, including their Zoology. He favoured me with the following most important information, which I quote at length for the benefit of those New Zealand colonists who are especially interested in the acclimatization of exotic Salmonidæ. It bears date November 26, 1872:—
"Your idea about stocking the New Zealand rivers with Californian salmon, "via the mail steamers to that colony, is admirable. I wonder it was never " broached before. . . . . I have examined frequently the North-West "American Salmonidæ; but never made a direct comparison with those of "the Tay. However, that is immaterial, as I know they are different species. "As you ask particularly about California, I may mention that, though there "are—as elsewhere on the Pacific coast—several species of Salmo in that "country, yet the chief one, and the one likely to be introduced into New "Zealand, is the Salmo quinnat of Richardson. The common size is from 10 "to 301bs.; but they have been caught weighing as much as 621bs. It is an "admirable fish—quite as good as any European salmon for the table—and is "found on the North-West Coast in enormous numbers. The furthest southern limit is about Point Concepcion." [Considerably to the south of San Francisco.] "They are born in the rivers; but go down to the sea, where "they spend the greater part of the year. In November, they enter the Bay "of San Francisco, and remain in the brackish waters for about three or four "months. They then ascend the Sacramento and San Joaquim rivers, as well "as their smaller tributaries, deposit their spawn, and in June go back to the "sea again. They are lean when they come in, and lean when they go out; "but in early spring they are fat. Disliking the mud with which the streams "falling into San Francisco Bay are filled by the miners, they do not now go "far from the sea, or ascend the smaller tributaries. But elsewhere, as on "the whole North-West Coast, they ascend every little brook up to points "where there is scarcely water enough for them to turn. They may be seen "wobbling about in the pools, affording rare sport to the bears and their first "cousins, the Tigger Indians, who grow fat on the salmon's misfortune of being "in 'low water"—another illustration of the maxim, that 'It's an ill wind "that blaws naebody guid.' The female salmon having found a place, digs a "hole in the sand with her snout—the hole or trench being about 6 feet long, "a foot or so wide, and about 3 inches deep. Here she deposits her spawn, "throws a little sand over it with her tail, and departs. In May the young "salmon are found on their way to the sea, from 3 to 6 inches long. They are "believed to always return to the river in which they were hatched. Though "salmon are most abundant in the rivers from November to June, yet there "are always a few in the rivers all the year round, and are seen fresh in San "Francisco market every day in the year. . . . . You can judge from page 14 "the above statements what would be the best season for getting the ova.* "They could be sent by the mail steamers in ice; or by one of the many sail ing ships going to New Zealand in the same way, or in any of the ways used " to send ova from this country. Soon, I expect, there will be fish sent alive "to New Zealand or Australia via San Francisco. Then there will be still "less trouble [in collection, preservation or package, and transportation], I "saw in the papers lately that ova had been taken out of the California rivers "to stock some of the now salmonless lakes or rivers in the Eastern United "States.
S. quinnatis also found in enormous abundance all along the N.W. coast, "right into Alaska, over all the Oregon, Washington territory, Vancouver, "and British Columbia rivers. In fact, without it, the Indians could not "subsist. I can confirm nearly all that Lord† says aoout its great plentifulness "In June and July it ascends (e.g.) the Eraser in incredible numbers, filing "on the N. W. Coasts [see the 'Naturalist in British Columbia,' vol. 1, p. 407]. "off as they work up current into every rivulet, filling even pools left on the "prairies or flats by the receding tides, and there also affording rare sport "for the bears. The Indians often bait bear-traps with salmon. I have seen "pools into which they come in such abundance as to be barely covered with "water; and where, in a few hours, tons could have been got by gaffing "in the rudest way. I fancy (and the Indians all declare it) that the salmon, "which come up to spawn, never go down again. The irresistible instinct to "ascend is shown on their worn noses, torn sides, ragged fins, and ulcers over "their bodies, produced by the rugged work they have had in battling against "the stream. But they never relax their labours for any obstacle. Some of "the smaller rivers and river-banks become perfectly unendurable from the "stench emitted by decaying salmon. In such numbers do they sometimes "come into the bays by river-mouths, that I have known so many caught at "Fort Rupert, on Vancouver Island, that they have manured the gardens with "them, having no salt to preserve them with. There are one or two half-alive "Fishing Companies; but still there is a marvellous waste of salmon on the "N.W, Coast. They will sometimes in the Fraser and other British Columbia "rivers attain a size of 75lbs.
"In California are also Salmo [or Fario], gairdneri and F. stellatus—the "latter weighing about 2 or 31bs. . . . . . Salmo gairdneri (Rich.) is "another common British Columbia salmon,—in the opinion of some, finer "than the 'quirinal.' They are valued by the Indians as better, and are "reserved by the aboriginal gourmands for high feasts and solemnities—such "as a good round murder! . . . . They weigh up to 11 or 12lbs. These "two [5. quirinal and S. gairdneri] are the spring salmon; but, in autumn, "there are others, though much inferior in quality.
* The proper season for collecting ova in California and British Columbia, would appear to be the same as in Britain, viz.:—November and December. At Stormontfield ova are collected in November to December; and they do not begin to hatch till March or April—that is, three months after—more than ample time to permit of transport across seas by steamers. The average duration of the hatching process, when begun, is 13 days.
† The late John Keast Lord, Curator of the Aquarium, Brighton.
"S. paucideus, Rich., 3 or 4 lbs., ascends rivers in company with S. quirinal "and s. gairdneri.
"S. aryyreus, Lord, 15 to 18 lbs. The 'Lotarp' of the Nisguallies of
"S. pvffritah, Rich, the 'white salmon' of the settlers (?) "S. fornecatus, Suckley. Got, according to my observations, at least as far "north as Fort Rupert.
"S. gibbsii, Suckley. Columbia salmon trout (food), 5 or 6 lbs.
"S. conflueutus, Suckley. The To-oh odtt of the Nisquallies.
"S. clerkii, Rich, an autumn species.
"S. maroni, Suckley and others*. However, a good many of these may "yet be found to be only varieties of others; but new ones will certainly be yet "discovered.
"I made many notes on them, with drawings, &c., and a magnificent collection of these and other fishes during the idle winter months; but, through "the gross neglect of those to whom these collections were consigned from "America, arriving in this country while I was absent in Greenland, all were "destroyed."
I put the question to Dr. Buckland and Mr. Youl, whether salmon ova had never been taken for acclimatization purposes from the Pacific Slates of North America; and, if not, why? The answer of the former was simply this:—"With regard to the N.W. American salmon, I have a great idea 'that they are bull trout, though I do not know for certain. The Duke of 'Northumberland's Chaplain is of this opinion; and I am trying to settle the 'point.'"—[Letter November 28, 1872.] Mr. Youl replied:—"A shipment "has not been made to New Zealand from California, which is so much nearer "because I believe the Government has not been able to get any one who "understands the matter to undertake it; and the difficulty of obtaining persons who can take the ova from the fish, and properly impregnate them with "the milt."—[Letter of November 29, 1872.]
* He does not specify trout, such as Salmo oreyonensis, the Oregon trout [which is mentioned in the article Trout in Chambers' Encyclopaedia, vol. ix., 1867, p. 563]. On my pointing out this omission, he replied:—"What S. oregonensis is I know not. I can find if neither as a species, nor as a synonym, in any works on Western Ichthyology, which, just at present, I find at hand. Nor does he mention Salmo hearnii or S. rossii—Arctic Americar salmon. But he explains:—"As my Notes referred only to the salmonidæ of North-West America, [to the west of the Rocky Mountains, and south of the Arctic limit,] I neither mentioned the Eastern species, nor the Arctic ones. The latter, I apprehend, would not suit New Zealand; they require too cold water, and other conditions not likely to be found in that country. Moreover, they are fat and bilious brutes."—[Letter of December 6 1872].
† Though certain genera of Salmonidæ occur in the rivers of South America, I am not aware of the existence of any species of the genus Salmo. But, even did they occur, their numbers must be insignificant, seeing that no rivers exist of any importance—they would be difficult of access, seeing that there is no regular communication of any kind between South America and New Zealand—while the distance between—say Dunedin and Patagonia—it; probably as great as between San Francisco and Auckland.
* The salmon trout of Britain [Salmo trutta] weighs up to 24 lbs.
† The writer of the article Salmon in Chambers' Encyclopaedia remarks very truthfully that, "concerning many of the species which have been named and partially described, there is still, however, great uncertainty."—[vol. viii., p. 449].
Dr. W. O. Ayres, of San Francisco, is, Dr. Brown tells me, the chief authority on Califomian fishes, and if applied to would, I doubt not, be glad to give his advice. But I would recommend the New Zealand Institute, or the Otago Institute, to place itself in communication with the "Californian Academy of Sciences" at San Francisco, and I have small doubt that its members would cordially co-operate in any scheme for stocking the New Zealand rivers with Californian salmon.
I have never been able to understand why sailing ships are preferred to steamers in the shipment of salmon ova, considering the obvious importance of permitting as short as possible an interval to elapse between the collection of the ova and their hatching. There seems to me no more reason to fear the oscillation of the engines or the motion of the screw of a steamer than the vibration of a railway carriage or the jolting of waggons over country roads. Nor is the motion on board a steamer, and especially a fast or mail steamer, at all to be compared with the shocks produced by the upset of boxes imperfectly fastened on board ship, while none of the possible drawbacks on board a steamer are so serious as the disadvantages of a protracted voyage in a sailing ship. I wrote the editor of the "Field,"† asking if he had heard of any material objection to the use of steamships in the transport of salmon ova to our Colonies, and in the number for November, 1872, he replied—"There "is no such objection. Get the account of the transport of ova to Australia "and you will there learn all that you require." Dr. Buckland wrote me, in reply to a similar query put to him—"I see no reason why steamers should. "not be employed, provided the ova can be kept cool," which, of course, is a sine qua non in the present mode of package in ice. Mr. Youl's statement is that "steamboats were not used (1) because when the experiments wore first "made there was only one sailing to Australia—the 'Great Britain,' the "expense of freight in her would have been enormous, and she did not sail "at the right season; (2), it is very much to be feared that the vibration of "a steamboat on a long voyage would destroy the vitality of the ova." The latter objection, however, only amounts to a fear. The experiment, apparently, has not been tried; it is at least worth a trial; its results can hardly be more unfavourable than those of transport in sailing ships making a passage over 100 days from London, and, under all the circumstances, I repeat the recommendation to make use of the mail steamers between San Francisco and Auckland as a suitable means of transporting Californian salmon ova. The sensitiveness of the ova, or young salmon, is just one of those points in their natural history, regarding which there is much difference of opinion among the highest authorities—Dr. Gray, of the British Museum, London, Dr. Buckland, and Mr. Youl holding the most opposite views.
† Probably Mr Francis Francis, the author of a well-known work on Pisciculture, who is one of the editors, is giving his attention mainly, it is understood to fish.
† Vide "Paper relating to the Introduction of Salmon Ova," G. No. 26, p. 3, presented to both Houses of the General Assembly in 1872, for which I am indebted to Dr. Buller (now in London), the most important document in which is Dr. Buller's own "Memorandum."
* If, as is stated by certain New Zealand and Australian Acclimatization Societies, birds' eggs from Britain can be sent in a condition suitable for hatching by coating them externally with glycerine or other preservatives, it seems difficult to believe that some similar principle could not be applied mutatis mutandis to fish eggs.
¶ Professor Turner points out, in a letter to me of December, 1872, that salmon or other fish ova preserved in glycerine retain their transparency, but it has not been determined whether and how long they would retain their capability of development if placed in circumstances favourable therefor.
‡ Dr. Gray claims to have been the first to suggest "that the eggs of fish might be carried "in the same way as Dr. Davy (Sir Humphrey's brother) had sent trout and other "Salmonidæ from Cumberland into Devonshire, more especially as he had observed that the "eggs of fresh-water fish and frogs were retarded, and yet kept alive when they were in "places that were frozen." (Papers relating to the introduction of salmon ova into New Zealand. P. 11.)
My own leisure, however, is so fully occupied, and will be so for several years at least, that I cannot myself undertake any practical operations having such an end in view, involving as they would much time and personal labour. I venture, however, to offer here certain suggestions "to all whom it may "concern." In order to discover whether and how far my experimental views might be considered Utopian, I addressed a series of queries to various eminent zoologists. I have, as yet, failed in eliciting, by means of this correspondence, any specific data to support my own ideas;‡ but it is obvious the matter has not been practically or experimentally studied from my point of view, and all that is at present forthcoming amounts to a series of hopes or fears that certain results would or would not happen. Certain other results, however, have occurred from my inquiries which may be of interest, if not of practical importance, to those to be hereafter engaged in the transport of salmon ova to New Zealand, and these results I need not apolegise for submitting to my present audience or readers.
The most important communication which resulted from this department of my inquiries was one from Dr. Ransom, of Nottingham. I was recommended to apply to him by Professor Turner, of Edinburgh, who described him as "the gentleman best fitted to give you information about the ova of "fish. . . . . . . He has worked for years at the impregnation of "ova artificially, and at the changes thereby produced" [letter of December, 1872]. The following is Dr. Ransom's letter to mo, quoted in extenso, the date being December 14, 1872:—
"I will, as far as I can, give you my ideas on the subject of your letter. "But I cannot tell you of any method of transporting live salmon ova to the "antipodes which differs in principle from that now in common use.
* As the result of his repeating certain of the experiments on spontaneous generation recorded by Bastian in his "Beginnings of Life."
† The paragraph from the "Times" was so headed (e.g.) in the "North British Daily Mail" of January 14, 1873.
‡ The nearest approach is contained in the letter of Professor Bastian, afterwards quoted.
"My inquiries were directed towards the physiological problems of impregnation only. But, as it was necessary for me to become familiar with "the structure and properties of the ova prior to and after impregnation, I "was led at the time to think over the question of transporting ova to "distant places.
"I cannot see any probability that the method used for preserving vaccine "lymph would meet the need of this case. Nor do I think that any of the "methods known to me of treating birds' eggs, to be used for hatching, "would be applicable to the ova of salmon.
"The method now in use for these latter is founded on the known "influence of cold in delaying the development of the embryo, and the eggs "of the salmon lend themselves admirably to this method, because they "withstand a cold of 32° P. But the details of the present system, as I "understand it, are open to amendment; and perhaps if they were so "improved as greatly to diminish the loss of eggs on the journey, it would "not be too expensive. I assume that you would take impregnated ova, so "as not to lose a day if possible. It is important that there should be few "or no unimpregnated ones among them, as these would decompose and "damage the healthy ones—partly by the foetid products of decomposition, "but more so by favouring the growth of a vegetable parasite, a species, "probably, of Saproglena [Saprolegnia he, no doubt, means]. The separation "of the unfecundated eggs is, however, difficult in the early stages except to "a very practised eye; and it may be necessary to abandon the attempt. "In that case the operator would choose, artificially or naturally, the impregnated ova, according as experience may have told him which yield the "smallest proportion of failures.
"The eggs-should be placed in a trough, in a single layer, upon pure "cotton wool, covered with ice-cold water about two inches deep, and then "with another layer of cotton wool above them—the trough to be furnished "with a perforated lid made to carry a layer of ice, the melting of which "would renew by percolation the water in which the ova are immersed. "The eggs would thus be kept in water at 32° F., and prevented from "shaking about by a very pure, soft package. I have found moss apt to "favour the growth of the parasite, and also that it is important to keep the "eggs quite covered by water, with as little shaking as possible. I cannotvery well, within the compass of a letter, tell you the grounds of these "assertions, but they rest upon Experiment and Observation.
"If possible, during the voyage, an intelligent man should be taught to "remove with a pipette all opaque ova, or those attacked by the parasite. "If this cannot be done, in any case, a weak solution of permanganate of "lime—say rose tint—in ice-cold water should be daily passed into the "trough by means of a tube inserted for the purpose By this method the "decomposing matter of dead or dying eggs is rapidly destroyed, and the "water purified. The deposit from the salt is quite harnless. Toward the "close of the voyage this should be done somewhat oftener. If the ice be "well packed it would not dissolve too fast; and a series of such troughs, "placed near to each other in a frame, would help, by their mass, to keep "down the temperature. The solution of the permanganate of lime might "be used with advantage by the manager on the arrival of the eggs at their "destination. The permanganate may be obtained in the crystalline form.
"I enclose a diagram to assist the description." Assuming, in the meantime, that ice is necessary to the preservation of salmon ova during a voyage to the antipodes, it still seems to mo that the storage of 20 or 25 tons of it might be avoided by the use of some means of page 21 mechanical or chemical refrigeration, while there should be no difficulty in supplying any quantity of fresh water by means of distillation from sea water. Proper attention to the ice and water would, however, fitly occupy the attention of a special officer. Further, assuming that ova must, in the meantime, be conveyed in boxes or troughs, and that it is desirable to avoid every kind of shaking or mechanical shock, these boxes or troughs should always be slung or swung on the principle of the Bessemer saloon in the proposed new channel steamers, of swinging trays in ships' cabins, of compass boxes or barometers on gimbals, or of other similar fittings in all classes of ships.
Dr McIntosh, of Murthly (Dunkeld), suggests [in letter of November, 1872] that "an apparatus might be constructed having a considerable body "of water in a vessel surrounded by a mixture (freezing or otherwise) to keep "the water at a nearly uniform temperature, and a small pump attached so as "to keep up a constant trickle by raising the water which overflows." The only fear would be the early hatching of the fish and the injury to the yolks by the motion of the ship. But this might be overcome by careful "adjustment and suspension."
A still further development of the idea would be the conveyance of young or mature living fish in tanks or wells—on the principle in which live fish are brought to British markets in deck-welled vessels—often so long and so persistently advocated by Mr. Dempster, of Edinburgh. That this will some day be possible between even San Francisco and Auckland, I do not doubt—it is a mere question of time. It will be remembered that Mr. Auld, in his letter, mentions the successful conveyance of live fish between Java and Australia. From the nearest part of Java, to the nearest part of Australia, the voyage would not be long in fine weather—especially by a steamer. But the voyage from Batavia to Melbourne or Sydney, by ordinary sailing ships, in adverse weather, might (and no doubt frequently does) occupy as many days as the passage of the mail steamer from San Francisco to Auckland.
A friend of mine in the colony sent me, some years ago, the following "ingenious suggestions:—"For four years now it has been running in my head "that salmon and other fish even might cross the seas in other and simpler "ways than in ice. Three years ago, I got an old friend in Edinburgh to procure some fecundated ova from Stormontfield and transmit them to me" [for experimental purposes]. . . . . "Vaccine lymph can be preserved for "any length of time when hermetically sealed. . . . . It is a dreadfully "wild non-sequitur to assert that ergo salmon ova are to be preserved similiter. "But the question remains, is there that reasonable amount of probability in "the plan to justify one's trouble in packing up in glass tubes 10 or 12 pellets "of ova—separated one from the other by finely-ground charcoal—or any "other soft substance, and hermetically sealing the open ends of the glass "tubes, which could be done by corking, and then while the tubes were immersed to near the top in a jug of (hot or boiling) water, letting fall a drop "or two of melted glass on the cork."
The majority of my correspondents gave opinions adverse to the probabilty of success from such experiments as those here suggested. But I have lately had a long conversation on the subject with Professor Macalister, of Dublin, and I find that he agrees with me both as to the general desirability of making new or further experiments on the modes of preservation of salmon ova, and as to special direction of some of the said experiments—being unable, with me, to see any valid a priori ground for not making attempts at package and conservation in vacuo—in hermetically-sealed tubes—in various anti-septic fluids page 22 or substances—in water deprived of its air and regarded merely as a mechanical support to the ova. Similar testimony has been offered in writing by Professor Bastian, in the following letter to me of date January 17, 1873:—"I have had no actual experience with regard to the preservation of salmon "ova. It is, of course, purely an experimental question. Packing in wool or "charcoal would doubtless be good. How the ova would stand glycerine, I "do not know; but I should fancy a weak solution of bi-chromate of potash "might do better—about I grain to the ounce of distilled water. You would "have a difficulty in hermetically sealing the tubes when full of fluid; but "there would be no necessity for filling them if the atmospheric air in the "tubes were replaced, more or less completely, by nitrogen gas. I have no doubt that by some such means salmon ova might be preserved in a viable state "for one to three months!" There is nothing, therefore, that should discourage local experimentalists—having the requisite leisure and enthusiasm—from following out to a definite conclusion—whether favourable or the reverse—their own peculiar ideas or designs as to the precise form or direction of experiment.
It appears to me that, assuming all the New Zealand Breeding Ponds to be properly constructed on the model of Stormontfield, their site, in certain instances at least, is objectionable. We have already seen, from Dr. Robert Brown's statement, how salmon have deserted those Californian rivers or streams which contain the debris of gold diggings; and this kind of experience is far from peculiar to California. It is obvious, then, that Breeding Ponds should not be connected with rivers which drain goldfields; or which are contaminated with any other forms of mechanical or chemical impurity. The rivers selected should therefore be pure—they should have no industrial works of any kind on their banks. They should be cold—hence those of the extreme south of New Zealand should be preferred—those fed by glaciers, having the character of mountain rivers, with their sources in large cold lakes, and numerous rapid alpine torrents. For these reasons the Waiau, in Southland, appears to me to be by far the most suitable river in New Zealand, connected as it is with two large lakes and one smaller one, and draining a wild, virtually uninhabited, cold, mountainous region. Probably, however, it is too remote from Invercargill to render it—and especially its upper feeders—of easy access. For it is on these small upper affluents that Breeding Ponds should be placed, and not on the main stream near the sea. Mr. Buist, in his pamphlet descriptive of the Stormontfield operations, points out (p. 17) the importance of allowing the young fish to make their way "to the upper streams and tributaries of' a salmon river." It is no advantage to them to go to sea too soon, seeing that they are apt, according to their immaturity, to fall an easy prey to their stronger and very abundant aquine enemies. Of the Stormontfield smolt, some remain two years in the Ponds before they go to sea. The same objections that are to be urged against too easy and early access to sea, applies, with diminished force, to estuaries and the main trunks of large rivers. Hence salmon should be hatched and reared at as great a distance as possible from their hordes of natural enemies; and hence Breeding Ponds are most appropriately constructed on the smaller affluents of rivers, far from their embouchure, high up among the mountains, which give them birth. There should, however, at the same time, be easy access to the smaller mountain streams, as well as to the main branches of rivers, and to the lakes which form their reservoirs or back-waters.
There is, moreover, a difference of opinion as to the desirability of having breeding ponds at all. Dr. Gray holds an unfavourable opinion, but Mr, Buist controverts such adverse views in his pamphlet already quoted (p. 15), page 23 basing his ideas on his experience at Stormontfield, the usefulness of which, in reference to the annual stocking of the Tay, is unquestionable. My own impression is, that though the ponds are desirable, they are not indispensable in such projects as stocking the New Zealand rivers with exotic salmon. In ponds the Superintendent can control the experiment of hatching and rearing, and can estimate its results. I should be inclined, however, to place certain quantities of ova on gravel beds in the affluents of mountain rivers, resembling the "redds" or spawning places of salmon in our home rivers. In this case allowance must be made for heavy losses from their being devoured by the native fish, including certain of the Salmonidse themselves, to be found in the New Zealand rivers. The probability, however, is that the risk of loss in this direction is much less in the Colony than at home. At all events, it is desirable to determine this point, in such a river as the Waiau, by actual experiment and experience.
There seems to be some difference of opinion, also, as to whether the ova selected for transport to the antipodes should be naturally or artificially impregnated. In a letter to me, of date September 20, 1867, Mr. Wilkin Brown, of Perth,† thus argues in favour of the latter:—
"I would recommend artificially fecundated ova in preference to collecting them off the salmon redds for the following reasons:—
"(1) A great portion of the ova deposited in the river in the natural way "misses the milt of the male, and is therefore lost.
"(2) In collecting ova from a redd a large per centage must necessarily be "injured in the process of collecting.
"(3) You can never be sure of getting ova of the same age, as there may have been more than one pair of fish at work on the same redd at different times."
Mr. Buist, in his pamphlet, (p. 15) also shows the disadvantage of taking naturally impregnated ova from the "redds;" while Mr. Youl appears invariably to have used artificially fecundated ova—the operation of fecundation in Scotland having always been performed by Mr. Peter Marshall, as aforesaid.
It is taking much too limited a view of the experiment of salmon acclimatization in New Zealand, to confine our efforts to a single shipment, or to one now and then. The operation of importing ova, hatching them, and turning the parr and smolt into the New Zealand rivers, should extend over a series of years; and should not be intermitted or put a stop to until either the experiment has become a decided success by the proved presence of multitudes of salmon in the Colonial rivers, or has as signally failed, notwithstanding the adoption of the best means of acclimatization under the circumstances most favourable to success. As before explained, such a persistent effort, or continuous series of efforts, is only possible in the event of the New Zealand Government possessing a sufficient staff of competent resident officers.
As a fitting conclusion to the present memoir, I am glad to have it in my power to append the following excerpts from another letter of Mr. Youl's, of date November 29, 1872. To all concerned in salmon acclimatization experiments, they must possess the highest interest and importance, as giving an auto-biographical history (1) of the present mode of transporting salmon ova by sea; and (2) of the various efforts—futile as well as successful—that have been made, of late years, to stock the rivers of Australia, Tasmania, and Now Zealand with British salmon:—
"I am in receipt of your favour of the 26th, and will endeavour, as briefly "as I can, to answer the questions you have put.page 24
"The first attempt to introduce salmon into Australia, was made in 1852, "under the supervision of a Mr. Boccius—the leading man, in his day, of "the new plan of propagating salmon and trout by catching the fish, taking "the ova from them by hand, impregnating them with the milt of the male "fish, and hatching the eggs in troughs on gravel, and water running over "them. This experiment was made at the expense of the Government of "Tasmania, at a cost of about £350, and failed. No ice was used to cool the "water in which the ova were placed.
"In 1854, on my return from Tasmania, after a residence of 20 years in "that Colony, I first heard in London of this experiment; and, having met "Mr. Boccius, and heard from him all about it, and his reasons for "the failure, I thought what a grand thing it would be to introduce this "noble fish into the Australian and New Zealand rivers, and determined to "use every effort in my power to accomplish it. To this end I read all the "books I could get relating to the salmon and their natural history—had "many interviews with Mr. Boccius and others—got up a small subscription "to make another attempt, and wrote to the colonies for further aid; "But Mr. Boccius and myself could not agree as to the means to be adopted. "I came to the conclusion that ice must be used to cool the water in passing "through the tropics, while he maintained that the ice would kill the ova. "He judged that £400 would be ample to cover the expenses of conveying "safely 60,000 eggs to Tasmania; while I maintained that £1,500 would be "required to make any attempt likely to be successful. I could not afford "to spend so large a sum myself for an experiment from which I "would derive no benefit; and it was not until 1858, when a friend "just arrived from the colonies, dining with me, the subject was broached, "and we headed a new subscription list; and, by dint of great exertion, "raised about £650. But here I met with a difficulty which I had never "anticipated, viz.: the objection of shipowners to receiving so large a quantity as 25 tons of ice, the least quantity I thought we should require. I "could not get a ship from the port of London to try the experiment in; and "at last, to save losing another season, sent a person to Liverpool, who "succeeded in securing a fine ship there. The subscribers requested me to take the "management, and I proceeded forthwith to Liverpool; but the time when the "ship was to sail was so short, that everything had to be hurried; and, in consequence, the arrangements, which altogether were of a novel character, could not "be properly carrted out, An ice-house was built, and 20 tons of ice placed in it. "Water was carried in pipes round and round the ice-house to cool it before running into the apparatus in which the 30,000 salmon ova were lodged. The ship, "S. Gushing, sailed from Liverpool on the 25th February, 1860, with my first experiment, in charge of Mr. Black, and failed.
"The Governments of Victoria and Tasmania, however, were convinced from a "careful examination of Mr. Black, that, with more attention to arrangements, ova "or the young fry of salmon could be brought, and voted money for a further "attempt. I was requested to superintend it; and, in order to qualify myself for "the task, made two visits to Ireland, where in the Custom House at Dublin they "had a complete system of hatching salmon ova under the supervision of Mr. "Ffemelo, the then Superintendent of Irish Fisheries, and Mr Thomas Brag, the "then Secretary of the Board, from whom I received most valuable advice and "assistance. I also went by sea from London to Edinburgh, with two sets of "apparatus, with ova in them, to try which was the best. I visited the Stormontfield Ponds, and had several interviews with that veteran pisciculturist, Mr. Buist, "Perth, with whom I had been in correspondence, and who gave me a plan, drawn "by himself, of the way he would recommend the ova to be carried on board ship. page 25 "I then visited Pans, with letters of introduction to M. Coste and others; and in "the College de France, saw the way they packed ova in moss, which they were in "the habit of sending to different parts of France to re-stock their rivers. And "although, in reply to my question, they declared it impossible to send ova to Australia in moss, this visit led to my eventually adopting this plan, which has proved "so successful. I also went to Brussels to see their plan of artificial breeding.
"The result of all the information I collected, and the experiments I have carried "out myself, was that the ova should be placed on gravel and in small troughs; and "these fixed on a swivel like a swing-tray, or on gimbals like the compass, with a "stream of pure cold water constantly flowing over the eggs. When I had matured "all my plans, and the season had arrived for taking the ova, I could not get a ship, "although several shipowners whom I knew had promised me room in their vessels. "But, when they became acquainted with what I required, they all declined, from "the fear of the consequences of the melting of so large a quantity of ice, and other "equally, to my mind, frivolous excuses; and the only vessel the brokers I employed could get the offer of, was a new vessel just built at Newcastle for a firm "in Sydney. This small† ship I was most reluctantly compelled to accept. After "five weeks of incessant labour in building the ice-house and fitting up two machines for carrying the ova, I had a trial of how they would work. Everything "seemed to promise well, except the difficulty of controlling the running water "amidst the rolling and pitching motion of a vessel at sea. I knew, if I could not "keep the ova quiescent, they would die; and, thinking over all I had seen and "heard, with a view of trying another plan in conjunction with the running stream, "all at once, and as if by inspiration, I thought of the packing in moss. I felt convinced the plan I had seen adopted in Paris would not succeed. I had also seen "some ova packed in moss and glass bottles, which a gentleman thought he could "send by this means safely to Tasmania—all dead within a fortnight after packing.
"Still, believing that a constant supply of cold water, however small, was necessary to the life of the ova, and that the dead ova would also injure the living—"and many would be sure to die under the most favourable circumstances—I hit "upon the plan of a small deal box, perforated with holes on the top, sides and "bottom, intending placing it at the bottom of the ice-house, and so covered with ice "that, as it melted, the water would run into the holes at the top sides of my box, "and out at the bottom, and away through the drainage pipe made for that purpose. I also placed some charcoal in the box, as a disinfectant, to take up the "noxious gases generated by the dead ova. Then making a nest of well-washed and "living moss at the bottom, and spreading my ova carefully in it, I covered it with "well-watered moss, and, on top of all, a handful of powdered ice.
"It was, however, at the last moment that I matured my plans, and could not " therefore put my box at the bottom of the ice, where alone it could be made safe "from rolling about; but amongst the ice. And I would here remark that, when "I produced my little box with the moss and charcoal, all those present on "board the ship ridiculed the plan as the most absurd. Fish, they said, must be "hatched in water, and not in moss. Now, some of these gentlemen were the best "Pisciculturists of the day, and had paid great attention to the subject: they looked "upon me as a mere tyro compared with themselves.
† It is obvious that the larger the vessel, the loss the risk of motion in boxes of ova from pitching and rolling, which is also less in a steamer than in a sailing vessel. Were it possible, therefore, to secure such a steamer for such a purpose, the "Great Eastern" would he the sort of vessel that should be selected for the transport across seas of salmon ova.
"When the news of the failure of this experiment became known in Tasmania, "every kind of abuse was heaped upon me by the press and the people.* This experiment cost the Government, who provided the funds, upwards of £1,400, "although I gave the whole of my time and services gratis. I believe the Govern "ment of Tasmania thought the packing in moss would succeed, although they did "not mention this in their correspondence with me. Neither did they give me any "credit for having put the little box on board as an experiment. They, however, "determined to try again; but, as the Colonial press wrote that 'it never "would succeed so long as the experiment was entrusted to such incompetent "persons as Mr. Youl,' they tried to gel somebody else. Failing in this, they "applied to me to superintend a third attempt. Feeling now confident of success—"notwithstanding their abuse—and, as I considered at the time, ingratitude, I accepted the trust.
"Messrs. Money, Wigram & Co., the large shipowners, most generously gave me "space on board their beautiful ship, the 'Norfolk,' in which I built an ice-house "and stowed away in it 181 boxes, containing about 100,000 salmon ova, and 3 "boxes containing about 2000 brown trout ova, packed in moss, and 25 tons of ice "on the top of the boxes. The 'Norfolk' sailed from London on the 21st "January, 1864, and arrived at Melbourne on the 15 th April. When the ice-house "was opened, some of the boxes were examined, and, to the great delight of the "people, the ova found alive. Above 4000 were kept at Melbourne, and 400 fry "hatched; the remainder were sent on to Hobart Town by the Government steamer "'Victoria,' and thence conveyed to the beautiful Breeding Ponds prepared for "them on the River Plenty—a tributary of the Derwent. The ova were placed in "the Ponds 91 days after being taken from the parent fish. On May 4th the first "trout was hatched, and on the next day the first salmon that ever made its "appearance in the southern hemisphere, was hatched; and, eventually it was "declared about 6000 salmon and 300 brown trout were hatched; and so my 10 "years of labour were at last crowned with success.
* If it can be any consolation to Mr. Youl, I can assure him that his case is by no means singular. The man who serves a Colonial Government, or public, must act upon the principle that "Virtue is its own reward." He must not expect gratitude as a necessary consequence of his devotion. Where it is offered, let him accept it thankfully! But, however pure and disinterested may have been his motives—however self-sacrificing his efforts—however unique his qualifications—however signal his ability or reputation—he must be prepared to have his motives misconstrued and misrepresented—his efforts depreciated—his qualifications sneered at—his reputation made the butt of ungenerous and unjust insinuations by a Press too frequently disposed to sacrifice truth to sensationalism!
† The time may come when the rivers of New Zealand may be stocked with salmon from Tasmania; or those of Tasmania from New Zealand. But that period is yet far-distant, apparently, seeing that it is still problematical whether salmon of British or other parentage yet occur in the rivers of any of our Australian Colonies. The hopes of the Colonists should therefore, meanwhile, be directed to the teeming rivers of the Pacific seaboard of North America.
"No salmon, that I am aware of, has ever been caught to prove that they have "come back from the sea to spawn in fresh water. But Sir Hobert Officer, who is "the Chairman of the Salmon Commissioners appointed by the Government especially to take charge of the experiment, and who lives on the banks of the Derwent, writes to me that he is sure he has seen salmon in the Derwent of not less "than 10 lbs. weight many times, and quite close to him; and many other gentlemen report the same. Sir Robert concludes that he is as certain salmon are there "as that he has a head on his shoulders. People here say, 'if salmon are there, "why don't they catch one?' Until they do, of course, there will remain a doubt of "the salmon being acclimatized.
"In 1867, at the request and expense of the Otago Government, I superintended "a shipment of salmon ova to that Province. They arrived in pretty good order; "but, as far as I can learn, the troughs in which they were placed were not in "proper order to receive them, and just as they began to hold, the water was "covered with ice. As far as I have been able to ascertain, about 500 salmon fry "left the Ponds for the sea in 1869, and nothing more has been heard or seen of "them since. It is therefore possible that some of these young smolt may have "returned as grilse, and that they have the salmon in New Zealand.
"Another shipment was made by me in 1868, by desire of the Otago Government; but the ship was detained in the English Channel a month, and the voyage "was so long, that not one was hatched; although, from the account I received, "at the opening of the boxes, the eggs were full of fish, plainly to be seen. I have "found by experiment, that when the ova are kept over 100 days in the moss, and "in an ice-house, very few will hatch when placed in water.
"In almost all the shipments I have made, I have obtained ova from the Tyne, "the Tweed, the Severn, the Ribble; and some from Ireland,* some from the Usk, "and once from the Davey, in Wales.
"At the request of the Agent-General for New Zealand, I have undertaken to "superintend the shipment now preparing, and pack the ova in the moss with my "own hands. Not one fish has been hatched in Australia, the ova of which I "have not packed, except a few boxes in the 'Norfolk' when I was tired but "stood by all the time.
"I do hope we may get the services of Mr. Peter Marshall to take and impregnate some ova for this shipment. He is one on whom I can depend; and if the "owners of the Tay [fisheries] would let him take a few fish for this purpose from "that river, it would tend more than anything I know to the success of this shipment, the cost of which will be over £700."†
* No mention is here made of the Tay; and, in point of fact, no ova have as yet been taken from it. Mr. Youl himself, in a letter to Mr. Auld, [quoted in the "Otago Daily Times" of May 16, 1868,] states that "Mr. Johnson was engaged to procure ova from the Tyne or Tweed:" so that the assertion of the Otago newspapers—or their "special correspondents"—that in 1867 there was a "box of Tay salmon contributed by Mr. Johnson," is obviously a mistake.
† In my communication to the Tay Board in December, 1872, I made special allusion to the desirability of placing at the command of Mr. Youl the services of Mr. Marshall. The result was, as has been already stated, that it was by Mr. Marshall the spawning operations in the Ettrick were conducted, in January, 1873. His services were also taken advantage of in the Otago experiment of 1867. In narrating the history of the operations, Mr. Youl ported that—'Mr. R. Buist, of Perth, kindly lent us Mr. Peter Marshall, of the Stormontfield Ponds, to take the ova from the fish and impregnate them."
Fergusson & Mitchell, Printers, Princes-St., Dunedin.