“20000 Leagues Under the Sea” Part2 Ch17

Question 1: What are the fish called echeneis that the crew of the Nautilus fastened ropes to and used as “living fish hooks” to capture sea-turtles with?

Answer 1: According to Encyclopedia Mythica at http://www.pantheon.org/articles/e/echeneis.html:

The Echeneis was the bane of all sailors. Its name means delay or hindrance. A cartilaginous disk atop its flattened head acted as a suction cup. When a single echeneis attached itself to the ship of the emperor Caligula’s the combined of hundred oarsmen could not budge the vessel.

While the echeneis may be a mythical creature, there are numerous sea creatures that use suction to adhere to things.  For instance Chitons (a.k.a. coat-of-mail shells) are mollusks with eight-piece shells whose pieces are movable and held together by muscular tissue.  According to the book “Seashore” by Steve Parker (copyright 1989,  an Eyewitness Book published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.):

pg. 28: The broad foot of the chiton anchors it to the shore.  This mollusk can also clamp down its fleshy girdle (shell edge) to make a good seal and then raise its body inside to suction itself to the rock.  If dislodged, it flexes its body and rolls its jointed shell plates into a ball.


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