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bigelow illustration of porpita lutkeana

Fragile denizen of the deep

Because their bodies have no hard parts, gelatinous animals, commonly called “jellies,” have always been fascinating and elusive to naturalists. They were already a favorite subject for Henry Bigelow (WHOI's first director, 1930-1940) when he was in charge of collecting and curating gelatinous animals during Alexander Agassiz's 1901 voyage to the Maldives — an expedition conducted along the lines of the grand surveying cruises common in the 19th century. His drawing of this medusa, Porpita lutkeana, is still accurate and beautiful today. (Illustration by Henry B. Bigelow, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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