Light Show

On May 15, 1879, J. Eliot Pringle, commander of the H.M.S. Vulture, saw something odd in the Persian Gulf:

I noticed luminous waves or pulsations in the water, moving at great speed and passing under the ship from the south-south-west. On looking towards the east, the appearance was that of a revolving wheel with centre on that bearing, and whose spokes were illuminated, and looking towards the west a similar wheel appeared to be revolving, but in the opposite direction.

Eight months later and 1,500 miles to the southeast, off the Malabar coast, Cmdr. R.E. Harris of the steamship Shahjehan witnessed glowing waves of “a peculiar but beautiful milky whiteness”:

In a short time the ship was completely surrounded with one great body of undulating light, which soon extended to the horizon on all sides. … If the sea could be converted into a huge mirror, and thousands of powerful electric lights were made to throw their rays across it, it would convey no adequate idea of this strange yet grand phenomenon.

Harris called his vision “the most remarkable phenomenon that I have ever seen at sea”; Pringle called his “beautiful and striking.” What they were, precisely, is not clear.

(From Nature, July 24, 1879, and Charles Frederick Holder, Living Lights: A Popular Account of Phosphorescent Animals and Vegetables, 1887. See also A Phosphorescent Sea.)

Feeder of the Pack,M1

Lord [Francis Henry] Egerton [1756-1829] is a man of few acquaintance, and very few of his countrymen have got as far as his dining-hall. His table, however, is constantly set out with a dozen covers, and served by suitable attendants. Who, then, are his privileged guests? No less than a dozen of favourite dogs, who daily partake of milord’s dinner, seated very gravely in arm-chairs, each with a napkin round his neck, and a servant behind to attend to his wants.

— John Timbs, English Eccentrics and Eccentricities, 1875

The Shark Arm Affair

On April 25, 1935, a shark in Australia’s Coogee Aquarium disgorged a human arm. The shark had recently been caught off Sydney, but no swimmers had been reported missing. The arm, which had been severed with a knife, was eventually identified as that of 40-year-old ex-boxer James Smith, who had been missing since April 7.

Police began a murder investigation, but without a body there was no proof that Smith was dead. The case collapsed, and it remains unsolved.