Leadline, 19th century

A lead weight attached to a line marked in 6-foot lengths (or fathoms) was used to "sound the bottom." By pressing tallow into the weight, skippers could tell whether the sea floor was rocky, sandy, or shelly. Some claimed they could even taste and smell flounders nearby.
National Museum of American History

Ocean Planet Exhibition Floorplan

gene carl feldman (gene@seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov) (301) 286-9428

Judith Gradwohl, Smithsonian Institution (Curator/Ocean Planet)