A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 06 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 750 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 06.

This coral stone is of two sorts, one of which is a very pure white, and the other very red.  In some places this coral stone is covered by great quantities of green ouze or sleech, and in other places it is free from this growth.  In some places this ouze or sleech is very bright green, and in others of an orange-tawny colour.  From Swakem upwards, the water of this sea is so exceedingly clear, that in many places the bottom may be distinctly seen at the depth of 20 fathoms.  Hence, where-ever these shoals and shelves are, the water over them is of three several colours, according to the colour of these rocks or shelves, red, green, or white, proceeding from the colour of the ground below, as I have many times experienced.  Thus when the ground of the shoals is sand, the sea over it appears white; where the coral-stone is covered with green ouze or sleech, the water above is greener even than the weeds; but where the shoals are of red coral, or coral-stone covered by red weeds, all the sea over them appears very red.  And, as this red colour comprehends larger spaces of the sea than either the green or the white, because the stone of the shoals is mostly of red coral, I am convinced that on this account it has got the name of the Red Sea, and not the green sea or the white sea, though these latter colours are likewise to be seen in perfection.

The means I used for ascertaining this secret of nature were these.  I oftentimes fastened my bark upon shoals where the sea appeared red, and commanded divers to bring me up stones from the bottom.  Mostly it was so shallow over these shoals, that the bark touched; and in other places the mariners could wade for half a league with the water only breast high.  On these occasions most of the stones brought up were of red coral, and others were covered by orange-tawny weeds.  Whether the sea appeared green, I found the stones at the bottom were white coral covered with green weeds; and where the sea was white I found a very white sand.  I have conversed often with the Moorish pilots, and with persons curious in antiquities, who dwelt on this sea, who assured me that it was never stained red by the dust brought from the land by the winds:  I do not, however reprove the opinion of former Portuguese navigators; but I affirm, that having gone through this sea oftener than they, and having seen its whole extent, while they only saw small portions, I never saw any such thing.  Every person with whom I conversed wondered much at our calling it the Red Sea, as they knew no other name for it than the sea of Mecca[335].  On the 9th of August 1541, we entered the port of Anchediva, where we remained till the 21st of that month, when we went in foists or barks and entered the port of Goa, whence we set out on this expedition on the 31st of December 1540, almost eight months before.

[Footnote 335:  This might have been the case among the pilots at this time; but among Arabic geographers it is likewise called the Sea of Hejaz, the Sea of Yaman, and the Sea of Kolzum.—­Astl.]

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