Forbes Dredge Song

“Song of the Dredge”, presented by Edward Forbes to the British Association at its annual meeting in 1839. Sung in the tune of Cream by Prince (kidding).

“Hurrah for the dredge, with its iron edge,

And its mystical triangle.

And its hided net with meshes set

Odd fishes to entangle!

The ship may move thro’ the waves above,

‘Mid scenes exciting wonder,

But braver sights the dredge delights

As it roves the waters under.


Then a-dredging we will go wise boys

A-dredging we will go!

A-dredging we will go, a-dredging we will go,

A-dredging we will go, wise boys,

A-dredging we will go!

Down in the deep, where the merman sleep,

Our gallant dredge is sinking;

Each finny shape in a precious scrape

Will find itself in a twinkling!

They may twirl and twist, and writhe as they wist

And break themselves into sections,

But up they all, at the dredge’s call,

Must come to fill collections.


The creatures strange the sea that range,

Though mighty in their stations,

To the dredge must yield the briny field

Of their loves and depredations.

The crab so bold, like a knight of old,

In scaly armour plated,

And the slimy snail, with a shell on his tail,

And the star-fish —– radiated!


As quoted by Sir William Herdman in: Founders of Oceanography and Their Work. 1923. London, Edward Arnold & Co. P. 17-18. posted by Craig McClain at 9:23 AM

Dr. M (1801 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

3 Replies to “Forbes Dredge Song”

  1. makes me long for a pint of Guiness and a bunch of old sailors to enjoy it with

  2. My great grandmotner, Jane Forbes Attwood, was Edward Forbes’ younger sister. I am compiling a family history. Do you have other links to info on Forbes?

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