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observe the action of the enormous tail, which differs from that of fishes, in being set on horizontally instead of perpendicularly. There is a slight curve in the surface of each flange, imitated, no doubt, in the construction of a screw propeller for a steamship. By working this enormous limb with an up and down stroke, he is enabled to scull himself along at various
rates of speed. Swimming gently along, the fan-like tail moves with a regular rhythmical motion, giving sufficient force to drive the weighty body in the desired direction; but when roused to action this powerful organ is driven with enormous muscular force; then the lobes are more rigidly exerted, and the body acquires
an undulating motion from side to side, somewhat like a wherry propelled with one oar over the stern.
The oil of the Physalis antiquorum is calculated at the rate of one ton in ten of the whole weight of the body. The blubber of Balæna mysticetus is about one half of all the weight. The finner is leadencoloured in some lights; but seen directly below the spectator, its body is black, with the chest and throat velvet-brown, and ridged along the under parts with deep plaits, which are of a deeper brown on the outer part of the folds, and a yellowish white within. In an animal measured by my friend Dr. Murie, he found the entire length to be sixty feet; of this the head measured nearly twelve feet.
This species, in common with most of the family Balænopterido, does not go far north as a rule, says Mr. R. Brown, who has bestowed much time and attention to the collection of valuable facts relating to Arctic zoology in his frequent expeditions. They feed upon cod and other fish, which they devour in immense quantities. Desmoulins mentions 600 being taken out of the stomach of one. Mr. Brown knew an instance in which 800 were found. They often, in common with Balcenoptera gigas and B. rostrata, wander into the European seas in pursuit of cod and herrings; and the skeleton of one recently captured
in the Thames is to be seen at Rosherville Gardens, somewhere down the river—that “place to spend a happy day,” as we are led to believe by the advertisements at the railway stations.
A few years ago much excitement was got up about the number of “whales” found in the neighbourhood of Kocal (Greenland), and companies were started to kill them, supposing them to be the right whale of commerce. As might have been expected, they proved to be only “finners,” which prey on the immense quantity of cod which are found there.
This whale is accounted almost worthless by the whalers, and on account of the small quantity of oil which it yields, and the difficulty of its capture, it is never attacked unless by mistake or through ignorance.
In Davis's Straits one was seen floating, dead; to it the men rowed, taking it for a right whale, but on discovering their mistake they immediately abandoned it. They had apparently not been the first, for on its sides were cut the names of several vessels. which had paid it a visit, and did not consider it worth the carriage and fire to try out the oil. The blubber is hard and cartilaginous, not unlike soft glue. Its blowing can be distinguished at a distance by being whiter and lower than that of Balæna mysticetus.
Next day, 30th May, the same wind continuing, we are borne with great speed towards the north. All day long another kind of whale swims in our company. This time it is the bottle-nose (Delphinus deductor). Five of these fellows play around the bows; diving for a moment, they appear again close to the stern. Their gambols rouse our desire to test the powers of the harpoon-gun; but all hands are now busy with the various preparations for the coming season, and a few rifle shots are fired at them, until one more successful
than the rest at last drives away our companions. The sailors told us that in the autumn small bottle-noses frequent the coasts in pursuit of the herring; and the fishermen, ever on the watch for these the most destructive of their enemies, are prepared to wage a war upon them whenever a fitting opportunity presents itself. The bottle-noses, attracted probably by their prey, often incautiously enter some land-locked bay, and the men, seizing the chance, endeavour by an organised onslaught to drive them ashore. Dashing out in their well-manned boats, they cut off the retreat of the herd, which is quickly thrown into confusion by a wild hubbub and splashing of water in their rear. The bottle-noses rush wildly from side to side, and some old bull, their leader, his patience exhausted by the frantic efforts he is bound to make for their safety, often rears up in the water to the no small danger of any boat in his immediate neighbourhood. All this time the tide is ebbing away, and the shallow water, grown muddy from the turmoil, impedes the progress of the bewildered whales. One or two, in their frantic charges at the boats, manage to make good their escape, but the majority are soon stranded and made away with by the boatmen, who by an unreasonable law are compelled to concede a third of their gains to the Customs, a similar exaction being made in every case where a harpooned whale is brought to land.