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and worrying at the unsightly food. It is in the sunny fiords of northern Iceland these finners are now oftenest found, and there in the clear deep water of the beautiful bays indenting the coast they lead a comparatively easy life. Some speculative Americans established in one of these fiords a rather extensive fishing-station, hoping to derive large profits from the systematic pursuit of the finner whale. The undertaking was a disastrous one, and the remains of the deserted factory now encumber the shores of one of the finest natural harbours of that coast. The harpooners are capital sailors, and a few are fair sportsmen ; they contribute to the support of their families by making these trips with whalers, when they gain as wages sometimes from £10 to £15 a month ; they are usually naval reserve men, and at times they are employed on the works at the Hull docks refitting ships, picking up odd jobs, looking after leaky ships as they come in for shelter in stormy weather, or in hiring gangs of men to clear ships by contract. Such men have the greatest contempt for the Navy—“Why, sir, I can earn as much money as a brass-buttoned lieutenant gets any day, and as for being ordered about by a set of middies who knows nothing they give orders about—no, sir, none of my family enter the Navy; we saw enough of them up
the Straits to see what they were made of.” Some of these men have made nineteen or twenty voyages to these seas, and have had too much experience of the pursuit of the finners to make them enthusiasts in their pursuit. One of our men was employed on board a vessel engaged in the capture of this whale when all their fishing tackle was lost; several finners were struck and but one was ultimately secured, so that the outlay was greatly overbalanced by the losses incurred. The oil also, when compared with that of the right whale, is less in quantity, and inferior in quality ; it is thin and greasy, while the true whale oil is, when recently collected, of a pale salmon colour and remarkably rich in quality. Towards evening the finners left us.
On calm, clear days, while we waited for the appearance of the whale, we preserved the strictest silence, and as we waited and watched, he would glide on to the surface with a sudden but gentle motion, heaving a loud p-o-o-f as he came; and if on his way either in search of food or swimming in mere sport, we could see the peculiar inclination forwards which formed the first part of the curve in which the drive is made. The odour of a whale is most unpleasant, and he leaves å slimy track behind him, just such a track as some great black slug leaves when passing over the garden path in the early morning; we could also
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
WHALES' FOOD. 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 Balænopteridæ, 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.