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line, and four seamen as rowers. In each boat there are also two or three harpoons; several lances; and six lines, each a hundred and i wenty fathoms long, fastened together
As soon as a Whale is struck with the harpoon, le darts down into the deep, carrying off the instrument in his body; and so extremely rapid is his motion, that, if the line were to entangle, it would either snap like a thread, or overset the boat. One man, therefore, is stationed to attend only to the line, that it may go regularly out; and another is employed in continually wetting the place it runs against, that the wood may not take fire from the friction.
When the Whale returns to breathe, the harpooner inflicts a fresh wound; till at length the immense animal faints from loss of blood : the men now venture to row the boat quite up to him; and a long steeled lance is thrust into his breast, and through the intestines, which soon puts an end to his existence.
The carcass no sooner begins to float, than holes are cut in the fins and tail; and ropes being fastened to these, it is towed to the ship, where it is fastened in such a manner that the back floats in the water.
The operation next to be performed, is that of taking out the blubber and whalebone. Several men get upon the animal with a sort of iron spurs, (to prevent them from slipping,) and separate the tail, which is hoisted on deck: they then cut out square pieces of blubber, weighing two or three thousand pounds each, which are also hoisted up. These are here cut into smaller pieces, which are thrown into the hold, and left for three or four days to drain. When all the blubber is cut from the bully of the Whale, it is turned on one side,
B. The Landa.
by means of a piece of blubber left in the middle, called the cant, or turning-piece. The men then cut out this side in large pieces, as before; and also the whalebone, with the gums, which are preserved entire, and hoisted on deck, where the blades are cut and separated, and left till the men have time to scrape and clean :hem. The Whale is next turned with its back upward, and the blubber is cut from the back and crown bone. The men conclude the whole process by cutting the blubber from the other side. But previously to letting the remainder of the body float away, they cut out the two large upper jaw-bones, which being hoisted on deck, are
, cleansed and fastened to the shrouds, and tubs are placed under them to receive the oil which they discharge. This oil is a perquisite belonging to the captain.
In three or four days the seamen hvist the pieces of blubber out of the hold, chop them, and put them, by small pieces, into casks, through the bung.holes.
A Whale, the longest blade of whose mouth measures nine or ten feet, will yield about thirty butts of blubber; but some of the largest yield upwards of seventy. One of the latter is generally worth about five thousand dollars: and a full ship, of three hundred tons burden, will produce more than twenty-five thousand dollars from one voyage.
Premiums on every Whale that is taken are given to all persons engagel, from the captain, even to the men who row the boats. These rewards tend to excite their activity in the service of their employers.
The fishing season begins in May, and continues through the months of June and July; but whether the ships have had good or bad success, they must come away and get clear of the ice by the end of August.
INSTRUMENTS FOR WHALE FISNING.
A. Tbe Harpoon.
OF THE CACHALOT TRIBE
THE upper jaw is broad, and entirely destitute of teeth, or has teeth, so short, as to be nearly concealed in the gum. The under jaw is nar. row, and furnished with large, conical teeth, which fit into sockets in the upper jaw. The spiracles, or breathing holes, have only a single external orifice. The bodies of these animals are entirely naked, and their skin is very smooth and soft.
The interior organization of the Cachalots, is somewhat different from that of the Whales, and requires a nourishment more substantial than that of small fish, and marine molusca. The Cacbalots consequently attack and devour several of the larger kinds of fish, and occasionally even Porpoises, Dolphins, and young Whales, which they are enabled to seize and tear in pieces by means of their teeth. They are not contented, like the Whales, with merely exerting their strength in self-defence; but will themselves provoke a combat with the larger inhabitants of the element in which they reside, and will attack and destroy them with the utmost vigor and address. Their ferocity and their muscular powers are such, that all the species are considered by the fishermen to be extremely dangerous. It is said that some of them, when they are attacked, will throw themselves on their back, and in that position will defend themselves with their mouth.
These animals inhabit chiefly the Northern Ocean, and nearly the same latitudes as the Whales. They frequently swim in troops Their muscular powers are very great; and notwithstanding their immense and blunt heads, they are able to cut their way through the water with astonishing rapidity.
THE BLUNT-HEADED CACHALOT, OR SPERMACETI WHALE.
The length of the Blunt-headed Cachalot, when full grown, is
about seventy feet, and its girth about fifty. When viewed from above, it appears like an immense ani. mated mass, trunca. ted in front, so that the muzzle terminates
in a some what squared, and almost perpendicular extremity. The head constitutes nearly one third of the whole body: the mouth is situated at the under part, and the under jaw is so small, in comparison with the upper, as to have somewhat the appearance of the lid or cover of an enormous box turned upside down. The eyes are situated above the corners of the mouth, and are so minute, as to be scarcely perceptible. The pectoral fins are each about three feet in length. On the posterior part of the back there is a longitudival and callous
THE BLUNT-HEADED CACHALOT.
protuberance, or spurious fin. The tail is very short ana slender, each of the lobes being hollowed somewhat like the blade of a scythe. The skin is smooth, oily, and almost as soft to the touch as silk. Its color is usually black.
The velocity with which these Cachalots dart through the water is greater, and their progressive motion is performed by much more elevated bounds or curves, than those of many of the W bales. They generally swim in troops, consisting of a great number of both males and females. In the month of March, 1784, there were thirty-two Spermaceti Whales cast on shore, during a violent gale of wind, in the neighborhood of Audierne, in France. Their bellowing was heard to the distance of more than a league. Two men, who happened to be walking along the coast not far from the place where the ani. mals were stranded, not conceiving what they could possibly be, were thrown into the utmost agitation and alarm at their noise, and at seeing them floundering in the shallow water, and beating about the sand and mud in all directions, at the same time occasionally throwing water from their spiracles to an immense height, and 'with tremendous noise. They were all young animals, but the smallest of the whole measured upwards of thirty feet, and the largest nearly fifty feet in length. They were not able to regain the sea ; but they continued alive on the sand for upwards of twenty-four hours.
Few animals are more voracious than these, nor can we be surprised at their voracity, when we consider their enormous bulk, and the immense quantity of nourishment which they must of necessity require. They feed on various kinds of fish which swim in shoals, nor do they seem to refuse any marine animals that come in their way. They swallow myriads of the different kinds of mollusca, particularly Cuttle-fish, the beaks or jaws of which are often found in their stom. achs and intestines; and they pursue and attack Dolphins, Porpoises, and even several species of Sharks. We are informed by Fabricius, that the tremendous White Shark, so much dreaded by the other inhabitants of the ocean, flees with precipitation from the Bluntheaded Cachalot: that, in the excess of its alarm, it will often dart to the bottom of the ocean, and endeavor to conceal itself, in the sand or mud, from the piercing sight of its adversary: that it will sometimes incautiously throw itself against the rocks, with such force as to occasion its almost immediate death: and that, notwithstanding its usual voracity, this Shark will not dare to approach even the dead body of the Cachalot.
There is, in the upper part of the skull of the Cachalots, an immense cavity perfectly distinct from the cavity which contains the brain. This occupies nearly one-fourth part of the whole head, extending from the front almost to the eyes, and being sometimes as much as sixteen or eighteen feet in length. It is divided horizontally into two parts by a strong membrane; and each of these parts is again subdivided, by vertical membranes, into numerous cells, which communicate with each other, and which contain a peculiar kind of fat, denominated (though very improperly) spermaceti. This, which has frequently been mistaken for the brain, is sometimes found in such quantity, that eighteen or twenty butts of it have been taken from the head of the largest Cachalot. The spermaceti
, when the animals are alive, is fuid; but when cold it is of a whitish color, and is found in somewhat solid lumps.
The oil produced from this Cachalot is not by any means in such quantity as that produced from some of the Whales; but, in quality, it is far preferable, since it yields a bright flame, without at the same time exhaling any nauseous smell. The flesh is of a pale. red color, appearing not much unlike coarse pork, and it is said to be very palatable as food.
The substance known by the name of ambergris, is produced from the body of this animal. It is generally found in the stomach, but sometimes in the intestines; and, in a commercial view, is a highly valuable production. As we see it in the shops, it is an opaque substance, which varies in solidity according to its exposure to a warm or cold atmosphere.
Although this animal is most frequently met with in the Northern Ocean, in the latitudes of Greenland, Spitzbergen, and Iceland, yet it is occasionally seen off the British coasts, and sometimes even in the Mediterranean Sea.
OF THE DOLPHINS IN GENERAL.
The Dolphins have a row of large teeth in each jaw; and the spiracles have only a single external orifice, which is situated near the top of the head.
These animals inhabit various seas, being occasionally found both in hot and cold climates. They are much smaller than the Whales; the largest species seldom exceeding twenty or five-and-twenty feet in length. They are often seen in shoals, of from five or six to twenty and upwards in number, gambolling about the ocean. Their food consists almost wholly of fish, and principally of Mackerel and Herrings.
THE COMMON DOLPHIN.
The body of the Dolphin is oblong and roundish, and the snout
narrow and sharp-pointed, with a broad transverse band, or projection of skin, on its upper part. This is a longer and more slender animal than the porpoise; it measures nine or ten feet in length, and about two feet in diameter. The body is
black above and white below. The mouth is very wide, reaching almost to the thorax, and contains forty teeth; twenty-one in the upper, and nineteen in the under jaw : when the mouth is shutthe teeth lock into each other.
Dolphins are occasionally observed in almost every part of the ocean,