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Title: Whale hunting with gun and camera: A naturalist’s account of the modern shore-whaling industry, of whales and their habits, and of hunting experiences in various parts of the world
Author: Andrews, Roy Chapman
Language: English
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                 WHALE HUNTING _with_ GUN _and_ CAMERA

                          ROY CHAPMAN ANDREWS



                        D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
                          NEW YORK      LONDON

                          COPYRIGHT, 1916, BY
                        D. APPLETON AND COMPANY

                Printed in the United States of America


                                MY WIFE

                     WOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN WRITTEN

                                 AND TO

                               MY MOTHER

                      WHO HAS BORNE THE ANXIETIES
                      OF HER SON’S LONG WANDERINGS


In this book I have endeavored to tell of modern shore whaling as I have
seen it during the past eight years while collecting and studying
cetaceans for the American Museum of Natural History. This work carried
me twice around the world, as well as northward on two expeditions to
Alaska, and southward to the tropic waters of Borneo and the Dutch East

I have also tried to give, in a readable way, some of the most
interesting facts about whales and their habits, confining myself,
however, to those species which form the basis of the shore whaling
industry, or are commercially important, and which have come under my
personal observation.

In all of this work the camera has necessarily played a large part, for
it is only by means of photographs that whales can be seen in future
study as they appear alive or when freshly killed. It is hardly
necessary to say that the photographing has been intensely interesting,
and to any one who is in search of real excitement I can heartily
recommend camera hunting for whales.

It should be understood that this book is in no sense a manual of the
large Cetacea. I hope, however, at some future time to write a volume
which will treat of this wonderful mammalian order in a less casual way,
and thus satisfy a desire which has been ever present in my mind since I
began the study of whales.

Some portions of this book have been published as separate articles in
the _American Museum Journal_, _World’s Work_, _Metropolitan_, _Outing_,
_National Geographic_, and other magazines, but by far the greater part
of it is new.

There have been many pleasurable sides to the work, but one of the most
delightful has been the friends that I have made, and my cordial
reception by the officials of the whaling companies in whatever corner
of the world I have chanced to be.

Space will not permit me to mention all those to whom I am indebted and
who have contributed to the success of the various expeditions, but I
wish first to express my gratitude to the Trustees of the American
Museum of Natural History, under whose auspices all my work upon
cetaceans has been conducted, and especially to President Henry
Fairfield Osborn for his encouragement and wise counsel.

Captains I. N. Hibberd and John Barneson have never failed in kindness
and the President and Directors of the Toyo Hogei Kabushiki Kaisha of
Osaka, and Mr. D. Ogiwara of Shimonoseki, Japan, are in a large measure
responsible for the success of the work conducted in the Orient. Not
only did these gentlemen freely extend the courtesies of their ships and
stations, but also presented to the American Museum of Natural History
skeletons of all the large Japanese cetaceans, which are the only
specimens of Asiatic whales in America.

Thanks are due to the Directors of the (former) Pacific Whaling Company
of Victoria, B. C., and to the (former) managers of the stations, Mr.
Sidney C. Ruck, V. H. Street and J. H. Quinton. Mr. Ruck also furnished
me with valuable data as to the progress of the American West Coast
whaling industry and assisted in other ways.

I cannot mention, individually, all the gunners who have entertained me
ashore and afloat, but the kindness of Captains H. G. Melsom, Fred Olsen
and Y. E. Andersen I shall never forget. Captain Melsom has also read
portions of the manuscript of this book and in criticism has afforded me
the benefit of his long experience and keen observation.

My wife, Yvette Borup Andrews, has transcribed practically all of this
book from my dictation and has assisted in numberless other ways
throughout its preparation, and to her my thanks are due.

Lastly, I wish to express my gratitude for material assistance
throughout the work upon cetaceans to Dr. Frederic A. Lucas, Director of
the Museum; Dr. J. A. Allen, Dr. Herman C. Bumpus, Messrs. George H.
Sherwood, (late) George S. Bowdoin and Mr. and Mrs. Charles L.

                                             ROY CHAPMAN ANDREWS,
                                     American Museum of Natural History,
                                                         New York City.

 _February 8, 1916._




 The development of shore whaling and its progress throughout the
   world—The floating factory—A modern shore station—The ship,
   harpoon-gun and apparatus—What shore whaling is doing for
   science                                                             1

                                CHAPTER I

                           MY FIRST WHALE HUNT

 Making ready for the hunt—Three humpbacks sighted—The first
   kill—Inflating the whale—Cutting in a whale by
   machinery—Disposition of the parts                                 22

                               CHAPTER II

                     HOW A HUMPBACK DIVES AND SPOUTS

 Diving—How far down whales can go—Spouting—Construction of the
   blowholes                                                          38

                               CHAPTER III


 A fruitless chase of two humpbacks—Another humpback sighted—It
   bursts from the water half under the vessel’s side                 46

                               CHAPTER IV


 The voice—How long whales can remain under water—Where whales
   sleep—The “double-finned” whale                                    54

                                CHAPTER V

                          THE PLAYFUL HUMPBACK

 The whalebone, or baleen—What whales eat and how—Affection for
   young—The fighting qualities of humpbacks—Breeding
   habits—Nursing the baby whale with milk—A story of whale milking   63

                               CHAPTER VI

                         JAPANESE SHORE STATIONS

 Studying whales in Japan—Japanese shore stations and their method
   of cutting in—Cutting in at night—Whale meat as a food             77

                               CHAPTER VII

                          A JAPANESE WHALE HUNT

 Hunting sei whales off the coast of North Japan—The whale
   runs—Moving pictures—The second whale                              91

                              CHAPTER VIII

                       CHARGED BY A WILD SEI WHALE

 The first sight—The shot—The charge—The death flurry—Sharks         107

                               CHAPTER IX

                         HABITS OF THE SEI WHALE

 A distinct species—Wandering disposition—Migration—Distinguishing
   characteristics—Food—Speed                                        122

                                CHAPTER X

                         A LONG BLUE WHALE CHASE

 The whale runs—The ship dragged through the water—A broken harpoon
   line—Caught after a day’s chase                                   129

                               CHAPTER XI


 Weight and size of a blue whale—Why whales grow so large—A
   new-born baby 25 feet long—The wonderful strength of a blue
   whale—A remarkable hunt described by J. G. Millais                140

                               CHAPTER XII


 Watching a whale swim—The flippers and hind-limbs—Ventral
   folds—Blubber—A blue whale which followed a ship 24 days          148

                              CHAPTER XIII

                        THE GREYHOUND OF THE SEA

 A finback hunt in Alaska—A finback struck by two harpoons—Finished
   with the lance—A humpback—A finback mother and calf               158

                               CHAPTER XIV

                        SHIPS ATTACKED BY WHALES

 Sinking the _Sorenson_—Whales attacking ships—Habits of blue and
   finback whales—Killing a finback off the Shetland
   coast—Wanderings of whales                                        175

                               CHAPTER XV


 Whales on the Pacific Coast—The devilfish of Korea—Living in
   Korea—Theft of bones—My first gray whale                          186

                               CHAPTER XVI


 Stampeding a herd of gray whales—Cleverness in avoiding
   capture—Migrations                                                197

                              CHAPTER XVII

                      SOME HABITS OF THE GRAY WHALE

 What gray whales eat—Affection—Diseases—Parasites—Hair              207

                              CHAPTER XVIII

                           THE WOLF OF THE SEA

 Captain Scott’s experience with killers—Killers in the
   Antarctic—The swordfish and thresher                              215

                               CHAPTER XIX

                      A STRANGE GIANT OF THE OCEAN

 The giant sperm
   and Diving—Sperms off the Japan coast—Ferocity—Length of life in
   whales                                                            224

                               CHAPTER XX

                       A DEEP-SEA SPERM WHALE HUNT

 Old-time whaling—Killing with a hand lance—“Diary of a Whaling
   Cruise,” by Mr. Slocum                                            238

                               CHAPTER XXI

                       THE RIGHT WHALE AND BOWHEAD

 The beginning of whaling—The right whale and bowhead—Valuable
   whalebone—Right whales killed with the harpoon-gun—How bowheads
   are hunted—The Eskimo whalers—A right whale captured at
   Amagansett, Long Island                                           245

                              CHAPTER XXII


 Hunting the bottlenose whale—Habits of the
   bottlenose—Peculiarities of the ziphioid whales—Teeth of
   Layard’s and Gray’s whales—Skulls—Existing ziphioid whales the
   last survivors of an ancient race                                 258

                              CHAPTER XXIII


 Porpoises and dolphins—Hunting white whales in the St. Lawrence
   River                                                             267

                              CHAPTER XXIV


 A bottlenose porpoise fishery at Cape Hatteras—“The Porpoise in
   Captivity,” by Dr. Charles H. Townsend                            278

                               CHAPTER XXV

                              THE BLACKFISH

 An exciting blackfish hunt in the Faroe Islands—Habits              291

                              CHAPTER XXVI

                        THE PASSING OF THE WHALE

 The commercial extermination of the right whale—Capture of the
   bowhead—“Whaling in Newfoundland,” by Dr. F. A. Lucas—The
   American Pacific coast—Sub-Antarctic whaling—Japan—Needed
   legislation                                                       296


 Classification of the Cetacea—Diagnoses of the whales described in
   this book—The skeleton of the Cetacea—Adaptation as shown by the
   Cetacea                                                           307

 INDEX                                                               323

                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


 A modern shore whaling station at Kyuquot, Vancouver Island, B. C.    9

 The _Orion_ with three humpback whales at Sechart, Vancouver
   Island                                                             10

 The harpoon-gun on the _Rex Maru_                                    13

 The harpoon is tipped with a hollow point called the “bomb,” which
   is filled with powder and ignited by a time fuse                   15

 The harpoon after it has been fired into the body of a whale         15

 A trial shot with the harpoon-gun                                    16

 A near view as the gun is fired at a target                          18

 Captain Balcom at the gun on the _Orion_                             23

 Loading the harpoon-gun                                              26

 Model of a humpback whale in the American Museum of Natural
   History                                                            28

 “The man in the barrel called down, ‘Whales on the port bow’!”       29

 “Two men with long-handled knives began to cut off the lobes of
   the tail”                                                          32

 “A hollow, spear-pointed tube of steel ... was jabbed well down
   into the whale’s abdomen, the engines started, and the animal
   slowly filled with air”                                            34

 Flensing a whale at one of the Vancouver Island stations             36

 A humpback whale “sounding”                                          39

 A humpback whale with a very white breast                            40

 “The tail of the humpback as the animal ‘sounds’ looks like a
   great butterfly which has alighted upon the water”                 43

 “The flukes of a big humpback just disappearing below the surface
   on the starboard side”                                             47

 “The captain swung the vessel’s nose into just the right position
   and they appeared close beside the starboard bow”                  49

 “Scrambling up, I ... snapped the camera at the huge body partly
   hidden by the boat”                                                51

 Bringing in a humpback at the end of the day’s hunt                  53

 “Suddenly, not more than two hundred fathoms in front of the ship,
   four humpbacks spouted and began to feed”                          58

 Two humpback whales swimming close together at the surface           61

 A humpback whale “lobtailing”                                        65

 The tongue of a humpback whale, which has been forced out of the
   animal’s mouth by air pumped into the body to keep it afloat       68

 Pulling the barnacles off a humpback whale                           71

 A humpback partly in the water at the station in North Japan         73

 The result of a single day’s hunt                                    76

 “In some instances the whales are drawn out upon the slip in the
   Norwegian way”                                                     78

 “She was listing far to starboard and we could see the huge flukes
   of a blue whale ... waving at her bow”                             80

 “A steel wire cable was looped about the tail just in front of the
   flukes, and the huge carcass drawn slowly upward over the end of
   the wharf”                                                         81

 “Section by section the carcass was cut apart and drawn upward to
   fall into the hands of the men on the wharf and be sliced into
   great blocks two or three feet square”                             83

 “Transverse incisions were made in the portion of the body
   remaining in the water, a hook was fastened to a blanket piece
   and as the blubber was torn off by the winch the carcass rolled
   over and over”                                                     85

 The inner side of a strip of blubber as it is being torn from a
   whale                                                              87

 “What ... remains is first tried out to extract the oil, then
   chipped by means of hand knives, and dried in the sun for
   fertilizer”                                                        88

 Whale meat on the washing platforms ready to be sent to market       89

 The whaling station at Aikawa, North Japan                           92

 A sei whale on the slip at Aikawa                                    93

 The spout of a sei whale                                             94

 “He ... would sometimes swim just under the surface with only the
   tip of the dorsal fin exposed”                                     95

 “I pressed the button of the camera as the broad back came into
   view”                                                              97

 The sei whale                                                        98

 “The winch was then started and the whale drawn slowly toward the
   ship”                                                              99

 A sei whale at Aikawa, Japan                                        101

 “‘There’s a whale dead ahead. He spouted six times’”                102

 “The click of the camera and the crash of the gun sounding at
   almost the same instant”                                          103

 “We were just off Kinka-san at half-past six, and by seven were
   blowing the whistle at the entrance to the bay”                   105

 “We hunted them for two hours, trying first one and then the
   other—they had separated—without once getting near enough even
   for pictures”                                                     107

 “He was running fast but seldom stayed down long, his high
   sickle-shaped dorsal fin cutting the surface first in one
   direction, then in another”                                       108

 “Always the center of a screaming flock of birds which sometimes
   swept downward in a cloud, dipping into the waves and rising
   again, the water flashing in myriads of crystal drops from their
   brown wings”                                                      109

 A sei whale showing a portion of the soft fatty tongue              110

 “In the mirror of my camera I could see the enormous gray head
   burst from the water, the blowholes open and send forth a cloud
   of vapor, and the slim back draw itself upward, the water
   streaming from the high fin as it cut the surface”                112

 “Then turning about with his entire head projecting from the water
   like the bow of a submarine, he swam parallel with the ship”      115

 “I was ... gazing down into the blue water and waiting to catch a
   glimpse of the body as it rose, when suddenly a dark shape
   glided swiftly under the ship’s bow”                              116

 “Two boat hooks were jabbed into the shark’s gills and it was
   hauled along the ship’s side until it could be pulled on deck”    118

 Making the sei whale fast to the bow of the ship                    119

 A sei whale swimming directly away from the ship                    120

 “For many years the sei whale was supposed to be the young of
   either the blue or the finback whale, and it was not until 1828
   that it was recognized by science as being a distinct species”    122

 A sei whale fast to the ship                                        123

 A blue whale, eighty-five feet long, at Kyuquot, Vancouver Island   125

 “In the water the sei whale may be easily recognized at a
   considerable distance by the form of the spout and the high
   dorsal fin which is prominently displayed as the animal swims at
   the surface”                                                      126

 “The sei whale has a roving disposition and wanders restlessly
   from one coast to another, sometimes ... suddenly appearing in
   waters where it has never before been known”                      127

 “Suddenly a cloud of white vapor shot into our very faces and a
   great dripping body rounded out under the ship’s bow”             129

 “For ten minutes the silence continued, then the Captain said in a
   quiet voice: ‘There he is, far away on the beam!’”                131

 “I ran on deck just as the great brute rounded up right beside the
   bow and the gun flashed out in the darkness”                      134

 “The rope attached to the first harpoon floated backward in
   dangerous proximity to the propeller and it required some
   careful work to get the animal fast to the bow and the line
   safely out of the way”                                            137

 Bringing the blue whale to the station                              138

 A blue whale at Aikawa, Japan                                       141

 An eighty-two foot blue whale at Vancouver Island                   142

 The open mouth of a blue whale                                      144

 The upper jaw of a blue whale, showing the mat of hairlike
   bristles on the inner edges of the baleen plates                  145

 Posterior view of a blue whale on the slip at Aikawa, Japan         149

 The flipper of a humpback whale                                     150

 After the humpback’s flipper has been stripped of blubber           151

 The folds on the throat of a finback whale                          152

 A cross section of the folds on the breast of a humpback whale      154

 The eye and ear of a blue whale                                     155

 The skull of an eighty-foot blue whale, the skeleton of which was
   sent to the American Museum of Natural History from Japan         157

 “The finback whale is the greyhound of the sea ... for its
   beautiful slender body is built like a racing yacht and the
   animal can surpass the speed of the fastest ocean steamship”      159

 “I was standing on the bridge with the camera focused and pressed
   the button as they rose to the surface”                           160

 “An instant later came the crash of the harpoon-gun and the
   nearest whale, throwing its flukes and half its body out of the
   water, turned head down in a long dive”                           162

 The finback whale reaches a length of about seventy-five feet       163

 “I had climbed to the barrel at the masthead ... and was watching
   the little pram as it neared the dying finback”                   165

 Marked with a flag and left to float until the end of the day’s
   hunt                                                              166

 The whale is made fast to the bow by a heavy chain and the ship
   starts on the long tow to the station                             167

 “Sorenson hesitated, swung the gun a little to one side and fired”  170

 Bringing in a finback                                               171

 A finback lying in the water at Aikawa just before it is “cut in”   172

 Drawing up a finback at Aikawa, Japan                               173

 The long slender body of a finback lying on its side; the outer
   edges of the whalebone plates in the mouth are well shown         175

 The spout of a finback whale                                        177

 A finback whale “sounding” or taking the “big dive”                 179

 When sounding the finback sinks lower and lower until the dorsal
   fin disappears; this is the last part of the body to leave the
   surface                                                           180

 A finback taking an “intermediate” or “surface” dive                182

 The upper jaw of a finback whale, showing the bristles on the
   inner edges of the baleen plates                                  184

 The side view of a model of a gray whale in the American Museum of
   Natural History prepared under the direction of the author from
   studies made in Korea                                             188

 A ventral view of the gray whale model                              189

 The whaling station at Ulsan, Korea                                 190

 “At the port bow hung the dark flukes of a whale, the sight of
   which made me breathe hard with excitement”                       191

 Cutting in a gray whale                                             193

 “When the winch began slowly to lift the huge black body out of
   the water, a very short examination told me that the _kaku
   kujira_ really was the long-lost gray whale”                      194

 Cutting through the body of a gray whale                            198

 The posterior part of a gray whale                                  200

 The flukes of a gray whale                                          203

 A strip of blubber from the back of a gray whale with the short
   flipper at the end of it                                          205

 Captain Melsom about to lance a gray whale from the pram            209

 After the death stroke                                              211

 “The killer is the wolf of the sea and like the land wolves hunts
   in packs of twenty or more individuals which will attack and
   devour almost anything that swims”                                216

 A posterior view of a killer showing the high dorsal fin            217

 An anterior view of a killer                                        222

 A sperm whale lying on the slip at Kyuquot, Vancouver Island        224

 Stripping the blubber from the head of a sperm whale                226

 “The sperm ... has from eighteen to twenty-five massive teeth on
   each side of the lower jaw; these fit into sockets in the upper
   jaw and assist in holding the whale’s food”                       228

 Cutting away the “junk” from the “case” of a sperm whale            229

 An interior view of a young male sperm whale                        231

 The tongue of a sperm whale; it is strikingly different from the
   enormous flabby tongue of the whalebone whales                    233

 The head of the sixty-foot sperm whale, the skeleton of which was
   sent to the American Museum of Natural History, from Japan        234

 A posterior view of the head of the Museum’s sperm whale            236

 A female sperm whale at Aikawa, Japan                               239

 A posterior view of the Museum’s sperm whale                        241

 Cutting in a sperm whale at sea by the old-time method              242

 A model of a right whale in the American Museum of Natural History  246

 A small (calf) right whale on the beach at Amagansett, L. I.        247

 Stripping the blubber from the large right whale at Amagansett      250

 The Amagansett whale covered with ice after the blubber had been
   stripped off the carcass                                          252

 “We had to stand in freezing water while cutting away at the huge
   mass of flesh which encased the bones”                            254

 The baleen of a right whale                                         256

 The white whale, or white porpoise                                  268

 The posterior part of a white whale                                 271

 “A big white fellow slipped under only a hundred feet away, headed
   directly for us”                                                  273

 “We beached it in a sandy cove, where the gray rock wall rose in a
   jagged mass, making a perfect background for the white body, its
   purity intensified by the bright red streaks of blood which
   dripped from the bullet holes”                                    276

 “They are taken with a net of extra heavy twine, about 1,000 feet
   long, which is placed about 200 yards outside the line of surf
   and parallel with it”                                             279

 “Thirty-three porpoises were beached in the haul of the seine
   which provided our specimens”                                     281

 “Immediately after their capture at Hatteras ... the porpoises
   were placed for 24 hours in a deep salt water pond, just back of
   the ocean beach”                                                  285

 “The captive porpoises are very lively, and keep swimming day and
   night, rising to blow usually with each circuit of the pool”      288

 A school of blackfish at Cape Cod                                   293

 A Pacific blackfish (_Globicephalus scammoni_)                      294

 A skeleton of a finback whale in the American Museum of Natural
   History                                                           303

                             WHALE HUNTING
                          WITH GUN AND CAMERA


Although the commercial products of whales have contributed largely to
the comfort and welfare of the civilized world for over a thousand
years, never have the animals been of greater economic importance than
they are today.

It is true that the magnificent fleet of ships which had its birth in
the New England States has passed away, and that the smoke of
cotton-mills now drifts over the famous old city of New Bedford where
once the harbor was filled with the towering masts of scores of whaling

But as one chapter of whaling history closed another opened and the
scene shifted to Norway where Tønsberg, a little city in Christiania
Bay, has become the Alpha and Omega of the modern whaling alphabet. It
was there, in 1864, that Svend Foyn invented the harpoon-gun and brought
into existence the sturdy little steamships which were destined to take
the place of New England’s fleet, destroyed by the Confederate raiders
during the Civil War.

Although despised by the “deep-water” whalers of New Bedford,
nevertheless shore whaling has rapidly grown into a world industry which
today, in the height of its prosperity, yields a revenue of nearly
$70,000,000 a year.

In the old days only three species, the sperm, bowhead and right whale,
were hunted and until Svend Foyn invented the harpoon-gun the fin
whales, of less commercial value, were seldom captured. Their yield of
oil was so small, and the whalebone so short and coarse, that if these
products alone were utilized they were not worth the trouble of killing.
Moreover, the great speed of the animals in the water and their tendency
to sink when dead made them unacceptable to the men who hunted in a
small boat with a hand harpoon and lance.

With the development of steam whalers the situation was changed, for
they made possible the capture of “finners” in sufficient numbers to
warrant the erection of stations at certain points on the shore, near
the feeding grounds of the animals, where the huge carcasses could be
brought in and converted into commercial products.

The perfection of the harpoon-gun and steam whale ships came only after
long discouragement and persistent effort upon the part of Svend Foyn.
Foyn was born in Tønsberg in 1809, and died there in 1894. He went to
sea at fourteen in the merchant service and later entered the sealing
fleet where he eventually made considerable money. It was while sealing
that he conceived the idea of capturing the fin whales with a bomb
harpoon, and 360,000 _kronen_ were spent in experimenting before he
succeeded in building a suitable gun and vessel.

In 1864 he went to Finmark for the first time in the small ship _Spes et
Fides_, but caught nothing and was equally unsuccessful in the two
following years. In 1867 he secured the first whales at Vardö, in
Varangerfjord, and the next season killed 30. In 1869 he went north with
two ships but got only 17 whales, and in 1870 only 36. It was in this
year that at Kirkeö the first factory for converting whale flesh into
guano, or fertilizer, was built and successfully operated. Foyn’s best
years were between 1871 and 1880, when 506 whales were killed, having a
value of about 2,000,000 kronen.

In 1877 a competitive company began work in Jarfjord, and in 1881 two
others started at Vardö and two in West Finmark near the North Cape. In
1882 Norway had 8 companies and 12 ships, and five years later 20
companies and 35 ships. In 1890 the whales began to show the effect of
continual persecution, decreasing rapidly in numbers, and five companies
shifted their operations to Iceland. In 1896 the 18 ships hunting there
killed 792 whales, yielding 49,500 barrels of oil; in the same season 29
ships off the Finmark coast caught 1,212 whales.

From the very beginning the Norwegian fishermen were hostile to the
shore whalers, for they believed that the whales drove the fish toward
the land and into their nets and that their industry was being greatly
injured by the slaughter of the animals. Although it has been clearly
demonstrated that whales have no direct influence upon the movements of
fish, nevertheless in 1903 the Störthing prohibited shore whaling

The efforts of the Norwegian whalers had been watched with interest in
other parts of the world and in 1897 shore whaling began in
Newfoundland; there it thrived amazingly, and by 1905 eighteen stations
were in operation upon the island and in its immediate vicinity.

In 1905 the first shore station on the Pacific coast of America was
built at Sechart, in Barclay Sound, on the west side of Vancouver
Island. This factory was under the management of the Pacific Whaling
Company, of Victoria, B. C., and although their first season was not a
success, a revision of the methods of handling the carcasses resulted in
a lucrative business being established. In 1907 a second fine station
was erected at Kyuquot, one hundred miles north of Sechart.

About this time the Tyee Company was formed under the direction of
Captains Hibberd and Barneson, and a station was constructed at
Murderer’s Cove, on the southern end of Admiralty Island, Alaska. The
hunting here was entirely conducted in the inland waters of Frederick
Sound, and after a few seasons the whales became so reduced in numbers
that operations had to be transferred to the open sea about Cape
Ommaney, sixty miles away; the Tyee Company was later re-formed as the
United States Whaling Company.

In 1910 the Pacific Whaling Company was sold to the Canadian North
Pacific Fisheries, Ltd., with stations at Rose and Naden Harbor, Queen
Charlotte Islands, and Bay City, Washington, besides the two Vancouver
factories. Another establishment, known as the Alaska Whaling Company,
started work at Unimak Pass, Aleutian Islands, Alaska, and a Norwegian
firm built a station on the Pacific coast of Mexico.

About the time Newfoundland became interested in shore whaling, the
Russians and Japanese started operations along the coasts of Siberia and
Japan, respectively. The Russian industry there was abruptly ended at
the time of the Russian-Japanese war and has not since been resumed, but
the Japanese have continued their work with great success and today vie
with the Norwegians in the development of shore whaling, for by their
methods almost every particle of a whale’s carcass is utilized for human

The Toyo Hogei Kabushiki Kaisha, of Osaka, is the largest whaling
company in the world, owning fifteen stations and twice as many ships,
and conducting operations in almost every part of the Japanese Empire.

The South African industry was founded by Mr. John Bryde, of Sandefjord,
Norway, who in 1909 erected the first station in Durban and another in
the following year in Saldanha Bay on the west coast. Stations have also
been built at several places in Australia and Tasmania, and in New
Zealand humpback whales are being caught in wire nets. This method is so
unique that a description of it here may be of interest.

The station is owned by the Messrs. Cook Brothers and is located south
of the Bay of Islands, at the village of Wangamumu. On their annual
migrations the humpback whales often pass through a narrow channel just
under Cape Brett, which separates a cluster of outlying rocks from the
mainland, and makes an ideal spot to place the nets. Having a stretch of
five hundred or six hundred feet and a depth of two hundred, the nets,
meshed to seven feet and made of three-eighths-inch wire rope, are hung
on strong cables buoyed by huge floats and drogues. When a whale is
sighted from the coast, steam launches place the three nets, which are
allowed to float loose, the principle being to so hamper the whale by
the entangling wires that it falls an easy prey to the hunters. What
happens when a whale is caught can best be told in the words of an

  When the nets are in position the launches and attendant whale-boats,
  with their crews, take up their stations at some distance to watch for
  the upheaval and dancing float-line that marks the “striking” of a
  whale.... Suddenly a sort of shudder runs through the sea. There are
  tossing billows and wild commotions away by the bobbing float-lines.
  “Hurrah! She’s struck!” is the cry.

  Away go the boats, each racing to be first “fast” to the struggling
  “fish” and so earn the bonus that rewards the winning crew.

  A mighty gray-black head, entangled in a clinging web of wire, rears
  from out the water. Up, up, it goes till a huge bulk of body towers a
  good fifty feet in the air, its side fins thrashing wildly in a
  smother of foam. It curves in an arch and then, like an arrow, down go
  whale and net together for the “sound.”

  Not for long, though. The upward drag of the bunched net-floats, and
  its necessity for breath, bring the “fish” quickly to the surface—a
  spouting, snorting, wallowing mass; mad with rage, wild with terror of
  the unknown, clinging horror that envelopes it.

  Bang! bang! go the guns from each boat, in quick succession. Both
  irons are home and well placed. A wild quiver of flukes and fins, and
  the whale either “sounds” again or “races” along the surface, towing
  the boats after it at express speed. But the net holds fast, and at
  each new effort for freedom the victim becomes more hopelessly “wound
  up” than before.

  Soon, exhausted with futile struggling, the whale comes to rest, and
  there is a momentary cessation of the mad fight as the leviathan
  pauses for breath. Huge, panting air-gasps are plainly audible aboard
  our launch at a distance of half a mile.

  The crews are quick to seize the opportunity. With the lance-men ready
  in the bow, the boats sweep in, one on either side. “Steady with the
  lance.” “Now!” Eight-foot steel blades drive deep for the heart behind
  the pectoral fins.

  A shiver, a hissing spout of water and blood, a wallow and roll of the
  huge, wire-tangled carcass, flashes of red and white foam in the
  sunlight, and the black heave of a twenty-foot fin that for one dread
  instant, scimitar-shaped, a falling wall of bone and sinew, hangs over
  the boat and its occupants. The boat’s crew back out like lightning,
  just in time. Down crashes the mighty flail, missing its blow by a
  barefoot. There is a roar and clap of many thunders, and jetting
  spurts of spray leap high into the blue.

  The boats, backed clear, still hang to the lines, the crews watching
  events and waiting the end. It may be that the dying whale will
  “sound” again, or “race” in a final effort.

  But, no. The lances have gone home. A few more wallows’ of despair,
  the great tail-flukes thrash the water with lessening force, and
  presently the huge body, inert, lifeless, lies quietly on the surface.
  Hawsers are made fast to the dead whale, and while the boats return to
  their stations to watch the remaining nets it is towed by the launch
  to the flensing jetty ashore.[1]

Footnote 1:

  D. W. O. Fagan in the _Wide World Magazine_, pp. 423–432.

Since the beginning of the last century the sub-antarctic islands known
as the Shetlands, South Orkneys, Falklands, South Georgia and Kerguelen
have proved to be the greatest whaling grounds of modern times, and are
today yielding nearly $35,000,000 per year—just one-half of the total
world revenue derived from the shore whaling industry. On South Georgia
alone, eight companies with headquarters in Norway, England, Scotland,
and Argentina are in operation, and all the other islands have one or
more stations or “floating factories.”

In South America there are several stations on the coast of Brazil,
Argentina, and Chile, and operations are also being carried on at
Spitzbergen, the Faroe Islands, Shetland, the Hebrides, Greenland, and
the Galapagos Islands. Shore whaling is, therefore, a world industry in
the truest sense of the word.


  A modern shore whaling station at Kyuquot, Vancouver Island, B. C. The
    flensing slip, carcass platform and wharf are shown in the
    foreground. In the background is the manager’s dwelling.

When it was discovered that in certain localities the whales were being
rapidly killed off and the vessels had to hunt so far from the stations
as to make the trip unprofitable, the “floating factory” was devised.
This is a large steamship of five or six thousand tons which is fitted
with huge boiling vats and can be moved about from place to place as the
whales themselves travel. Usually two or three steamers operate from one
floating factory for formerly when only the blubber was used and the
carcass was turned adrift, one ship could not supply enough whales to
make the work profitable. These factories are used most extensively on
the South Atlantic grounds.


  The _Orion_ with three humpback whales at Sechart, Vancouver Island.

The modern shore station is usually situated in a bay or cove not far
from the open sea. The flensing slip and carcass platforms are the most
striking portions of the establishment, and these are surrounded by
boiling vats, the machine for drying the flesh, the engine house, wharf,
bunk houses, offices, and the dwelling of the manager, the whole forming
an imposing group of buildings.

Many of the whaling stations have very comfortable quarters and those on
the bleak islands of the South Atlantic are even luxurious. The
manager’s house is often beautifully furnished, with electric light,
bathrooms, and even steam heat, so that when one becomes accustomed to
the all-pervading odor from the “dryer,” the station is a delightful
place at which to work. Although each one differs in respect to food,
nevertheless the meals are for the most part excellent, for the managers
realize that if their men are to be contented they must be well fed.

The whaling ships usually return to the station each night and, if one
is free from seasickness, furnish a rather inviting home for a short
stay. They are trim, high-bowed vessels of about one hundred tons
burden, ninety to one hundred feet long, and have a speed of from nine
to twelve knots per hour. Round-bottomed to facilitate speedy
manipulation, they ride the water like a cork but roll and pitch almost
beyond belief in the slightest seaway.

Most striking of all the upper works is the harpoon-gun mounted upon a
heavy iron support at the very bow. It is a short cannon, 51½ inches
long, with a 3-inch bore, and turns easily upon a swivel up and down and
from side to side.

At the butt end, under a short wooden handle, is an iron lever, the
trigger, which when pressed upward explodes the gun. The charge is 300
to 375 drams of very coarse, black powder which is sewed up in a
cheesecloth sack and rammed home from the muzzle; then come wads of
oakum, hard rubber or cork, and wool, after which the harpoon, well
greased, is pushed in and hammered solidly into place with a wooden
mallet. Some guns require more powder than others but if too much is
used the iron will be bent as it leaves the muzzle.

The harpoon is 76 inches in length, and has a double shaft, at the end
of which are 4 twelve-inch flukes, or barbs; these are tied to the shaft
but spread widely upon entering the whale’s body and prevent the iron
from drawing out. The harpoon is tipped with a hollow point, called the
“bomb,” which is filled with powder and ignited by a time fuse set for
the desired interval. Three or four seconds after the gun is fired the
bomb bursts, frequently killing the whale almost instantly.

The harpoon is made of the best Swedish iron and weighs one hundred and
ten pounds. After it has been fired into the body of a whale it is
usually badly bent and twisted, but the tough, elastic iron can be
straightened by the station blacksmith and made as good as new.


  The harpoon-gun on the _Rex Maru_. The gun is loaded and the harpoon
    is shown projecting from the muzzle; coiled on the iron pan below is
    the rope which is carried with the iron in its flight. The winch may
    be seen in front of the bridge at the left of the picture.

A large ring slides easily along the double shaft of the harpoon, and to
this one end of a five-inch rope is fastened. Forty or fifty fathoms of
a somewhat smaller line, called the “forerunner,” are coiled on a heavy
iron pan just under the gun, giving slack to be carried with the harpoon
as it flies through the air.

From the pan the rope passes backward over a roller in the bow of the
ship to a double winch just in front of the bridge and down into the
hold, where a thousand fathoms (6,000 feet), or more, are carried. By
means of the winch the whale is “played” as one would use a reel on a
fishing rod, and after the animal has been killed it is hauled to the
surface and fastened to the side of the ship.

The harpoon lines are made of the finest Italian hemp and tested for a
breaking point of eighteen tons, but the forerunner is tested for only
fifteen or sixteen tons. Some, made especially for use in hunting the
giant blue whale, will resist a strain of twenty-eight tons. If a tight
line is kept and there are no sudden jerks the ropes seldom break.

Not far beyond the winch the mast is stepped, bearing near its peak a
small barrel, called the “crow’s nest,” from which the whales are

The vessels carry a crew of ten or twelve men beside the captain, who is
usually also the gunner. In Japan vessels are required by the coasting
laws to have a Japanese in command, and consequently a native captain is
employed who takes the ship in and out of the harbor. He is really the
pilot, and the vessel is turned over to the Norwegian gunner as soon as
the open sea is reached.


  The harpoon is tipped with a hollow point called the “bomb,” which is
    filled with powder and ignited by a time fuse. The barbs, or flukes,
    are tied to the shaft of the iron.


  The harpoon after it has been fired into the body of a whale. The bomb
    has exploded and the shaft is bent.

Although in various parts of the world I have met two or three gunners
who were not Norwegians, there are not many such. From their Viking
ancestors the Scandinavians have inherited their love for the sea and,
since Svend Foyn’s time, Tønsberg has sent forth her sons to the
whaleships much as did New Bedford half a century ago. Thus the present
generation has grown up as the industry developed, and from boys to men
they have seen it in all its phases and learned not only how to shoot a
whale but how to handle it afterward, which is fully as important.


  A trial shot with the harpoon-gun. The harpoon line is shown, and
    three men may be seen in the barrel at the mast head.

Even as the harpoon-gun brought with it a new era of whaling, so it gave
to the scientist undreamed-of opportunities for the study of cetaceans.
Until shore stations were established, few indeed were the naturalists
who had examined more than five or six whales during their entire lives.
These carcasses were usually of whales which had met with some accident
at sea and had been cast up on the beach; almost always the animals had
been dead for days before they came under the notice of a competent
scientific observer, and had lost much of their original proportions and
color. A whale’s body begins to generate gases at an astounding rate as
soon as the animal is dead, and within a very few hours becomes so
swelled and distorted that the true proportions are almost lost. Even
trained naturalists did not always take this fact into consideration,
and their descriptions and figures were consequently notable chiefly for
their inaccuracy.

It is only within a very few years that it has been generally recognized
how rapidly cetaceans change color when dead, and often in scientific
papers whales are described as “black” which are never black in life. By
far the greater number of whales and dolphins have various shades of
slate, or gray, on the upper parts, and if exposed to the sun for a few
hours these portions turn jet black.

Again, there is in all cetaceans great variation among individuals of
the same species, and whales from the same school or “pod” may differ
widely in proportions and general color. Some may be long and slender,
others short and thick; one may have a light gray back and pure white
underparts, while a second, taken from the same herd, is dark slate
above and strongly shaded below; and, moreover, the skeletons often vary
almost as greatly as the external characters.


  A near view as the gun is fired at a target. The harpoon rope is
    visible through the smoke.

Quite naturally when these extremes came under the notice of a scientist
who had, perhaps, seen but three or four whales in his entire life, they
were at once judged to be representative of different species and were
given new names. This course cannot be wholly condemned, for under
existing conditions it was almost the only one to be followed. Although
it did put on record many valuable facts concerning the history of the
animals, it also resulted in multiplying nominal species to such an
extent that the work of later investigators in separating the valid from
the invalid has become a herculean task; quite false conclusions as to
the distribution of the various whales were also drawn, which only a
vast amount of labor and study can rectify.

The number of whales taken during a season varies greatly with the
locality, but at one of the Vancouver Island stations when I was there
in 1908, three hundred and twenty-five were killed in seven months by
one ship. In a single week twenty-six whales were captured, and on June
10, the _S. S. St. Lawrence_, Captain Larsen, brought in four humpbacks,
one blue whale, and one finback.

Whales are such enormous creatures that the ordinary methods used in the
study of other animals cannot be applied to them. Instead of having
actual specimens before one for comparison, a naturalist must depend
almost entirely upon photographs, notes, measurements, and descriptions.

Until shore whaling began such data were rare and most unsatisfactory.
When a whale is cut in as it lies along the side of a ship, it is never
possible to see the entire animal at once; it is almost impossible to
secure photographs of real value for comparative work, and even
measurements can be taken only with difficulty and not without a large
percentage of error. Internal anatomical investigations are out of the
question, because as soon as the blubber has been stripped off the
carcass is turned adrift.

By the establishment of shore stations these difficulties have been
largely eliminated. The whales are usually drawn entirely out of the
water upon the slip where, before the blubber is stripped off, they can
be measured, photographed, and described. As they are being cut in it is
possible to make a fairly detailed study of the fresh skeleton and other
parts of the anatomy—if the investigator is not afraid of blood and
grease. Moreover the great number of whales of a single species brought
to the stations allows a study of individual variation, which evidently
is greater among some of the large cetaceans than in other groups of

Since shore stations are located in widely separated parts of the world,
they have facilitated investigations of the distribution, life history,
and relationships of large whales, which otherwise would have been
impossible. Thus it is obvious that a naturalist who is fortunate enough
to stay for some time at a modern factory has opportunities for original
work such as were undreamed of before the days of steam whaling.

The directors of the companies, and the managers of the stations, have
usually been glad to assist in the study of the animals which form the
basis of their industry, and have generously extended the courtesies of
their ships and stations. In some instances they have gone to
considerable trouble to secure specimens which could be prepared and
presented to museums in various parts of the world for exhibition and
osteological study. It is deeply to be regretted that the wholesale
slaughter of whales will inevitably result in their early commercial
extinction, but meanwhile science is profiting by the golden
opportunities given for the study of these strange and interesting
animals. Thus, the old saying that “it is an ill wind that blows good to
no one” applies very decidedly to the whaling industry.

                               CHAPTER I
                          MY FIRST WHALE HUNT

Great lumbering swells of gray water rolling out of the fog from the
wide sweep of the open Pacific were the picture I saw through the round,
brass-bound frame of the porthole on the _S. S. Tees_. It was the last
of May, but the cold of winter still hung in the sea air, and even when
we drew in toward the foot of the mountains which poked their fir-clad
summits far up into the mist clouds, I shivered in my heavy coat and
tramped about on deck to keep warm. Finally when we were right under the
towering mountain’s walls, we swung abruptly into smooth water, the long
roll and pitch of the ship slackened and died, and we were quietly
plowing our way up river-like Barclay Sound, which, from the west coast,
cuts into the very heart of Vancouver Island.

It was hardly six o’clock in the morning when the wail of the ship’s
siren whistle shot into the deep mountain valley where the station of
the (former) Pacific Whaling Company is located at the one-time Indian
village of Sechart. With a great deal of curiosity I strained my eyes
through the fog to study the group of white frame buildings which
straggled up from the water’s edge back into the valley.


  Captain Balcom at the gun on the _Orion_.

I could see only one or two Indians, clad in dirty shirts and overalls,
loafing about placidly staring at the ship, but by the time she had been
warped in and the winch had started to swing aboard the great oil casks
which lined the wharf, two pleasant-faced men appeared, one of whom I
learned was Mr. Quinton, the station manager; to him my letters were
presented. With him was Mr. Rolls, the secretary of the station, who
showed me to a room at the house. I got out of my “store clothes” and
came down to the wharf, now lined with men of six nationalities—for
Norwegians, Americans, Newfoundlanders, Indians, Chinese, and Japanese
are employed at these west coast stations.

Tied up to the side of the pier was the ship _Orion_. She was typical of
all steam whalers, had been built in Norway and made, under her own
steam, the long stormy passage across the Atlantic to Newfoundland. A
few years of work there and she started for the Pacific around the Horn,
beating her way northward to the scene of her present work at Sechart.

The _Orion_ had not gone to sea that morning, for the fog outside made
it useless to hunt; even if the ship could have kept her bearings in the
mist it would have been impossible to see the spout of a whale, or to
follow the animal if one were found.

The crew were all ashore, and I met Captain Balcom, an alert young
Canadian, and one of the few successful gunners who was not a Norwegian.
He offered at once to take me “outside” with him when the weather
cleared but said we would see only humpbacks, for the blue whales and
finbacks had not yet appeared on these hunting grounds. At Kyuquot, a
station only one hundred miles farther up the coast, blue whales and
finbacks were taken with the humpbacks in March as soon as the station
opened, while at Sechart they did not come until July.

When the station was first located at Sechart, humpbacks were frequently
taken in Barclay Sound but were soon all killed, and others did not take
their places. At the time I was there, the _Orion_ seldom found whales
less than thirty miles at sea. She usually arrived about two o’clock in
the morning, dropped her catch, and in half or three-quarters of an hour
was again on the way out in order to reach the feeding grounds shortly
after daylight.

I went aboard with Captain Balcom at ten o’clock and turned in on the
Mate’s bunk. The cabin was small, but not uncomfortable, and it was not
long before I was asleep. I did not even hear the ropes being cast off
in the morning and only waked when the boy came down to call the
Captain. We were well down the Sound when I came on deck, and were
steaming swiftly along among little wooded islets half shrouded in gray
fog. Far ahead the ugly, foam-flecked rocks of Cape Beale stretched out
in a dangerous line guarding the entrance to the Straits of Juan de
Fuca; beyond was a sheer wall of mist shutting us out from the open sea.

The Captain was sure it was only a land fog hanging along the coastline,
and that we would soon run through it into clear air. As the ship rose
to the long swells of gray water and burrowed her way straight ahead
deeper and deeper into the mist, everyone on deck was drenched and
shivering. Fifteen minutes of steaming at full speed and the gray
curtain began to thin; soon we ran out of it altogether.

There was not a big sea running, but the little _Orion_ was dancing
about like a cork. Balcom said, “It is calm weather so long as she keeps
her decks dry,” and with this rather dubious comfort I settled down to
get used to the tossing as best I could.

Everything was intensely interesting to me, for it was my first trip on
a steam whaler. Already a man had been sent aloft and was unconcernedly
swinging about with glasses at his eyes watching the water ahead. I
learned later, when seasickness was a thing of the past, what a
wonderful view can be had from the crow’s nest. The whole level sea is
laid out below like a relief map and every floating object, even the
smallest birds, shows with startling distinctness. And if it is
comparatively smooth, one can look far down into the water and see a
whale or shark long before it is visible at the surface or to those on


  Loading the harpoon-gun. “The charge is 300 to 375 drams of very
    coarse, black powder which is ... rammed home from the muzzle; then
    come wads of okum, hard rubber or cork, after which the harpoon ...
    is hammered solidly into place.”

Before we left the station, the harpoon-gun had not been loaded. The
muzzle was plugged with a wooden block and the iron rope-pan drawn
upward and tied against the gun’s support. When coming in from the last
trip the vessel had encountered heavy weather, and the rope was taken
off the pan to prevent it from being carried away by a wave and fouling
the propeller. Now as we were nearing the feeding grounds, the Bo’s’n
went forward to load the gun, re-coil the harpoon line, and see that all
was clear and running smoothly.

The men on board were greatly interested in my camera and anxious that
opportunities might be given for pictures. For two hours, with the Chief
Engineer and the Mate, I sat aft on the great coil of towing line, used
only in very heavy weather, listening to stories of the idiosyncrasies
of whales, especially humpbacks. Their firm conviction was that
one—never could guess what a “hump” was going to do—except that it would
be exactly what was least expected.

The Engineer had just finished telling about a big fellow that a few
days before had come up in front of the ship and swam towards it with
his enormous mouth wide open, when the man in the barrel called down,
“Whales on the port bow!”

I jumped as though a bomb had been exploded and grabbed my camera. The
other men took things rather quietly, for the whales were still a long
way off. The Captain tried to show me the spouts but it was several
minutes before I could distinguish the white columns of vapor shooting
up every few seconds.


  Model of a humpback whale in the American Museum of Natural History.
    The model was prepared by Mr. James L. Clark, under the direction of
    Dr. F. A. Lucas.

There were three of them—all humpbacks. On the instant, the dark bodies
slowly rounded into view and three huge, propeller-like tails were
smoothly lifted out of the water, elevated vertically to the surface,
and again drawn below. It is impossible to describe the ease and beauty
of the dive. To look at the heavy body and long, ungainly flippers of a
humpback one would hardly suspect that there could be grace in any
movement, and yet the enormous animals slide under the surface as
smoothly as a water bird.


  “The man in the barrel called down, ‘Whales on the port bow!’”

When the flukes came out, the Captain rang for half speed, for the
whales would probably be down several minutes. Turning the wheel over to
the Mate, he went forward to the gun, pushed up the spring which cocked
it, and waited, alert, for the animals to rise.

I had descended with him from the bridge and stood just behind the gun
platform. The ship, her engines stopped, was rolling about on the
mirror-like patches of water left by the whales as they went down. After
ten minutes of waiting three silvery clouds suddenly shot upward a
quarter of a mile away. Instantly the engine signal rang and the ship
swung about, plowing through the water at full speed until the whales
sounded. For two hours this kept on. Each time when we were almost
within range the big fellows would raise themselves a little higher,
arch their backs, and turn downward in a beautiful dive, waving their
huge flukes as though in derision.

I had my notebook and pencil at work as well as the camera but it was
getting pretty difficult to use either. The wind had risen and I was
deathly seasick; even the best sailors lose their “sea legs” when aboard
one of these little eggshell boats after a long period ashore, and mine
were gone completely. The _Orion_ was twisting and writhing about as
though possessed of a demon, and every time she climbed a huge wave to
rock uncertainly a moment on the crest and then plunge headlong down its
smooth, green slope, I was certain she would never rise again. Balcom
was doggedly hanging to the gun, but just after we had both been soaked
by a big sea that came over the ship’s nose he shouted, “If we don’t get
a shot soon we’ll have to leave them.”

At that time we were heading for the whales, which were spouting only a
short distance away. One of them had left the others and seemed to be
feeding. He was swimming at the surface, sometimes under for a second or
two, but never far down. The ship slid nearer and nearer with engines at
dead slow until the huge body disappeared not thirty fathoms away.

“In a minute he’ll come again,” shouted Balcom, feet braced and bending
low over the gun.

I was clinging to a rope just behind him, trying to focus the camera,
but the flying spray made it well-nigh impossible. Suddenly I saw the
Captain’s muscles tighten, the tip of the harpoon drop an inch or two,
and caught a glimpse of a phantom shape rushing upward.

Almost on the instant a blinding cloud of vapor shot into our very
faces, followed by the deafening roar of the gun. I saw the black flukes
whirl upward and fall in one tremendous, smashing blow upon the water;
then the giant figure quivered an instant, straightened out, and slowly
sank. For a moment not a sound was heard on the vessel save the steady
“flop, flop, flop” of the line on the deck as the dead weight of forty
tons dragged it from the winch.

Balcom leaned over the side and saw the rope hanging rigidly from the
ship’s bow. “I must have caught him in the heart,” he said, “and killed
him instantly.”


  “Two men with long-handled knives began to cut off the lobes of the

As the Captain straightened up he shouted to the Engineer to check the
line. Then began the work of bringing to the surface and inflating the
dead whale. Taking a hitch about a short iron post, the harpoon rope was
slacked and run through a spring pulley-block on the mast, just below
the barrel, to relieve the strain of raising the great body. As the
winch ground in fathom after fathom of line the vessel heeled far over
under the tremendous weight. I was clinging to the ship’s side looking
down into the water and soon saw the shadowy outline of the whale, fins
wide spread, nearing the surface. As it came alongside a lead-weighted
line was thrown over the tail, a rope pulled after it, then a small
chain, and finally the heavy chain by which the carcass was made fast to
the bow.

The winch had not yet stopped when two men with long-handled knives
began to cut off the lobes of the tail to prevent the flukes from
pounding the rail as the body swung up and down in the seaway. Already
other sailors were working at a long coil of small rubber hose, one end
of which was attached to an air pump and the other to a hollow,
spear-pointed tube of steel, perforated along its entire length. This
was jabbed well down into the whale’s abdomen, the engines started, and
the animal slowly filled with air. When the body had been inflated
sufficiently to keep it afloat, the tube was withdrawn and the incision
plugged with oakum.

The other whales were a long way off when the ship was ready to start.
The man in the “top” reported them as far to the south and traveling
fast. As there was little chance of getting another shot that day and
the wind was blowing half a gale, the Captain decided to turn about and
run for the station.

We reached Sechart at 1:30 A. M. and the whale was left floating in the
water, tied to the end of the wharf near a long inclined platform called
the “slip”; then the _Orion_ put out to sea and I went to bed at the
station. I shall never forget my intense surprise next morning when I
saw the humpback “cut in.” Work began at seven o’clock, and as the
Manager had just awakened me, I ran out and did not wait for breakfast,
thinking there would be ample time to eat when the operations were under
way. It soon became evident, however, that there were no breathing
spells when whales were being cut in, and every soul was at his work
until the last scrap of flesh was in the boiling vats.


  “A hollow, spear-pointed tube of steel ... was jabbed well down into
    the whale’s abdomen, the engines started, and the animal slowly
    filled with air.”

After a heavy wire cable had been made fast about the posterior part of
the whale, just in front of the flukes, the winch was started. The cable
straightened out, tightened, and became as rigid as a bar of steel.
Slowly foot after foot of the wire was wound in and the enormous
carcass, weighing at least forty tons, was drawn out of the water upon
the slip.

One of the Japanese scrambled up the whale’s side and, balancing himself
on the smooth surface by the aid of his long knife, made his way forward
to sever at the “elbow” the great side fin, or flipper, fifteen feet in

Before the carcass was half out of the water other cutters were making
longitudinal incisions through the blubber along the breast, side, and
back, from the head the entire length of the body to the flukes. The
cable was made fast to the blubber at the chin, the winch started, and
the thick layer of fat stripped off exactly as one would peel an orange.
When the upper side had been denuded of its blubber covering, the whale
was turned over by means of the canting winch, and the other surface was
flensed in the same manner.

It was a busy and interesting scene. The strange, unfamiliar cries of
the Orientals mingled with the shouts of the cutters and the jarring
rattle of the winch as the huge strips of fat were torn from the whale’s
body, fed into the slicing machine, carried upward, and dumped into
enormous vats to be boiled or “tried out” for the oil.

When the blubber was entirely gone, the carcass was split open by
chopping through the ribs of the upper side and cutting into the
abdomen, letting a ton or more of blood pour out and spread in a crimson
flood over the slip. A hook was attached to the tongue bones (hyoids)
and the heart, lungs, liver, and intestines were drawn out in a single

The body was then hauled to the “carcass platform” at right angles to,
and somewhat above, the “flensing slip,” the flesh was torn from the
bones in two or three great masses by the aid of the winch, and the
skeleton disarticulated.


  Flensing a whale at one of the Vancouver Island stations. A great
    strip of blubber is being torn from the animal’s side.

After the bones had been split and the flesh cut into chunks two or
three feet square, they were boiled separately in great open vats which
bordered the carcass platform on both sides. When the oil had been
extracted, the bones were crushed by machinery making bone meal to be
used as fertilizer, and the flesh, artificially dried and sifted, was
converted into a very fine guano. Even the blood, of which there were
several tons, was carefully drained from the slip into a large tank, and
boiled and dried for fertilizer. Finally, the water in which the blubber
had been tried out was converted into glue.

The baleen, or whalebone, which alone remained to be disposed of, was
thrown aside to be cleaned and dried as opportunity offered. The baleen
of all the fin whales is short, stiff, and coarse and in Europe and
America has but little value. In Japan, however, it is made into many
useful and beautiful things.

I learned that the cutting operations at Sechart and the other west
coast stations were conducted in the Norwegian way which is followed in
almost all parts of the world except Japan. In the Island Empire a new
method has been adopted, which, while it has the advantage of being very
rapid, is correspondingly dangerous and will not, I think, ever be
widely used.

                               CHAPTER II

Although it had been possible to secure but few good pictures during my
first trip at sea on the _Orion_, nevertheless I had learned much about
the ways of humpbacks. One impression, which I subsequently found to be
correct, was that this would prove to be the most interesting of all
large whales to study—at least from the standpoint of its habits.

There are no dull moments when one is hunting a humpback, for it is
never possible to foretell what the animal’s next move will be. He may
dash along the surface with his enormous mouth wide open, stand upon his
head and “lobtail,” throwing up clouds of spray with smashing blows of
his flukes, or launch his forty-ton body into the air as though shot
from a submarine catapult.

He may do dozens of other highly original things, all of which show his
playful, good-natured disposition and, if he is allowed to continue his
elephantine gambols unmolested, he is as harmless as a puppy. But once
imbed an iron in his sensitive flesh and it is wise to keep well beyond
the range of his long flippers and powerful flukes which strike the
water in every direction with deadly, crushing blows.

The humpback is the whale which is most usually seen from the Atlantic
passenger vessels, and may easily be recognized because when “sounding,”
or going under for a deep dive, the flukes are almost invariably drawn
out of the water; the finback and blue whales, the two other common
species, seldom show the flukes.


  A humpback whale “sounding.” “The humpback comes up obliquely, and, as
    soon as the spout has been delivered, arches the back and begins to

When a humpback dives the easy grace with which the animal manipulates
its huge, ungainly body and great propeller-like tail, drawing it out of
the water smoothly but with irresistible force, always gives me a thrill
of admiration. I remember one day, while crossing the Atlantic on the
_Kronprinz Wilhelm_, a humpback came up not far from the ship and swam
parallel with her for several minutes. Each time the big fellow drew
himself up, slowly rolled over, and brought his flukes out, an
involuntary cheer went up from the passengers. But it is only when
sounding that the tail is shown and never when the whale is feeding or
swimming near the surface.


  A humpback whale with a very white breast. The side fins, or flippers,
    are almost one-quarter the entire length of the animal, and to them
    barnacles attach themselves as well as to the folds of the throat
    and breast.

The humpback comes up obliquely and, as soon as the spout has been
delivered, arches the back and begins to revolve, finally drawing out
the flukes and going down vertically. When hunting, the proper time to
shoot is when the dorsal fin begins to show above the water—depending,
of course, upon the distance. The iron then has a fair chance to reach
the lungs or heart and a larger target is presented.

How far a whale can descend is a matter of conjecture and more or less
dispute among naturalists. One writer argues that whales cannot go
deeper than three hundred feet because of the tremendous water pressure.
But all cetaceans have certain specializations in body structure which
undoubtedly enable them to withstand high pressure.

I have, as personal evidence upon this subject, the fact that a blue
whale, harpooned between the shoulders and but slightly injured, dove
straight downward and took out over a quarter of a mile of rope. We
were, at the time, almost a hundred miles at sea and so far as could be
determined the animal had gone down to the full limit of the line which
hung from the bows as rigid as a bar of steel. The whale remained below
for thirty-two minutes and reappeared not more than a hundred yards away
and directly in front of the ship.

It is the opinion of every whaler with whom I have talked that all the
large cetaceans can descend to a considerable depth, and each man will
give numerous instances, similar to the one I have cited in the case of
the blue whale, to prove his point. Until further information is
available this subject must be an open one. A smooth, circular patch of
water is always left at the spot where a large whale dives. This is
undoubtedly produced by suction and interrupted wave action but has
given rise to many ingenious and absurd theories in explanation.

When studying whales the most important fact to remember is that _they
are one-time land mammals which have taken up a life in the water_ and
that their bodily activities, although somewhat modified, are
nevertheless essentially the same as those of a horse, cow, or any other
land mammal.

Since a whale breathes air, when it is below the surface the breath must
be held, for if water should be taken into the lungs the animal would
drown. Thus, as soon as a cetacean comes to the surface its breath is
expelled and a fresh supply inhaled before it again goes down, just as
in the case of a man when diving. However a whale is able to hold its
breath for a much longer time than can an ordinary land mammal—even as
much as forty-five minutes or an hour.

When the animal comes to the surface the breath which has been contained
in the lungs under pressure is highly heated, and as it is forcibly
expelled into the colder outer air it condenses, forming a column of
steam or vapor. A similar effect may be produced by any person if, on a
frosty morning, the breath is suddenly blown out of the mouth. I have
often seen a whale blow when its head was still a short distance under
the surface and at such times a little water will be thrown upward with
the spout.


  The tail of the humpback as the animal “sounds” looks like a great
    butterfly which has alighted upon the water.

That whales spout out of the blowholes water which has been taken in
through the mouth is probably more widely believed than any other
popular misconception. As a matter of fact such a performance would be
impossible because a whale’s nostrils do not open into the back of the
mouth as do those of a man, and the animal is not able to breathe
through its mouth as do ordinary land mammals.

Instead, an elongation of the arytenoid cartilages and the epiglottis
fits into the soft palate, thereby forming a continuous passage between
the nostrils and the trachea, or windpipe, and entirely shutting off the
nasal passages from the mouth. In this way a whale can swim with its
mouth open, when feeding, without danger of being strangled by getting
water into the breathing organs.

The blowholes, or nostrils, have been pushed backward and upward to open
on the top of the head instead of at the end of the snout. This is an
adaptation to aquatic life, which is also seen in other water mammals,
for in this way the nostrils are almost the first part of the body to
appear at the surface and the whale can begin to breathe immediately
upon rising.

Although all the fin whales have two nostrils, the spout ascends in a
single column, which, in the humpback, is from twelve to fifteen feet
high. The cloud of vapor is narrow at the base but spreads out at once,
forming a low bushy column which rapidly drifts away.

The height and density of the spout in all whales depends upon the
animal’s size and the length of time it has been below. If the whale has
been submerged but a brief period, as during surface dives, a
comparatively small quantity of air is expelled and the breath has not
had time to become highly heated; consequently the column will be low
and thin.

The first spout after sounding is usually the highest and fullest. I
have seen humpbacks, which had been badly wounded, lying at the surface
close to the ship, blowing every few seconds, and the spout could hardly
be seen although the opening and closing of the blowholes and the
metallic whistling of the escaping breath were plainly distinguishable.

Immediately after the delivery of the spout the lungs are refilled, the
blowholes being opened widely and protruded upward, and the breath
rapidly drawn in. The elevation of the blowholes is probably to prevent
a wave from slopping over and filling the nasal passages, but when a
whale lies dead upon the slip there is no indication that the nostrils
can be protruded. This was first learned through a photograph of a
spouting blue whale, taken by Dr. Glover M. Allen in Newfoundland
waters, and since then I have secured two others which show it
admirably. At the time my first picture was taken we had an interesting
experience which I shall never forget.

                              CHAPTER III

After leaving Vancouver Island I had gone north to Murderer’s Cove,
Tyee, Alaska, and was being most hospitably entertained on board Captain
Charles Grahame’s ship, the _Tyee_. We were hunting in the waters of
Frederick Sound and had been out two days. A big finback had given us an
exciting time of it in the afternoon and evening of the second day and I
had gone to bed tired out.

Next morning at five o’clock I was awakened by a hand on my shoulder and
the voice of the Mate saying:

“We’re in a bunch of humpbacks, sir. You’d better get up if you want
some pictures.”

As I had only removed my coat and shoes the night before, in five
minutes I was on deck with my camera and plate holders. It was a gray
day, heavy clouds lining the sky and a strong wind blowing from the
westward. Already the little steamer was pitching and rolling in a way
which made me hate even the thought of breakfast, but catching sight of
the flukes of a big humpback just disappearing below the surface on the
starboard side, I forgot for a moment that there was such a thing as
seasickness. I climbed to the bridge beside the Mate who was at the
wheel and after getting the camera ready for instant use, took out my
notebook and glasses.

The whales were all about us but feed was evidently scarce and far below
the surface, for the animals were swimming long distances under water,
only rising to blow at irregular intervals. For three hours we kept up a
fruitless chase after first one and then another of the humpbacks, once
or twice getting so close that a shot seemed imminent. At last the
Captain, who had come on deck, said:


  “The flukes of a big humpback just disappearing below the surface on
    the starboard side.”

“It’s no use to bother with these fellows; there is no feed and we may
stay here all day without killing; we’ll go over toward Fanshaw, and see
if we can’t find another bunch.”

Two hours of steaming brought us in sight of Storm Island and far over
near the shore we could see several spouts. Now and then flukes would
show as one of the animals went down, indicating to my satisfaction that
some, at least, were humpbacks. When we neared the whales I left the
bridge, making my way forward along the deck to the harpoon-gun, and
with camera ready braced myself against a rope. The steamer was pitching
furiously and it was all I could do to keep my feet, but clinging to a
line with one hand and shielding the lens of my camera with the other, I
awaited the reappearance of a whale that had gone down on the starboard

Suddenly the gunner shouted, “There he comes!” and pointed over the bow
where the water was beginning to smooth out in a large, green patch
about thirty fathoms away.

Before I could focus my camera, the whale had burst into view, sending
his spout fifteen feet into the air. Evidently he saw us for he was down
again in a second, only to reappear several fathoms astern. Time after
time he showed himself, never near enough for a shot but keeping me busy
exposing plates.

After about an hour another humpback appeared beside him and together
they seemed to be enjoying to the fullest extent the game of tag they
were playing with us. Once the larger of the two threw himself clear out
of the water, showing even the tips of his flukes, and fell back with a
splash which sounded like the muffled clap of two great hands. Again he
thrust his head into the air and, whirling about, I caught him with the
camera just before he sank back out of sight.


  “The captain swung the vessel’s nose into just the right position and
    they appeared close beside the starboard bow.”

For over an hour the game of tag continued, but once, when the whales
had been down an unusually long time, the Captain swung the vessel’s
nose into just the right position and they appeared close beside the
starboard bow. The roar of the gun almost deafened me and instinctively
I pressed the button of the camera, but a wave had thrown the steamer
into the air at just the wrong time and the harpoon struck the surface
several feet below the whale. Both animals went down churning the water
into foam, and when next we saw them they were close together, far

Although the chase had been an aggravation to the whalers, I had reaped
a harvest of pictures and had exposed every plate in the holders. While
Sorenson, the gunner, was reloading the gun, I descended into the hold,
substituted fresh plates, and packed the others in the pasteboard boxes.
My work was hastened by the sudden stopping and starting of the engines
which proclaimed that another whale had been sighted and the chase
already begun.

Pushing away the hatch which covered the entrance to the hold, I swung
up the steep ladder to the deck above. Sure enough a big humpback was
spouting only a short distance away, now and then rolling on his side
and throwing his great black and white fin in the air.

“He’s feeding,” said Sorenson, as I stepped up beside him; “but he’s
pretty wild. Perhaps we’ll kill this time.”

Back and forth for two hours we followed the animal, sometimes getting
so close that when I saw him burst to the surface I held my breath,
expecting to hear the roar of the gun beside me; but Sorenson, somewhat
chagrined by his miss at the last whale, wished to be sure of this shot
and would not take a chance. The Captain swung the boat in a long circle
each time the animal disappeared and it seemed almost certain that we
would at last be near when he came up. And so it happened, for when we
had almost despaired of getting a shot the man in the barrel shouted,
“He’s coming, right below us.”


  “Scrambling up, I ... snapped the camera at the huge body partly
    hidden by the boat.”

Looking down into the water I could see the ghostly form of the whale
rising to the surface with tremendous force just in front of the bow.
There was no time to stop the ship and the animal burst from the water
half under the vessel’s side. I started back, shielding my camera from
the spout, and, stumbling over a pile of chains on the deck, slid almost
to the forecastle companionway. Scrambling up, I jumped to the rail and
snapped the camera at the huge body partly hidden by the boat.

The whale seemed dazed by his sudden appearance under the steamer, and
rolling on his side, went down only a few feet, reappearing ten fathoms
away. Sorenson, who had held to the gun, steadied himself, swung the
muzzle about, and taking deliberate aim, planted the harpoon squarely
behind the fin. It was a beautiful shot, and the whale went down without
a struggle. The quiet which followed the deafening explosion was broken
only by the soft swish of the line running out from the winch and the
men going to their places. I was leaning against the side almost weak
from the excitement of the last few minutes when Sorenson, a pleased
grin on his sunburned face, turned and said, “I didn’t miss him that
time, did I? He never moved after I fired.”

Four hours more of chasing first one and then another brought the vessel
close to a humpback and again Sorenson sent the harpoon crashing into
the lungs, killing at the first shot. As the day had been a tiring one
and it was too dark to take pictures, I picked up my camera and climbed
down the narrow companionway into the Captain’s cabin. After reloading
the plate holders I lay down on the bunk listening to the rattling of
chains and the tramp of feet on the deck above as the dead whale, with
the other which had been picked up, was made fast to the bow of the


  Bringing in a humpback at the end of the day’s hunt. The whale’s
    flukes weigh more than a ton.

The boat had started on the thirty-mile tow to the station and,
gradually becoming accustomed to the rolling, I was lulled to sleep by
the steady “chug, chug, chug” of the engines and the splashing of the
water against the side.

                               CHAPTER IV

For me, developing the photographic negatives after a trip at sea is
almost as fascinating as taking them, and no secret treasure chest was
ever opened with greater interest than is the developing box. After my
first expedition a tank developer was always used, for I invariably
became so excited watching the image appear upon the plate that several
were ruined by being held too long before the red lamp.

I shall never forget the breathless interest with which I developed the
negative exposed when the humpback whale came up beneath the ship during
the trip described in the previous chapter. I had had no time to focus
the camera, and really expected a blurred picture, but still there was
just a chance that it might be good. The image appearing on the plate
slowly assumed form and I saw that it was a picture of the great body
partly hidden beneath the ship. No one but a naturalist can ever know
what it meant to get that photograph and how impatiently I waited until
it could be taken from the hypo bath and examined.

I found that the plate had been exposed just after the spout had been
delivered and while the animal was drawing in its breath. The great
nostrils were widely dilated and _protruded far above the level of the

This is an excellent illustration of what an important part the camera
plays in natural history study, for often a photograph will show with
accuracy many things which the eye does not record. When a whale rises
so close to the ship that one can almost touch its huge body, the few
seconds of its appearance are so full of excitement that it is well-nigh
impossible to study details—at least so I have found.

During spouting, and while drawing in the breath, the rush of air
through the pipe-like nostrils produces a loud, metallic, whistling
sound which, in the larger whales, can be heard for a distance of a mile
or more. Since cetaceans have no vocal organs it is probable that this
is the sound which is so often mistaken for their voice in the
statements that whales have “roared,” or “bellowed like a bull.”

To me it always seems as though a whale _ought_ to have a voice of
proportions equal to the animal’s bulk. I have never quite recovered
from the feeling I had when I first saw a big humpback rise a few feet
from the ship. The animal appeared so enormous that if it had uttered a
terrifying roar it would have seemed quite the natural and proper thing.
The respiratory sounds differ with each cetacean; I have often been near
humpbacks and finbacks which were feeding together, and could always
distinguish the latter species by the sharper and more metallic quality
of the spout. This is probably due to the fact that the finback, since
it is a larger whale, blows with greater force than does the humpback.

The white porpoise (_Delphinapterus leucas_) of the North, makes a most
characteristic respiratory noise. It is a sharp “putt” much resembling
the exhaust of a small gasoline engine and can be heard for a
considerable distance. In early June of 1909, while hunting white
porpoises in the St. Lawrence River, a heavy fog dropped on us and for
several hours we could only wait for it to lift. All about were white
porpoises, probably several hundred, and the sharp “putt, putt” of their
spouts came from every direction, sounding like a squadron of gasoline

The number of times the humpbacks spout at each appearance is
exceedingly variable. As a general rule, if the feed is far below the
surface, requiring a considerable period of submergence, the animals
will blow six or seven times before again descending, in order to
reoxygenate thoroughly the blood. If, on the contrary, the feed is near
the surface, the dives are short and the number of respirations after
each one is correspondingly small. And yet I have seen individuals which
were “traveling,” or swimming for a considerable distance under water,
rise to spout but once or twice and again descend.

I have often been asked how long a whale can stay below the surface. It
is quite impossible to answer this with a general statement since some
species can undoubtedly remain submerged much longer than others. Twenty
minutes is my greatest record for humpbacks but there is no doubt that
the animals can stay under a much longer time, if necessary.

A blue whale which we struck off the Japanese coast sounded for
thirty-two minutes. In the north of Japan there was a whale of the same
species which had had its dorsal fin shot away by a harpoon and had
become extremely wild. The animal could be easily recognized by the
large white scar on its back, and for three successive years was hunted
by various ships of the whaling fleet. He was said to stay below half an
hour each time and only spout once or twice between dives. One day, when
seventy miles at sea, the ship I was on raised his spout, but after the
whale went down we lost him. We were close enough to see the white
harpoon scar as he sounded but I did not have a further opportunity to
witness his reported eccentricities.

At Ulsan, Korea, Captain Melsom killed a blue whale which stayed below
fifty minutes, spouted twenty times, and then went down for forty
minutes. The longest period of submergence which I recorded for a
finback was twenty-three minutes. There are many tales of the great
length of time which the small-toothed whale, called the “bottlenose”
(_Hyperoödon rostratum_), will remain under water but I have had no
personal experience with this species. It is said that when a bottlenose
has been harpooned it not infrequently sounds to a great depth and stays
below for over an hour.

Many whalemen believe that cetaceans can remain under water for a long
time without coming up to breathe. This owes its origin to the fact that
whales will suddenly appear when for several hours previously there has
been no sign of a spout even at a distance. Captain Grahame first called
my attention to this fact and since then I have personally witnessed it


  “Suddenly, not more than two hundred fathoms in front of the ship,
    four humpbacks spouted and began to feed.” The flukes of one are
    shown, in the distance is a second which has just spouted, and the
    smooth patches of water where the other two descended are seen in
    the foreground.

Once, when sixty miles at sea off the Japanese coast, trouble with the
engines caused the ship to lie to for about three hours. During most of
that time I was in the barrel at the masthead watching with glasses a
school of porpoises (_Lagenorhynchus obliquidens_), which were playing
about some distance from the ship. As far as I could see there was not
the slightest sign of a whale nor had there been for at least two hours.
Suddenly, not more than two hundred fathoms in front of the ship, four
humpbacks spouted and began to feed. They remained for almost half an
hour in our immediate vicinity, wallowing about at the surface, and
then, as at a signal, arched their backs, drew out their flukes, and
sounded. They rose again about half a mile away, spouted a few times and

There is not one chance in ten that those whales could have blown within
five miles of the ship, when they first appeared, without being seen.
The ocean was as calm as a millpond and the sun so brilliant that the
spouts glittered like a cloud of silver dust thrown into the air. From
the masthead I could see for miles and had, moreover, been watching the
water in every direction as the porpoises circled and played about the

Practically the same thing has been reported to me at various times from
other localities. Captain Grahame said that in Alaska at a certain place
in Frederick Sound a school of finbacks used to appear suddenly every
day about four o’clock in the afternoon. The whalemen seemed to be of
the opinion that the animals had been under the water for some hours,
perhaps sleeping on the bottom.

From what is known of the physiology of cetaceans this is highly
improbable if not actually impossible. To me the most reasonable
explanation seems to be the one advanced by Rocovitza, viz., that some
species of whales frequently swim long distances at considerable speed
without appearing to blow. When there is little feed and the whales are
constantly moving, or traveling, I have seen them rise a mile or more
from the place where they last disappeared, spout a few times and again
go down, repeating this as long as they could be seen from the ship.
There is no valid reason why the animals should not continue for half an
hour or more without appearing to blow and during that time even slow
swimmers, such as humpbacks, could cover three or four miles.

One day at Ulsan, Korea, Captain Hurum found two humpbacks and struck
one. Captain Melsom who was but a short distance away came up at once
and stood by to shoot the second whale. But that individual had
absolutely disappeared and although the sea was calm and both ships kept
a sharp watch was never seen again. Captain Melsom says it must
certainly have swum five miles without rising to spout.

When and where whales do sleep we have no means of knowing. They have
been recorded as following ships for great distances, always keeping
close by, and I have often heard them blow at night. My own theory is
that they sleep while floating at the surface, either during the day or
night, but I have little evidence with which to sustain it.

Whales must have some means of communicating with each other of which we
know nothing, for often the members of a school, even when widely
separated, will leave the surface together and reappear at exactly the
same instant.

At times two whales will swim so closely together that their bodies are
almost touching and this habit has given rise to stories, vouched for by
reputable scientific men, about an unknown whale with two dorsal fins. I
could never bring myself to believe these tales and often wondered how
they originated, until one day, while hunting off the coast of Japan
with Captain Anderson, we saw a so-called “double-finned” whale. A big
finback was spouting in the distance and as we were following a sei
whale which was very wild, the Captain decided to see if we could get a
shot at the new arrival.


  Two humpback whales swimming close together at the surface. These
    animals were feeding and coming up to spout every few seconds.

The whale was swimming at the surface and as we neared the animal two
dorsal fins were plainly visible. Anderson was as excited as I because
it seemed that we would certainly “get fast” to the mythical whale. We
watched every movement of the animal as it slowly crossed our bows and
we could see the second dorsal fin about two feet behind the first.

Suddenly the animal spouted in a way that was unfamiliar to both of us,
for the vapor column was very thick and plainly divided. We were within
forty fathoms, almost near enough for a shot, before I realized that our
strange cetacean was really two whales—a cow finback and her nearly
grown calf. The latter was on the far side of the mother and was pressed
closely to her side. Its dorsal fin appeared just behind that of its
parent and while the whale was broadside to us we could see no other
part of the calf’s body. Had we not been following the animal I should
forever have been convinced that I had actually seen a double-finned

                               CHAPTER V
                          THE PLAYFUL HUMPBACK

The first whale which I ever saw “breach,” or jump out of the water, was
a humpback in Alaska. We raised the whale’s spout half a mile away and
ran up close before the animal sounded. It seemed certain that he would
blow again, and with engines stopped the ship rolled slowly from side to
side in the swell. The silence was intense and our nerves were strained
to the breaking point.

Ten minutes dragged by; then, without a sound of warning, the floor of
the ocean seemed to rise and a mountainous black body, dripping with
foam, heaved upward almost over our heads. It paused an instant, then
fell sideways to be swallowed up in a vortex of green water. With the
camera ready in my hands I stared at the thing. It might have been an
eruption of a submarine volcano or a waterspout; I would as soon have
thought of photographing either. Even the nerves of Sorenson, the
harpooner, were shaken and he clung weakly to the gun without a move to
use it.

The whale had dropped back scarcely twenty feet away; if it had fallen
in the other direction the vessel would have been crushed like an
eggshell beneath its forty tons of weight. Never since then have I known
of a whale breaching so close to a ship, although they have frequently
come out within a hundred and fifty feet.

A few days later we had sighted a lone bull humpback early in the
afternoon and for two hours had been doing our utmost to get a shot. The
whale seemed to know exactly how far the gun was effective and would
invariably rise just out of range. Once he sounded forty fathoms ahead
and, as I stood waiting near the gun platform with the camera ready,
suddenly the water parted directly in front of us and with a rush which
sent its huge body five feet clear of the surface the whale shot into
the air, fins wide spread, and fell back on its side amid a cloud of

I was watching for the animal on the starboard bow but managed to swing
about with the camera and press the button just before he disappeared.
Although the photograph was hardly successful, nevertheless it is
interesting as being the only one yet taken of a breaching humpback; it
shows the whale breast forward falling upon its right side.

Humpbacks probably breach in play and sometimes an entire school will
throw their forty-five-foot bodies into the air, each one apparently
trying to outdo the others. For some reason the humpbacks of Alaska and
the Pacific coast seem to breach much more frequently than do those in
Japan waters.

This species is the most playful of all the large whales—one of the
reasons why to me they are the most interesting. Breaching is probably
their most spectacular performance but what the whalers call
“lobtailing” is almost as remarkable. The animal assumes an inverted
position, literally standing upon its head, and with the entire
posterior part of the body out of the water begins to wave the gigantic
flukes back and forth. The motion is slow and measured at first, the
flukes not touching the water on either side. Faster and faster they
move until the water is lashed into foam and clouds of spray are sent
high into the air; then the motion ceases and the animal sinks out of
sight. There is considerable variety to the performance, the whale
sometimes pounding the water right and left for a few seconds and then
going down.


  A humpback whale “lobtailing.” The animal assumes an inverted position
    and, with the entire posterior part of the body out of the water,
    begins to wave the gigantic flukes back and forth, lashing the water
    into foam.

Many of the gunners believe that lobtailing is indulged in to free the
whale’s flukes from the barnacles which fasten in clusters to the tips
and along the edges. I do not believe that this supposition can be
correct for the barnacles are embedded too firmly in the blubber to be
dislodged by such beating. That the animals come into shallow water and
rub against rocks to rid themselves of parasites, as whalemen report,
seems much more probable.

The playful disposition of these whales is manifested in other ways.
Very frequently when a ship is hunting a single humpback the animal will
play tag with the vessel. It will come up first on one side and then on
the other; “double” under water and rise almost at the stern; thrust its
head into the air or plunge along the surface with half the body exposed
but always just out of range of the harpoon-gun. Sometimes this will
last for two or three hours or until the whale is killed; at others the
animal will seem to tire of the game and with a farewell flirt of its
tail dive and swim away.

Captain Scammon says:

  In the mating season they are noted for their amorous antics. At such
  times their caresses are of the most amusing and novel character, and
  these performances have doubtless given rise to the fabulous tales of
  the swordfish and thrasher attacking whales. When lying by the side of
  each other, the Megapteras frequently administer alternate blows with
  their long fins, which love-pats may, on a still day, be heard at a
  distance of miles. They also rub each other with the same huge and
  flexible arms, rolling occasionally from side to side, and indulging
  in other gambols which can easier be imagined than described.[2]

Footnote 2:

  “The Marine Mammals of the North-western Coast of North America.” By
  Charles M. Scammon, p. 45.

The animals of which I have thus far been writing are classified in the
suborder _Mystacoceti_, or whalebone whales, and are distinguished from
the suborder _Odontoceti_, or toothed whales, by the possession of two
parallel rows of thin, horny plates which hang from the roof of the
mouth. These plates, commercially called whalebone but properly known as
baleen, are growths from the skin much like the claws, finger or
toenails of land mammals and are not composed of bone but of a substance
called “keratin.” Each plate is roughly triangular, being wide at the
base and narrow at the tip, and has the inner edges frayed out into long
fibers; these hairlike bristles form a thick mat inside the mouth and
thus the small shrimps and other minute food upon which the baleen
whales feed are strained out and eaten. The development of whalebone is
one of the most remarkable specializations shown by any living mammal.
The baleen is, in reality, merely an exaggeration of the cross ridges
found in the roof of the mouth of a land mammal and a somewhat similar
straining apparatus is present in a duck’s bill.

The great majority of people believe that all large whales eat fish
whereas none, except the sperm whale, does so when other food is to be
obtained. All the baleen whales eat small crustaceans and especially the
little red shrimp (_Euphausia inermis_), which is about three-quarters
of an inch long. These minute animals float in great masses, sometimes
near the surface but often several fathoms below it, and the movements
of the whales are very largely determined by their position and


  The tongue of a humpback whale, which has been forced out of the
    animal’s mouth by air pumped into the body to keep it afloat.

The feeding operations are most interesting to watch, and if the shrimps
happen to be but a short distance under water, as often happens during
the morning and evening or just before a storm, they can be easily seen.
The whale starts forward at good speed, then opens its mouth and takes
in a great quantity of water containing numbers of shrimp, turns on its
side and brings the ponderous lower jaw upward, closing the mouth. The
great soft tongue, filling the space between the rows of baleen, expels
the water in streams, leaving only the little shrimp which have been
strained out by the bristles on the inner side of the whalebone plates.

The fins and one lobe of the flukes are thrust into the air as the mouth
is closed, and sometimes the animal rolls from side to side. At this
time the whales are careless of danger and pay not the slightest
attention to a ship. The quantity of shrimp eaten by a single whale is
enormous. I have taken as much as four barrels from the stomach of a
blue whale which even then was by no means full. Probably when shrimp
are very scarce or are not obtainable, all the fin whales eat small
fish, but during the last eight years I have personally examined the
stomachs of several hundred finners and found fish in only four or five

Humpbacks, like all the large whales, show great affection for their
young and many touching stories are told of their devotion. If a female
with her calf is seen the whalemen know that both can be secured and
often shoot the calf first, if it is of fair size, for the mother will
not leave her dead baby.

This affection is reciprocated by the calf, as the following incident,
related by J. G. Millais, Esq., will show:

  Captain Nilsen, of the whaler _St. Lawrence_, was hunting in Hermitage
  Bay, Newfoundland, in June, 1903, when he came up to a huge cow
  humpback and her calf. After getting “fast” to the mother and seeing
  that she was exhausted, Captain Nilsen gave the order to lower the
  “pram” for the purpose of lancing. Every time the mate endeavored to
  lance the calf intervened, and by holding its tail toward the boat and
  smashing it down whenever they approached, kept the stabber at bay for
  half an hour. Finally the boat had to be recalled for fear of an
  accident, and a fresh bomb harpoon was fired into the mother, causing
  instant death. The faithful calf now came and lay alongside the body
  of its dead mother, where it was badly lanced but not killed. Owing to
  its position it was found impossible to kill it, so another bomb
  harpoon was fired into it. Even this did not complete the tragedy and
  it required another lance stroke to finish the gallant little

Footnote 3:

  “The Mammals of Great Britain and Ireland.” By J. G. Millais.
  Longmans, Green, & Co., p. 238.

Captain H. G. Melsom tells me that in Iceland a female humpback was
killed, and her calf would not leave the ship which was towing its dead
mother but followed the vessel until it was close to the station.

Humpbacks have a bad reputation among the Norwegians and it is seldom
that a boat is sent out to lance a whale of this species. The gunners
say that there is too much danger in the flukes and long flippers and
that sad experience has given them a wholesome respect. Usually, if the
animal is too “sick” to require a second harpoon it will be drawn close
up beside the ship and lanced from the bow.

From personal experience I have only negative evidence to offer as to
the fighting qualities of this whale for, although I have seen a great
many killed, never did one give much trouble. They certainly cannot drag
a vessel as a blue whale or finback will, and apparently do not like to
pull very hard against the iron. I have seen humpbacks, which were being
drawn in for the second shot, squirm and give way each time the rope was
pulled taut. I do not pretend to deny, however, the widespread and
probably well-founded belief in the danger of coming to close quarters
with this whale and will again quote Millais in regard to this:


  Pulling the barnacles off a humpback whale. This species is infested
    with parasites, which fasten in clusters to the throat, head, fins
    and flukes.

  Humpbacks sometimes give trouble when struck too high in the body or
  only slightly wounded, and several serious accidents have occurred
  both to steamers and to the men in the small “prams” when trying to
  lance the wounded whale. The following authentic instances have been
  given to me by Norwegian captains:

  In May, 1903, the whaling steamer _Minerva_, under Captain John
  Petersen, hunting from the station in Isafjord, made up to and struck
  a bull Humpback. The beast was wild, so they fired two harpoons into
  it, both of which were well placed. In the dim light the captain and
  two men went off in the “pram” to lance the wounded Whale, when the
  latter suddenly smashed its tail downwards, breaking the boat to
  pieces, killing the captain and one man, and breaking the leg of the
  other. The last-named was, however, rescued, clinging to some spars.

  A most curious accident happened on the coast of Finmark about ten
  years ago. A steamer had just got fast to a Humpback, which, in one of
  its mad rushes, broke through the side of the vessel at the coal
  bunkers, thus allowing a great inrush of water which put out the fires
  and sank the ship in three minutes. The crew had just time to float
  the boats, and was rescued by another whaler some hours later.

  Owing to its sudden rushes and free use of tail and pectorals the
  Humpback is more feared by the Norwegian whalemen than any other
  species, although fewer casualties occur than in the chase of the
  Bottlenose. It is not to be wondered at when you ask a Scandinavian
  about the dangerous incidents of his calling he will invariably
  answer, “I not like to stab de Humpback; no, no, no!” The Humpback
  generally sinks when killed, and is a difficult Whale to raise.[4]

Footnote 4:

  “The Mammals of Great Britain and Ireland.” By J. G. Millais.
  Longmans, Green, & Co., pp. 241–242.

Reliable data upon the breeding habits of all large whales are obviously
difficult to secure and, except in the case of the California gray
whale, it is impossible to state with certainty many facts upon this
subject. Probably the period of gestation in the humpback is about one
year and the calves are from fourteen to sixteen feet long when born. On
June 16, 1908, at Sechart, a young humpback was killed with its mother.
The calf had nothing but milk in its stomach and milk was flowing from
both teats of the parent. I estimated that this baby humpback was about
three months old and since birth had probably almost doubled its length.


  A humpback partly in the water at the station in North Japan. The
    whale is lying on its side with the breast and flipper showing.

Although all the fin whales probably mate chiefly in the early spring,
nevertheless pairing is deferred until later in the year among some
individuals, as fœtal specimens show. Pregnant females always have very
thick, fat blubber and yield a large amount of oil. Except in very rare
cases all the large whales have but one young at a birth and although
several instances of humpback twins have been recorded it is certainly
very unusual.

How long the calf lives upon milk is problematical, but it can hardly be
more than six months. The rate of growth of large whales is so
exceedingly rapid that the calf would undoubtedly be able to care for
itself very soon after birth.

The two teats of all cetaceans are concealed in slits on either side of
the genital opening. In a humpback whale each teat is the thickness of a
man’s thumb and two inches long. In the female humpback taken at Sechart
with the nursing calf, the milk glands under the blubber had become
greatly enlarged and were like an elongated oval in shape; they were 4
feet 6 inches long, 42 inches wide at the lower, and 9 inches at the
upper, end.

By suddenly pressing the surrounding muscles the milk could be ejected 2
or 3 feet in a fair sized stream and it is in this way that the calf
probably receives it. The young whale’s mouth is so constructed that it
is impossible for the animal to suck, in the ordinary sense of the word,
and the teat is much too short, even when protruded two or three inches,
to be held between the thick, rounded lips. When the milk is ejected
into the calf’s mouth apparently considerable sea water must go with it
unless the mother lifts that portion of her body out of the water while
the baby is nursing, which is probably the case.

The milk itself looks exactly like cow’s cream. I once drew out about a
gallon from a humpback and tasted it. It was very disagreeable, but I
imagine that little of the original flavor was left, for the whale had
been killed about fourteen hours before and the milk had not only soured
but was also permeated with the gases of decomposition. I am quite sure
that if fresh the milk would not be at all bad, and stories are told
(which, however, I have never substantiated and greatly doubt) that when
at sea the Norwegians sometimes use on the table milk from a freshly
killed whale.

A remarkable account of whale milking was published in a New York
newspaper and had such a wide circulation that the facts may be of
interest. It seems that a reporter was sent to interview Dr. F. A.
Lucas, who had recently been at Newfoundland to secure a blue whale’s
skeleton for the United States National Museum, and during the
conversation Dr. Lucas jokingly remarked that it would be a fine idea to
entice two or three whales into a narrow bay, bar the entrance with
posts, and anchor a carcass inside. This would attract great numbers of
small crustaceans and give food for the captive whales. The animals
might then be trained to come to a wharf morning and evening and submit
to being milked. Thus the problem of “the high cost of milk” for an
entire village might easily be solved.


  The result of a single day’s hunt. Five humpback whales at Sechart,
    Vancouver Island.

The reporter was certain that this would fill his editor’s idea of a
whale story, but when writing it neglected to state that his data were
purely imaginary. The story was copied in papers throughout America and
for months afterward I was deluged with letters asking who the
successful whale trainer might be.

                               CHAPTER VI
                        JAPANESE SHORE STATIONS

In the summer of 1909, after a short expedition to the St. Lawrence
River to hunt white porpoises, I joined the _U. S. S. Albatross_ in the
Philippines as a special naturalist for a cruise among the islands of
the Dutch East Indies.

It was an exceedingly interesting trip, but even though sailing over
ground where thousands of sperm whales had been killed in years gone by,
not a spout was seen. We raised our first whales at the southern end of
Formosa late in January, while steaming northward to Japan. They were
two humpbacks, lazily rolling about in a deep bay where we had anchored
to escape a typhoon which was roaring along the coast outside, and
showed us that we were on the edge of the Japan whaling banks, famous
among all deep-water sailors.

In February the _Albatross_ reached the beautiful harbor of Nagasaki and
while wandering about the streets of the picturesque little city I saw
great quantities of whale meat on sale in the markets. Peddlers were
also doing an excellent business in selling meat and blubber from house
to house, and altogether Japanese whaling appeared to be in a
flourishing condition.

Since absolutely nothing was known, scientifically or otherwise, about
the large whales of this coast, I determined to leave the _Albatross_
and investigate the fishery as well as to secure specimens for the
Museum, if possible.


  “In some instances the whales are drawn out upon the slip in the
    Norwegian way.”

In Shimonoseki, where one of the offices of the whaling company is
located, I found the president of the Toyo Hogei Kabushiki Kaisha
(Oriental Whaling Company, Ltd.) most cordial in his attitude toward my
proposed work. He offered to assist me in every possible way, and a few
days later I boarded a little Japanese freight steamer which all day and
night plowed her way through the beautiful islet-dotted waters of the
Inland Sea to Oshima, famous in Japanese history.

At Oshima I made my home with Mr. Ikeda, the manager, and his wife, in a
delightful little house built into the side of a hill which overlooked
the beautiful bay with the village of Kishimoto on the opposite shore. I
have lived with many people in many lands while wandering about the
world, but never have I had a host or hostess who did more to further my
work and personal comfort than these two delightful Japanese.

The whales are handled in such an unusual way in Japan that there was
much to learn about the industry itself. The stations are usually
situated not far from the feeding grounds of the animals, in or near one
of the little fishing villages which dot the coast in every bay or
harbor. Eight or ten large wooden buildings compose the factory, and
there is always a long wharf projecting into deep water, at the end of
which stand upright a pair of long heavy poles inclined forward and
joined at their extremities by a massive crosspiece; from this are
suspended the blocks through which run wire cables from the steam winch.

In some instances the whales are drawn out upon the slip in the
Norwegian way, but the more usual Japanese method is a modification of
that used by the deep-sea whalers; the animals are cut in while lying in
the water, the poles at the end of the wharf being substituted for the
masts of a ship.


  “She was listing far to starboard and we could see the huge flukes of
    a blue whale ... waving at her bow.”

Late in the morning on the day after I arrived at Oshima the long-drawn
wail of a siren whistle sounded far down the bay, and in a few moments a
little whaling vessel swept proudly around a picturesque rocky headland
and steamed swiftly toward the station. She was listing far to starboard
and we could see the huge flukes of a blue whale, the _shiro-nagasu
kujira_ of the Japanese, waving at her bow, the carcass stretching
alongside almost to the stern.

She slipped quietly up to the end of the wharf and two cutters sculled a
sampan out to meet her. There were a few hoarse shouts, a sharp command,
the rattle of a heavy chain, and a great splash as the whale was dropped
into the water.


  “A steel wire cable was looped about the tail just in front of the
    flukes, and the huge carcass drawn slowly upward over the end of the

On shore the station bell was clanging and men were assembling on the
wharf; strong well-built fellows they were, many of them half naked and
busy sharpening the blades of murderous-looking knives. With them
mingled dozens of women and girls clad in tight blue trousers and
kimonas, each one armed with a stout iron hook or with carrying racks
slung over their shoulders.

In a few moments the rattling steam winch had brought the whale close in
shore, a steel wire cable was looped about the tail just in front of the
flukes, and the huge carcass drawn slowly upward over the end of the

As it rose the eager cutters attacked it savagely with their long-bladed
knives, slicing off enormous blocks of flesh and blubber which were
seized by “hook men” almost before they fell, passed to the women, and
drawn to the back of the platform.

Meanwhile two other cutters in a sampan were at work dividing the
carcass just in front of the dorsal fin. The entire posterior part of
the whale was then drawn upward and lowered on the wharf to be stripped
of blubber and flesh. Transverse incisions were made in the portion of
the body remaining in the water, a hook was fastened to a “blanket
piece,” and as the blubber was torn off by the winch the carcass rolled
over and over. The head, disjointed at the neck, was hoisted bodily upon
the pier. Section by section the carcass was cut apart and drawn upward
to fall into the hands of the men on the wharf and be sliced into great
blocks two or three feet square.

The scene was one of “orderly confusion”—men, women and girls, laughing
and chattering, running here and there, sometimes stopping for a few
words of banter but each with his or her own work to do. Above the babel
of sounds, the strange, half wild, meaningless chant, “Ya-ra-cu-ra-sa,”
rose and died away, swelling again in a fierce chorus as the sweating,
half-naked men pulled and strained at a great jawbone or swung the
hundred-pound chunks of flesh into the waiting hand cars which carried
them to the washing vats. Sometimes a kimona-clad, bare-footed girl
slipped on the oily boards or treacherous, sliding, blubber cakes and
sprawled into a great pool of blood, rising amid roars of laughter to
shake herself, wipe the red blotches from her little snub nose and go on
as merrily as before.


  “Section by section the carcass was cut apart and drawn upward to fall
    into the hands of the men on the wharf and be sliced into great
    blocks two or three feet square.”

It was essentially a good-natured crowd, working hard and ceaselessly
but apparently deriving as much fun from their labor as though it were a
holiday. The spirit of the place was infectious, and as I splashed about
in the blood and grease, I talked and joked with the cutters in bad
Japanese, causing screams of laughter when I seriously informed them
that “the sun was very hot water” by the quite natural mistake of
substituting the word _atsui-yu_ for _atsui_ (hot).

Almost every night we would be awakened by the siren whistle bringing
the news of more whales. If I did not at once stir, the little _amah_
(maid), always devoted to my interests, would quietly slide back the
paper screen to the sleeping room and say, “_Andrews-san, go Hogei wa
kujira ga torn mashita_” (Hogei No. 5 has caught whales). When I had
rolled out of the comfortable _futons_ and begun to dress, I would hear
little Scio-san pattering about in the other room, gathering my pencils,
notebook, and tape measure. Looking like a beautiful night-moth in her
bright-colored kimona, with the huge bow of her _obi_ (sash) always
neatly arranged, she would be there to help me into the greasy oilskins
and rubber boots, and would clump along in front to the wharf, lighting
the way with a _chochin_ (paper lantern) that I might not bump my head
on the eaves and rafters of the low station shed.


  “Transverse incisions were made in the portion of the body remaining
    in the water, a hook was fastened to a ‘blanket piece’ and as the
    blubber was torn off by the winch the carcass rolled over and over.”

Every day Scio-san religiously went to her ugly little stone joss in the
playhouse temple on the hillside and prayed that the “American-san”
might catch many whales and porpoises for the _hakubutsu-kwan_ (museum)
in the wonderful fairy city across the Pacific, of which he had so often
told her. And when the season was ended and she had ventured to ask the
American-san himself to thank the joss, and to please her he had done
so, her joy could hardly be contained and the tip of her little nose was
almost red from constant rubbing on the _tatami_ (floor matting) in her
bows of thanks and farewell.

Even though it was the very middle of the night when a ship’s whistle
sounded, long before the whale had been dropped at the wharf, paper
lanterns, flashing like fireflies, would begin to shine and disappear
among the thatched-roofed cottages and the crowd of villagers gathering
at the end of the wharf. Half-naked men, child-faced geishas, and little
youngsters carrying sleeping babies as large as themselves strapped to
their backs, formed a curious, picturesque, ever changing group.

Fires of coal and fat in iron racks along the wharf threw a brilliant,
yellow light far out over the bay filled with whale ships, heavy,
square-sterned fishing-boats and sampans, and gave weird fantastic
shapes to the cutters as it glistened on their dripping knife blades and
danced over the pools of blood. But the work always went on as quickly
as in the daytime, no matter what the hour or weather, for the meat and
blubber must be hurried on board fast transports and sent to the nearest
city to be sold in the markets and peddled from house to house.


  The inner side of a strip of blubber as it is being torn from a whale.

Few people realize the great part which whale meat plays in the life of
the ordinary Japanese. Too poor to buy beef, their diet would include
little but rice, fish, and vegetables, were it not for the great supply
of flesh and blubber furnished by the huge water mammals. In winter, if
there is little fish to be had, the meat of the humpback whale, which is
most highly esteemed, sometimes brings as much as thirty _sen_ (fifteen
cents) per pound; but this is very unusual and ordinarily it can be
bought for fifteen _sen_ or less. But the edible portions are not only
the flesh and blubber. The heart, liver, tongue, intestines, and other
parts of the viscera are prepared for human consumption, and what little
remains is first tried out to extract the oil, then chipped by means of
hand knives, and dried in the sun for fertilizer.


  “What ... remains is first tried out to extract the oil, then chipped
    by means of hand knives, and dried in the sun for fertilizer.”

Whale meat is coarse grained and tastes something like venison but has a
flavor peculiarly its own. I have eaten it for many days in succession
and found it not only palatable but healthful. In fact a chemical
analysis shows it to contain about 98 per cent. of digestible material,
whereas ordinary beef has seldom more than 93 per cent. The Japanese
prepare it in a variety of ways but perhaps it is most frequently
chopped finely, mixed with vegetables, and eaten raw, dressed with a
brown sauce called _shoyu_.

In the summer when it is impossible to ship the meat long distances
because of the heat, much of it is canned. The flesh is cooked in great
kettles and the cans made, packed, and labeled at the stations; the meat
is then shipped to all parts of the Empire.


  Whale meat on the washing platforms ready to be sent to market.

It is most unfortunate that prejudice prevents whale meat from being
eaten in Europe and America. It could not, of course, be sent fresh to
the large cities, but canned in the Japanese fashion it is vastly
superior to much of the beef and other tinned foods now on sale in our
markets. In New Zealand, the Messrs. Cook Brothers, who have developed
the method of capturing humpback whales in wire nets (described in the
Introduction), can a great deal of meat and ship it to the South Sea
Islands, where it is sold to the natives.

The baleen of the fin whales, which is of little value in Europe and
America, has been put to many uses by the Japanese. When I visited the
exhibition rooms of the Toyo Hogei Kabushiki Kaisha in Tokyo, I was
astonished and delighted at the cigar and cigarette cases, charcoal
baskets, sandals, and other beautiful things created by their clever
brains and skillful fingers from the material which in the hands of
Western nations seems to be almost useless.

                              CHAPTER VII
                         A JAPANESE WHALE HUNT

After spending a delightful month at Oshima, where three fine whale
skeletons were secured, I returned to Shimonoseki to send them to New
York, and then traveled northward to Aikawa, three hundred miles from
Tokyo. Aikawa is a typical little fishing village, situated at the end
of a beautiful bay which sometimes harbors as many as fourteen whale
ships from the four neighboring stations.

In the early spring finbacks and an occasional blue whale are taken
there, but in June and July sei and sperm whales arrive in great
numbers. The sei whale (the _iwashi kujira_, or sardine whale of the
Japanese) is an exceedingly interesting species which, to the scientific
world, had been unknown in the Pacific Ocean until my visit, although it
had formed the basis of the Japanese summer fishery for twelve or
fifteen years. My first hunt for sei whales resulted in a very exciting
experience and one which in modern whaling is comparatively rare.

A series of violent storms which kept the ships inside had been raging
along the coast, but at last the clouds began to break one evening and
gather into great fleecy mountains of white, now and then drifting away
enough to show the moon behind. The bad weather had apparently ended and
at ten o’clock I went aboard the _Hogei Maru No. 5_ as the guest of
Captain Y. E. Andersen.


  The whaling station at Aikawa, North Japan. “Aikawa is a typical
    little fishing village, situated at the end of a beautiful bay which
    sometimes harbors as many as fourteen whale ships from the four
    neighboring stations.”

A streak of brilliant sunshine playing across my face from the skylight
awakened me at five o’clock in the morning. The ship was rolling along
in a moderate swell, but the patch of sky which shone through the open
square above my head was as blue as the waters of a tropic sea. Captain
Andersen was still asleep, and I had just decided to dress and go on
deck when the cabin boy ran hurriedly down the companionway and called
“_Kujira_” (whale). In five minutes we were both on deck, and upon
reaching the bridge I said to the man at the wheel, “_Kore wa nani desu
ka?_” (What kind is it?)


  A sei whale on the slip at Aikawa. This species is allied to the
    finback but is smaller.

He replied in Japanese: “I don’t know yet; sperm, I think.”


  The spout of a sei whale. The column of vapor shoots straight upward
    and is lower and less dense than that of the finback.

I was tremendously excited at this for I wished above all things to get
at close quarters with a school of sperm whales, which, off this coast,
often numbers several hundred individuals. I strained my eyes through a
powerful field glass, sweeping the sea ahead to catch sight of a spout
which would tell the story. Suddenly it came, about a mile ahead, and we
both exclaimed, “_Iwashi kujira!_” (Sardine whale!) for the column of
vapor shooting straight upward and drifting slowly off on the wind was
strikingly different from the puff-like blow of the sperm.

We were running at full speed toward the animal, which was spouting
every ten or fifteen seconds. Andersen was forward superintending the
loading of the gun and inspecting the harpoon rope which lay coiled on
the heavy iron pan at the bow.


  “He ... would sometimes swim just under the surface with only the tip
    of the dorsal fin exposed.”

“He’s a good whale,” the Gunner called out to me, and by that he meant
that we would soon get a shot because the animal was spouting so
frequently. He was never down longer than five minutes, and would
sometimes swim just under the surface with only the tip of the dorsal
fin exposed. At other times his course could be followed by patches of
smooth, green water which spread out in a broad trail behind him.

The gun had hardly been loaded before we were close to the whale, with
the engines at dead slow, waiting for him to come up. I had taken out
one of the lenses of my camera but decided that the light was not yet
strong enough for the use of the single combination since the shutter
would have to be operated at a high speed. Sitting down upon a tool box
near the rail, I began hurriedly to replace the back lens and was just
screwing it into position when “who-o-o” came the spout, not five
fathoms from the stern of the ship.

We all jumped as though a bomb had been exploded beside us and I nearly
dropped the camera in my excitement. Somehow I managed to get the lens
readjusted without accident, and stood ready with my arm around a rope
just behind the gun platform. Before the ship swung about the whale had
spouted two or three times and gone down. We hardly breathed while
waiting and my nerves were so on edge that I almost released the shutter
of the camera when the silence was broken by the voice of the Bo’s’n
from the “top” singing out, “He’s coming, he’s coming!”

“I can’t see him!” shouted the Gunner.

“There, there, on the port bow!” came the answer from aloft.

With a rush the great animal burst to the surface, and I caught a
glimpse of the spout in the mirror of my camera as it shot up in a white
cloud, glittering in the sunlight.

“Will he shoot?” I thought. “No, no, it is too far,” and I pressed the
button of the camera as the broad back came into view.

Almost with the sound of the shutter, and before I had lifted my eyes
from the focusing hood, I was deafened by the roar of the gun and
enveloped in a great cloud of white smoke. It was impossible to see, but
the line could be heard singing over the roller at the bow and, as the
smoke blew away, I caught sight of the high back-fin of the whale
cutting the water like a knife.


  “I pressed the button of the camera as the broad back came into view.”

“Bur-r-r, whip!” went the heavy rope and in a few seconds a hundred
fathoms had gone out. Never had I seen a whale run as that one did. The
Engineer at the winch was just visible through the haze of smoke which
streamed from the brake, and the smell of powder and burning wood hung
thick in the air.


  The sei whale. From a drawing by J. Henry Blake under the direction of
    the author.

Suddenly with a swish, up from the hold, fast to the rope, came a wad of
brown fishing net that had become entangled in the coil below. I jumped
to one side just in time to miss it as it swept by and to see it pass
safely over the roller at the bow. It was a narrow escape, for if it had
jammed, the line would surely have snapped and the whale been lost.


  “The winch was then started and the whale drawn slowly toward the

The burst of speed was soon ended and the whale sounded for ten minutes,
giving us all a chance to breathe and wonder what had happened. When the
animal came up again, far ahead, the spout was high and full, with no
trace of blood, so we knew that he would need a second harpoon to finish
him. I was delighted, for I had long wished for a chance to get a roll
of motion-picture film showing the killing of a whale, and now the
conditions were ideal—good light, little wind, and no sea.

I ran below to get the cinematograph and tripod and set it on the bridge
while the gun was being loaded. The winch was then started and the whale
drawn slowly toward the ship. He persisted in keeping in the sunlight,
which drew a path of glittering, dancing points of light, beautiful to
see but fatal to pictures. I shouted to Captain Andersen, asking him to
wait a bit and let the whale go down, hoping it would rise in the other
direction. He did so and the animal swung around, coming up just as I
wished, so that the sun was almost behind us. It was now near enough to
begin work and I kept the crank of the machine steadily revolving
whenever it rose to spout. The whale was drawn in close under the bow
and for several minutes lay straining and heaving, trying to free
himself from the biting iron.

“Stand by! I’m going to shoot now,” sang out the Gunner, and in a moment
he was hidden from sight in a thick black cloud.

The beautiful gray body was lying quietly at the surface when the smoke
drifted away, but in a few seconds the whale righted himself with a
convulsive heave. The poor animal was not yet dead, though the harpoon
had gone entirely through him. Captain Andersen called for one of the
long slender lances which were triced up to the ship’s rigging, and
after a few more turns of the winch had brought the whale right under
the bows, he began jabbing the steel into its side, throwing his whole
weight on the lance. The whale was pretty “sick” and did not last long,
and before the roll of motion-picture film had been exhausted it sank
straight down, the last feeble blow leaving a train of round white
bubbles on the surface.


  A sei whale at Aikawa, Japan. This species is about forty-eight feet
    long and is allied to the finback and blue whales.

Andersen and I went below for breakfast and by the time we were on deck
again the whale had been inflated and was floating easily beside the
ship. When we had reached the bridge the Gunner said:

“I don’t want to go in yet with this one; we’ll cruise about until
twelve o’clock and see if we can’t find another. I am going up in the
top and then we’ll be sure not to miss any.”

I stretched out upon a seat on the port side of the bridge and lazily
watched the water boil and foam ver the dead whale as we steamed along
at full speed. Captain Andersen was singing softly to himself,
apparently perfectly happy in his lofty seat. So we went about for two
hours and I was almost asleep when Andersen called down:

“There’s a whale dead ahead. He spouted six times.”


  “‘There’s a whale dead ahead. He spouted six times.’”


  “The click of the camera and the crash of the gun sounding at almost
    the same instant.” The harpoon, rope, wads, smoke, sparks and the
    back of the whale are shown in the photograph.

I was wide awake at that and had the camera open and ready for pictures
by the time we were near enough to see the animal—a sei whale—blow. He
was spouting constantly and this argued well, for we were sure to get a
shot if he continued to stay at the surface. The Bo’s’n made a flag
ready so that the carcass alongside could be let go and marked.
Apparently this was not going to be necessary, for there was plenty of
food and the whale was lazily wallowing about, rolling first on one side
and then on the other, sometimes throwing his fin in the air and
playfully slapping the water, sending it upward in geyser-like jets.

“Half speed!” shouted the Gunner; then, “Slow!” and “Dead slow!”

The little vessel slipped silently along, the propellers hardly moving
and the nerves of every man on board as tense as the strings of a
violin. In four seconds the whale was up, not ten fathoms away on the
port bow, the click of the camera and the crash of the gun sounding at
almost the same instant. The harpoon struck the animal in the side, just
back of the fin, and he went down without a struggle, for the bursting
bomb had torn its way into the great heart.

By eleven o’clock it was alongside and slowly filling with air while the
ship was churning her way toward the station. Andersen went below for a
couple of hours’ sleep in the afternoon, and I dozed on the bridge in
the sunshine. We were just off Kinka-San at half-past six, and by seven
were blowing the whistle at the entrance to the bay.

Three other ships, the _San Hogei_, _Ne Taihei_, and _Akebono_, were
already inside but had no whales. Later Captain Olsen, of the _Rekkusu
Maru_, brought in a sei whale, but this was the only other ship that had
killed during the day. About eleven o’clock, just as I came from the
station house after developing the plates, and started to go out to the
ship, the _Fukushima_ and _Airondo Maru_ stole quietly into the bay and
dropped anchor. They, too, had been unsuccessful, and, we learned later,
had not even seen a whale.

Before we turned in for the night Captain Andersen said to me:


  “We were just off Kinka-san at half-past six, and by seven were
    blowing the whistle at the entrance to the bay.”

“We’ll go sou’-sou’ west tomorrow; that’s a whale cruise. But I’m afraid
there is going to be a big sea on, for the wind has shifted and we
always get heavy weather when it’s blowing offshore.”

The news was not very encouraging, for although I have spent many days
on whaling ships I have never learned to appreciate perfectly the charm
of the deep when the little cork-like vessels are tossing and throwing
themselves about as though possessed of an evil spirit. Each time, I
make a solemn vow that if ever I am fortunate enough once more to get on
solid ground my days of whaling will be ended.

                              CHAPTER VIII
                      CHARGED BY A WILD SEI WHALE


  “We hunted them for two hours, trying first one and then the
    other—they had separated—without once getting near enough even for

The ship got under way at two o’clock the next morning, and within half
an hour was pitching badly in a heavy sea. At five Andersen and I turned
out and climbed to the bridge, both wearing oilskins and sou’westers to
protect ourselves from the driving spray. The sun was up in a clear sky,
but the wind was awful. The man in the top shouted down that he had seen
no whales, but that many birds were about, showing that food must be
plentiful and near the surface. Captain Andersen turned to me with a

“Don’t you worry! We’ll see one before long. I’m always lucky before

Almost while he was speaking the man aloft sang out, “_Kujira!_” The
_kujira_ proved to be two sei whales a long way off. When we were close
enough to see, it became evident that it would only be a chance if we
got a shot. They were not spouting well and remained below a long time.


  “He was running fast but seldom stayed down long, his high
    sickle-shaped dorsal fin cutting the surface first in one direction,
    then in another.”

We hunted them for two hours, trying first one and then the other—they
had separated—without once getting near enough even for pictures. It was
aggravating work, and I was glad to hear Andersen say:

“We’ll leave them and see if we can find some others. They are

When we came up from breakfast six other ships were visible, some of
them not far away and others marked only by long trails on the horizon.
We passed the _San Hogei_ near enough to hear Captain Hansen shout that
he had seen no whales, and then plowed along due south directly away
from the other ships. In a short time, one by one, they had dropped away
from sight and even the smoke paths were lost where sky and sea met.


  “Always the center of a screaming flock of birds which sometimes swept
    downward in a cloud, dipping into the waves and rising again, the
    water flashing in myriads of crystal drops from their brown wings.”

It was eleven o’clock before we raised another spout, but this animal
was blowing frequently and the great cloud of birds hovering about
showed that he was “on feed.” He was running fast but seldom stayed down
long, his high, sickle-shaped dorsal fin cutting the surface first in
one direction, then in another, but always the center of a screaming
flock of birds which sometimes swept downward in a cloud, dipping into
the waves and rising again, the water flashing in myriads of crystal
drops from their brown wings.

As we came close we saw that the whale was in a school of sardines, the
fish frantically dashing here and there, often jumping clear out of the
water and causing their huge pursuer a deal of trouble to follow their
quick turnings. But he managed his lithe body with wonderful rapidity,
and ever before the fish left him many yards behind was plowing after
them, his great tail sending the water in swirling green patches astern.

We were going at full speed and came down to half when a hundred fathoms
away, but we could not take it slow, for the whale was running directly
from us. I got two pictures of the birds and from where I was standing
beside the gun could plainly follow the animal in his course. As he rose
about sixty fathoms ahead and turned to go down, his back came into view
and just behind the fin a large white mark was visible.

“That’s a harpoon scar,” said Andersen. “It is a bad sign. He may give
us a run for it, after all.”

The engines were at dead slow now, for the whale had surely seen us and
might double under water, coming up astern. Andersen was ready at the
gun, swinging the huge weapon slightly to and fro, his feet braced,
every few seconds calling out to the Bo’s’n aloft, “Miye masu ka?” (Do
you see him?)

We had been waiting two minutes (it seemed hours) when the Bo’s’n

“He’s coming. He’s coming. On the port bow.”

In a second the water began to swirl and boil and we could see the
shadowy form rise almost to the surface, check its upward rush, and dash
along parallel with the ship.


  A sei whale showing a portion of the soft fatty tongue.

“_Dame_ (no good), _dame_, he won’t come up!” exclaimed Andersen. “_Mo
sukoshi_ (a little more) speed, _mo sukoshi_ speed! _Dame, dame_, he’s
leaving us. Half speed, _half_ speed!”


  “In the mirror of my camera I could see the enormous gray head burst
    from the water, the blowholes open and send forth a cloud of vapor,
    and the slim back draw itself upward, the water streaming from the
    high fin as it cut the surface. Andersen’s last words were drowned
    in the crashing roar of the gun.”

Never shall I forget the intense excitement of those few minutes! The
huge, ghost-like figure was swimming along just under the surface, not
five feet down, aggravatingly close but as well protected by the shallow
water-armor as though it had been of steel. Andersen was shouting beside

“He won’t come, _dame, dame_. Yes, now, now! Look out! I shoot, I

In the mirror of my camera I could see the enormous gray head burst from
the water, the blowholes open and send forth a cloud of vapor, and the
slim back draw itself upward, the water streaming from the high fin as
it cut the surface. Andersen’s last words were drowned in the crashing
roar of the gun. Before we could see through the veil of smoke we heard
the sailors shout, “_Shinda!_” (dead), and the next instant the black
cloud drifted away showing the whale lying on its side motionless. I
tried to change the plate in my camera, but before the slide could be
drawn and the shutter reset, the animal had sunk. Apparently it had been
killed almost instantly, for the rope was taut and hung straight down.

In a few minutes Andersen gave the word to haul away, and the Engineer
started the winch. No sooner had the rattling wheels ground in a few
fathoms than we saw the line slack and then slowly rise. Faster and
faster it came, the water dripping in little streams from its vibrating

In a few seconds the whale rose about ninety fathoms ahead and blew, the
blood welling in great red clots from his spout holes. He lay motionless
for a moment and then swung about and swam directly toward the vessel.
At first he came slowly, but his speed was increasing every moment. When
almost opposite us, about thirty fathoms away, suddenly, with a terrific
slash of his tail, he half turned on his side and dashed directly at the

“Full speed astern!” yelled the gunner, dancing about like a madman.
“_He’ll sink us; he’ll sink us!_”

The whale was coming at tremendous speed, half buried in white foam,
lashing right and left with his enormous flukes. In an instant he hit
us. We had half swung about and he struck a glancing blow directly
amidships, keeling the little vessel far over and making her tremble as
though she had gone on the rocks; then bumped along the side, running
his nose squarely into the propeller. The whirling blades tore great
strips of blubber from his snout and jaws and he backed off astern.

Then turning about with his entire head projecting from the water like
the bow of a submarine, he swam parallel with the ship. As he rushed
along I caught a glimpse of the dark head in the mirror of my camera and
pressed the button. An instant later the great animal rolled on his
side, thrust his fin straight upward, and sank. It had been his death
struggle and this time he was down for good. As the water closed over
the dead whale I leaned against the rail trembling with excitement, the
perspiration streaming from my face and body. Andersen was shouting
orders in English, Norwegian, and Japanese, and cursing in all three
languages at once.

I think none of us realized until then just what a narrow escape we had
had. If the whale had struck squarely he would have torn such a hole in
the steamer’s side that her sinking would have been a matter of seconds.
The only thing that saved her was the quickness of the man at the wheel,
who had thrown the vessel’s nose about, thus letting the blow glance
from her side. It was a miracle that the propeller blades had not been
broken or bent so badly as to disable us; why they were not even injured
no one can tell—it was simply the luck that has always followed this
vessel since Captain Andersen came aboard.


  “Then turning about with his entire head projecting from the water
    like the bow of a submarine, he swam parallel with the ship.”

It should not be inferred that the whale deliberately attacked the ship
with the intention of disabling her. There is little doubt in my mind
but that the animal was blindly rushing forward in his death flurry, and
the fact that he struck the vessel was pure accident. Nevertheless, the
results would have been none the less serious if he had hit her


  “I was ... gazing down into the blue water and waiting to catch a
    glimpse of the body as it rose, when suddenly a dark shape glided
    swiftly under the ship’s bow.”

After a hasty examination showed that the propeller was uninjured, the
whale was hauled to the surface. I was standing on the gun platform
gazing down into the blue water and waiting to catch a glimpse of the
body as it rose, when suddenly a dark shape glided swiftly under the
ship’s bow. At first I thought it was only imagination, an aftereffect
of the excitement, but another followed, then another, and soon from
every side specter-like forms were darting swiftly and silently here and
there, sometimes showing a flash of white as one turned on its side.

They were giant sharks drawn by the floating carcass as steel is drawn
by a magnet. Like the vultures which wheel and circle in the western sky
far beyond the reach of human sight, watching for the death of some
poor, thirst-smitten, desert brute, so these vultures of the sea quickly
gathered about the dead whale. I watched them silently fasten to the
animal’s side, tearing away great cup-shaped chunks of blubber, and
shivered as I thought of what would happen to a man if he fell overboard
among these horrible, white-eyed sea-ghosts.

Within three minutes of the time when the whale had been drawn to the
surface over twenty sharks, each one accompanied by its little striped
pilot fish swimming just behind its fins, were biting at the carcass.

“_Dame, dame_, they’ll eat my whale up,” shouted Andersen in Japanese.
“Bo’s’n, bring the small harpoon.”


  “Two boat hooks were jabbed into the shark’s gills and it was hauled
    along the ship’s side until it could be pulled on deck.”

One big shark, the most persistent of the school, had sunk his teeth in
the whale’s side and, although half out of water, was tearing away at
the blubber and paying not the slightest attention to the pieces of old
iron which the sailors were showering upon him. When the harpoon was
rigged and the line made fast, Andersen climbed out upon the rope-pan in
front of the gun and jammed the iron into the shark’s back. Even then
the brute waited to snatch one more mouthful before it slid off the
carcass into the water. It struggled but little and seemed more
interested in returning to its meal than in freeing itself from the
harpoon, but two boat hooks were jabbed into its gills and it was hauled
along the ship’s side until it could be pulled on deck. This was no easy
task, for it must have weighed at least two hundred pounds and began a
tremendous lashing with its tail when the crew hauled away.
“_Ya-ra-cu-ra-sa_,” sang the sailors, each time giving a heave as the
word “_sa_” was uttered, and the shark was soon flapping and pounding
about on deck. The seamen prodded it with boat hooks and belaying pins
and I must confess that I had little sympathy for the brute when the
blood poured out of its mouth and gills, turning the snow-white breast
to crimson. I paced its length as it lay on the deck, taking good care
to miss the thrashing tail and the vicious snaps of its crescent-shaped
jaws. It measured just twelve feet and, although a big one, was by no
means the largest of the school.


  Making the sei whale fast to the bow of the ship.

When the whale had been finally made fast and the ship started, the
shark, now half dead, was pushed over the side. It had not gone ten feet
astern before the others of the pack were tearing away at their
unfortunate brother with as great good will as they had attacked our

Andersen and I went below to an excellent tiffin, for which I had a
better appetite than at breakfast, as the sea had subsided. The course
was set for the station to get coal and water for the next day’s run,
but we could not be in before seven or eight o’clock. The gunner lay
down in the cabin for a short nap, and after lighting my pipe I went
“top sides” to the bridge. I had been there not more than ten minutes,
when “puf-f-f” went a sei whale about two hundred fathoms away on the
starboard beam.


  A sei whale swimming directly away from the ship. The nostrils or
    blowholes are widely expanded and greatly protruded.

The air pumps were still at work inflating the carcass alongside, and
the gun had not yet been loaded. Captain Andersen ran forward with the
powder charge sewed up in its neat little sack of cheesecloth; and after
the Bo’s’n had rammed it home, wadded the gun, and inserted the harpoon,
we were ready for work. The vessel had been taking a long circle about
the whale, which was blowing every few seconds, and now we headed
straight for it.

Like the last one, this animal was pursuing a school of sardines and
proved easy to approach. Andersen fired at about fifteen fathoms,
getting fast but not killing at once, and a second harpoon was sent
crashing into the beautiful gray body which before many hours would fill
several hundred cans and be sold in the markets at Osaka. The sharks
again gathered about the ship when the whale was raised to the surface,
but this time none was harpooned as we were anxious to start for the

It was nearly three o’clock when the ship was on her course and fully
six before we caught a glimpse of the summit of Kinka-San, still twenty
miles away. A light fog had begun to gather, and in the west filmy
clouds draped themselves in a mantle of red and gold about the sun. Ere
the first stars appeared, the wind freshened again and the clouds had
gathered into puffy balls edged with black, which scudded across the sky
and settled into a leaden mass on the horizon. It was evident that the
good weather had ended and that we were going to run inside just in time
to escape a storm.

                               CHAPTER IX
                        HABITS OF THE SEI WHALE


  “For many years the sei whale was supposed to be the young of either
    the blue or the finback whale, and it was not until 1828 that it was
    recognized by science as being a distinct species.”

For many years the sei whale was supposed to be the young of either the
blue or the finback whale, and it was not until 1828 that it was
recognized by science as being a distinct species. The Norwegians gave
the animal its name because it arrives upon the coast of Finmark with
the “_seje_,” or black codfish (_Polachius virens_), but in Japan it is
called iwashi kujira (_sardine whale_).


  A sei whale fast to the ship. The shape of the spout is well shown.

Until shore stations were erected in various parts of the world sei
whales were supposed to be very rare and were known only from the North
Atlantic Ocean, but within the last fifteen years they have been taken
near South Africa, the Falkland and South Shetland Islands, and Japan,
and have proved to be one of the most abundant of large cetaceans.

The sei whale has a roving disposition and wanders restlessly from one
coast to another, sometimes journeying great distances and suddenly
appearing in waters where it has never before been known. It has more or
less regular migrations and there is evidence that individuals travel
from the Antarctic into the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Strangely enough a clew to their wanderings has been given by a parasite
which lives upon the whale’s body. This Copepod, known as _Penella
antarctica_, produces a peculiar white or grayish oval scar two or three
inches in length, which for many years was supposed to be a feature of
the sei whale’s coloration. I suspected at first sight that these spots
were scars left by a parasite of some sort, but it was not until two
years later that my suspicion was proved correct and the animal itself

It was doubly interesting to find that this parasite is an Antarctic
species which has never been known from the North Atlantic or Pacific
Ocean. On the second French Antarctic Expedition Dr. Liouville
discovered that all the sei whales taken in the South Atlantic were
bristling with these parasites but except in rare cases the whales of
the north have none of them _in situ_. The parasites are short-lived and
probably die or break off during the northward travels of their hosts,
leaving only the scars behind.

It is not probable that _all_ sei whales make this migration annually—in
fact it is highly improbable that such is the case—but herds are
apparently formed which visit certain localities every year, now and
then being reinforced by individuals which have come either from the
Antarctic into the north or vice versa.


  A blue whale, eighty-five feet long, at Kyuquot, Vancouver Island.
    This is the largest animal that has lived upon the earth or in its
    waters, so far as is known at the present time.

The migration of the large Cetacea is a subject about which very little
is known and of which but few positive statements can be made. In the
case of only one species, the California gray whale, can we tell exactly
where, when, and how far the animals travel, for this coast-loving whale
migrates as regularly as do birds and the paths of its wanderings are


  “In the water the sei whale may be easily recognized at a considerable
    distance by the form of the spout and the high dorsal fin which is
    prominently displayed as the animal swims at the surface.”

In the water the sei whale may be easily recognized at a considerable
distance by the form of the spout and the high dorsal fin which is
prominently displayed as the animal swims at the surface.

This species does not dive very deeply and when feeding its movements
can usually be traced by the disturbed water, as well as by the clouds
of birds hovering about the tiny sea animals which come to the surface.


  “The sei whale has a roving disposition and wanders restlessly from
    one coast to another, sometimes ... suddenly appearing in waters
    where it has never before been known.”

In Norway the sei whale feeds upon the small red shrimp (_Euphausia_)
and an exceedingly minute crustacean known as “Aate” (_Calanus
finmarchius_); in Japan only three or four individuals which I examined
during 1910 had anything but shrimp in their stomachs, although the
natives say that sardines are often eaten, and call this species the
sardine whale.

All the gunners assert that the sei whale can reach a greater speed in
its first rush after being harpooned than any other large cetacean, and
I have seen animals which were not killed at once dash off like a hooked
bluefish. But the first wild rush is soon ended and the whale is
generally easily killed because it does not have the strength and
staying power of its larger relatives, the finback and the blue whale.

On land the African hunting leopard, or cheetah (_Acinomyx jubatus_),
parallels the sei whale, and for a few hundred yards can probably
distance any other animal, although it too soon tires if the chase is

                               CHAPTER X
                        A LONG BLUE WHALE CHASE


  “Suddenly a cloud of white vapor shot into our very faces and a great
    dripping body rounded out under the ship’s bow. The click of the
    camera was followed by the deafening roar of the gun.”

Captain Fred Olsen had invited me to spend a week with him aboard the
_Rekkusu Maru_, and for five days we had been at sea losing both coal
and patience chasing finbacks with but one whale to our credit. The
fifth evening, after a hard day’s work with no results, the ship was
headed for Kamaishi, a good harbor some seventy miles from Aikawa.

At 9:30 the _Rekkusu_ was in quiet water well within the bay and when we
came on deck for a look around we could see by their lights two whale
ships riding smoothly at short anchor chains only a little distance
away. One was _Daito No. 2_, Captain Larsen, with whom I had hunted
humpback whales off the coast of Vancouver Island two years before when
he had the _St. Lawrence_; the other, the _Airondo Maru_, Captain Reidar
Jacobsen’s ship. Both Olsen and myself were tired so we did not go
aboard but turned in at ten o’clock and were soon asleep.

The next morning I was awakened by the alternate starting and stopping
of the engines and knew that already a whale had been sighted. It was
seven o’clock and dressing hurriedly I ran on deck to find the ship
rolling about in a heavy sea and a cold rain falling. I got into a suit
of oilskins and then climbed to the bridge. My greeting of “_O hayo_”
(good morning) was answered by the man at the wheel, who said they were
hunting a _shiro-nagasu_ (blue whale), which had been found about six
o’clock and had almost given a shot. Captain Olsen was at the gun and
waved his hand in greeting just as we heard the metallic whistle of the
spout on the starboard bow.

I got the camera ready for use, protecting it as much as possible with
the flap of my oilskin jacket, but was rather dubious as to how
successful the pictures would be. The driving rain covered the lens with
a film of water as soon as the coat was lifted, and I knew that trouble
could be expected with the shutter when the dampness had penetrated to
its curtain. The whale came up two or three times and through the field
glasses I could see its diminutive dorsal fin and blue-gray back which,
in the rain, appeared to be exactly the color of the water.


  “For ten minutes the silence continued, then the Captain said in a
    quiet voice: ‘There he is, far away on the beam!’”

Twice a shot seemed imminent but each time the animal refused to take
the last short dive which would have brought it within range. At 9
o’clock Captain Olsen ran to the cabin for a cup of coffee and to change
his wet clothes, for he had neglected to put on oilskins before going on
deck. He had only been below ten minutes when the whale appeared not far
away and Olsen hurried forward, pulling on his coat as he ran. Again the
whale rose, about thirty fathoms from the ship and just out of range.

Olsen called to me:

“Get ready; he’ll come close next time.”

Suddenly a cloud of white vapor shot into our very faces and a great
dripping body rounded out under the ship’s bow. The click of the camera
was followed by the deafening roar of the gun; then there was a moment’s
stillness as the giant figure quivered, straightened out, righted
itself, and with a crashing blow of the flukes swung about and dashed
away, tearing through the water partly on the surface, partly below it.

The cry of “_Banzai!_” which rose from the sailors was drowned in the
shrieking of the winch and the pounding of the line on the deck as
fathom after fathom was dragged over the iron wheels.

Through the cloud of smoke I could see the Engineer putting all his
strength upon the brake and heard him shout for water to wet the burning
wood. One hundred, two hundred, three hundred fathoms were dragged out
when suddenly the rush ceased and the ship lay still, quietly rolling in
the swell. The whale had sounded, and the rope hung straight down from
the bow as rigid as a bar of steel.

Fifteen minutes we waited and there was no sign from below. Olsen began
to get uneasy and to stamp upon the line, hoping to stir the great
animal which was sulking on the bottom.

“I don’t want him to die down there,” he said, “for I’m afraid of this
line. The starboard rope is all right but this one is weak. If he
doesn’t come topsides to blow so I can get in another harpoon, we may
break the line in heaving him up. He’s down a long way and the strain
will be awful.”

After twenty minutes the rope began slowly to come in, and I went
forward with the Captain to the gun platform, waiting for the whale to
spout. We saw it at last, but so far away that I thought it was a
different animal. The engines had been stopped when the whale was down
but now the ship began to move. Faster and faster the vessel tore
through the water until Olsen ordered half speed astern.

The harpoon had struck the whale in a bad place, for with the iron
embedded between his massive shoulders he could pull with all his
strength. For half an hour we were dragged through the water and again
he sounded. This time he was down ten minutes and came to the surface
with a rush which threw half his eighty feet of body into the air. Then
he started off at a terrific pace. The Captain did not dare to check his
dash and ordered another line to be spliced on when the men called up
from below that the rope was almost gone. Three-quarters of a mile of
line was out before the animal finally slowed enough so that the winch
could hold. Even then, with the engines at full speed astern, the ship
was being dragged ahead at nearly six knots an hour.


  “I ran on deck just as the great brute rounded up right beside the bow
    and the gun flashed out in the darkness.”

Our catch next began a series of short dives, followed by frantic rushes
from side to side, which lasted two hours. Each time the animal went
down the winch ground in a few fathoms of line, sometimes losing it and
more on the next mad plunge, but slowly, surely, recovering it foot by

At eleven o’clock the whale began to weaken. Every time he rose the stay
at the surface was a little longer, his rushes became less violent, and
the winch swallowed more and more of the coveted line. With the powerful
glasses I could see that at times the water about his back was tinged
with red, and knew that the working of the hundred-pound harpoon between
his shoulders was making an ugly wound and letting gallons of blood flow
from his great veins.

Finally only one line besides the leader for the harpoon was out and I
had already begun to work the camera whenever the whale rose to blow.
The wind had nearly died but had left a tremendous swell, and the little
ship was rolling and tossing like a thing possessed. Captain Olsen,
against his better judgment, was drawing the whale in for a second shot
when the line slacked away as the ship dropped into the hollow of a
great swell, then tightened suddenly and parted with a crack like a
pistol shot when she rose on the crest.

With an oath Olsen shouted for full speed, and fired as the great body
disappeared beneath the surface. It was a long chance but he made it,
and we gave a wild yell as the harpoon shot over the water in a wide
semi-circle and dropped upon the whale’s back. There was a sudden jerk,
a muffled explosion, and the line slacked away again, leaving a great
crimson patch staining the surface. The ship plunged forward through it
and I saw the bits of torn and mangled flesh which told the story all
too plainly—the bomb on the tip of the harpoon, as it exploded, had
blown the iron out and the whale was free.

We lay to with the engine stopped to see what would happen next. Little
was said; almost the only sound was the retching and groaning of a pump
when the ship keeled far over to starboard with the swell. For ten
minutes the silence continued, then the Captain said in a quiet voice:
“There he is, far away on the beam.”

Instantly the “ting, ting” of the bell in the engine room sounded and a
chase began which I shall long remember as showing what a great part
persistency plays in whaling. All the rest of the afternoon the little
ship hung to the whale’s track, now getting almost close enough to shoot
and again losing sight of the spout in the rain and fog. It was
disagreeable enough for me on the bridge, where I could be partly
protected from the cold rain by a canvas screen, but Captain Olsen never
left the gun. At three o’clock a cup of tea was brought him and he drank
it hastily, meanwhile cramming a few crackers into his pocket to be
nibbled as opportunity offered.

The day wore on but the animal seemed to be stronger instead of weaker
and at five o’clock I had given up hope that we would ever get another

I had just started to leave the bridge to go below when the whale
spouted about forty fathoms away and it seemed sure that he would rise
again within range. The man in the barrel shouted: “There he comes!” and
pointed to a spot just beside the port bow. Captain Olsen swung the gun
until he was standing almost on the edge of the rope-pan in front. We
could see the huge form just under the surface, but it turned down
again, leaving a swirling green trail behind it.

“I’d have shot him in the tail if he had only come up,” Captain Olsen
shouted, “but we’ll get him yet.”


  “The rope attached to the first harpoon floated backward in dangerous
    proximity to the propeller and it required some careful work to get
    the animal fast to the bow and the line safely out of the way.”

Shortly afterward the whale blew near us, dead ahead, and as he turned
to go down a school of porpoises dashed along beside his back. When he
rose a few seconds afterward the porpoises were leaping all about his
head, and, bewildered, he did not know which way to turn. We almost
reached him but he slid under the water just before the ship came up.
For the next few minutes he was lost in the fog and gathering darkness
and I shouted to Captain Olsen:

“You’ll never get him. I’m going below.”

“Well, I’ll stand by until it is too dark to shoot,” he answered. “I
might get a chance yet.”


  Bringing the blue whale to the station. The carcass is almost as long
    as the ship.

I had hardly reached the cabin and begun pulling off my oilskins when
the jerk of the engines told me they must again be close. I ran on deck
just as the great brute rounded up right beside the bow and the gun
flashed out in the darkness. “_Shinda!_” yelled the sailors, and through
the smoke cloud I could see the whale give a convulsive twist, roll on
its side with the fin straight upward, and slowly sink.

Almost at once the winch began to take in the slack and haul the carcass
to the surface. When it came alongside the rope attached to the first
harpoon floated backward in dangerous proximity to the propeller, and it
required some careful work to get the animal fast to the bow and the
line safely out of the way.

We had a long tow to the station, for the chase had carried us nearly
one hundred and thirty miles away, and not until the next afternoon did
the sturdy little vessel sweep into the bay and deliver her whale to the
station where in a very few hours its flesh would fill thousands of
waiting cans and be sent to the markets throughout the Empire.

                               CHAPTER XI

The blue whale is not only the largest animal that lives today upon the
earth or in its waters, but, so far as is known, it is the largest
animal that has ever lived. Even those giant extinct reptiles, the
dinosaurs, which splashed along the borders of the inland seas of
Wyoming and Montana 3,000,000 years ago, could not approach a blue whale
either in length or weight.

In 1903, Dr. F. A. Lucas weighed in sections a blue whale taken at
Newfoundland. The animal was 78 feet long and 35 feet around the
shoulders; the head was 19 feet in length and the flukes 16 feet from
tip to tip. The total weight was 63 tons; the flesh weighed 40 tons, the
blubber 8 tons, the blood, viscera, and baleen 7 tons, and the bones 8
tons. So far as I am aware this is the only specimen which has ever been
actually weighed.

Exaggerated accounts of the size of this species are current even in
reputable books on natural history, but the largest specimen which has
yet been actually measured and recorded is one 87 feet long, stranded a
few years ago upon the coast of New Zealand; this animal must have
weighed at least 75 tons. I have measured two blue whales 85 feet long
but individuals of this size are rare.


  A blue whale at Aikawa, Japan. “The largest specimen which has yet
    been actually measured and recorded is one 87 feet long, stranded a
    few years ago upon the coast of New Zealand; this animal must have
    weighed at least 75 tons.”

All the gunners who have hunted in the South Atlantic or Pacific tell
remarkable tales of the enormous blue whales killed off Kerguelen and
South Georgia Islands. I have no doubt that this species reaches 90 or
possibly 95 feet, but the stories of 115- and 120-foot whales are
certainly myths. As Dr. Lucas aptly says, “All whales shrink under the
tape measure.”


  An eighty-two foot blue whale at Vancouver Island. The mouth is about
    nineteen feet in length, and the outer edges of the baleen plates
    are well shown.

Undoubtedly the principal reason why whales are able to attain such an
enormous size is because their bodies are supported by the water in
which they live. A bird is limited to the weight which its wings can
bear up in the air. A land animal, if it becomes too large, cannot hold
its body off the ground or move about readily and is doomed to certain
destruction. But a whale has to face none of these problems and can grow
without restraint. The sperm and right whales float when killed, but the
fin whales usually sink although the specific gravity of their bodies is
but little more than that of water.

Because whales live in a supporting medium their young are of enormous
size at birth, in some instances the calf being almost half the length
of its mother. I once took from an 80-foot blue whale a 25-foot baby
which weighed about 8 tons. The calf was just ready for birth and was
fully formed, the whalebone being about three inches long.

At Aikawa a sperm whale 32 feet in length contained a fœtus 14 feet, 8
inches long, and in Alaska while a 65-foot finback whale was being drawn
out of the water upon the slip she gave birth to a 22-foot baby, which,
of course, was dead.

Not long ago I read an account of a happy event of this sort which was
said to have occurred on the Labrador coast, where the baby whale
flopped off into the water and swam away. This was, of course, not true,
for the fœtus would die with its mother, but when such stories once find
their way into print they are difficult to stop.

The wonderful strength of the blue whale is almost beyond belief, and I
have listened to many stories from Norwegians which I would not dare
repeat here although personally I believe them to be true. J. G.
Millais, Esq., has given an interesting account of a blue whale hunt,
which I am quoting in full since it shows, in some degree, of what this
magnificent animal is capable:


  The open mouth of a blue whale. Ten or twelve men could stand in the
    mouth, but the throat is only eight inches in diameter.

  The most remarkable and protracted hunt on record after a Whale was
  experienced by the steamer _Puma_ in 1903. The most exaggerated
  accounts of this appeared in the American and English papers, where
  the journalists went so far as to say that the Whale had towed the
  ship from Newfoundland to Labrador, and other wild statements. The
  following particulars were given by Hans Johanessen, mate of the
  _Puma_, so they are, at any rate, first hand.

  The _Puma_ spied and “struck” a large Blue Whale six miles from
  Placentia at nine o’clock in the morning. The animal immediately
  became “wild,” and it was found impossible to get near enough to fire
  another harpoon into it. For the entire day it towed the steamer, with
  engines at half speed astern, at a rate of six knots. Toward evening a
  second rope was made fast to the stern of the vessel and attached to
  the first line, now “out” about one mile. The steamer then put on full
  speed ahead. This seemed to incense the Whale, which put forth all its
  strength and dragged the whole of the after part of the vessel under
  water, flooding the after cabin and part of the engine room. The stern
  rope was immediately cut with an ax and the danger averted.


  The upper jaw of a blue whale, showing the mat of hairlike bristles on
    the inner edges of the baleen plates.

  All through the night the gallant Whale dragged the steamer, with the
  dead weight of two miles of rope and the engines going half speed
  astern, and at 9 A. M. the following morning the monster seemed to be
  as lively and powerful as ever. At 10 A. M., however, its strength
  seemed to decrease, and at 11 it was wallowing on the surface, where
  at 12:30 it was finally lanced by the captain. This great fight
  occupied twenty-eight hours, the Whale having dragged the steamer a
  distance of thirty miles to Cape St. Mary.

  One of the troubles of this form of whaling is the difficulty of
  avoiding fishing craft when the Whale is struck. In Shetland and
  Newfoundland captains are not allowed to fire at a Whale within one
  mile of boats or two miles of the coast, but these precautions are
  generally ignored. Captain Nilsen, when hunting in the _Cabot_ in
  Hermitage Bay in 1903, struck a large bull which lay as if dead
  alongside the steamer. The crew were about to attach the tail to the
  bow-chains when the Whale suddenly recovered and started full speed
  for the coast, towing the steamer at ten knots.

  After an hour it stopped and lay on the surface of the sea, when
  Captain Nilsen fired a second harpoon, which only had the effect of
  waking up the monster. It then went full speed for the fishing fleet,
  which was close at hand, dived under their nets, and did damage to the
  extent of a hundred dollars. After a further rush of five miles a
  third harpoon was fired, which killed the Whale right opposite the

Footnote 5:

  “The Mammals of Great Britain and Ireland.” By J. G. Millais.
  Longmans, Green, & Co., pp. 256–257.

My friend, Captain H. G. Melsom, tells me that while hunting off the
coast of Siberia he struck a blue whale which ran out three thousand
feet of line and, with engines at full speed astern, towed the ship
forward for seven hours at no time at a less speed than eight knots.
Some years before this in Norway he shot a blue whale at five P. M.,
which dragged the ship with engines at full speed astern, until eleven
P. M., when he slowed down to half speed; at one A. M. he changed to
dead slow and he finally killed the whale at two o’clock in the morning.

                              CHAPTER XII

If a whale is struck near the tail by the harpoon it is almost powerless
to pull because the strain on the rope straightens out its body and the
animal can swim only with difficulty. Practically all of the forward
motion is developed by means of the flukes and the side fins are only
used as balancing organs and in turning and rising to the surface. The
flukes are not twisted in a rotary movement like the propeller of a
ship, as is commonly believed, but wave straight up and down.

While hunting in Alaska I had an excellent opportunity to see the manner
in which a whale swims. I had climbed to the barrel at the masthead
while we were following an enormous humpback and as the water was like
glass save for the long swell, I could see 15 or 20 feet beneath the

Suddenly the dim outlines of the whale took shape in the green depths
far below me but when near the surface the animal checked its upward
rush, turned downward, and dove directly under the ship, rising a
hundred fathoms away on the port beam. I could see every movement of the
great body as clearly as though the whale had been suspended in mid-air.
When the animal turned, the side fins were thrown outward but were
pressed close to the body as it swam under the ship.


  Posterior view of a blue whale on the slip at Aikawa, Japan. The
    flukes have been cut off and the wide thin caudal portion of the
    body is well shown.

A whale’s flippers must not be compared with the fins of a fish, for in
structure the two are quite unlike. The flippers of all cetaceans are
merely the fore-limbs of ordinary land mammals, which have become
overlaid with blubber to form a paddle in adaptation to an aquatic life
and have the bones, blood vessels, and nerves of the human arm. The
flipper of the humpback whale has four greatly elongated fingers but in
some other species there are five fingers as in the human hand.

Cetaceans also have rudiments of the hind-limbs. These consist of the
pelvis, which is fairly well developed, and small nodules of bone
representing the femur and sometimes the tibia; the latter is
cartilaginous except in rare cases. These rudiments are, of course,
entirely concealed within the body and can only be found by carefully
cutting away the flesh surrounding the sexual organs.


  The flipper of a humpback whale. “The flippers of all cetaceans are
    merely the fore-limbs of ordinary land mammals, which have become
    overlaid with blubber to form a paddle.”

One of the most striking things about the blue whale, and indeed all its
relatives, are the folds which extend longitudinally from the lower jaw
backward over the throat, breast, and abdomen. In different species of
whales the folds vary in number and width, the furrows between them
being about an inch in depth and the skin capable of great extension.

The use of the folds has been a subject of disagreement among
naturalists, but my own belief is that they are an adaptation to
increase the mouth capacity and to give greater power of expansion to
the lungs.


  After the humpback’s flipper has been stripped of blubber. The
    forearm, wrist and fingers are shown. In this species the digits
    have been reduced to four and are greatly elongated.

The folds are not composed of flesh but entirely of blubber, the layer
of fibrous fat which covers the bodies of all whales, porpoises, and
dolphins and lies between the skin and the flesh. Since cetaceans are
warm-blooded animals (fish and reptiles are cold-blooded) it is
necessary for them to have some protection from the cold. Hair is not
sufficient for this purpose as in land mammals; consequently the layer
of blubber, which acts as a non-conductor and prevents the heat of the
animal’s body from being absorbed by the water, has been developed. It
is from this that the whale oil of commerce is boiled or tried out. The
blubber may be easily peeled off the body in strips called “blanket
pieces,” which are cut into blocks and after being sliced are put into
the trying out kettles.


  The folds on the throat of a finback whale. Probably the folds are an
    adaptation to increase the mouth capacity and to give greater power
    of expansion to the lungs.

When one of these great pieces of blubber is being torn off a whale’s
body it sometimes gives way and springs back with tremendous force. At
the Oshima station in Japan, my cook who had one day been pressed into
service when several whales were waiting to be cut in was struck fairly
upon the head by a blanket piece and instantly killed; his skull was
crushed as though it had been paper and his neck, shoulder, and arm
broken. At Aikawa a blubber strip gave way when half the carcass of a
humpback was suspended in the air, letting the weight of some fifteen or
twenty tons fall upon a cutter standing below; when taken from beneath
the whale the poor fellow could hardly be recognized as a human being.

Kyuquot had trouble, also, when a blanket piece struck a flenser’s
knife, driving it into his side and injuring him badly. And yet it is
surprising what tremendous strength and tenacity the fibrous blubber
has. A few inches of it will resist the strain of several thousand
pounds, and I have seen a whale drag a ship through the water for half
an hour with only two harpoon prongs caught under the blubber of the

When a female whale is pregnant the blubber is much thicker and softer
than at other times and yields a greater supply of oil; from other
causes it may also be very thin, and become hard and dry. The blubber
varies in color and may be light yellow, deep pink, or almost white. It
is thinnest upon the sides, throat, and breast, and thickest on the
“neck” just behind the blowholes, at the dorsal fin, and from that point
along the ridge of the back, or “caudal peduncle,” almost to the flukes.
On the sides an average thickness in the fin whales is six inches, but
just behind the dorsal fin it may reach twelve or fourteen inches.

Since cetaceans live in the water where they do not touch rough surfaces
their skins are very soft and smooth; the skin is about half an inch
thick and may be separated from the blubber only with difficulty. It is
composed of one or more thin outer sheets (epidermis) which may be
easily stripped off, leaving exposed the tender under layer (dermis).
The skin is perfectly dry and does not possess either the oil
(sebaceous) or sweat (sudoriferous) glands usually present in the skins
of land mammals. Because of the development of blubber, and the absence
of functional hair, such glands are no longer necessary. The skins of
some cetaceans, notably the white whale, or beluga, and the bottlenose
porpoise are made into leather and furnish the “porpoise hide” of
commerce, but that of other porpoises or whales has not been put to
extensive commercial use.


  A cross section of the folds on the breast of a humpback whale. The
    upper thin black margin is the skin, then comes the thick white
    blubber below which is the red flesh.

I have often read of ships being followed for days by whales but have no
first-hand information of such occurrences. Scammon, however, remarks
that he has “observed them following in a vessel’s wake for several
leagues,” and gives an extract from the journal of Dr. J. D. B. Stillman
of San Francisco, in 1850, concerning a blue whale, or “sulphur-bottom,”
as it is sometimes called, which followed the ship Plymouth for
twenty-four consecutive days. The account is so interesting that I quote
it in full:


  The eye and ear of a blue whale. The eye is just above the corner of
    the mouth and the ear is the small spot about four feet behind it.
    The ear canal is just large enough to admit a small pencil, but
    because water is such a good medium for carrying sound, whales hear

  November 13th: We are witnesses of a very remarkable exhibition of the
  social disposition of the whale. A week ago today we passed several,
  and during the afternoon it was discovered that one of them continued
  to follow us, and was becoming more familiar, keeping under the ship
  and only coming out to breathe. A great deal of uneasiness was felt,
  lest in his careless gambols he might unship our rudder, or do us some
  other damage.

  It was said that bilge-water would drive him off, and the pumps were
  started, but to no purpose. At length more violent means were resorted
  to; volley after volley of rifle shots were fired into him, billets of
  wood, bottles, etc., were thrown upon his head with such force as to
  separate the integument; to all of which he paid not the slightest
  attention, and he still continued to swim under us, keeping our exact
  rate of speed, whether in calm or storm, and rising to blow almost
  into the cabin windows.

  He seems determined to stay with us until he can find better company.
  His length is about eighty feet; his tail measures about twelve feet
  across; and in the calm, as we look down into the transparent water,
  we see him in all his huge proportions.

  November 29th: The bark _Kirkwood_ hove in sight, and bore down to
  speak to us. When off a mile or two to leeward, our whale left us and
  went to her, but returned soon after. He showed great restlessness
  last night; and today, whenever we stood off on the outward tack, he
  kept close below us, and rose just under our quarter, and most
  commonly to windward, to blow. But whenever we stood toward the land
  he invariably hung back and showed discontent. This afternoon he left

  It is now twenty-four days since he attached himself to us, and during
  that time he has followed us as faithfully as a dog an emigrant’s
  wagon. At first we abused him in every way that our ingenuity could
  devise to drive him off, lest he might do us some mischief; but save
  some scratches he received from our ship’s coppering and numerous
  sloughing sores, caused by the balls that had been fired into him, no
  damage was received by either of us by his close companionship, though
  our white paint was badly stained by the impurity of his breath.

  We long since ceased our efforts to annoy him, and had become attached
  to him as to a dog. We had named him “Blowhard,” and even fancied, as
  we called him, that his came closer under our quarter, when I felt
  like patting his glabrous sides, and saying: “Good old fellow.”

  As the water grew shoaler he left us, with regret unfeigned on our
  part, and apparently so on his. This story of the whale is so
  remarkable, that were there not so many witnesses, I would not venture
  to tell it, lest I be accused of exaggeration. There were a number of
  experienced whalemen among our passengers, who said the animal was a

Footnote 6:

  (_l. c._, p. 71, note.)


  The skull of an eighty-foot blue whale, the skeleton of which was sent
    to the American Museum of Natural History from Japan. When crated
    for shipment the skull had a space measurement of twenty-one tons.

                              CHAPTER XIII
                        THE GREYHOUND OF THE SEA

The finback whale is the greyhound of the sea, and well deserves the
name, for its beautiful, slender body is built like a racing yacht and
the animal can surpass the speed of the fastest ocean steamship.

It is a hard whale to kill and trouble can always be expected if the
iron strikes too far back. The first one I ever hunted gave us a four
hours’ fight, with two harpoons in its body, and furnished abundant
proof of what a truly magnificent creature the finback is.

It was while I was with Captain Charles Grahame on the _Tyee_ in Alaska.
We had had an exciting experience with a humpback whale which rose under
the ship (described in Chapter III), and after killing it had steamed
toward several finbacks which were spouting far away near the coast. The
huge brutes were feeding and lying on the surface rolling from side to
side, thrusting their fins and flukes into the air. I could see, with
the glass, that always when taking a mouthful of shrimps they turned on
their sides, letting the great under jaws close over the upper, the
water spurting out in streams from between the plates of baleen.


  “The finback whale is the greyhound of the sea ... for its beautiful
    slender body is built like a racing yacht and the animal can surpass
    the speed of the fastest ocean steamship.”

As the vessel neared the whales the signal was sounded for half speed,
and quietly she slid through the water toward two big finbacks which
were leisurely swimming along close together. Intent on the feed which
floated in patches at the surface and stained the water a light pink,
the whales paid not the slightest attention to the steamer which was
creeping so slowly and quietly near them. They went down in front of the
bow, just out of range, but without arching their backs, showing that
the dive would be a short one; and so it proved, for they reappeared
only ten fathoms away on the port bow.


  “I was standing on the bridge with the camera focused and pressed the
    button as they rose to the surface.”

I was standing on the bridge with the camera focused and pressed the
button as they rose to the surface. An instant later came the crash of
the harpoon-gun and the nearest whale, throwing its flukes and half its
body out of the water, turned head down in a long dive.

“You got him,” yelled the Captain, and it was evident that Sorenson had
hit, for the heavy rope was running out at a tremendous rate. Fifty,
seventy-five, one hundred fathoms were taken almost before we knew it.
The man at the winch tried to check the hissing line but the brake could
not hold. Half a mile of cable was gone before the rush ended and the
Captain rang for half speed astern. When the whale felt the heavy drag
of the vessel he stopped and sounded, sulked on the bottom for nearly
half an hour, and finally reappeared in front of the boat, about three
hundred fathoms away, blowing strongly.

The steamer was sent astern at half speed and the line held by the
winch. The steady, relentless pull was too much for even his wonderful
strength, and slowly we neared the whale. Back and forth he dived across
our bows, tugging at the line and sometimes gaining a few fathoms from
the grinding wheels. At last he rose directly in front of the ship and
Sorenson sent a second harpoon crashing into his side.

Stung to renewed efforts by the biting steel, the whale dove at right
angles to the vessel’s course, keeling the boat far over to port. I was
standing on the wing of the bridge waiting to get a picture when the
Captain shouted:


  “An instant later came the crash of the harpoon-gun and the nearest
    whale, throwing its flukes and half its body out of the water,
    turned head down in a long dive.” The cloud of smoke, the rope and
    wads from the gun are shown; the harpoon has buried itself in the

“Quick! Give me a hand, sir, or he’ll cut the line on our bow!”

I dropped my camera and jumped to the wheel which the Captain was
whirling frantically to port. Bracing ourselves, we held it hard over
and the vessel responded almost instantly, relieving the strain on the
rope, which was sawing back and forth across the bow.


  The finback whale reaches a length of about seventy-five feet. The
    left side of the throat is dark slate while the right side is pure

The whale now began a series of dashes and deep sounds which dragged the
lines from the winch in spite of both brakes and kept the little vessel
dodging from side to side to avoid his blind rushes. For an hour and a
half the magnificent animal carried on the fight, although slowly
becoming weaker and weaker from exhaustion and the loss of blood.
Finally he lay almost motionless on the surface about fifty fathoms
away, blowing frequently, great patches of blood staining the foam about
his beautiful gray body.

After waiting fifteen or twenty minutes the Captain ordered a boat
lowered and Sorenson, with two sailors, rowed out to finish the whale
with the long killing lance. I had climbed to the barrel at the
masthead, glass and camera slung at my side, and was watching the little
pram as it neared the dying finback. After circling around the animal
the boat was slowly backed toward it, the Gunner standing erect in the
stern with lance ready, awaiting his opportunity. Suddenly he leaned
forward and thrust the steel with all his strength deep into the whale’s
side. At the same instant the boat was pulled away, and the beast sank
in a mass of red foam. A few seconds later he reappeared, sending from
the blowhole a thin stream of blood which floated off on the wind.

Again and again Sorenson lanced him, each time remaining a little longer
and jabbing the lance deeper into his body. At last the gallant animal
threw his fin into the air, rolled on his side, and sank, the taut lines
proclaiming that the fight was ended.

I had hardly climbed down the rope ladder to the deck when Sorenson’s
face, flecked with blood and streaming with perspiration, appeared over
the side. Laying the long lance on deck, he said:


  “I had climbed to the barrel at the masthead ... and was watching the
    little pram as it neared the dying finback. After circling around
    the animal the boat was slowly backed toward it, the Gunner standing
    erect in the stern with lance ready, awaiting his opportunity.
    Suddenly he leaned forward and thrust the steel with all his
    strength deep into the whale’s side.”

“That was the toughest whale I ever killed. Not many fight like that.”

I was surprised to find, on looking at my watch, that it was already
nine o’clock, the struggle having lasted nearly four hours. The
excitement of the day had been intense and I was too tired to remain on
deck while the big finback was made fast to the bow, and the floating
whale picked up. Saying good night to Captain Grahame, I went below,
climbed into the narrow bunk in the little cabin, and was asleep even
before the noise above had ceased.


  Marked with a flag and left to float until the end of the day’s hunt.

The night was anything but a dreamless one to me and in the morning when
I heard the sudden roar of the harpoon-gun and felt the vessel tremble
under the shock I started up hardly knowing whether I was awake or not.
But the rattling winch and the thumping of the line made certain that it
was no dream.


  The whale is made fast to the bow by a heavy chain and the ship starts
    on the long tow to the station.

Catching up camera and plate holders, I scrambled through the
companionway, forgetting in my haste that I was without coat or shoes.
Sure enough, we were fast to a humpback which was visible about one
hundred fathoms away, swimming high out of water and blowing frequently.
When I reached the bridge, the Mate, who was at the wheel, said:

“Yes, he came up suddenly right under the bow; but you’ll have plenty of
chances today if the wind keeps down. Look at those birds; there must be
lots of feed.”

I was shivering in the raw morning air and ran back to the cabin to get
into a coat and shoes. I found Captain Grahame about to come on deck. He
laughed when he saw my scanty dress, saying:

“You camera fellows would rather run the risk of catching your death of
cold than miss a picture, wouldn’t you!”

I assured him, through chattering teeth, that pneumonia had no terrors
when whales were in sight, but made haste to pull on my heavy varsity
sweater and high boots. Sorenson was leisurely reloading the gun when I
went forward and the humpback, blowing every few seconds, could be seen
far ahead.

When the bomb had been filled with powder and the fuse string adjusted,
the Engineer started the winch and the line was reeled slowly in. The
animal resisted in a half-hearted way at first, but soon gave up and was
drawn close to the ship. I stood just back of the harpoon platform, with
camera focused, waiting to see Sorenson whirl the gun about for the
second shot, but instead of doing so he called for the lance and made
ready to kill the whale from the bow.

Leaning far out over the side, the Gunner watched his opportunity and
plunged the slender rod of steel deep into the lungs, stabbing again and
again with all his strength. The animal gave a hoarse, coughing blow and
tried to dive, the blood welling in great red bubbles from his spout
holes. It was a pitiful sight as the poor brute fought gamely for life
with the odds all against him, and I turned away with a sigh of relief
when he rolled over and sank to the bottom.

While the whale was being lifted to the surface and inflated, I
breakfasted with the Captain in the little galley, doing justice to
Billy’s excellent porridge and coffee. In half an hour we went to the
bridge to relieve the mate, and found the vessel headed to the eastward
where a number of spouts were just visible far over toward the shore.
With the glasses we could see that they were finbacks, and the thin
columns of vapor shooting up every few seconds indicated that the
animals must be feeding.

The success of the morning and the prospects of a good day’s hunting had
put every man on board in the best of humor. Captain Grahame paced back
and forth beside me, telling of his experiences while cruising in
Australian waters and describing wild nights at sea as only a deep-water
sailor can, meanwhile watching the whales ahead.

In half an hour we were near them, and the vessel was swung toward two
finbacks which were separated from the rest of the school and were
swimming side by side. As they dived we could see that one was very
small, a calf; the larger was probably its mother.

The engines were at dead slow and the little steamer slipped quietly
through the water in a long circle about the “slick” where the whales
went down. In a low voice Captain Grahame called to the Gunner, telling
him to shoot the big one first, and at almost the same instant I saw the
telltale patch of smooth water just in front of the bow.


  “Sorenson hesitated, swung the gun a little to one side and fired. The
    great cloud of smoke blown backward in our faces shut out the water
    ahead, but in a few moments it lifted and I was surprised to see the
    whale lying on its side at the surface, apparently dead.”


  Bringing in a finback. The harpoon rope is being cut from the iron in
    the whale.

I shouted to Sorenson and jumped to the starboard side where, by leaning
far out, I could see the swirling green spot in the mirror of my camera.
With a rush the mother whale came to the surface, followed a second
later by her calf. Sorenson hesitated, swung the gun a little to one
side and fired. The great cloud of smoke blown backward in our faces
shut out the water ahead, but in a few moments it lifted and I was
surprised to see the whale lying on its side at the surface, apparently
dead. It was the first time I had ever seen a finback float, although I
had been told that occasionally they did not sink when killed.

While the animal was being secured and the air pump started, I climbed
to the barrel to watch the movements of the calf. The little fellow
refused to leave his dead mother and circled around and around the boat
within easy gunshot. Although he was swimming low in the water, showing
only a small part of his back above the surface, I exposed a plate each
time he came near, until the stock of negatives had been exhausted.


  A finback lying in the water at Aikawa just before it is “cut in.”

In a short time Sorenson had the gun reloaded and stood ready for a shot
at the calf when next he came within range. From the masthead I could
look far down into the clear water and once saw the little finback
rising almost under the vessel. I shouted a warning to the men below and
as he reached the surface the harpoon crashed into his side, going
almost through him.


  Drawing up a finback at Aikawa, Japan.

When I had descended to the deck and stood beside Captain Grahame on the
bridge his face was beaming with smiles. Pulling out his watch, he said:

“It’s only ten o’clock and I think we will tow these three in. The rest
of the bunch are scattered now, but maybe they will come together this
afternoon, and we can get back in time for the evening hunting.”

In half an hour all the whales had been made fast to the bow and the
engines were throbbing monotonously as the sturdy little vessel plowed
her way through the water toward the station, leaving a long black trail
across the blue sky behind.

                              CHAPTER XIV
                        SHIPS ATTACKED BY WHALES

After I left Alaska the Tyee Company put into service a wooden whale
ship called the _Sorenson_, which in 1910 was sunk by a finback. The
animal had been struck by one iron and, suddenly going into its death
flurry, began charging madly in every direction.


  The long slender body of a finback lying on its side; the outer edges
    of the whalebone plates in the mouth are well shown.

In one of its wild dashes the sixty-ton whale, coming at a speed of
probably twenty-five knots per hour, drove straight into the ship,
crushing her side like an eggshell and tearing her almost apart. The
vessel filled so rapidly that the crew were hardly able to get a small
boat over before she went down. Later the men were all rescued.

J. G. Millais, Esq., says of the finback:

  Space will not allow me to give any of the numerous stories of the
  exciting hunts to which one listens in the galley and the cabin of the
  Atlantic Finwhalers, but they prove that the chase of this great Whale
  calls for the sternest courage and readiest resource.

  To stand up in a tiny “pram” amidst a whirl of waters and lance a
  fighting Finback is no child’s play, and requires that six o’clock in
  the morning pluck that the Norsemen possess in a high degree. Many
  accidents have occurred to the boat crews when engaged in “lancing,”
  and one or two to the steamers themselves.

  The whaler _Gracia_, belonging to Vadso, was sunk by a Finner in 1894
  in the Varanger Fjord. In 1896 the _Jarfjord_ was sunk in ten minutes
  by one of these Whales charging it, when about sixty miles north of
  the North Cape. A heavy sea was running at the time, and the crew
  crowded into two small prams, which would probably have been
  overwhelmed had not Captain Castberg, hunting in another steamer, come
  to their rescue.[7]

Footnote 7:

  “The Mammals of Great Britain and Ireland.” By J. G. Millais.
  Longmans, Green, & Co., p. 271.

Without doubt practically all ships which have been injured or sunk by
whales have been struck by accident. Just before a whale dies it goes
into what is called the death flurry and dashes wildly about in every
direction. If a ship or boat happens to be near it stands an excellent
chance of being rammed, for the animal is utterly blind in its rushes.

The sperm is an exception to the rule of purely accidental attacks,
however, for there are many well authenticated instances of whales of
this species, while only slightly wounded and not in the death flurry,
deliberately sinking boats and even three-hundred- or four-hundred-ton


  The spout of a finback whale. The column of vapor rises to a height of
    about twenty feet.

Almost every deep-sea whaleman has stories to tell of “rogue” sperms,
which are usually old bulls that have sought a solitary life either from
choice or ostracism from the main herd. Such animals are often vicious
and sometimes turn furiously upon the boats when struck with an iron.

The “devilfish,” or California gray whale, had a bad reputation among
the whalers of fifty years ago, for when attacked upon its breeding
grounds it is said to have fought fiercely for the protection of its
young. Under such circumstances its actions would undoubtedly be very
different from what I have observed when gray whales were killed near
Korea, where we had no more trouble than with other species.

At sea it is often impossible to distinguish the blue and finback whales
by the way they blow. The columns of vapor are much alike under ordinary
circumstances, except that the spout of the blue whale is usually
somewhat higher than is the finback’s. However, much depends upon the
size of the animal, since a large finback will often blow as strongly as
a small blue whale. But if not far away the blue whale may be easily
known by the light gray-blue color of its body, for it contrasts
strongly with the dark slate upper parts of the finback which, when
dripping with water, often look almost purplish. The Norwegian name
_blahval_ was given to the greatest of all living creatures because of
the distinctly bluish color of its body. The Newfoundland and American
whalemen call the animal “sulphur-bottom,” a most inappropriate name,
for there is no suggestion of yellow on its body. The Japanese know it
as _shiro-nagasu_ (the white finback).

The diving movements of the two species are also similar except that in
rare instances a blue whale will draw out its flukes when sounding,
while a finback never does. Each one ascends obliquely, delivering the
spout as soon as its head appears at the surface, and each slowly
revolves, lifting its body high out of the water as it goes down. But
the finback is more regular in its movements when traveling than is its
larger relative. Then it will swim as straight as an arrow, not varying
a quarter of a point from its course, and blow at regular intervals.


  A finback whale “sounding” or taking the “big dive.”

The blue whale, even when not frightened, spouts very irregularly. Under
ordinary circumstances it will blow from eight to fifteen times at a
rising and always with a tremendous noise. The sound is a metallic,
whistling roar which can be heard at a distance of three or four miles
if there is a fog or the sea is calm. I always have a feeling of
admiration when watching either a blue or finback whale, for the
magnificent brutes move in a slow and dignified way as though conscious
that they are the largest and most imposing animals of ancient or modern


  When sounding the finback sinks lower and lower until the dorsal fin
    disappears; this is the last part of the body to leave the surface.
    This species never draws out the flukes as do the humpback, sperm
    and right whales.

As a supplement to my own experiences while hunting finbacks in Alaska,
I have taken the liberty of quoting a portion of J. G. Millais’
description of killing a whale of this species off the Shetland coast,
for it shows most admirably what real excitement one can have even in
modern whaling:

  At 7:30 it was bitterly cold, when Captain Stokken again stood beside
  the gun, and we were in full pursuit of a large female Finback that
  seemed tamer than the rest. Eventually, in its final “roll,” the Whale
  raised itself about ten yards from the gun, and the whaler tipping the
  muzzle downwards, fired and struck the quarry under the backbone.

  At first the Finback was rather quiet, and then it began to run, the
  strong line rushing out at a speed of about fifteen knots. When some
  two miles of rope had gone over the bow I turned to Captain Stokken
  and said, “How much line have you got?”

  “About three mile,” was the curt reply.

  “But when that three mile goes, what then?”

  “Oh, well,” was the imperturbable answer, “then I check line, and we
  see which is strongest, Whale or rope. Perhaps harpoon draws out.”

  In the course of a minute the Captain gave the order to check the
  line. The strain now became terrific, the two-inch rope straining and
  groaning as if it would burst. At the same moment the little steamer
  leaped forward and raced over the seas at about twelve miles an hour.
  There was a feeling of intense exhilaration as we rushed northwards,
  the spray flying from our bows as the ship leaped from crest to crest
  in the heavy swell.

  I have enjoyed the rushes of gallant thirty- and even forty-pound
  salmon in heavy water on the Tay—the supreme moments in an angler’s
  life—but that was mere child’s play to the intense excitement which we
  experienced during the next three hours. To be in tow of a wild Whale
  is something to remember to one’s dying day. You feel that you are
  alive and that you are there with the sport of kings. No wonder the
  Norwegians are full of life; the men, from the captain to the cook,
  run to their several tasks with eyes and hearts aflame. This is a
  calling which will stir the blood of the dullest clod, and to men who
  are one and all the finest seamen in the world is the very life and
  essence of the Viking nature.

  Three hours of this fierce race went on, and the Whale seemed as if it
  would take us to Iceland. The gallant Finback was as fresh as ever
  when the captain gave the order, “Quarter speed astern.” With a
  tremendous strain on the rope and the churning of the backward driving
  screw our speed was at once reduced to ten knots. It was marvelous,
  the strength of that animal. The minutes and even the hours fled by,
  still the great Cetacean held on its northward course without a check.

  Three hours passed; then came the order “Half speed astern,” and we
  were down to six knots, the vessel and the Whale still fighting the
  battle for the mastery.

  In another hour the Whale showed visible signs of weakening when “Full
  speed astern” brought matters to a standstill. The machinery of man
  and the natural strength of the beast still worried on for another
  hour, and then we saw the steamer moving backwards, the Whale was
  done, and could pull no more.[8]

Footnote 8:

  “The Mammals of Great Britain and Ireland.” By J. G. Millais.
  Longmans, Green, & Co., pp. 272–273.


  A finback taking an “intermediate” or “surface” dive.

Although the blue and finback whales of the Atlantic and Pacific have
been given different names, yet there is little doubt but that each is
represented in all oceans by a single cosmopolitan species.

Apparently no definite barriers exist to curtail the wanderings of the
fin whales (_Balænopterinæ_), for they seem to be indifferent alike to
tropic or Arctic temperatures and travel where they will. Probably the
presence or absence of the little shrimp which forms their food is one
of the greatest determining factors of their movements.

In most oceans whales live under very similar conditions and naturalists
are gradually coming to recognize that the laws of geographical
separation which hold universally good for land mammals are not equally
true in the case of cetaceans. In other words, if any group of land
mammals is separated from others of its kind by impassable barriers such
as water, mountains, deserts, etc., it will gradually develop changes in
structure or external appearance due to differences of climate, food, or
other conditions of environment.

But this is not true of the fin whales for the conditions under which
they live in the North Pacific are very similar to those in the North
Atlantic; consequently, even if the animals of the two oceans never
mingled, they could probably continue to reproduce themselves without
material change for an almost indefinite period. But there is strong
evidence to show that all the fin whales do travel from one ocean to
another by way of Capes Horn and Good Hope and, since the tropic waters
of the Equator are not an effective barrier, wander from the borders of
the Antarctic far up into the North Pacific and Atlantic, or vice versa.

The sperm whale is also a cosmopolitan wanderer, but the right whales
apparently do not cross the Equator which, as Lieutenant Maury remarks,
acts to them like a “belt of fire.” The bowhead is found only in the
Arctic regions.


  The upper jaw of a finback whale, showing the bristles on the inner
    edges of the baleen plates.

Strangely enough, if whales are driven away from inland waters they
seldom return, and others will not take the places of those which have
been killed. This has been demonstrated on the American west coast to
the considerable financial loss of both the Tyee Company of Alaska and
the (former) Pacific Whaling Company of Victoria, British Columbia.

The Tyee Company erected a station on the southern end of Admiralty
Island, sixty miles from the open sea, and although when operations were
first begun finback and humpback whales were there in hundreds, they
were soon all killed and the vessels had to hunt “outside.”

The Pacific Whaling Company spent many thousands of dollars building a
station at Nannaimo, on the east coast of Vancouver Island, expecting to
capture a sufficient number of whales in the bay and straits to supply
their factory. Their hopes were not realized, however, for after two or
three seasons’ work there were no more whales to kill and the station
had to be moved near the open sea.

It seems to be true that in all parts of the world the blue and humpback
whales first leave the feeding grounds and that the finback and sei
whales will remain longer than any other, even when persistently hunted.

                               CHAPTER XV

Half a century ago, on the Pacific coast of America, each year a whale
appeared as regularly as the season itself; first in December, traveling
steadily southward to the warm California lagoons, and again in May
heading northward for the ice-filled waters of the Arctic Ocean. It came
close inshore, nosing about among the tentacle-like ropes of kelp and
sometimes wallowing in the surf which broke among the rocks.

The Siwash Indians along the coast awaited the coming of this whale with
the same eagerness with which the Egyptians hail the rising of the Nile,
for to them it meant a time of feasting and of “potlatch.” In their
frail dug-out canoes they hung about the kelp fields, sending harpoon
after harpoon into its great gray body as the animal rose to breathe,
until it finally turned belly up and sank. It was a matter of only a day
or so then before the barnacle-studded carcass, distended with the gases
of decomposition, floated to the surface and was towed to the beach by
the watchful natives.

As the years went by, however, the whales became more wary, fewer and
fewer coming into the kelp fields, until finally they ceased altogether
and passed up and down the coast on their annual migrations far out at
sea where they were safe from the deadly harpoons of the hunters.

But the whales, for all their astuteness, were not free from
persecution. During the winter, when they came into the shallow water of
the California lagoons to bring forth their young, the American whaling
ships came also, and the animals, held by mother love, were killed by

However, they were not always slaughtered without making a fight to save
their babies, and because they frequently wrecked the boats and killed
the crews they gained the title of “devilfish,” and as such are
generally known throughout the Pacific rather than by the more formal
name of California gray whale, which was bestowed upon them in 1868 by
Professor Cope.

The American fishery did not last long for continual slaughter on their
breeding grounds soon so depleted the numbers of the gray whales that
the hunt was no longer profitable, and the shore stations which had been
established at various points along the coast finally ceased operations
altogether. For over twenty years the species had been lost to science
and naturalists believed it to be extinct.

In 1910, while in Japan, I learned from the whaling company of the
existence of an animal known as the _koku kujira_, or “devilfish,” which
formed the basis of their winter fishery upon the southeastern coast of


  The side view of a model of a gray whale in the American Museum of
    Natural History prepared under the direction of the author from
    studies made in Korea.


  A ventral view of the gray whale model. Note the three furrows in the

The descriptions indicated that the _koku kujira_ would prove to be none
other than the lost California gray whale, and I determined to
investigate it at the earliest opportunity. Consequently during the
winter of 1911–12, I returned to the Orient and spent the months of
January and February at the station of the Toyo Hogei Kaisha at Ulsan, a
small village on the southeastern coast of Korea.


  The whaling station at Ulsan, Korea.

I shall never forget my introduction to Korea by way of the Japan Sea.
We left Hakata on the night of January 4, in a little transport
chartered by the whaling company to carry meat and blubber to the
markets. The vessel had a tiny, very dirty cabin aft, just large enough
for three persons, into which five Japanese and myself were packed. It
was bitterly cold outside and such a tremendous sea was running that the
cabin deck was flooded every few moments, keeping us wet to the skin.
After a twenty-three-hour trip, late in the afternoon we ran up the bay
which cuts deeply into the peninsula of Korea forty miles north of


  “At the port bow hung the dark flukes of a whale, the sight of which
    made me breathe hard with excitement.”

As we pulled up to the long wharf at the whaling station I could see
numbers of white-robed figures running about like goats on the hills
behind the houses or standing in limp, silent groups gazing in my
direction. The audience, however, regarded me with no greater curiosity
than I looked at them, for the Korean is at all times peculiar in
appearance and especially so when in full dress.

He wears a long white coat with flaring skirts, enormous baggy trousers
gathered at the ankle with a green or purple band, and atop his head is
perched a ridiculous little hat made of horsehair with a sugar-loaf
crown and a straight brim. The hat must be tied under his chin to keep
it in place, but at times it slips over one ear and gives its wearer a
singular resemblance to “Happy Hooligan.” His hair is gathered in a knot
on the top of his head, and the few straggling wisps of mustache or
beard which he manages to grow are as carefully tended as a rare flower.
He is never seen without his long-stemmed pipe, and a tobacco pouch
always dangles at his belt.

The natives of Ulsan appeared to derive never ending amusement from me
and my work. They were living an utterly lazy, aimless life and although
they never seemed to know where the next meal was coming from they
looked content and well enough fed. Numbers were always hanging about
the station waiting to pick up any scraps of whale meat left by the
cutters, and all day long the children, each with a little basket, poked
about among the cracks in the wharf, now and then gleaning a handful of
flesh and blubber, which would help to keep life within their bodies.

After I had secured the skeleton of a gray whale and had piled the
bones, partially cleaned, in the station yard, the Koreans descended
upon them like a flock of vultures. With a knife or a bit of stone they
scraped each bone, cleaning it of every ounce of meat. At first this
seemed to me a splendid arrangement, but suddenly I discovered that some
of the smaller bones themselves were disappearing and realized that my
skeleton was slowly but surely being boiled for soup.


  Cutting in a gray whale. The head is lying on the wharf and two
    Koreans are standing beside it. They wear long white coats, enormous
    baggy trousers and a horsehair hat.

It did not take long to issue an edict against all Koreans in reference
to my whale, but the matter did not end there. The pile of toothsome
bones was too great a temptation and whenever I happened to be out of
sight some white-gowned native was sure to steal up and leave with a
bone under his coat.

I finally discovered a very effective, and I think highly original, way
to stop the stealing. In my equipment there was a 22-caliber rifle and
several hundred B. B. caps, the bullets from which would just about
penetrate the thick, wadded trousers of a Korean.


  “When the winch began slowly to lift the huge black body out of the
    water, a very short examination told me that the _koku kujira_
    really was the long-lost gray whale.”

I made a hole in the _shojo_, the paper screen of the Japanese house
where I was living, and sat down to watch. In a short time a Korean
stole up to the pile of bones and bent over to pick out one which he
could carry. I drew a fine bead on the lower portion of his anatomy and
when the rifle cracked the native made a jump which would have brought
him fame and fortune could it have been duplicated at the New York
Hippodrome. It is hardly necessary to say that he dropped the bone. In a
very short time every Korean in the village knew that a visit to that
skeleton generally entailed difficulty in sitting down for several days
afterward and the whale was left unmolested.

On the day of my arrival at Ulsan the four whaling ships which hunted
from the station were all lying in the harbor, for the gale had made
cruising outside impossible. As soon as we landed I met my friend,
Captain H. G. Melsom of the _S. S. Main_, one of the best gunners who
has ever hunted in the East. Captain Melsom was the first man to learn
how to take the devilfish in Korean waters, because for many years the
habit of the animals of keeping close inshore among the rocks baffled
the whalers. He learned how to trick the clever whales and hang about
just outside the breakers ready for a shot when they rose to blow. From
Captain Melsom I learned much of the devilfish lore and many evenings on
his ship, the _Main_, did I listen to his stories of whales and their

I shall never forget the intense interest with which I waited for my
first sight of a gray whale. On the next day after my arrival at Ulsan I
had started across the bay in a sampan to have a look at the village
with Mr. Matsumoto, the station paymaster. We had hardly left the shore,
when the siren whistle of a whale ship sounded far down the bay and soon
the vessel swept around the point into view. At the port bow hung the
dark flukes of a whale, the sight of which made me breathe hard with
excitement, for one of two things must happen—either I was to find that
here was an entirely new species, or else was to rediscover one which
had been lost to science for thirty years. Either prospect was alluring
enough and as the vessel slowly swung in toward the wharf and a pair of
great flukes, the like of which I had never seen before, waved in front
of me, I realized that here at last was what I had come half around the
world to see.

When the winch began slowly to lift the huge black body out of the
water, a very short examination told me that the _koku kujira_ really
was the long-lost gray whale and not a species new to science. But it
was not the gray whale of Scammon’s description, for this white-circled,
gray-washed body was very little like the figure he had published in his
book, “The Marine Mammalia.”

Many new things were learned during the succeeding months of studying
this strange animal, but chief among them were the facts that the gray
whale differs so strongly from all others that it must be placed in a
family of its own; also that it is the most primitive of all existing
large cetaceans and is virtually a _living fossil_.

                              CHAPTER XVI

The gray whales, as well as other large cetaceans, have only two
enemies—man and one of their own kind, the orca or killer whale.
Although twice the size of the killers and correspondingly strong, when
one of the orcas appears the devilfish become terrified and either
wildly dash for shore or turn belly up at the surface, with fins
outspread, paralyzed by fright.

A few days after my arrival at Ulsan, three gray whales were brought to
the station, one of which had half the tongue torn away; teeth marks
clearly showed in the remaining portion and Captain Hurum, who had
killed the animals, told me that it was the work of killers.

There were seven gray whales in the school, he said, and shortly after
he began to hunt them fifteen killers appeared. The whales became
terrified at once and he had no difficulty in killing three of the
seven. When the orcas gathered the whales turned belly up and made not
the slightest attempt to get away. A killer would put its snout against
the closed lips of the devilfish and endeavor to force the mouth open
and its own head inside. This extraordinary method of attack was
corroborated by Captain Johnson, who had been hunting the same school of
gray whales, and, moreover, by all the whalemen at the station, who had
witnessed it upon many other occasions.


  Cutting through the body of a gray whale. The thick layer of blubber
    surrounding the red meat is well shown.

Of thirty-five gray whales which I examined especially, seven had the
tongues eaten to a greater or less extent and one had several large,
semicircular bites in the left lower lip. The killers do not confine
their attention entirely to the tongue for almost every whale which was
brought in had the tips and posterior edges of the fins and flukes more
or less torn; in several specimens fresh teeth marks were plainly
visible where the fin had been shredded as the whale drew it out of the
orca’s mouth.

Although none of the gray whales exhibited teeth marks on other parts of
the body, undoubtedly some of them are killed by the orcas. A female
killer which was brought in had several pieces of flesh in its stomach,
besides a strip of whalebone three inches long. I could not positively
identify the latter but believe it to have been from a small devilfish.
A male killer was taken at the same time by Captain Hurum, who told me
that in the animal’s death flurry it had thrown up two great chunks of

Captain Melsom brought a gray whale to the station one day and I found
that the tongue was almost gone. He said he had passed a school of
killers in the morning and later, after steaming about fifteen miles,
had killed the devilfish. A short time afterward, a long distance away,
he saw the fins of a school of killers which were coming at full speed
straight for the ship. They circled about the vessel and one of them
forced open the mouth of the dead whale to get at the tongue. Captain
Melsom fired at the killer with his Krag rifle and when struck the
animal lashed out with its flukes, smashing the ship’s rail, and then

As soon as orcas appear, if the gray whales are not paralyzed by fright,
they head for shore and slide in as close as possible to the beach where
sometimes the killers will not follow them. The devilfish will actually
get into such shallow water as to roll in the wash and will even try to
hide behind rocks. The orcas are not afraid of ships and will not leave
the whales they are chasing when the vessels arrive, thus giving much
assistance to the human hunters.


  The posterior part of a gray whale. Note the scalloped dorsal ridge of
    the peduncle and the white markings along the sides.

Captain Johnson, of the _Rex Maru_, brought to the station at Ulsan a
gray whale which had been shot in the breast between the fins. He had
first seen killers circling about the whale which was lying at the
surface, belly up, with the fins outspread. The animal was absolutely
paralyzed by fright. The vessel steamed up at half speed and Johnson
shot at once, the iron striking the whale squarely between the flippers.

The gray whales live in such constant terror that when porpoises are
playing about a single animal, as frequently happens, it will sometimes
become terrified and dash madly for the shore, thinking that the killers
have appeared.

I have never personally witnessed it, but the gunners tell me that a pod
of gray whales can be stampeded much like a herd of cattle. If three or
four ships are near each other when a school of devilfish are found,
they draw together, each vessel going at full speed, while the sailors
beat tin pans and make as much noise as possible. The whales at once
dive, but as soon as they rise to spout the vessels rush at them again.
The devilfish go down once more but do not stay under long, ascending at
shorter and shorter intervals until finally they are plowing along at
the surface.

The animals are “scared up,” as the gunners say, and become terrified to
such a degree that everything is forgotten except the desire to get
away—and even the means of doing that. It is not always possible to
stampede a herd, for often the whales will disappear at the first sound
and not rise again until a long distance away. If killers are about, it
is very easy for the ships to stampede a herd of gray whales.

Even if the devilfish do exhibit considerable stupidity when danger from
orcas threatens, at other times they are the cleverest and most tricky
of all large whales. One day Captain Melsom, on the _S. S. Main_, was
hunting a gray whale in a perfectly smooth sea. The animal had been down
for fifteen minutes when suddenly a slight sound was heard near the ship
and a thin cloud of vapor was seen floating upward from a patch of
ripples which might have been made by a duck leaving the surface. The
whale had exposed only the blowholes, spouted, refilled the lungs, and
again sunk, doing it almost noiselessly. The gunners assert that this is
quite a usual occurrence when a single gray whale is being hunted.

One of the most interesting things in the life history of the devilfish
is the annual migration which occurs as regularly as the seasons. In no
other large cetacean is there anything like the migrating instinct which
carries the gray whales from the icy waters of the north three thousand
miles to the south to seek the warm lagoons of California and Korea in
which to raise their young.

On both sides of the Pacific the migrations take place at almost the
same time. Along the Korean coast near the end of November single
pregnant females appear, traveling steadily southward; a little later
both males and females are seen; and finally only males bring up the
rear, all having passed by January 25th.

When going south almost every female is found to be carrying young
nearly ready for birth, and all are hurrying straight ahead as though
anxious to arrive at the breeding grounds as soon as possible. The
devilfish again pass Ulsan, Korea, on the northward trip, about the
middle of March, and by May 15 have disappeared.

A comparison of these observations and those made by Scammon on the
California coast show that the migration periods of both herds
correspond closely and that the breeding grounds are in very nearly the
same latitude.


  The flukes of a gray whale. The edge of the flukes of this species is
    very thick, but in most whales it is exceedingly thin.

As yet it is impossible to state whether or not the Korea or California
herds mingle in the north during the summer. Information gathered from
the whalers tends to show that a large part of the former school summers
in the Okhotsk Sea, and a large part of the latter in the Bering Sea and
farther north. Individuals of the two herds may mingle and interbreed
during their sojourn in the north, but it is probable that whales which
have been born near either the Korea or California coasts will find
mates among the members of their own herd during the southern migration,
and return annually to their birthplace. It is quite conceivable that
the case of the gray whale may be like that of the fur seal, where it
has been shown conclusively that members of the American and Japanese
herds do not mingle in the north although separated by comparatively few
miles of water.

Because of its regular migrations, the period of gestation of this
species can be more nearly determined than that of any other large
whale, and is about one year. Mating appears to take place in the south
during December or early January, and the calf is ready for delivery at
the same time the following winter; probably calves are born but once in
two years. The length of the gray whale calf at birth is between twelve
and seventeen feet and undoubtedly its size is much more than doubled
during the first year after birth.

The devilfish is a shore-loving species and on its annual migrations
always prefers to cruise along close to the beach. When unmolested it
swims about four or five miles an hour and cannot exceed nine miles even
when badly frightened and doing its best to get away.

At times the whales will go in so close to the shore that they are
actually rolling in the surf, and seem to enjoy being pounded by the
breakers. Scammon has observed the same habit in the California
specimens and says:


  A strip of blubber from the back of a gray whale with the short
    flipper at the end of it.

  About the shoals at the mouth of one of the lagoons, in 1860, we saw
  large numbers of the monsters. It was at the low stage of the tide,
  and the shoal places were plainly marked by the constantly foaming
  breakers. To our surprise we saw many of the whales going through the
  surf where the depth of water was barely sufficient to float them. We
  could discern in many places, by the white sand that came to the
  surface, that they must be near or touching the bottom.

  One in particular lay for half an hour in the breakers, playing, as
  seals often do in a heavy surf; turning from side to side with half
  extended fins, and moved apparently by the ground-swell which was
  breaking; at times making a playful spring with its bending flukes,
  throwing its body clear of the water, coming down with a heavy splash,
  then making two or three spouts, and again settling under water;
  perhaps the next moment its head would appear, and with the heavy
  swell the animal would roll over in a listless manner, to all
  appearances enjoying the sport intensely. We passed close to this
  sportive animal, and had only thirteen feet of water.[9]

Footnote 9:

  (_l. c._, p. 24.)

Often, when being hunted, the Korean whales would swim into water so
shallow that the ships could not follow, and remain there until the men
had given up the chase.

                              CHAPTER XVII
                     SOME HABITS OF THE GRAY WHALE

Although the stomachs of a great number of gray whales were carefully
examined, I could never discover what constitutes their food, and no one
else seems to have had better success. In every case the stomach was
more or less filled with dark green water in which the only solid
materials were bits of kelp, a little seaweed, and small masses of light
green gelatinous material.

The stomachs of two individuals contained a number of waterworn pebbles
and several small pieces of what appeared to be finely shredded flesh
still connected by its fibers; this certainly was not fish. It is
probable that the kelp, seaweed, and pebbles had been taken in with
other material and were not swallowed intentionally.

All the gunners assert that when the gray whales appear at Ulsan on
their migrations they are invariably traveling straight ahead and
apparently not stopping to feed. This information, combined with the
fact that little except water could be found in the stomachs, lends
strong support to the theory that when upon their annual migrations the
devilfish do not feed at all, and during the winter draw for nourishment
upon the fat of their thick blubber. This is true of the fur seal during
the breeding season, and of other water mammals. When the male fur seals
arrive upon the “rookeries” at the Pribilof Islands to await the coming
of the females, their bodies are covered with layer upon layer of fat.
During the following four months the bulls do not leave the land and
neither eat, drink nor sleep while they guard their harems, subsisting
upon the fat which has been stored up on their bodies. When the animals
leave in the fall to spend the winter at sea, they have become so thin
through their self-enforced fasting that they are mere skeletons of
their former well-fed selves.

Scammon says that in the spring the blubber of the devilfish is dry and
yields but comparatively little oil, as would be the case if the animals
had fasted during the winter. I have no personal information as to this
because in Korea these whales are not killed on their northward
migrations. So many other and more valuable species can be taken during
the spring that the devilfish are allowed to depart unmolested. If they
do feed while on their migrations, the food in their stomachs would
certainly have been discovered when the animals were cut in at the

The male devilfish at all times shows strong affection for the female,
and when a school of males, led by one or two females, is found, if one
of the latter is wounded, often the bulls refuse to leave until the cow
is dead.

Captain Melsom tells me that while hunting a pair of devilfish near
Ulsan he shot the female, and the male would not leave his dead consort,
keeping close alongside and pushing his head over her body. Later he
struck the male with a harpoon, but did not get fast, and even then it
returned and was finally killed.


  Captain Melsom about to lance a gray whale from the pram.

Scammon says that when attacked in the lagoons with their young the
devilfish would turn furiously upon the boats, and that almost every day
injuries to the crews were reported. He gives an interesting account of
two gray whales which, in February, 1856, were found aground in
Magdalena Bay:

  Each had a calf playing about, there being sufficient depth for the
  young ones, while the mothers were lying hard on the bottom. When
  attacked, the smaller of the two old whales lay motionless, and the
  boat approached near enough to “set” the hand lance into her “life,”
  dispatching the animal at a single dart. The other, when approached,
  would raise her head and flukes above the water, supporting herself on
  a small portion of the belly, turning easily and heading toward the
  boat, which made it very difficult to capture her.

  It appears to be their habit to get into the shallowest inland waters
  when their cubs are young. For this reason the whaling ships anchor at
  a considerable distance from where the crews go to hunt the animals,
  and several vessels are often in the same lagoon.[10]

Footnote 10:

  (_l. c._, p. 25.)

The whalemen in Korea, where the hunting is done from small steamships
by the Norwegian method, do not regard the animals as especially
dangerous. They seldom lance one from the pram, as is frequently done
with other whales, because the devilfish seem to be very sensitive to
pain and as soon as the iron penetrates the body the animal will raise
itself in the water, throwing its head from side to side and sometimes
lashing about with its flukes and flippers.

Probably if the gray whales were hunted on their breeding grounds about
the southern end of Korea, they would be found to be dangerous even to
the vessels themselves, but I doubt if more so than other species under
similar conditions.

Most whales are subject to diseases of various kinds and the devilfish
is no exception. One specimen was brought to the station at Ulsan with
all the flesh on the left side of the head badly decomposed and in some
places entirely gone, leaving the bone exposed; what remained hung in a
soft, green evil-smelling mass. The whale had evidently suffered
considerably from the disease, for it was very thin and the blubber was


  After the death stroke. The lance has penetrated the lungs and the
    whale is spouting blood.

A second specimen had a large swelling on the ventral ridge of the
peduncle, which, upon being opened, proved to be a large capsular tumor
about one foot in depth and of a like diameter. The skin upon the snout
of a third individual was drawn into small circular patches, leaving
large sections of the blubber exposed.

The entire body of the devilfish is thickly infested with “whale lice”
and barnacles. The former resembles a diminutive crab and by means of
the sharp claws on its feet fastens itself firmly on the soft skin of
the whale. Wherever there is an injury or abrasion of any sort,
quantities of these parasites cluster and breed.

On the snout and top of the head the skin is usually roughened, or
cornified, much like the “bonnet” of the right whale, this being caused
by the attacks of the whale lice. If one of these parasites is placed
upon the hand it begins slowly to raise the body upon the front legs,
driving its claws into the flesh, and in a short time will be firmly
fastened and can only be removed with difficulty. The whale lice are
crustaceans and have been named _Cyamus scammoni_ after Captain Charles
M. Scammon, who first discovered them upon the gray whales of

Besides whale lice the devilfish are the hosts of hard, shell-like
barnacles known as _Cryptolepas rhachianectei_. These imbed themselves
deeply on all parts of the body and sometimes are found in large
clusters. Whenever a barnacle becomes detached a circular, grayish pit
remains; this becomes white as the wound heals, and the scar is exactly
like that produced on the humpback by the barnacle _Coronula diadema_.
Without doubt these parasites cause the whale a great deal of annoyance
and the animals probably rub themselves against rocks in endeavors to
scrape them off.

The hairs on the devilfish are longer and are distributed more uniformly
over the entire head than in the case of any other whale. This is an
exceedingly interesting and important fact and, together with many other
anatomical characters, indicates that the gray whale is a very primitive
species which is more like its ancient, fossil ancestors than any other
existing large cetacean.

The presence of hairs upon whales and dolphins is evidence that when the
animals lived upon the earth, millions of years ago, they must have been
entirely covered with hair as are ordinary land mammals. The hair of
most whales is confined to the snout and chin but in the devilfish it is
distributed in irregular rows over the top and sides of the head.

The hair on cetaceans is in a degenerate condition and does not possess
at the base a gland (sebaceous) for the secretion of oily matter to
supply it with nourishment and lubrication as in land mammals. It seems
probable that the loss of hair in cetaceans is largely due to their
aquatic life, because the blubber performs the function of hair in
keeping the animals warm and an outer covering is no longer needed; also
most land mammals need hair to protect their tender skins from bruises
and abrasions but for a whale this is unnecessary.

The manatee, or sea cow, an entirely aquatic mammal, has lost nearly all
hair, and in the walrus it has become very much reduced; the latter
animal spends almost all its time in the water, coming out but
comparatively seldom to sleep upon the smooth ice; and in addition to
the blubber it has developed an exceedingly tough skin. It is true that
seals all possess blubber, and some an additional coat of thick soft
fur, but they are not as yet exclusively aquatic; although much of their
life is spent in the water, they still come upon the land for extended
periods during the breeding season and need hair for protection from the
rough rocks upon which they rest, rather than for warmth.

The blubber of the devilfish is thick and fat and varies in color from
red to flesh-pink. Because of this difference the Japanese recognize two
kinds of gray whale—the _aosaki_ (red blubber) and the _shirosaki_
(white blubber), but this is merely an individual difference and
certainly is not sufficient ground for specific distinction.

The Japanese consider the meat and blubber of the devilfish to be of
poorer quality for eating than that of any other baleen whale. In the
winter, during December and January when the price is at the highest,
the blubber sells for about 4 _sen_ (2 cents) per pound and the red meat
at 10 _sen_ (5 cents).

                             CHAPTER XVIII
                          THE WOLF OF THE SEA

Although the killer whale has no great commercial value, it is often
brought in at the shore stations and figures so prominently in all
deep-sea life that to omit it from any book on whaling would be a grave

The killer is the wolf of the sea and like the land wolves hunts in
packs of twenty or more individuals which will attack and devour almost
anything that swims. Every whaleman has stories to tell of the strength
and ferocity of these sea terrors, but I think that the incident
witnessed by Captain Robert F. Scott and published in the journal of his
last ill-fated expedition is one of the most remarkable experiences of
which I have ever known. It is so interesting that I have quoted it in

  Thursday, January.—All hands were up at 5 this morning and at work at
  6. Words cannot express the splendid way in which everyone works and
  gradually the work gets organized. I was a little late on the scene
  this morning, and thereby witnessed a most extraordinary scene.

  Some 6 or 7 killer whales, old and young, were skirting the fast floe
  edge ahead of the ship; they seemed excited and dived rapidly, almost
  touching the floe. As we watched, they suddenly appeared astern,
  raising their snouts out of water. I had heard weird stories of these
  beasts, but had never associated serious danger with them. Close to
  the water’s edge lay the wire and stern rope of the ship, and our two
  Esquimaux dogs were tethered to this.


  “The killer is the wolf of the sea and like the land wolves hunts in
    packs of twenty or more individuals which will attack and devour
    almost anything that swims.” This specimen, taken at Oshima, Japan,
    was twenty-six feet in length, and its skeleton was sent to the
    American Museum of Natural History.

  I did not think of connecting the movements of the whales with this
  fact, and seeing them so close I shouted to Ponting, who was standing
  abreast of the ship. He seized the camera and ran toward the floe edge
  to get a close picture of the beasts, which had momentarily
  disappeared. The next moment the whole floe under him and the dogs
  heaved up and split into fragments. One could hear the “booming” noise
  as the whales rose under the ice and struck it with their backs.


  A posterior view of a killer showing the high dorsal fin. In the male
    the dorsal is over six feet in height but in the female it is only
    four feet.

  Whale after whale rose under the ice, setting it rocking fiercely;
  luckily Ponting kept his feet and was able to fly to security. By an
  extraordinary chance also, the splits had been made around and between
  the dogs, so that neither of them fell into the water. Then it was
  clear that the whales shared our astonishment, for one after another
  their huge hideous heads shot vertically into the air through the
  cracks which they had made. As they reared them to a height of 6 or 8
  feet it was possible to see their tawny head markings, their small
  glistening eyes, and their terrible array of teeth—by far the largest
  and most terrifying in the world. There cannot be a doubt that they
  looked up to see what had happened to Ponting and the dogs.

  The latter were horribly frightened and strained to their chains
  whining; the head of one killer must certainly have been within 5 feet
  of one of the dogs.

  After this, whether they thought the game insignificant, or whether
  they missed Ponting is uncertain, but the terrifying creatures passed
  on to other hunting grounds, and we were able to rescue the dogs, and,
  what was even more important, our petrol—5 or 6 tons of which was
  waiting on a piece of ice which was not split away from the main mass.

  Of course, we have known well that killer whales continually skirt the
  edge of the floes and that they would undoubtedly snap up any one who
  was unfortunate enough to fall into the water; but the facts that they
  could display such deliberate cunning, that they were able to break
  ice of such thickness (at least 2½ feet), and that they could act in
  unison, were a revelation to us. It is clear that they are endowed
  with singular intelligence, and in future we shall treat that
  intelligence with every respect.[11]

Footnote 11:

  “Scott’s Last Expedition.” Arranged by Leonard Huxley. New York, 1913,
  Vol. I, pp. 65–66.

Dr. Charles H. Townsend, Director of the New York Aquarium, tells of an
interesting experience on the Pribilof Islands, which illustrates the
terror in which the killers are held by other water mammals. He was
collecting a number of the great Steller’s sea lions for the Smithsonian
Institution and was shooting the animals, which were on land, with a
repeating rifle.

The sea lions began rushing toward the water in terror when suddenly the
high dorsal fin of a killer whale appeared a few fathoms offshore. The
sea lions stopped short and could not be forced into the water,
preferring to face the unknown danger of the rifle rather than certain
death in the jaws of an enemy which from earliest babyhood they had been
taught to fear.

The killer belongs to the dolphin family, of which it is the largest
member, reaching a length of from twenty to thirty feet. These animals
are found in almost every ocean of the world and, although several
species have been described, probably there is but one, _Orca orca_. The
dorsal fin of the male is six feet high while that of the female is but
three and one-half or four feet, and this has led to the naming of
specimens which have proved to be only the male and female of the same

Killers will apparently eat anything that swims and fish, birds, seals,
walrus, whales, and porpoises are all equally acceptable. Their capacity
is almost unbelievable, and there is a record of thirteen porpoises and
fourteen seals being taken from the stomach of a twenty-one-foot

Dr. Wilson speaks of killers in the Antarctic as follows:

  Of the whales, the most prominent of all are the Killers, or Orca
  whales, which scour the seas and the pack-ice in hundreds to the
  terror of seals and penguins. The Killer is a powerful piebald whale
  of some fifteen feet in length. It hunts in packs of a dozen, or a
  score, or sometimes many scores. No sooner does the ice break up than
  the Killers appear in the newly formed leads of water, and the
  penguins show well that they appreciate the fact by their
  unwillingness to be driven off the floes.

  From the middle of September to the end of March these whales were in
  McMurdo Strait, and the scars that they leave on the seals, more
  particularly on the Crab-eating seal of the pack-ice, afford abundant
  testimony to their vicious habits. Not one in five of the pack-ice
  seals is free from the marks of the Killer’s teeth, and even the Sea
  Leopard, which is the most powerful seal of the Antarctic, has been
  found with fearful lacerations.

  Only the Weddell Seal is more or less secure, because it avoids the
  open sea. Living, as it does, quite close inshore, breeding in bights
  and bays on fast ice some ten or twenty miles from the open water, it
  thus avoids the attacks of the Killer to a large extent.[12]

Footnote 12:

  “The Voyage of the _Discovery_,” 1905, App., p. 470.

In Japan killers are abundant, especially near Korea, and I have seen
numbers of the animals in the Bering Sea and along the coast of
Vancouver Island. The Japanese call the killer “_takamatsu_” and in
various parts of America it is known as the orca, thresher, or grampus.
The two latter terms are especially confusing and inappropriate, for the
name thresher properly belongs to a shark and grampus to a species of
porpoise (_Grampus griseus_).

The trident-shaped area of white, the white spots behind the eyes, and
the enormous dorsal fin are very conspicuous on the black body, and the
animal may be recognized at a long distance; fœtal specimens have
orange-buff where the adult is white.

The killer can swim at a tremendous speed and because of the nature of
its food the sounds and bays along the coast which swarm with every
variety of marine life are more frequently its feeding grounds than the
open sea.

Scammon says that the killer is a menace to even the full-grown walrus,
especially when pups are with their parents. He states that sometimes
the young walrus will mount upon its mother’s back to avoid the killer
and that then “the rapacious orca quickly dives, and, coming up under
the parent animal, with a spiteful thud throws the young one from the
dam’s back into the water, when in a twinkling it is seized, and, with
one crush, devoured by its adversary.”[13]

Footnote 13:

  (_l. c._, p. 92.)

The killer’s habit of forcing open a whale’s mouth and eating the tongue
from the living animal, is an extraordinary method of attack which has
long been recorded by the whalemen who hunted the Arctic bowhead. I must
confess, however, that I had always been skeptical as to the accuracy of
this report until my own experiences with the gray whales in Korea,
where its truth was clearly demonstrated.

Another story which is undoubtedly purely mythical, although it has
astonishingly wide credence, is that of “the swordfish and the
thresher.” It is said that a swordfish with a killer will attack a large
whale, prodding the animal from below with its “sword” and preventing it
from diving, while the killer tears out the tongue.


  An anterior view of a killer. The heavy teeth and the white spot just
    behind the eye are well shown.

I have personally interviewed a number of men who were reported to have
witnessed such a combat, but have never yet found one who had seen a
swordfish, or had any evidence of one being there, although the killer
could easily be seen. They usually defend their story by saying that a
swordfish must have been below, otherwise the whale would have sounded.
Undoubtedly what prevents the whale from diving is the fact that it
becomes paralyzed with fright and so utterly confused that it is unable
to escape.

An orca probably could not kill a large whale alone, but single
individuals undoubtedly cause all the fin whales great annoyance by
biting off the tips of their flukes and flippers; at least two-thirds of
the whales brought to the stations had the flukes or flippers injured. I
have a photograph of a young finback whale with the flipper torn and
mangled and plainly showing a killer’s teeth marks.

The sperm whale is probably the only marine animal which is more than a
match for a herd of killers. The enormous lower jaw of a sperm whale
presents an array of teeth even more formidable than those of the orca,
and I greatly doubt if the killer could succeed in terrifying this
whale; it is significant that the flukes and flippers of sperms are
practically always free from injuries.

Like other members of the dolphin family, the killer has twelve teeth in
both jaws and they may be readily distinguished from those of the sperm
whale by their smaller size and flatter basal portion.

                              CHAPTER XIX
                      A STRANGE GIANT OF THE OCEAN

Of all the strange animals which live in the sea the sperm whale is
certainly one of the most extraordinary; whenever I look at one I feel
like saying with the country boy who had just seen his first camel:

“There ain’t no such thing, b’gosh.”


  A sperm whale lying on the slip at Kyuquot, Vancouver Island. Note the
    slender lower jaw and the small side fins.

Its head, which occupies one-third of the entire body, is rectangular in
shape, and contains an immense tank filled with liquid oil known as
“spermaceti.” It is only necessary to cut an opening in the “case,” as
this portion of the head is called, and with a bucket dip out ten or
fifteen barrels of oil.

Spermaceti congeals slightly when cooled and in appearance is much like
soft white paraffin. Beneath the oil-case is a great mass of cellular
tissue, called the “junk,” which also contains spermaceti although not
in a liquid condition. Spermaceti is used almost entirely for
lubricating fine pieces of machinery and its quality is very much
superior to the oil obtained from the blubber.

The use to the whale of the oil-case is largely a matter of conjecture.
My own belief is that it acts as a great reservoir and that the animal
draws upon it for nourishment during periods of food scarcity. Bears,
seals, and other animals store up on their bodies great quantities of
fat which enable them to live without food during hibernation, or the
breeding period, and the sperm whale is possibly a similar case; some
specimens are killed which are “dry,” and have practically no oil in
either the blubber or head.

Spermaceti should not be confused with “ambergris,” a substance of great
value in the manufacture of perfumes, which is obtained _only_ from the
sperm whale. Ambergris is due to a pathological condition of the
intestines and is never found in healthy whales. It is impossible to
tell just how the substance is formed, but the fact that it often
contains cuttlefish beaks leads to the supposition that it is in some
way connected with the squid and cuttlefish upon which the sperm whale


  Stripping the blubber from the head of a sperm whale. Immediately
    beneath the blubber of this portion is the oil-case. The blowhole
    may be seen at the end of the snout.

If but a small amount of ambergris is produced it will often pass off
with the excreta and, since it is very light, may be found floating in
the water, but the entire intestines of dead whales have been known to
be clogged with the substance. It is exceedingly valuable, the black
ambergris being worth at the present time $12.50 an ounce, and the gray,
which is of superior quality, $20. As much as $60,000 worth has been
taken from the intestines of a single whale.

It is not itself used as an odor but as a _fixative_ in perfumes; that
is, to make the fragrance last. Many substitutes for ambergris have been
adopted in commercial work, but as yet none has been found which is as
effective as the original substance.

For hundreds of years ambergris has been known and used in various ways.
It was formerly supposed to have wonderful medicinal qualities (which,
however, are largely mythical) and in Asia was employed as a spice in
cooking. The Turks have long considered it of the greatest value, and
pilgrims who traveled to Mecca used to bring it as an offering.
Ambergris has a peculiar and not disagreeable odor which, when once
identified, will not easily be forgotten; after touching it traces of
the smell will still remain even though the hands have received several

During the last eight years at least fifty persons have brought to my
office for identification almost as many different substances which they
have found floating or washed up on the seacoast, and which they
devoutly prayed might prove to be ambergris. One man brought as a sample
a large piece of tallow from a barrelful which he had collected at
considerable trouble and expense; another had a portion of a jellyfish,
and a third carefully treasured a mass of dirty soap. But as yet no one
has brought “the real thing.” Ambergris is soluble in alcohol and this
is a good first test for those to whom the substance is unknown.

The sperm is by far the largest member of the toothed whale family and
has from eighteen to twenty-five massive teeth on each side of the lower
jaw; these fit into sockets in the upper jaw and assist in holding the
whale’s food. Upper teeth are also present but are in a rudimentary
condition and, except in rare cases, do not protrude into the sockets;
undoubtedly in ancient times the upper teeth were as well developed as
the lower but since they have not been needed they have gradually
atrophied and almost disappeared. Like the teeth of other animals, those
of the sperm whale are hollow in the basal half of their length for the
reception of nerves; in young whales this nerve cavity is wide and deep
but it almost closes with increasing age.


  “The sperm ... has from eighteen to twenty-five massive teeth on each
    side of the lower jaw; these fit into sockets in the upper jaw and
    assist in holding the whale’s food.”

Quite frequently the lower jaw of an immature animal will be injured and
as the whale grows its jaw becomes twisted like an enormous corkscrew.
The widespreading posterior part of the jaw is called the “panbone” and
from it the sailors make walking sticks, pie-markers, hairpins, and
carvings which are often beautifully executed. “Scrimshawing,” or
drawing upon whale’s teeth, also helps to while away many weary hours
when the ship lies still in a tropic calm.


  Cutting away the “junk” from the “case” of a sperm whale. The junk is
    a mass of cellular tissue which also contains spermaceti.

The sperm whale is a lover of warm currents which favor the giant squid
and cuttlefish on which it lives, and although it has been taken as far
north as the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, even there it is in the
comparatively warm waters of the Japanese stream; it has also been
captured in the sub-Antarctic near the Falkland Islands.

The squid reach a length of twenty feet or more and the whale sometimes
has terrific battles with its huge prey, the tentacles of which, armed
with deadly suckers, tear long gashes in the skin of the head and snout,
leaving white scars crisscrossed in every direction. In Japan I took
several enormous spiny lobsters from the stomach of a sperm whale, as
well as the remains of a shark and seventy or eighty yellow parrot-like
beaks of the cuttlefish.

Unlike the whalebone whales, of which the opposite is true, the male
sperm is very much larger than the female, and an old bull will
sometimes reach a length of seventy feet and weigh eighty or ninety
tons. Such an animal is a truly colossal creature. The head of a
sixty-foot sperm, which was killed by Captain Fred Olsen in Japan
especially for the American Museum, was almost twenty feet in length,
and the skull, when crated, had a space measurement of twenty-six tons;
it was so large that it would barely pass through the main hatch of the
steamship which carried it to New York.

The sperm has only a single S-shaped blowhole situated almost at the end
of the snout on the left side, and its spout, which is like that of no
other whale, may be easily recognized even at a considerable distance;
the low, bushy, vapor column is directed diagonally forward and upward,
and the animal blows much oftener and more regularly than other large
cetaceans. A sperm may spout thirty or forty times when not disturbed,
generally lying still but occasionally swimming slowly during the entire
breathing period.


  An anterior view of a young male sperm whale. The head occupies
    one-third the entire length of the animal and the lower jaw is much
    shorter than the upper.

When a bull is wallowing at the surface, the “hump” (corresponding to
the dorsal fin of the fin whales) is first seen, and at regular
intervals, as the spout is ejected, the nose appears some forty feet
ahead. The length of time he stays at the surface, the number of spouts,
and the interval between them are all very regular and thus the hunters,
after a particular whale has been observed for a few minutes, know
exactly when the animal will again appear and how long it will remain

After its blowing has been finished, the head gradually sinks, the back
and “small” are curved upward, the flukes are lifted slowly high into
the air, and the whale goes straight down.

During the “big dive” the animal remains below from fifteen to forty
minutes and when reappearing, if not disturbed, swims tranquilly along
just below the surface at a rate of about three or four miles an hour.
His body is then horizontal, with the hump projecting above the water.

When frightened and speeding, a totally different attitude is assumed
and the great flukes are moved violently up and down; at each downward
stroke the head sinks eight or ten feet below the surface but rises with
the upward motion, presenting only the cutwater-like lower portion. The
upstroke of the tail appears to be the more powerful of the two, and at
the same time the broad upper half of the head is lifted above the
surface. A speed of ten or twelve miles an hour can be reached in this
way, which the whalers describe as “going head out.”

The sperm is very playful and like the humpback frequently “breaches,”
or throws itself out of water, shooting into the air at an angle of
about 45 degrees and falling back upon its side. It sometimes lobtails
also, pounding the water into spray with its flukes. When a sperm is
harpooned with a hand iron it often rolls over and over on the surface,
winding the line about its body and causing the hunters a deal of


  The tongue of a sperm whale; it is strikingly different from the
    enormous flabby tongue of the whalebone whales.

Along the Japanese coast during July the sperm whales sometimes appear
in enormous herds of four hundred or more; the great animals will lie at
the surface spouting continually and the sea for half a mile will be
alive with whales.

When the steam whalers find a school of this sort, signals are set to
bring in all the ships which may be near, and there is excitement enough
for everyone. The guns bang as often as they can be loaded and the
whales made fast, and the number killed is merely a question of how many
harpoons each ship carries, or the hours of daylight left when the herd
is found.


  The head of the sixty-foot sperm whale, the skeleton of which was sent
    to the American Museum of Natural History, from Japan. The “case”
    yielded 20 barrels of spermaceti.

The school will usually move very slowly, blowing and wallowing along at
the surface, and the animals in the center are heedless of the slaughter
on the outskirts of the herd. At times, however, the whales will
stampede at the first gun, and it then becomes a stern chase, which is
often a long one, before a ship can get fast.

At Aikawa, one day, a whale ship with a Japanese gunner raised a herd of
sperms a long way from the village. The man allowed his greed to get the
better of his judgment and killed _ten_ whales. He made them all fast to
the ship, which could barely move her load through the water, and it was
not until three days later that she arrived at the station. The whales
had all “blasted,” or decomposed, and were not as valuable commercially
as a single fresh one would have been.

The meat of this species is so dark and full of oil that it is of but
little use as food. Nevertheless, during the summer it is sold to the
native coal miners of Japan who live in such extreme poverty that they
are glad to get even such meat at two or three _sen_ per pound.

I shall not attempt to chronicle here the numerous authentic instances
of ships or boats which have been destroyed and sunk by sperm whales,
for they are the common property of every book on deep-sea whaling. They
leave no doubt that these animals often turn the tables on their hunters
and attack with savage ferocity and dire results.

Apparently the sperm is the only whale which will deliberately turn upon
its pursuers when not in its death flurry. Not only is its tail used
with terrible effectiveness in sweeping the surface of the water and
delivering smashing blows, but boats are often crushed like kindling
wood between its horrible jaws.

It would be interesting to know how long sperm whales live. The bull
which was killed in Japan for the American Museum showed unmistakable
evidences of great age. Its head was covered with white crisscrossed
scars, bearing testimony of terrific battles with giant squids in the
ocean depths, and the teeth of its lower jaw were worn almost flat,
projecting only an inch or two above the gum. The bones of its skeleton
were hard and rough, being covered with tubercles and bony growths.


  A posterior view of the head of the Museum’s sperm whale. The thick
    covering of blubber which encircles the head is well shown.

All this indicated that the animal had lived for many years, but how
many it is impossible to tell. The condition of the skeleton shows
whether a whale is old or young, for in immature animals the bones of
the skull are separated (i. e., the sutures are open), the plates on the
end of the vertebræ (epiphyses) are free, and all the bones are soft and
spongy. Even though the whale may have reached adult size, which it
usually does in three or four years, the evidences of youth are still
present in the skeleton.

Reasoning by analogy (which is always unsafe), I have come to the
conclusion that a whale’s life is well within one hundred years, but I
must admit that my argument is mainly theory and that there are but few
facts with which it may be supported. Until recently, many naturalists
held the view that whales lived for hundreds of years and that they did
not reach adult size until long after birth. The latter contention has
been proved utterly wrong, but of the former we have little new
knowledge; neither do I see how we can ever estimate a whale’s age with
any degree of accuracy.

                               CHAPTER XX
                      A DEEP-SEA SPERM WHALE HUNT

Every time I see a sperm whale shot with a bomb harpoon from the bows of
a steamship, I have more respect for the old-time hunters who kill the
huge brutes with a hand harpoon and lance. The vitality of a sperm is
enormous, and even when several bombs have exploded in its body the
animal will often fight for hours before it spouts blood and dies.

When Captain Olsen secured the sixty-foot sperm, the skeleton of which
was sent to the Museum, he got fast with one iron but did not kill the
whale. After some time the vessel was near enough for a second shot, and
Olsen fired a harpoon which was bent slightly upward at the point. The
heavy iron, instead of penetrating the blubber, rebounded, and when it
was drawn back by the winch was found to be actually bent double, the
point of the bomb being within a few inches of the opposite end. It
required three harpoons, each weighing one hundred and ten pounds, to
finish the whale.

Yet with a magnificent courage which is only half appreciated by a
landsman, the fearless New Bedford whalers attack these colossal animals
with merely a slender hand lance. Is it to be wondered at that our New
England ancestors in such a training school made a history of which
every American may well be proud?


  A female sperm whale at Aikawa, Japan. The head of the female is much
    more pointed than that of the male.

Although deep-sea whaling is practically ended, year after year two or
three ships drop away from the New Bedford wharves bound for the
Hatteras grounds for sperm whales. The cruises are short—only six or
seven months—and the whales are killed, cut in, and tried out at sea in
the old-time way. But even this lacks much of the glamour and romance of
the old days, when sons of New Bedford’s best families manned the boats,
for now the crews are usually “Brava” negroes from the Kay Verde
Islands, and the only white men in the ship’s company are the Captain
and perhaps one or two of the Mates.

The excitement of the hunt is still there, however, and it takes the
same nerve and the same cool head to fasten to and lance a sperm, as it
did fifty years ago. I have had no personal experience in this kind of
whaling, and therefore it does not fall within the scope of this book,
but by way of contrast I have quoted a few extracts from the “Diary of a
Whaling Cruise” by Victor Slocum, Harpooner.[14]

Footnote 14:

  _Forest and Stream_, Vol. 67, 1907, pp. 928, 930, 968.

When a whale is cut in at sea the carcass is made fast to the lee side
of the ship, and a skeleton platform of heavy planks is rigged to
project beyond the whale, just above the surface. The mates take their
places there and, with long “whale spades,” make incisions through the
blubber, which is stripped off in long blanket pieces by means of a
block and tackle suspended from the mast. When the blubber is all in,
the head is cut away and hauled on board, where the case is bailed, then
the chains are slacked and the great carcass sinks into the green depths
below to furnish food for thousands of hungry sharks.

Mr. Slocum tells of a sperm whale hunt in the following words:

  At 4 A. M. all hands started to cut in, and just as we got through
  heaving, it was whales again—just after dinner. I was glad of that,
  and so was everybody else, for the work and exposure was beginning to
  pull on us, and a full stomach is none too good to go down in a boat
  with. The whales were close by, and a large school of them, too. There
  was just a breath of air stirring, so up went the sail and we paddled
  as noiselessly as aborigines upon our quarry.

  There seemed to be whales everywhere, as far as the eye could reach,
  and all tame—just rolling and snorting in the water they lay in; once
  in a while one would jump like a trout and make a splash like a
  waterfall, just to amuse himself.

  At last we got close to one that suited us, and the boats went on head
  and head; there was not wind enough to manage with the sail, and
  dipping with the paddle was undesirable for it might result in a
  scare, so we lay perfectly still, right in his course, and on he came.


  A posterior view of the Museum’s sperm whale. Longitudinal cuts have
    been made through the blubber revealing the flesh beneath.

  The harpooner stood up with his darting gun and iron, and just as the
  great snout passed under our boat, he plunged it vertically right into
  the middle of the back. There was the report of the gun, a heaving of
  the boat clear of the water, a sensation like that of passing through
  a waterspout, and the dull explosion of the shell all in the space of
  the next second—then the leviathan stretched out dead. The bomb had
  killed him instantly, and it was well for us that it did, for in the
  case of an ordinary iron being used, we would have been stove to

  As we backed away, up came the black snout of another whale, and then
  two or three more. They did not seem to know that there was any
  mischief, and they rolled on top of the dead one as though nothing had
  happened. What an opportunity to get another one! If there had been a
  chance to mark our “fish” without getting stove by the others, and
  cutting loose as we did in a former case, we could have killed another
  and another; but that was impossible, so a “waif” was set for the
  second boat, and on they came under oars. And how the bully boys
  rowed, for the cry had gone up that we were stove, and they pulled to
  save our lives.


  Cutting in a sperm whale at sea by the old-time method.

  As they got close, we urged them with our cheers and cries to go in
  and show what they were good for. Straight ahead they shot onto the
  “bunch,” and just as they almost touched one that they had picked out,
  there was the curve of an iron through the air; the next minute they
  were going like the wind with the whale’s flukes just clearing the
  stern, throwing spray in every direction.

  The second mate, as cool as a cucumber and with a happy smile on his
  face, stood in the bow crouched down to keep as dry as possible, and
  with his bomb gun under his arm was yelling, “Haul in on the line!”
  There was no slacking our speed for him, with half a chance to get in
  a shot!

  By night two whales were being worked on. That day’s excitement and
  sport was worth a hundred dollars to me, for the whole thing was truly
  marvelous and it fully compensates for all the discomfort and
  privation that I have felt....

  The cutting in and trying out of the blubber is a prosy job, and nasty
  is no name for it. All hands strip down to a shirt, a pair of overalls
  rolled up to the knees, showing bare shins and sockless feet in large
  brogans, and in we go—grease from head to foot—day and night until the
  whale is all cut safely on board. If we tarried, bad weather would no
  doubt deprive us of our spoil.

  It gives you a funny sensation at first to get into a deckful of
  blubber, with the slimy stuff around your exposed cuticle, and oil
  squashing out of your shoes at every step. But I am getting used to
  that now, and I feel like a veteran.... The try-works are run day and
  night, while there is blubber to feed them, and the refuse scrap is
  all the fuel they need, so it is very economical. They consist of two
  large caldrons mounted in brick work, near the center of the ship, and
  the whole structure is about six feet high. In the dark, with the
  flame roaring out of the short chimneys and torches stuck on poles
  about the deck to give light, we must form an interesting spectacle.
  The men, moving about the deck under the peculiar illumination, look
  like conspirators in a comic opera.

                              CHAPTER XXI
                      THE RIGHT WHALE AND BOWHEAD

Whaling began more than a thousand years ago in the Bay of Biscay, on
the coast of Spain. The Basques, who were the first hunters, soon
learned that a certain kind of whale, among the hundreds which came into
the bay, yielded finer baleen and a greater amount of oil than any other
and therefore it was said to be the “right whale to kill.”

In later years other species were gradually recognized, but the name
“right whale” clung to the animal which was first hunted and thus it is
known today. The scientific name, _Eubalæna glacialis_, bestowed upon it
in 1789 by the Abbé Bonnaterre, is hardly appropriate, for the whale is
not a lover of cold and does not go into the icy waters of the far north
or south.

As years went by and right whales began to decrease in numbers, the
hunters wandered afar and discovered in the waters about Davis Strait
and Greenland another whale which was only a larger edition of the first
and which eventually became known as the Greenland right whale, or
bowhead; its smaller relative was then distinguished from it as the
North Atlantic right whale.


  A model of a right whale in the American Museum of Natural History.
    Prepared by Mr. James L. Clark under the direction of the author,
    from studies made at Amagansett, L. I.

The bowhead is appropriately named because the fore part of the head is
arched in almost a half-circle to make room for the enormous baleen
which hangs in the mouth. This sometimes reaches a length of fourteen
feet, and is so exceedingly fine and elastic that until recent years it
often sold for $4 or $5 per pound.


  A small (calf) right whale on the beach at Amagansett, L. I. Note that
    no dorsal fin is present in this species.

Since an average sized bowhead yields 2,000 pounds[15] of baleen, a
single animal was thus worth $8,000 or $10,000, and if a ship took two
or three whales each season a profitable voyage was insured. Although
the baleen of the smaller right whale is of excellent quality, it seldom
exceeds nine feet in length and consequently this species is not so
valuable as its Arctic relative.

Footnote 15:

  A large whale sometimes yields 3000 pounds.

Whalebone is used principally in corsets, dress stays, whips, and other
articles where strength and elasticity are required, but a few years ago
several substitutes, such as “featherbone,” “near-bone,” etc., were
perfected; since some of these proved fully as good as, and were very
much cheaper than, baleen, it was no longer profitable to outfit
expensive vessels and Arctic whaling abruptly ended.

Both the bowhead and right whale live upon minute crustaceans, called
“brit,” which are strained out by means of the mat of bristles on the
inner side of the baleen plates; when the mouth is closed the whalebone
folds back on both sides of the tongue, but straightens out again as the
great lower jaw is dropped.

On the extreme end of the snout the right whale always has an oval
roughened area, some two feet in length, called the “bonnet.” This
growth is produced by whale lice (_Cyamus_) and barnacles (_Coronula_),
and although it is never absent in this species it is not found on the
bowhead. Neither of these whales has a dorsal fin or folds on the
ventral surface of the body, because their heads are so proportionately
large that it is not necessary to increase the throat and mouth capacity
by any external modifications.

The right whale is found only in temperate waters and does not go into
the far north or south. It is frequently taken by the shore whalers on
the coasts of Japan, Australia, and South America, and is much less
timid than the bowhead; it is also much quicker in its movements and is
consequently a more dangerous whale to attack for the men who hunt in
small boats with a hand harpoon and lance.

The bowhead, on the contrary, is exceedingly difficult to approach and
very slow in its movements. It is exclusively a whale of the northern
hemisphere, found only in the waters of the Arctic Ocean, Greenland,
Hudson’s Bay, and the Bering and Okhotsk Seas.

The finest bowhead grounds of today are those north of Bering Strait; as
the ice breaks in the spring the whales follow the coast eastward, past
Point Barrow, Alaska, as far as Banks Land. In the fall they again pass
Point Barrow, going westward toward Wrangle Island, off the Siberian

Until Arctic whaling ceased, the ships used to leave San Francisco or
Seattle in time to arrive at Point Barrow when the ice had broken
sufficiently to allow them to smash their way through, and then cruise
about under sail or tie up to the floe-ice where they could watch for
whales from the masthead. The bowheads have such acute hearing and are
so very timid that if the vessels use steam the propellers would be
heard at a long distance and a whale would never be seen.

As soon as a whale is sighted, two or three small boats are lowered and
each endeavors to be the first to reach the animal. The bowhead’s
blowholes are situated on the summit of a prominent bunch and
immediately behind them is a deep concavity over the base of the skull,
and the “neck.” When the whale lies at the surface only the blowholes
and back show above water, and the attacking boat, coming from behind,
endeavors to sail directly over the submerged neck. As the boat crosses
the whale, the harpooner thrusts a hand bomb-iron into the body; the
bomb explodes and plows its way into the backbone, often killing the
animal almost instantly.


  Stripping the blubber from the large right whale at Amagansett. This
    specimen was fifty-four feet long and the largest that has yet been
    scientifically recorded.

The most difficult part of the work is to approach so noiselessly that
the boat can cross the neck and place the bomb harpoon properly. If the
whale is not killed at once it will usually run at considerable speed
and, perhaps, dive under an ice-floe, in which case, if the boat does
not carry sufficient line, the rope must be cut or certain destruction

As far back as tradition goes, the Eskimos of northern Alaska have been
a race of mighty hunters and whalemen. At the largest villages, near
every cape and headland, the passing of the dark days of winter marked
the preparations for the great “devil dance,” the invariable prelude to
the spring whale hunt. About April 1, all the able-bodied men of the
village would build across the ice to the water a road over which they
might haul their boats and sleds. Their gear, consisting of a few
fathoms of walrus-hide line fitted with sealskin bladders and tied to a
short flint-headed spear, was primitive enough, but effective.

On the appearance of a bowhead all the boats took up a position in some
comfortable nook along the edge of the ice-floe. When the whale came
near a boat, the head man, whose place was usually in the stern, turned
the canoe head-on toward the ice and sang the great death song, handed
down from some famous whale-killing ancestor. This consumed fifteen or
twenty minutes and then the harpooner thrust his flint-headed spear into
the whale, doing little except frighten it nearly to death.

As it passed the next canoe the same performance, without the song, was
repeated, continuing until the number of skin pokes made it impossible
for the whale to dive. Then the natives paddled up to finish the animal
with their flint-headed killing lances.

When the whale was dead a slip, or runway, had to be cut to the edge of
the water and the carcass secured by walrus-hide lines passed round a
rude windlass constructed of a rounded cake of ice and a piece of
driftwood. Then the huge body could be hoisted up, or, if the edge of
the ice was too rough, cut in while rolling over and over in the water.
The meat, blubber, “black skin,” and bone were equally divided and sent
ashore on sleds, where they could be dressed and prepared for the


  The Amagansett whale covered with ice after the blubber had been
    stripped off the carcass.

The advent of the white man to engage in beach, or floe, whaling was a
momentous event for the natives of northern Alaska and was the beginning
of the end of their age-old methods. The first attempts made at Point
Barrow in 1884 were without result, but two years later, under the
Pacific Steam Whaling Company, a successful footing was gained and the
Eskimos began to adopt the white man’s guns, bombs, and other gear.

The changes introduced by the white man were profound and the Eskimo of
today has almost completely adopted his methods and materials; even the
native boat—the only practical one for floe whaling—has been modified;
the ancient superstitions are gone and the Eskimos have acquired a taste
for the luxuries of civilization. Trading stations have been established
at various points along the Arctic coast. Point Barrow boasts of an
extensive native village besides several white residents, and further to
the eastward the whalers often wintered at Herschel Island, increasing
the profits of the voyage by trade in furs.

But bowhead whaling is almost a thing of the past. The present low price
of baleen for either white man or Eskimo, and the closed season on fur
have sealed the fate of the Arctic whaler.

The hunt for right whales still goes on but has been robbed of much of
its picturesqueness, for the shore whalers soon learned that the animals
could be shot with the harpoon-gun from their little steamers. But since
the baleen has fallen in price they are not of very much greater value
than the large fin whales; in Japan a humpback is really more
appreciated because its flesh is much better for eating than that of any
other species.

Right whales are often taken on the coast of Long Island, N. Y., and
even now, at Amagansett, a whale-boat is kept in readiness to be
launched whenever a spout is seen. In February, 1907, a crew under the
leadership of Captain Josh Edwards killed a large right whale, the
skeleton and baleen of which were secured for the Museum at an expense
of $3,200.


  “We had to stand in freezing water while cutting away at the huge mass
    of flesh which encased the bones.”

Captain Josh, as he was known to all the country near and far, was a
genial old man, radiating good nature—a typical whaler of the old
school. Although seventy-six years had whitened his hair, when the cry
of “Ah! Blow-o-o-o!” had sounded through the village, he forgot his age
and was in the first boat to leave the beach on the five-mile chase. And
it was his arm, still strong under the weight of years, which sent the
keen-edged lance at the first thrust straight into the lungs of the

Mr. James L. Clark, formerly of the Museum, and myself, as soon as word
of the whale was received, hastened to Amagansett, where we had two
weeks of the hardest sort of work to secure the skeleton.

The carcass was beached just at the edge of low tide, where surf was
continually breaking over it, and we had to stand in freezing water
while cutting away at the huge mass of flesh which encased the bones.

The temperature was +12°, and, to add to our difficulties, on the second
day a terrific storm almost buried the carcass in sand so that it was
necessary to build a breakwater of flesh against the surf, and
laboriously dig out the skeleton bone by bone.

The Amagansett whale was an old female, fifty-four feet long, and proved
to be the largest specimen which had then been recorded. On the same day
that it was captured, a smaller thirty-eight-foot whale, evidently the
calf of the first, was killed at Wainscott, Long Island. This skeleton
was also secured, and was eventually sent to London, while the
Amagansett whale with its baleen remains in the Museum to be mounted in
the Hall of Water Mammals. Just a year later another right whale, a
twenty-eight-foot calf, was killed at Amagansett, but its carcass was
lost in a storm.


  The baleen of a right whale. This specimen had whalebone eight feet

As yet it is impossible to say with authority just how many species of
right whales exist. Some years ago Lieutenant Maury, after studying the
daily logs of hundreds of whaling vessels, prepared a chart which
appears to show that the animals do not cross the belt of tropical water
at the Equator, and that the right whales of the northern and southern
hemispheres are thus definitely separated. Acting upon the supposition
that since there could be no communication between them these whales
must certainly have become differentiated enough to form distinct
species, each has been given a scientific name.

In the light of present knowledge, however, this apparent separation
cannot be considered sufficient ground for dividing the right whales
into northern and southern species, unless a critical comparison of
their external and internal anatomy reveals constant differences.

                              CHAPTER XXII

There is a strange and interesting family of small-toothed whales known
as the ziphioids, which owes its commercial importance to a single
species, the bottlenose. This whale seldom reaches a greater length than
thirty feet, and takes its name from the bottle-like snout or beak
which, at the extreme tip of the lower jaw, bears two small pointed
teeth almost concealed in the gum.

These whales were never extensively hunted until 1882, when Captain
David Gray went north in the schooner _Eclipse_ and returned with a
cargo of oil which demonstrated the profits of the venture. The next
year he got two hundred bottlenoses and it was not long before the
Norwegians began operations on a large scale. In 1891, from Norway
alone, seventy ships sailed for bottlenoses and killed a total of three
thousand animals. In later years the business declined because of the
scarcity of whales and the difficulties and dangers of the hunt, for in
no branch of modern whaling is there such a large percentage of fatal

The bottlenose ships are small schooners of thirty to fifty tons,
carrying several small boats and usually armed with six guns fore and
aft; in addition, each boat has a gun mounted on the very bow. The guns
are much smaller than those of the steam whalers and shoot harpoons only
three feet long, with several strong barbs but without explosive points.
Each iron carries with it twenty or thirty fathoms of “forerunner,”
which leads to the main five-hundred-fathom line coiled in a tub at the
stern of the small boat. As soon as a whale has been struck, a turn of
the rope is thrown about a small post called the “puller,” to check the
speed of the running line. The small boats carry four sailors each—two
at the oars, one to steer, and one at the gun.

The work in the bitter cold and freezing water, to say nothing of the
ever-present possibility of having one’s head, arm, or leg shorn clean
off by the whizzing rope, robs bottlenose hunting of its attractiveness,
and it is difficult, at present, to find competent men who will ship
even for a short cruise. Therefore these whales have been but little
studied and there is much to learn about their habits and family life.

Most of our present knowledge is due to the observations of Captain
David Gray and Mr. Axel Ohlin, who in 1891 spent two years on a
bottlenose vessel. According to Mr. Ohlin, when a herd of whales is
sighted, if it will not come within range of the ship, one or two boats
are launched which slip quietly toward the animals. Generally the whales
spout several times at intervals of thirty or forty seconds and then
sound, to remain below sometimes for an hour or more. The boats lie to
where the school has disappeared and when the whales again rise to the
surface are quietly swung about until the gunner gets a fair shot.

If the harpoon misses, which often happens in a choppy sea, the gun is
again loaded and the line hauled in with the greatest haste. Instead of
being frightened by the report, the whale’s curiosity is usually
aroused, and an opportunity for a second shot is soon given.

When a bottlenose has been hit, the harpooner immediately twists the
line several times around the puller, the steersman makes sure that the
rope is clear, and one of the oarsmen hoists a flag to signal the other
boats or the ship to stand by in case of accident.

The whale usually dives straight downward at tremendous speed and has
been known to take out five hundred fathoms of line in two minutes. At
such times, no matter how carefully the harpoon rope may have been
coiled in the stern, there is great danger that it may run foul or get
entangled. If a knot is formed, the line must be cut instantly or the
boat will be dragged under water. Not infrequently the line gets looped
about the body of one of the sailors and the man is either killed or
loses an arm or leg.

When the bottlenose reappears after the first rush, usually he is almost
exhausted and lies quietly at the surface spouting frequently. A second
boat then tries to get near enough for a shot or to thrust a hand lance
into the whale’s lungs.

Like all cetaceans, just before the bottlenose dies it goes into the
death flurry and plunges back and forth lashing the water into foam or
throwing its body into the air. It is well to keep at a safe distance
during the flurry or a stove boat will result.

When the whale has been killed, the freezing line is hauled in and the
animal towed to the vessel to be cut in. The blubber is stripped off as
the body rolls over, is sliced into thin sections, and thrown into iron
cisterns in the ship’s hold; the carcass is then left to sink.

A full-grown male bottlenose will yield about two tons of oil and two
hundredweight of spermaceti, which is contained in the “forehead” in the
same relative position as the “case” of the sperm whale. The great
masses of fat at the bases of the jawbones are also of considerable
value. An analysis of the bottlenose oil and spermaceti shows it to be
as fine in quality as that of the sperm, and the whales yield a large
amount considering their small size.

The tremendous strength and endurance of the bottlenose are proverbial
and I doubt if many of the extraordinary tales which one hears in the
cabins of the shore whaling vessels are greatly exaggerated. It seems
certain that this whale can, and does, remain under water longer than
any other large cetacean, and its strength and endurance in proportion
to its size are probably surpassed only by the killer (_Orca orca_).

Bottlenose whales are said to throw their entire bodies into the air,
their powerful flukes giving such tremendous power to the leap that they
take the water again headfirst instead of falling back helplessly on
their sides.

The animals are gregarious and usually travel in herds of five to ten
individuals; more than ten are rare, but many different schools may be
in sight at the same time, separated from each other by only a short
distance. The old bulls sometimes lead a solitary life, but herds of
young bulls, cows, and calves, led by a bull, are often seen.

The differences of age and sex can easily be determined both by the
color and the shape of the head. The young vary from black to light
brown in the older individuals and females, and old bulls are often
almost yellow, with much white about the head and neck.

The mating period appears to be in April or May and the period of
gestation about twelve months, although there is little definite
information concerning breeding habits. Like all cetaceans, the young
are very large at birth, and Captain Gray writes that from a female
bottlenose twenty-nine feet long he removed a fœtus ten feet in length
by five feet six inches in circumference. A fœtus of slightly larger
size has also been recorded by Guldberg.

The hearing of the bottlenose is very acute and a school of whales will
detect the sound of a ship’s propeller at a long distance, but instead
of being frightened, the animals often surround the ship or boats and
exhibit the greatest curiosity; nor will they leave until they have
thoroughly examined the strange object.

A herd will never leave a wounded comrade while it is still alive, but
swim away as soon as it is dead. The hunters often take advantage of
this loyalty, after they are fast to a bottlenose, by harpooning a
second before the first is killed. The whales crowd about the wounded
ones, coming in the most mysterious manner from all parts of the
compass, and sometimes ten or fifteen can be taken before the school is

The bottlenose appears to feed exclusively upon a bluish-white
cuttlefish about six inches long, for nothing else has been taken from
their stomachs as far as I have been able to learn. Like the orca and
sperm whale, when a bottlenose is killed it almost always ejects large
quantities of cuttlefish from its mouth. Judging by the length of time
the animals remain under water and their heavy spouts when reappearing,
they must have to go to a great depth to find their food. The two minute
teeth at the tip of the lower jaw can be of no assistance whatever in
feeding and will undoubtedly eventually disappear altogether.

The bottlenose is common in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, and
although rare on the Finmark coast are numerous about Spitzbergen,
Iceland, Nova Zembla, East and West Greenland, Davis Straits, and
Labrador. Near the Faroe Islands and Iceland they have been most
relentlessly persecuted and hundreds of whales are taken annually.

Specimens have never been recorded from the Pacific, but Captains H. G.
Melsom and Fred Olsen assured me that they had seen bottlenoses along
the northern coast of Japan not far from Aikawa. Whalemen of their
experience who have hunted the animals in the Atlantic could hardly be
mistaken, and I feel certain that before long specimens will be taken in
Pacific waters.

Whether or not they will prove to be specifically identical with the
Atlantic bottlenose it is, of course, impossible to say. So far as
present information extends there appears to be but a single species,
the _Hyperoödon rostratum_, described by Müller in 1776. Because of the
great changes which age and sex produce in color and in the shape of the
head, numerous names have been given to individuals which have all
proved to be specifically identical with the common form, _H.

Although the bottlenose is the only commercially important member of the
family Ziphiidæ, and is consequently the best known, the other species
of this strange group are not less interesting. All the ziphioids are
characterized by the tail which has no notch in the center and by the
one or two pairs of teeth in the lower jaw, near or at the end, which
sometimes develop in a most unusual way.

In one species, Layard’s whale (_Mesoplodon layardi_), the two flat,
strap-like teeth in the lower jaw grow upward to a height of eight or
ten inches and sometimes bend over the long pointed snout, preventing
the animal from opening its mouth more than an inch or two. How the
whale feeds when the jaws are thus locked is a mystery.

In one species, _Mesoplodon grayi_, besides the pair of functional teeth
near the end of the lower jaw, a row of small teeth are present on
either side, entirely embedded in the gum of the upper jaw. These never
appear on the surface, even in the oldest animals, and are similar to
the teeth concealed in the upper jaw of the sperm whale. In ancient
times they were undoubtedly all well developed, but as the food of the
whales changed, and the teeth became of less and less importance, they
gradually began to disappear.

The front portion of the skull of all the ziphioid whales is produced in
the form of a long cylinder of bone which, although open in the middle
in young specimens, gradually fills up by ossification of the central
cartilage and eventually becomes of almost flinty hardness.

Because of the extreme solidity of this portion of the skull it
fossilizes very perfectly. When digging for the fortifications about the
city of Antwerp hundreds of these bones and teeth were found, and many
have been taken from the “Red Crag” deposits in England.

Ziphioid whales are evidently an ancient group which was once very
widely distributed. They are found today in the greatest numbers in the
seas about New Zealand and Australia, but single specimens are
continually appearing unexpectedly in almost every part of the world.

Recently a specimen was washed ashore on the coast of New Jersey and the
skeleton sent to me for identification. I was surprised to find that it
represented a species, _Mesoplodon densirostris_, which before had been
recorded only near New Zealand.

When in Japan in 1910 I saw a photograph of a whale which was said to
occur at certain times of the year only in Tokyo Bay, and when a
skeleton was finally secured for the American Museum of Natural History,
the whale was found to represent an exceedingly rare species, _Berardius
bairdi_, which had been taken only in Alaskan waters.

Thus, it is evident that at the present time we know almost nothing
about the distribution of these strange whales. Every year or two new
species are being discovered and there is evidence to show that the
family, as it now exists, is the last survivor of a once numerous group.

                             CHAPTER XXIII

The porpoises and dolphins which form the family Delphinidse are in all
essential respects toothed whales.[16]

Footnote 16:

  A glance at the classification in the Appendix will explain their
  relationship to other cetaceans.

The name “porpoise” is usually applied to the round-headed members of
the family, while “dolphin” distinguishes those which have pointed
snouts or beaks.

The fish (_Coryphæna_), properly called dolphin, which passes through
brilliant changes of color when dying, is often confused with the
cetacean because of its name, although, of course, they are not related
in the remotest degree. Because of this confusion I seldom use the name
dolphin but speak of all members of the group as porpoises.

There are so many species of porpoises that it would not be possible in
a book of this character to describe them all; therefore, as with the
whales, only those of commercial importance will be considered. Most of
the members of this family are small, only the killer whale (see Chapter
XVIII) and the blackfish exceeding twenty feet in length.


  The white whale, or white porpoise. The skin of this species furnishes
    much of the “porpoise hide” leather of commerce.

The white porpoise, or white whale as it is more usually called, is not
only the most beautiful but also one of the most important members of
the family, for it is this animal which furnishes much of the porpoise
hide and porpoise oil of commerce.

Like its nearest relative, the narwhal, it is a northern species, seldom
being found where the water is far above the freezing point; but during
the spring the animals come into the St. Lawrence River by thousands and
some remain throughout the summer.

In early June of 1909 I left New York for the little French town of
Tadoussac at the mouth of the Saguenay River to study these interesting
cetaceans and secure skeletons and plaster casts for exhibition in the

There are a number of French dwellers along the St. Lawrence River who
live by selling the skins and oil of the _Marsouin blanc_, and
arrangements were made to hunt with one of them. The day before, I had
driven twenty-five miles from Tadoussac to the porpoise hunter’s cabin
and in the morning, shortly after five o’clock, my cameras were loaded
into one of the canoes and we paddled around the rocky headland into the
little cove where the yawl from which we were to hunt lay at anchor.

A run of four hours took us across the St. Lawrence and we began beating
up the south shore against a strong head wind. It was slow work and not
until three o’clock in the afternoon did we drop anchor in a shallow
cove at Apple Island, our destination. There is a strong tide rip about
the eastern end of this little point of land, and in it the whales play
back and forth, feeding on the small fish which drift in with the
current. After stowing the sail, one of the canoes with two of the men
put out from the harbor while the three of us who remained climbed over
the rocks to the highest point of the island.

The wind had changed and blew strongly from the southwest, topping the
long swells with white and churning the waves into foam as they broke
along the ragged shore line. Three or four whales could be seen some
distance away and the canoe headed for them, as it swung around the
point, in spite of the rough water. With my glasses, I watched the
little craft bobbing about among the whitecaps, slowly nearing the
specter-like forms which rose every few seconds and sank, only to appear
again a few feet farther on.

When they were about one hundred yards away, the men became motionless
and the boat drifted onward with the wind. The porpoises paid not the
slightest attention to the canoe and went down only a few feet ahead. As
they left the water the man in the bow suddenly leaned forward and with
gun ready waited the reappearance of the animals. They came up not
twenty feet away and hardly had their snowy heads appeared above the
surface when a thin white line of smoke shot from the gun and the
nearest whale threw itself high in the air, falling back in a cloud of
spray. Instantly the canoe leaped forward, the man in the bow balancing
the harpoon, but the whale straightened out and sank before he could
throw the iron. With disappointed faces the men returned and climbed the
rock where we were sitting.

We watched until six o’clock but no more porpoises appeared, and I was
glad when we reached the boat for the wind cut like a knife as it drove
across the hilltop. The cabin was so small that we could not sit upright
and it was next to impossible to move when we were all there together;
however, it was warm and that was something. After our dinner of stew,
made from potatoes and onions, we packed ourselves away for the night,
each on a narrow board which served as a bunk.


  The posterior part of a white whale. The entire animal is snow white
    except for a narrow edging of brown on the flukes and flippers. The
    young of this species are entirely brown.

Next morning I was awakened by the regular lap, lap, lap of the water
against the bows, and knew that the boat was already under way. Crawling
down from my narrow shelf I wriggled through the hatchway to the deck
above. It was a perfect morning, the sun already an hour high and a
fresh breeze coming from the west. We were headed down the river for an
island four miles distant, about the lower end of which, with the glass,
a large school of whales could be seen playing back and forth in the
tide rips. I stretched out on top of the cabin drinking in the fresh
salt air and enjoying the warm sunshine which was doubly welcome after
the raw wind of the day before.

As we neared the upper end of the island, I heard a confused murmur of
sounds, and with a question turned to the porpoise hunter. “_Myack_,” he
said, and I saw that the shore was lined with a great flock of eider
ducks. He threw the tiller over and as we drew in toward the land one or
two stragglers rose and then, with a perfect roar of wings, the whole
flock launched itself into the air. It was a magnificent sight as the
great birds whirled past us, the black and white plumage of the males
flashing in the sunlight. I watched them through my glasses until, with
a sudden graceful curve, they swung down clear to the water and were
lost in the blue wisps of fog which still hung in the air.

We sailed along abreast of the island and dropped anchor in a perfect
rock-walled harbor at its lower end. Not far away in the tide rip a
school of white whales were darting back and forth after the fleeing

My excitement was at fever heat, for since the water was fairly smooth I
was to try my luck at shooting. When the canoe was lifted over the side,
we slid away from the yawl, out of the harbor, and into the upper end of
the tide rip, with hardly a sound save the drip of water from the paddle
blades. On the gunwale in front rested the end of the heavy shotgun
loaded with a lead ball, and at the right lay the slender harpoon, the
line neatly coiled and fastened to a bulky cedar float.


  “A big white fellow slipped under only a hundred feet away, headed
    directly for us.”

We had hardly three hundred yards to paddle and in a few moments were in
the midst of the whales, the short, metallic puffs as they spouted
sounding on every side. There were many young animals in the school,
their brownish bodies showing in striking contrast to the snowy backs of
the old ones, and we drifted quietly among them, waiting to pick our
specimen. It was a sore temptation as whale after whale passed close
beside us, and time and again I sighted along the rusty barrel of the
gun at a swirling patch of water, only to drop the muzzle as a brown
back appeared at the surface. The old whales seemed to know that danger
lay in the silent gray object which had appeared so suddenly near them,
and with the nicest accuracy gauged the shooting distance, keeping just
within the safety zone.

We floated along on the current, passing most of the school, and headed
for a little group of white animals which were feeding a short distance
away from the others. They did not seem to be disturbed as we neared
them, and we hardly dared to breathe when a big white fellow slipped
under only a hundred feet away, headed directly for us.

Up he came with a rush and down again, so close that we could see the
water run in little ripples off his snow-white back. My fingers trembled
on the trigger of the gun but he was still coming toward us and in a few
seconds the telltale patch of green water began to smooth out right
ahead. I fired at the instant there was a glint of the snowy head over
the long brown gun barrel.

The shock of the heavy charge whirled me half around in the canoe and
there was barely time to snatch the harpoon before we were at the spot
where the porpoise was thrashing about on the surface of the water. At a
side thrust from the iron the whale threw itself high into the air,
falling back in a cloud of spray. A mad rush to one side and again the
ghostly form shot from the water, the white body writhing as it fell

The whale fought desperately to free itself, rushing from side to side
and lashing the water into foam with its flukes. We had thrown the float
overboard at the first leap and were waiting a short distance away for a
second shot. The animal’s struggles finally became less violent and as
it lay on the surface trying hard to keep upright I fired a second ball
into its neck; with a last convulsive twist the beautiful creature
slowly sank. We paddled for the buoy which was bobbing about near us and
checked the carcass before it had gone far down, raising it to the
surface by forcing the canoe ahead.

The two men in the other boat had been watching from near the shore and
when they saw that the whale was dead paddled out to help us tow it
around the headland into the harbor near the yawl. We beached it in a
sandy cove where the gray rock wall rose in a jagged mass, making a
perfect background for the white body, its purity intensified by the
bright red streaks of blood which dripped from the bullet holes. There
was something almost uncanny about the picture, the beautiful,
ghost-like animal, a very Spirit of the North, seeming strangely out of
place away from its ice-bound home.

Its body was unmarked by the slightest tinge of color except at the
outer margin of the tail which was bordered with grayish-brown. Also the
short broad fins or flippers, strongly upcurved at their ends, were
edged with brown, becoming darker at the tips. The small head, which,
unlike most cetaceans, joined the body by a distinct neck, ended in a
short stubby snout, or “lip,” and seemed remarkably out of proportion to
the animal’s size. Each jaw was armed with nine, rather weak,
cylindrical teeth, the well-worn tips showing that our specimen was
fully adult, although not old.


  “We beached it in a sandy cove, where the gray rock wall rose in a
    jagged mass, making a perfect background for the white body, its
    purity intensified by the bright red streaks of blood which dripped
    from the bullet holes.”

Because the vertebræ of the neck are not joined together as in other
porpoises, the white whale and narwhal are placed in a separate
division, or subfamily of the group; their relationship is also shown in
other ways, one of which is the absence in both of a dorsal fin.

While I measured and photographed the porpoise I had killed, the other
men climbed the rocks to see if they could discover where the school had
gone. In about an hour they hurried back to the cove and reported that
the whales were near the upper end of the island following a tide rip
which swung in close to shore. The wind, however, had begun to freshen
and blew a perfect gale directly toward the island.

I was anxious to get some pictures of the white porpoises, but it would
have been useless to think of photographing in all that rush of wind and
spray, so the four men put off in the canoes while I continued work upon
the dead whale. In about three hours they returned, each towing a
full-grown porpoise and almost exhausted. It had been hard and dangerous
work to kill the whales and bring them in, for the wind drove with
tremendous force across the clear stretch of river, catching the tops of
the waves and whirling the spray like snow. We stayed at the island for
three days, killing two more porpoises and taking the skin, oil, and
skeletons. After the blubber had been scraped from the skins they had a
value, in the raw state, of about seven dollars, and a considerable
amount of oil was obtained from the fat. The skeletons were what I was
particularly interested in, and with four in the hold of the yawl and a
freshly killed porpoise towing behind, we sailed down the river, past
the rocky entrance to the Saguenay, and into the beautiful harbor where
three hundred years before the hardy French explorers had dropped anchor
and on its shores built the quaint little town of Tadoussac.

                              CHAPTER XXIV

For two hundred years a porpoise fishery has been conducted in a
somewhat desultory manner at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The animal
which forms the basis of this industry is the bottlenose porpoise
(_Tursiops truncatus_), one of the commonest species of the Atlantic
coast, which is especially abundant at Hatteras during the winter.

The present fishery is owned by Mr. Joseph K. Nye of New Bedford,
Massachusetts, a gentleman who fortunately appreciates the opportunities
offered at Cape Hatteras for studying this porpoise and its life
history. Through his courtesy several live specimens were presented to
the New York Zoölogical Society and were transported to the New York
Aquarium under the direction of Dr. Charles H. Townsend, its Director.

Dr. Townsend deserves the greatest credit for his perseverance, after
several failures, in finally bringing to this city nine porpoises, four
of which lived seven months and one twenty-nine months in a circular
pool thirty-seven feet in diameter and seven feet deep, in the Aquarium.

This is a record which has never been equaled and, indeed, I am not
aware that any other aquarium of the world has a pool large enough to
contain a school of such lively ocean rangers.


  _Photo by Dr. C. H. Townsend._

  “They are taken with a net of extra heavy twine, about 1,000 feet
    long, which is placed about 200 yards outside the line of surf and
    parallel with it.”

During the months these animals lived under Dr. Townsend’s eyes, he was
given an opportunity such as no other naturalist has ever had to study
and observe their habits and daily life. The results of his observations
have been published by the New York Zoölogical Society[17] and with Dr.
Townsend’s permission I am quoting in this chapter portions of his
interesting paper and republishing several of his photographs.

Footnote 17:

  “The Porpoise in Captivity.” By Charles Haskins Townsend. _Zoölogica_,
  Vol. I, No. 16.

  Cape Hatteras is the only point in North America where a porpoise
  fishery has ever been regularly conducted, and where such animals can
  be taken near the shore and beached with drag seines. The Bottle-nosed
  porpoise winters off our South Atlantic coast and is quite common in
  the vicinity of Cape Hatteras during the fall, winter and spring
  months. Schools of porpoises may be seen passing every day just
  outside the surf.

  They are taken with a net of extra heavy twine, about one thousand
  feet long, which is placed about two hundred yards outside the line of
  surf and parallel with it. At each end there is a boat in waiting,
  ready to carry the haul lines directly ashore as soon as a band of
  porpoises has passed between the net and the surf. After the lines
  have been carried ashore the porpoises are considered fairly secure,
  for they do not often attempt to cross the haul lines, and even when
  they do, can usually be frightened back by having someone shake each
  line continuously while it is being hauled in.


  _Photo by E. R. Sanborn._

  “Thirty-three porpoises were beached in the haul of the seine which
    provided our specimens.... Porpoises are valuable for their jaw oil,
    hides and body blubber, the value of each being in the order given.”

  It requires considerable time to bring the ends of the big seine to
  the beach, but even then some of the porpoises may get away by leaping
  over the net or attempting to dive under it. The former can be
  prevented to some extent by sending a boat to the outer curve of the
  net, which serves to keep the animals from charging against it. Some
  of those that attempt to dive underneath become enmeshed and, being
  air breathers, are soon drowned. Thirty-three porpoises were beached
  in the haul of the seine which provided our specimens. The greatest
  number taken in a single year appears to have been fifteen hundred.

  Porpoises are valuable for their jaw oil, hides and body blubber, the
  value of each being in the order given. The oil derived from the jaws
  represents the greater part of the value, being worth ordinarily
  twenty dollars a gallon, refined. It is extracted from the broad
  posterior branches of the lower jaw, and is universally used for the
  lubrication of watches, clocks and similarly delicate mechanisms. An
  attempt was made at the Hatteras fishery to utilize the carcasses of
  these animals for fertilizer, but, as the location is isolated, the
  question of fuel for the furnace proved too serious and the project
  was abandoned.

  The Bottle-nosed Porpoise (_Tursiops truncatus_) is the only species
  of porpoise that has ever been taken at the Hatteras fishery. Our
  eight-foot specimens represent the average size. A number of animals
  were measured in November, however, which exceeded nine feet in
  length. The greatest length for this species at Hatteras is twelve
  feet, but this is altogether unusual. Measurements and weights taken
  in November show that a porpoise five and a half feet long weighs 100
  pounds; six feet, 160 pounds; seven feet, 200 pounds; and eight feet,
  300 pounds.

  The movement of porpoises along the great beach which extends in a
  general southwesterly direction from Cape Hatteras is usually close to
  the surf. The bands appear to move in both directions. Residents of
  Hatteras are of the opinion that the majority of those in the vicinity
  of Hatteras Inlet move to the eastward, turning south from the Cape,
  whence they gradually swing back to the mainland. They have not,
  however, been followed away from the beach, and their winter movements
  are not known with certainty.

  Immediately after their capture at Hatteras, where they were brought
  to land with a large drag-seine, the porpoises were placed for
  twenty-four hours in a deep salt water pond just back of the ocean
  beach. Here they had an opportunity to recover somewhat from the
  fright of capture, and to rest in cool water. No chances whatever were
  taken in the matter of temperature. On the beach their natural warmth
  of body would no doubt have been greatly increased by the hot

  The following day they were seined out of the pond and placed in the
  shipping tanks, which were then hoisted on board a schooner and at
  once filled with water. During the voyage through the fresh waters of
  Pamlico Sound and the Great Dismal Swamp Canal, the water in the tanks
  was changed whenever it became warm. After reaching the New York
  steamer at Norfolk the cooling of the porpoise tanks en route was
  greatly simplified by the use of the steamer’s salt water hose.

  The shipping of porpoises alive is therefore a simple matter. The
  adult animals readily stand transportation, while the young do not. If
  carried in long, narrow boxes large enough to accommodate them without
  rubbing, and if kept supplied with sufficient cold water to support
  and cover them, they can be handled easily enough. There is probably
  no reason why a porpoise, under such conditions, should not be carried
  in a tank many times the two days’ journey from Hatteras to New York,
  although on a journey by rail the changing of the water would be
  difficult and expensive. While its temperature could be controlled by
  the use of ice, the water carried without changing would be seriously
  fouled, for two or three days. The question of food could be
  disregarded for a few days without injury.

  The captive porpoises are very lively and keep swimming day and night,
  rising to blow usually with each circuit of the pool. Being kept in
  shallow water, they probably breathe oftener than they would in deep
  water. They often swim under water, belly up, like seals, but never
  lie upon the bottom or bask at the surface as the latter do. Visitors
  ask whether they ever rest—a question not easy to answer. If they do,
  it is apparently without cessation of forward motion. Nevertheless
  they are quieter at night when most of the lights are cut off, and do
  not indulge in boisterous play.

  For a time two of them habitually moved from left to right, while
  three took the opposite course, but this practice soon became less
  regular and is apparently breaking up. Sometimes the speed is slow,
  but more often it is rather rapid. Occasionally they indulge in a bit
  of racing that makes high waves, the water surging up to the coping of
  the pool. A porpoise _speeding_ around the pool can make a
  right-angled turn as quickly as a frightened fish, without lessening

  When being fed all regularity of movement is abandoned, and they rush
  in various directions to seize at the surface the fishes slowly thrown
  into the pool. This continues for some time after feeding, until all
  sunken scraps are gleaned from the bottom. All food is swallowed under
  water. Frequently a porpoise will play with a dead fish, thrusting its
  head clear of the water and throwing the fish from five to ten feet
  away, when it is recovered and thrown again. Such play may last half
  an hour, or until the fish is reduced to scraps too small to be
  thrown. It is not uncommon for two or three of them to be engaged in
  throwing fishes at the same time and the practice is becoming


  _Photo by Dr. C. H. Townsend._

  “Immediately after their capture at Hatteras ... the porpoises were
    placed for 24 hours in a deep salt water pond, just back of the
    ocean beach. Here they had an opportunity to recover somewhat from
    the fright of capture, and to rest in cool water.... The following
    day they were seined out of the pond and placed in the shipping
    tanks, which were then hoisted on board a schooner and at once
    filled with water.”

  Several times a day they indulge in very active play, darting with
  mock ferocity after each other, or leaping quite clear of the water
  and striking with heavy splashes. They often swim on their backs, with
  the jaws out of water, or on their sides repeatedly striking the
  surface with the head. When leaping a favorite trick is to throw the
  body around until the dorsal fin is forward, with a resulting splash
  that sends the spray quite out on the floor. A high leap by one of
  them is usually a signal that starts them all to leaping. Our fears
  that they might leap quite out of the pool were unfounded; they are
  clever enough to avoid the wall which surrounds them.

  Another game is played by going around the pool with short dives, each
  time striking the surface with the flat of the tail. When the pool is
  entirely full of water their play is livelier than when the water
  level is lowered. The increased depth gives them more confidence and
  they often turn complete forward and backward somersaults.

  The ordinary swimming motion of the tail is up and down, but, if
  playfully charged by a companion, the porpoise seems to make a spurt
  ahead by more or less side action of the tail. This is not easy to
  determine, however, and may be more apparent than real, as the water
  is too much disturbed by high speed dashes for accurate observation.
  The animal undoubtedly relies upon its tail for propulsion, the
  flippers or pectoral fins being brought into action in making turning
  movements. Several of the porpoises have lately taken to swimming on
  their backs, and the movement of the flippers and tail at such times
  is easily seen contrasted with the white under parts. In swimming on
  the back, however, there is considerable lateral action of the tail.

  Frequently three or four of them will bunch together in the center of
  the pool, rolling and rubbing against each other in a ball-like mass
  suggestive of the tussling of puppies. This may at times mean that
  they are merely scratching, as the single porpoise kept in the
  Aquarium for two and a half months last summer frequently rubbed his
  sides or back against the back of a large sturgeon kept in the same
  pool. This injured porpoise indulged in no play and swam day and night
  in the same circle from right to left, but always fed freely.

  There is considerable mobility of the neck of the porpoise, an animal
  lacking all outward appearance of a neck. The head can be turned down
  at an angle of about 45 degrees to the body, and can be turned as far
  sideways with equal readiness. These motions can be seen at feeding
  time and when the animals are tossing fishes.

  There is no evidence that the porpoise can see out of water. In
  throwing a fish the head is often thrust well above the surface, but
  the animal seems to be always intent on its plaything, entirely
  disregarding the visitors leaning over the rail five or six feet away.
  While a fish thrown into the water is promptly seized, the porpoise
  pays no attention to a fish suspended by a thread two inches above the
  surface. If the eyes of porpoises and other whales were fitted for
  observation above the surface of the water, as are the eyes of seals,
  they might long ago have learned to use them in the same way.[18]

Footnote 18:

    I do not believe that because the porpoise would not seize a fish
    suspended above the water, it is evidence that it could not see it.
    Not being accustomed to take its food out of the water, the animal
    probably did not know what the fish was. A wounded porpoise which I
    kept alive for some time on a ship in the Pacific could see my hand
    if it was brought within a few feet of its eyes. R. C. A.

  Porpoises instantly recognize any change that may occur in connection
  with the water level of the pool. The entirely noiseless opening of a
  distant valve to lower the water is apparent to them and may stop
  their play temporarily. A pool only thirty-seven feet in diameter does
  not of course afford space for the high activity of which the porpoise
  is capable. Nevertheless they often leap three feet or more clear of
  the surface, sometimes striking the water forcibly enough to throw
  spray thirty feet into the air. The visitor soon gets the impression
  that they enjoy life even in captivity and their keepers, while always
  vigilant as to their needs, have ceased to be concerned about their
  safety, regarding them as almost domesticated animals.


  _Photo by E. R. Sanborn._

  “The captive porpoises are very lively, and keep swimming day and
    night, rising to blow usually with each circuit of the pool.”

  The naturally sociable and gregarious habits of porpoises is evidently
  not lessened by captivity. Sometimes they seize each other by the back
  just behind the dorsal fin, but there are no tooth marks on any of
  them and it is probably done in play. The indications are that they
  are altogether amiable and inoffensive toward each other. The only
  species of porpoise destructive to its kind is the well-known “Killer”
  (_Orca gladiator_).

  Our porpoises were observed mating in January, and again in March and
  April. It is possible that they will breed in captivity if their lives
  are not shortened by indoor life.[19]

Footnote 19:

    Unfortunately all the female porpoises died at the time Dr.
    Townsend’s paper was passing through the press. R. C. A.

  Our porpoises were heavy feeders, the five consuming about ninety
  pounds of fresh fish a day. This quantity of food has kept them in
  good condition, apparently without loss of weight. For several days
  after their arrival they would eat nothing, but at the end of a week
  they began to take live fishes and, after having once started to feed,
  it was not difficult to get them to take dead fish. A few days of
  hunger brought them around, as it does in the case of the newly
  captured seal or sea lion. Their principal food is herring and tomcod
  purchased in the markets. The live crabs thrown to them at various
  times were quickly seized and much tossed about, but were not eaten.

  The keeping of porpoises in captivity has presented some difficulties
  with the water supply, their excrement constantly discoloring the
  water. The pool cannot be drained empty and cleaned, like those used
  for seals, as stranded, and consequently frightened, porpoises beat
  the ground with their tails so violently that they would be injured by
  the daily emptying of the pool. The water is now being kept fairly
  clear by carrying extra pipe lines to the pool and greatly increasing
  the flow of water. The pool is supplied with brackish and rather
  impure water pumped from New York Harbor, as it is not practicable to
  supply it with pure sea water from the Aquarium’s large storage
  reservoir, on account of the fact that porpoises would rapidly
  discolor the stored sea water which is so important to the health of
  the collection of marine fishes in the Aquarium.

  The necessity of keeping them in the water of the Harbor, and
  exhibiting them in a public exhibition room which has to be heated
  during the winter makes it, of course, impossible to hold them under
  entirely favorable conditions, yet they are undoubtedly doing well.
  They could no doubt be kept for some time in fresh water, as is
  sometimes done with seals and sea lions, but they would eventually
  suffer from the lack of the salts contained in sea water. Porpoises,
  perhaps of this species, frequently enter the fresh waters of Pamlico
  Sound through the inlets southwest of Hatteras, and many species of
  marine porpoises make long journeys into the fresh waters of rivers.

                              CHAPTER XXV
                             THE BLACKFISH

The blackfish, the most gregarious and one of the largest members of the
porpoise family, is sometimes called the “pilot whale” because it
blindly follows a leader and the herds can be driven almost like a flock
of sheep.

Several species have been recognized in different oceans of the world,
but the most common and widely distributed is the one called by
naturalists _Globicephalus melas_, which occurs in great schools on both
sides of the North Atlantic.

It is perhaps most abundant about the Faroe Islands north of Scotland,
where the natives take advantage of its follow-the-leader habit and
drive the herds into narrow fjords to be slaughtered by the hundreds and
used for oil and food. These blackfish hunts of the Faroes are famous
and lend a welcome touch of romance and picturesqueness to the
present-day whaling which contains so little of the old-time glamour.

When a school of _grind_, as they are called by the Faroe men, is
sighted, word is telephoned along the coast, and whether it is night or
day, boats begin to assemble to surround the porpoises. The herd is
slowly and quietly driven toward the mouth of the fjord which has been
selected by the first boats on the scene—preferably a fjord with shallow
water at the head—and as reinforcements arrive the men are arranged in
definite formation by the director of the hunt.

The progress of the herd is very slow at first, about a mile an hour,
but when once well within the fjord itself the boat crews close in,
begin to beat the water vigorously with their oars, and to throw stones
among the most backward of the school.

Perhaps the porpoises may suddenly turn and break for the open sea, and
then follows a race by the outlying boats to cut them off. Instead of
diving or rushing the boats which block their way, the guileless _grind_
turn about tumultuously and once more race up the fjord. When the school
is thoroughly scared, they break away again and again with a mad dash,
only to be turned back by the encircling boats, until they reach the
shallow water at the end of the fjord and rush far up toward the
shelving shore.

As soon as they begin floundering about at the water’s edge,, a little
crowd of fishermen who have been hiding behind the rocks, dash into the
water and grasping the stranded whales by the fins plunge sharp knives
into the necks of the struggling brutes.

Meanwhile in slightly deeper water the boatmen are spearing the
porpoises not already stranded. Everywhere there is an atmosphere of
carnage; the air itself becomes infected with the odor of blood. In the
fjord, now stained crimson, there is a confused mass of boats and
blood-splashed men wading fearlessly among the floundering whales. Some
of these make mad rushes for shore, scattering groups of men bending
over the stranded _grind_; others in their last agonies dive on the
muddy bottom and, half out of water, beat the air with their great
tails. The hunt may last for hours, for some of the boats chase the
stragglers even out to the open sea.


  A school of “blackfish” at Cape Cod. These animals often work their
    way into shallow water, where they are stranded by the receding


  A Pacific blackfish (_Globicephalus scammoni_). This species has no
    white on the under parts.

When the carnage has ended and the receding tide has left the _grind_
high and dry upon the beach, the sheriff and his assistants count and
measure the animals preparatory to allotment. Every porpoise has its
special number cut into the thick blubber which covers its cylindrical
head. The largest whale is given to the native who first sighted the
school. One-tenth of the rest is put aside for the sheriff’s fee, taxes,
and expenses; of the remainder a large proportion is allotted to the
villagers living on the borders of the fjord where the kill takes place,
every woman and child having a share. The total value of a catch of five
or six hundred may be over $12,000.

The morning following the hunt the cutting in begins, each crew or group
of villages taking, without bickering or protestation, the whales
apportioned to them by the sheriff. After the blubber has been removed,
the meat is carefully cut away from the skeleton, piled in neat heaps,
and carried away by the women in wooden creels to their homes. All that
remains to mark the scene of carnage is the white skeletons bleaching in
the sun.

But blackfish are not of use to the Faroe Islanders alone, for wherever
one of the old-time whaling vessels cruises for sperm whales, the green
crews and gear are tried out if a school is found. And throughout the
voyage when whales are scarce, few of the vessels are above “lowering”
for a herd of these huge porpoises.

The common blackfish of the North Atlantic is without a trace of color
above, but has a narrow line of white on the breast and belly, which
widens into a fountain-jet shape on the throat. The species found on the
American Atlantic coast south of New York (_G. brachypterus_) is black
everywhere upon its body, like the blackfish of the Pacific (_G.
scammoni_). Twenty-four feet seems to be about the maximum size of this
porpoise, which in the entire family is exceeded in length only by the
killer whale.

                              CHAPTER XXVI
                        THE PASSING OF THE WHALE

The world hunt for the whale began a thousand years ago in the Bay of
Biscay and it bids fair to end ere the close of the twentieth century.

After the extermination of the North Atlantic right whale on the coast
of Spain, the hunters pushed northward to Finland and Iceland, and it is
even possible that whalers visited Newfoundland long before Columbus saw
American shores.

The relentless warfare to which the right whale was subjected for
hundreds of years culminated in the sixteenth century, and only stopped
short of actual extermination through the discovery, in the far north,
of its larger and more valuable relative, the bowhead. Then the right
whale dropped from sight, supposedly being extinct, and although it
appeared again a hundred years later, it has never recovered from the
effects of its early persecution.

The capture of the bowhead began in 1612 in the open waters between
Spitzbergen and Greenland, and soon extended to Davis Strait and Baffin
Bay. After two hundred years of unceasing pursuit this whale was driven
to the remotest parts of the Arctic Ocean and was so nearly exterminated
that now, when northern whaling has practically ended, its recovery in
numbers is exceedingly doubtful.

All this happened before the modern harpoon-gun diverted attention to
the fin whales which during the last half-century have been so
ruthlessly butchered by means of every invention at man’s disposal that
their commercial extinction is inevitable within a very few decades if
the slaughter is continued unchecked.

By commercial extinction I mean decrease in the number of whales to the
point when their pursuit will no longer be profitable. While this may
not mean total extermination because of the great expense connected with
the modern methods of capture and handling the carcasses, yet the whales
will have been so reduced in numbers that they can never again become
abundant. Enormous and highly specialized animals are usually slow
breeders and especially liable to extinction, and since it has taken
millions of years to evolve the whale, it is extremely unlikely that
such evolution can again be duplicated upon this planet.

Even if we deny whales the right to live, and disregard the scientific
importance of this marvelously specialized group of mammals, it is
apparent that, reduced to a sordid standard, our problem demands
immediate attention. It is of the utmost importance that while there is
yet time the governments of the world should realize that if proper
legislation is enacted to regulate the killing of whales, a great and
lucrative industry can not only be conducted profitably in the present,
but preserved for the future.

The history of modern whaling in Newfoundland, where American shore
stations were first established, is an excellent example of what will
happen sooner or later in every other part of the world if commercial
greed remains unchecked. In 1908, Dr. Frederic A. Lucas, who from
personal investigation is one of the best informed students of the
subject, published a carefully prepared account of the Newfoundland
fishery and I cannot do better than quote here a portion of his remarks.
Dr. Lucas says:

  Before 1903 we have no data as to the number of whales taken along the
  coast of Newfoundland and can only say that the value of whale
  products rose successively from $1,581, in 1898, to $36,428, in 1900,
  and $125,287 in 1902. Making a rough estimate, based on the value of
  the whale fishery, one may say that this represents not less than 350
  whales, more probably about 500, since prior to 1902 the waste was
  very great. The first whaling station in which modern methods were
  adopted was established in 1897 and its success was so great that in
  1903 four others had been erected and three more planned, although but
  three steamers were then employed. R. T. McGrath in the Report of the
  Newfoundland Department of Fisheries for 1903 gave it as his opinion
  that no more applications for factories should be granted for some
  years to come, saying, “Two factories are about to be erected, one at
  Trinity and one at Bonavista—during the coming year. This will make
  eight factories in all, viz., Balena, Aquaforte, Snook’s Arm, Chalem
  Bay, Cape Broyle, Bonavista and Trinity. In my opinion no further
  applications should be granted for some years. If licenses are given
  without restriction, it will result in complete depletion of this
  industry within a short time; whilst if judiciously dealt with, it
  will be a profitable source of revenue, and a great assistance to the
  laboring people of the colony for many years to come.” This advice,
  however, was not heeded, the only restriction placed on whaling being
  that stations should not be nearer one another than twenty miles and
  that but one steamer should be employed. These restrictions were
  practically of no avail, as one steamer was all that could then be
  employed to advantage and a run of twenty miles is nothing to a
  12-knot vessel. So whaling stations rapidly multiplied until by 1905
  eighteen were in operation, occupying all the more favorable locations
  about Newfoundland, Labrador and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and fifteen
  steamers were employed. The effects of this over-multiplication were
  felt at once, and while in 1903 three steamers took 858 whales, or an
  average of 286 each, in 1905 fifteen steamers took but 892 whales, or
  an average of only 59 a vessel.

                  In                 1903  3 vessels took   858 whales
                  „                  1904 10   „     „    1,257   „
                  „                  1905 15   „     „      892   „
                  „                  1906 14   „     „      429   „
                  „                  1907 14   „     „      481   „
                                                          ————— ——————
                                                          3,935 whales
  Taken between 1898–1902, estimated                        350   „
                                                          ————— ——————
                                                          4,285 whales

  Thus in ten years more than 4,000 whales have been captured in the
  immediate vicinity of Newfoundland. The effect was disastrous and
  caused the ruin of the smaller companies, the chief sufferers being
  the smaller shareholders who had invested their entire capital.

  Since then the number of stations in operation has been reduced and
  some of the steamers sold, not more than ten stations being operated
  in any one year and only six or eight of these at one time. Still the
  catch has steadily decreased and in 1913 only two hundred and
  twenty-two whales were taken.

  One of the arguments in favor of indiscriminate whaling has been the
  theory that whales had the whole world to draw upon and that the
  depletion in any one locality would soon be supplied by overflow from
  another. To a slight extent this may be true, for there seems some
  reason to believe that whales do now and then pass from the Pacific to
  the Atlantic,[20] but on the whole whales are restricted in their
  range as other animals[21] and extermination in one place means
  extermination in that locality for all time. Another fallacy was the
  belief that the supply of whales was practically limitless and that
  one might “slay and slay and slay” continuously. There is not a more
  mischievous term than “inexhaustible supply,” and certainly none more
  untrue. So we see our inexhaustible forests on the verge of
  disappearing, our inexhaustible supplies of coal and oil daily growing
  less, and the end of the inexhaustible supply of whales in sight. Man
  is recklessly spending the capital Nature has been centuries in
  accumulating and the time will come when his drafts will no longer be
  honored. It matters not whether the vessel is a bucket or an ocean,
  one can only take out as much water as it contains and where all is
  outgo and no income, it is merely a question of time when one or the
  other will be emptied.[22]

Footnote 20:

  “Capt. Bull states that a sulphur-bottom whale shot on the coast of
  Norway contained a harpoon fired into it on the coast of Kamchatka and
  that a humpback killed off Aquaforte was found to have in the flesh an
  unexploded bomb lance fired from a San Francisco whaler in the

Footnote 21:

  “For example, the sulphur-bottom is not found or occurs as a straggler
  on the east coast of Newfoundland; although once common on the south

Footnote 22:

  “The Passing of the Whale.” Zoölogical Society Bulletin, July, 1908,
  No. 30, supp., pp. 446–447.

Thus, about fifteen years after the first modern station was erected in
Newfoundland shore whaling practically ended, for today only six or
eight factories are in operation and have a _combined_ yearly catch of
about two hundred whales, instead of over one thousand two hundred as in

With Newfoundland’s history in mind we may turn to the American Pacific
where, because of different conditions, the story has been only
partially duplicated. From Mexico to Bering Sea there is an enormous
extent of coast line where the feeding grounds lie close to shore and
sustain a proportionally greater number of whales than in the restricted
area of Newfoundland and Labrador. Here, as in every other ocean, the
result of persistent persecution will be inevitable, but under such
conditions it will be longer deferred.

There is a slow but constant yearly decrease in the number of whales
taken along the Pacific Coast, and yet if stations are not concentrated,
undoubtedly the industry will continue to be a profitable one for
several years to come.

Near the islands of the sub-Antarctic, conditions are more favorable for
shore whaling than in any other portion of the world. The waters of
these seas are especially productive of the shrimp (_Euphausia_) and
other plankton upon which most of the large Cetacea feed, and thousands
of fin whales are present where there are dozens in other oceans. This
great abundance of marine life caused the development of the floating
factories which until recently operated without restriction and are the
most pernicious agencies of modern invention in the wholesale
destruction of whales.

A floating factory consists of a large steamer equipped with blubber try
works and can be moved about from place to place as the feeding grounds
change. Four or five vessels hunt from each floating factory, supplying
it with whales from which the blubber is stripped off and tried out on
board the large ship.

When operations first began in the sub-Antarctic, whales could be killed
so easily that in some instances only the thickest portions of the
blubber were taken and the remainder left upon the carcass to be turned
adrift; thus but a fractional portion of the value of each whale was
secured while thousands of animals were killed. A blue whale eighty feet
long, treated in this manner, would probably not be worth more than $40
or $50, while in Japan, where the by-products are highly utilized, a
specimen of equal size would have a value of $4,000.

Very fortunately at South Georgia, one of the largest whaling centers of
the far southern waters, the British Government realized that such
pernicious activities could only result in the quick ruin of the
industry, and enacted laws which compelled the floating factories to use
the carcasses as well as the blubber.


  A skeleton of a finback whale in the American Museum of Natural

While to the early hunters on the South Atlantic grounds the supply of
whales must have seemed inexhaustible, yet the concentrated activity of
the last ten years has caused alarming inroads into the great herds
which fed along the edge of the Antarctic Circle.

On South Georgia alone there are at the present time eight stations with
headquarters in Norway, Great Britain, and Argentina, and the South
Shetlands, Falkland, South Orkney, and Kerguelen Islands are the homes
of many floating factories and permanent stations.

It is true that because of its remoteness the cost of whaling operations
in the far south is very heavy and that the slaughter will cease
automatically when the profits are no longer commensurate with the
investment, but owing to the extraordinary concentration of whales on
these feeding grounds, before that time comes the ravages will have been
so great that probably the animals can never again attain a firm hold
upon life.

The excessive slaughter in the South Atlantic has a direct effect upon
the industry in other parts of the world, for it is very probable that
the fin whales go northward from the Antarctic waters into both the
Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

In Japan it will be a national catastrophe when whaling ceases, because
the diet of the ordinary native would consist of little besides rice,
fish, and vegetables were it not for the thousands of tons of whale meat
which are distributed fresh or canned to almost the entire Empire, and
which furnish a healthful and palatable food at a low cost.

Since labor is very cheap in Japan and especially because each whale is
worth an extraordinary amount for food, operations can be carried on
long after they would be unprofitable in almost any other part of the
world; thus the extermination of whales will undoubtedly be very nearly
complete in the Island Empire.

The flesh of the humpback is most highly esteemed for food by the
Japanese and this species was consequently very ardently pursued.
Although most abundant of all a few years ago, humpbacks are now so rare
that only twenty-five or thirty are taken yearly in all Japan. The blue
whales are disappearing almost as rapidly and it will not be long before
the Japanese will have to depend entirely upon the finback gray, and sei

Unfortunately there appears to be a universal belief that shore whaling
is a short-lived industry and that everyone must get for himself the
greatest possible share of the profits without regard for the future. It
is commercial greed in its worst form, because in the mad scramble for
quick money, such pernicious operations as those of the floating factory
are inaugurated, and but a small part of the real value of each whale is
secured after its life has been taken.

My plea is for proper legislation which will force the industry to
develop its great untouched possibilities and save it for the future
while yielding a reasonable profit during the present.

But it must be _intelligent_ legislation, for “blanket” laws are worse
than none at all. Conditions vary with every place where shore whaling
is conducted and laws which were excellent for Newfoundland would be
absurd on the coast of British Columbia.

Personally I cannot see how the much-discussed international legislation
can be of assistance. It appears to me that local laws are what is

Experts should be employed to study carefully conditions in each
locality in order that recommendations may be intelligent. I know of one
government which actually declared a closed season upon whales, during
which the animals could not be hunted, obviously to allow the females to
bring forth their young. Since the fin whales breed irregularly
throughout the year, such bungling attempts at legislation are worse
than useless and serve only to expose the ignorance of those who make

In not a single country of the globe where shore whaling is being
carried on today are there intelligent laws to insure for the future an
industry which is yielding millions of dollars every year, or to save
from extermination the animals which, of all others on the land or in
the sea, have taken the most important place in the history of the



In order to make clear the relations to each other of the whales and
porpoises I have given below a classification and brief diagnosis of the
principal groups. The currently accepted subfamilies of the Physeteridæ
and Platinistidæ have been omitted for the purpose of simplifying the

Order Cetacea. Whales and Porpoises.

      A. Suborder Mystacoceti. Whalebone Whales.

            I. Family Balænidæ. Right and Fin Whales.

                  a. Subfamily Balæninæ. Right Whales.

                        Head long—skull much arched—whalebone long and
                        very fine—no grooves on ventral surface—no
                        dorsal fin—greatest length, 65 feet.

                  b. Subfamily Balænopterinæ. Fin Whales.

                        Head short—skull slightly arched—whalebone short
                        and coarse—grooves on ventral surface—a dorsal
                        fin—greatest length, 87 feet.

            II. Family Neobalænidæ. Pigmy Right Whale.

                  Head short—skull greatly arched—whalebone long,
                  slender and white—no ventral grooves—a dorsal fin—ribs
                  very broad and flat.

            III. Family Rhachianectidæ. California Gray Whale.

                  Head short and moderately arched—whalebone short,
                  coarse and widely spaced—2 to 4 grooves on the
                  throat—no dorsal fin—greatest length, 48 feet.

      B. Suborder Odontoceti. Toothed Whales.

            I. Family Physeteridæ. Sperm Whales.

                  Head large and blunt—a single blowhole—40 to 50 teeth
                  in the lower jaw—no functional teeth in upper jaw—a
                  dorsal hump—greatest length, 70 feet.

            II. Family Ziphiidæ. The Ziphioid Whales.

                  Head pointed—snout produced in form of a beak—a single
                  crescent-shaped blowhole on top of head—one or two
                  pairs of functional teeth in lower jaw—no teeth in
                  upper jaw—greatest length, 30 feet.

            III. Family Delphinidæ. Porpoises.

                  a. Subfamily Delphininæ.

                        Medium size—two or more neck vertebræ
                        joined—single crescent-shaped blowhole on top of
                        head—teeth in both jaws—usually a high dorsal
                        fin—greatest length, 30 feet.

                  b. Subfamily Delphinapterinæ. White Whale and Narwhal.

                        Medium size-head small and neck vertebræ all
                        separated—single crescent-shaped blowhole on top
                        of head—no dorsal fin-flippers very
                        broad—greatest length, 20 feet.

            IV. Family Platinistidæ. Fresh Water Porpoises.

                  Small size—neck vertebræ all separate—single
                  crescent-shaped blowhole on top of head—all inhabit
                  fresh or brackish water—greatest length, 12 feet.


                       BLUE WHALE, SULPHURBOTTOM
                     _Balænoptera musculus_ (Linn.)

Very large size. Average length, 76 feet; maximum length, 87 feet. The
pectoral fins are about 15 per cent. of the total length, falcate and
bluntly pointed. The dorsal fin is small and variable in form, but
usually more or less falcate; it is situated behind the line of the
anus. Many ventral folds.

The color of the body is mottled gray, the proportions of light and dark
tints varying greatly in different individuals, but the body is usually
lightest at the shoulder and between the flippers and the umbilicus. The
head is a little darker than the body and unmarked. A few entirely white
spots are usually present on the posterior ends of the abdominal folds.

The pectoral fins are gray on the upper surface, except at the tip, and
white below. The flukes are plain gray above, and below are marked with
fine light and dark gray lines running antero-posteriorly. The dorsal
fin is dark gray and the whalebone black.

The rostrum of the skull is very broad with the free margins of the
maxillæ convex; the nasal bones are oblong with truncated anterior
margins. Vertebral formula: cervicals 7, dorsals 15 (–16), lumbars 14
(–16), caudals 26 (–28). Total, 63–65. Habitat: cosmopolitan.

                           FINBACK, RAZORBACK
                     _Balænoptera physalus_ (Linn.)

Large size and very slender form. Average total length, 62 feet; the
maximum, 81 feet. The pectoral fins are about 12 per cent. of the total
length, lanceolate and pointed. The dorsal fin is moderate in height and
falcate; it is situated just behind the line of the anus. Many ventral

The color of the body is dark gray above and white below, the two colors
merging imperceptibly into each other on the flanks. The coloration of
the head is not bilaterally symmetrical, there being more white on the
right side than on the left. The right side of the lower jaw is white
and also the anterior third of the whalebone; the left side of the lower
jaw and left baleen are dark gray. The gray of the flanks extends
obliquely down and back from the pectoral fins toward the flanks, but
does not reach the inferior edge of the peduncle, which is white.

The pectoral fins are gray above and white below. The flukes are dark
gray above and white below, with a gray posterior margin. The whalebone
is gray, striped longitudinally with yellowish white in varying
proportions; the anterior baleen on the right side is all yellowish

The rostrum of the skull is narrow and pointed with the free margins of
the maxillæ nearly straight. The nasal bones are narrow and pointed on
the median line anteriorly. Vertebral formula: cervicals 7, dorsals 15
(–16), lumbars 14 (–15), caudals 25 (–26). Total, 61–63. Habitat:

                     SEI WHALE, RUDOLPHI’S RORQUAL
                    _Balænoptera borealis_ (Lesson)

Moderate size. Average total length, 42 to 43 feet; maximum length, 53
feet. The dorsal fin is large, and falcate; it is situated just anterior
to the line of the anus. Many ventral folds.

The color of the head and back is dark gray; on the sides and flanks the
gray of the back becomes lighter and the flanks are beautifully marked
with wavy gray lines. The throat and breast are white, but a wide dark
gray band runs across the belly. The ventral line from the anus to the
flukes is gray. The pectoral fins above and below are dark gray, but
somewhat lighter on the anterior half of the under side. The flukes
above are dark gray like the back, and below are light gray in the
ventral portion, becoming darker on the edges. The whalebone is
bluish-black with white bristles.

The rostrum of the skull is narrow and triangular with straight sides as
in the Finback. The nasal bones are oblong and truncated anteriorly. The
first rib is usually bifurcated. Vertebral formula: cervicals 7, dorsals
14 (–13), lumbars 13 (–14), caudals 22 (–23). Total, 56–57. Habitat:

                       _Megaptera nodosa_ (Bonn.)

Form massive and ungraceful. Head flat and blunt with dermal tubercles’
along the sides and middle. Ventral folds few and broad. Average total
length, 45 feet; maximum length, 55 feet. The pectoral fins are more
than one-fourth the entire length with several prominent bunches along
the anterior edge. The dorsal fin is low, thick and somewhat falcate,
and the flukes are broad with crenate posterior edges.

The color is black with white markings. The head, back and sides are
black and the throat and breast to about opposite the pectoral fins are
splashed and streaked with white in varying degrees. On the lower lips,
sides of the jaw and about the chin, throat and breast are spots,
circles and crescents of white; these are probably the scars left by
barnacles and other parasites. Between the flippers in the middle of the
breast there is usually an irregular transverse patch of white, 10 or 12
inches in diameter.

The flippers are black above with many white spots and circles, and
white below except for a broad patch of black at the base. The flukes
are normally black above with white spots along the edges; below they
are white, spotted and circled with black, except in the basal third,
where there is a large black area. The whalebone is dull black, with
brownish black bristles.

Skull very broad with an obtuse rostrum. The nasal bones are rather
narrow and pointed anteriorly. Vertebral formula: cervicals 7, dorsals
14, lumbars 11 (–10), caudals 21. Total, 53 (–52). Habitat:

                      _Eubalæna glacialis_ (Bonn.)

Form massive. Head about one-fourth the total length and rostrum much
arched, with a protuberance near the anterior end, called the “bonnet.”
Lower lip very large, and the free margin is more or less sinuous.
Pectoral fins very broad and short. No ventral furrows and no dorsal
fin. The color is black throughout, with more or less white on the
throat and breast in some individuals. Greatest length, 54 feet.

Rostrum of skull very long, narrow and curved. Nasal bones large, broad
and oblong. Sternum broad and irregularly triangular. Scapula broader
than high. Vertebral formula: cervicals 7, dorsals 14, lumbars 11
(10–12), caudals 23 (–26). Total, 55 (–57). Habitat: in temperate waters
in both hemispheres.

                      _Balæna mysticetus_ (Linn.)

Form massive. Head enormous, exceeding one-third the total length of the
whale. Upper jaw greatly arched to accommodate the long whalebone. No
“bonnet.” Blowholes elevated and followed by a deep concavity over the
“neck.” No ventral furrows and no dorsal fin. The color is black, with
some white about the throat and lower lips. The whalebone is black, long
and very elastic; in some individuals it reaches a length of 14 feet.
Greatest length, 65 feet.

Rostrum of skull long, narrow and remarkably arched. Vertebral formula:
cervicals 7, dorsals 12, lumbars 14, caudals 22. Total, 55. Habitat:
Arctic waters only; not found in Antarctic.

                     _Rhachianectes glaucus_ (Cope)

Form robust. Upper jaw moderately arched. Two to four furrows on throat.
No dorsal fin. The color is black, or very dark slate, thickly marked
about the snout, lips, chin and jaws with white flecks and small spots.
On the sides, breast and belly are many roughly elliptical, irregular
grayish markings and white circular spots which are apparently the scars
left by barnacles. The amount of white varies greatly with individuals,
but is seldom entirely absent. The pectoral fins and flukes are black on
both surfaces, with scattered white spots and circles. Average size, 40
feet; maximum size, 49 feet.

Skull with a broad strip of frontal exposed upon the vertex. Nasals very
long and broad. Cervical vertebræ all free. Anterior ribs with
tubercles, necks and heads. Vertebral formula: cervicals 7, dorsals 14,
lumbars 12, caudals 23. Total, 56. Habitat: North Pacific Ocean only.

                         SPERM WHALE, CACHALOT
                    _Physeter macrocephalus_ (Linn.)

Size large and form massive. Head blunt. A single S-shaped blowhole at
the end of the snout. Forty to 50 teeth in lower jaw. No functional
teeth in upper jaw. A prominent “hump” on the back.

The color is slate gray, with some white about the lower jaw and snout,
which is crossed in every direction by long white lines (scars). White
or gray patches are usually found about the umbilicus. Greatest length,
70 feet.

The bones of the skull are elevated to form a high crest above and
behind the nares. The rostrum is very massive and wide, but gradually
tapers to the apex, and is concave. Lower jaw very long and narrow.
Atlas free, but all the other cervical vertebræ united into a solid
mass. Vertebral formula: cervicals 7, dorsals 11, lumbars 8, caudals 24.
Total, 50. Habitat: cosmopolitan, in warm currents.

                          _Orca orca_ (Linn.)

Form robust. Head pointed. Heavy pointed conical teeth in both jaws. An
extremely high dorsal fin. The color is black, with an elliptical white
spot on each side of head. The throat and breast are white and there is
a trident-shaped area of white on the belly and flanks. A white or
grayish patch is usually present just behind the dorsal fin. The flukes
above are black, and below white except for a black band on the
posterior margins and tips. Greatest length, 30 feet.

Rostrum about equal in length to the cranial part of the skull, broad
and flattened above, rounded in front. Teeth usually twelve in each jaw.
Vertebral formula: cervicals 7, dorsals 11–12, lumbars 10, caudals 53.
Total, 51–52. Habitat: cosmopolitan.

                    _Delphinapterus leucas_ (Pallas)

Form robust. Head very small and marked off from body by an ill-defined
neck. No dorsal fin. Pectoral fins very broad and upturned. The color is
pure white in the adult, except for a very narrow band of brownish on
the edges of the flukes and flippers. The young are entirely brownish.

Skull rather narrow and elongated. Eight to ten teeth in both
jaws—cervical vertebræ all free. Vertebral formula: cervicals 7, dorsals
11, lumbars 9, caudals 23. Total, 50. Habitat: North Atlantic and North

                     _Globicephalus melas_ (Traill)

Form robust. Head large and very round. Dorsal fin thick and triangular.
Pectoral fins very long and narrow.

The color is black throughout, except for a narrow fountain-shaped area
of white on the throat, breast and belly. Greatest length, 30 feet.

Skull broad and depressed. Premaxillæ strongly concave in front of
nares. Vertebral formula: cervicals 7, dorsals 11, lumbars 12–14,
caudals 28–29. Total, 58 or 59. Habitat: North Atlantic Ocean.

                          BOTTLENOSE PORPOISE
                      _Tursiops truncatus_ (Mont.)

Head produced in the form of a beak. Strong teeth in both jaws. A
well-developed dorsal fin.

The color is dark gray on the head, back and sides, and the throat,
breast and belly are white. Average length, 8 feet; greatest length, 12

Rostrum tapering. Palate not grooved. Symphysis of mandible short. Forty
to 50 teeth. Vertebral formula: cervicals 7, dorsals 13, lumbars 17,
caudals 27. Total, 64. Habitat: North Atlantic Ocean.

                    III. THE SKELETON OF THE CETACEA

The skeletons of whales and porpoises are so frequently preserved in
museums that, for the benefit of those who wish to understand more fully
the Cetacea, a brief general description of the osteology is given
below. Unfortunately, however, it is impossible to present the subject
except in semi-technical language.

The bones of the Cetacea are comparatively light and fragile, the hard,
shell-like exterior being thin and the interior filled with spongy
“cancellous tissue” which is considerably impregnated with oil. In
structure they are exactly opposite to those of the Sirenia (the aquatic
mammalian order including the sea cows, or manatees, and the dugongs),
which have very heavy solid bones of almost flinty hardness. Cetacean
bones are easily affected by weather, and if exposed to the sun, rain
and wind for a comparatively short time the hard exterior becomes white
and chalk-like.

The whale’s skeleton is highly modified in adaptation to an aquatic
existence and is very distinctive of the cetacean order. In a general
view it is seen to be greatly elongated, the skull is pointed, the
fore-limbs are short and flat and the hind-limbs are represented by
nodules of bone; all these accompany a fish-like body which offers
little resistance to its passage through the water.

The skull is perhaps more greatly modified than any other portion of the
skeleton, and if a trained anatomist who had not studied the Cetacea
were to examine a whale’s skull, he would probably be at a loss to
identify correctly its parts. The brain case is small and rounded, the
eyes are situated far back and the facial portion greatly elongated. The
back of the brain case is formed by an extraordinarily developed
supra-occipital bone which extends forward and upward to meet the
frontal, entirely excluding the parietals from the summit of the skull.
The nostrils have rotated backward and upward and are almost vertical
instead of horizontal as in other mammals; thus the nasal bones are
greatly reduced in size.

The skull of a toothed whale in general appearance is quite unlike that
of a whalebone whale; the nasals are very small, and the maxillæ,
premaxillæ and frontals meet above the nostrils to form a bony ridge
which is sometimes developed into an extraordinary crest. In some cases
the crest overhangs the blowholes and is asymmetrical, the right side
being much more strongly developed than the left.

The facial portion, or rostrum, of the right whales is narrow and
greatly arched, but in the Balænopteras it is wide and flat; in the
toothed whales it may be either wide and concave, as in the Physeteridæ,
or narrow and beak-like as in the Ziphiidæ and Delphinidæ.

The neck, or cervical, vertebræ of all the Cetacea are exceedingly thin
and plate-like and usually either two or three of the entire series are
fused. In large-headed species, such as the right whales, the neck is
reduced to a minimum and the cervical vertebræ are all joined in a solid
mass to bear the weight of the enormous skull.

The remainder of the spinal column, as in all mammals, is divided into
dorsal, lumbar and caudal vertebræ. The first series bear ribs and the
last, which are those of the “tail region,” may be distinguished by the
V-shaped “chevron bones” attached to the lower side of each vertebral
body; because of the absence of functional hind-limbs no sacrum is

The ribs of the whalebone whales differ from those of other mammals
because all but the first two or three have lost the capitulum, or head,
and articulate by only the tuberculum to the transverse processes of the

In the baleen whales the sternum, or breast bone, is so reduced that it
only articulates with the first pair of ribs, the lower ends of those
remaining being free. Thus with the weak attachment of the ribs to the
vertebræ and no fastening to the sternum, a loose “thoracic box” is
formed, which is capable of great lateral movement as the enormous lungs
expand and contract.

In the toothed whales conditions are somewhat different. Many of the
ribs have the normal attachment by head and tubercle to the vertebræ and
are joined by their lower ends to the sternum, which consists of several
pieces; thus the thoracic box is much more rigid than in the baleen

The bones of the fore-limbs of ordinary mammals are present in the
cetacean flipper, but they become greatly flattened and overlaid with
adipose tissue to form a paddle. In the right whales the five fingers of
the mammalian hand are present, but in others one finger has been lost,
and the digits are greatly elongated. The scapula, or shoulder blade, is
a wide, flat, fan-shaped bone, and the clavicles, or collarbones, have
entirely disappeared. The hind-limbs are rudimentary, when present at
all, only being represented by bony nodules, and the pelvis is reduced
to two spindle-shaped bones quite unlike that of land mammals.

The skeleton of each group of the Cetacea, although similar in general
characters, varies enormously in the details of construction, and to
anyone interested in osteology will prove a fascinating subject for


There are many indisputable evidences that whales once lived upon the
land and walked upon four legs like ordinary quadrupeds, yet how
remarkably different from any land mammal is their present form!

We see that almost all aquatic creatures have torpedo-shaped bodies,
which offer the minimum of resistance to their passage through the
water. Thus as the whales gradually changed from a terrestrial to an
aquatic life their bodies assumed the elongated form essential for
successful existence in a liquid medium.

Accompanying this change of bodily shape was the elimination of all
unnecessary structures which offered resistance, and the whale’s smooth,
soft, hairless skin was one of the results. But the hair of a land
mammal acts as a non-conductor, preventing the heat of the blood from
being absorbed by the air, and as the whale’s body became naked it was
necessary to blanket it with some other protective covering; thus the
layer of fat or blubber developed between the skin and the flesh. Fish
and amphibians do not need a warm covering because their blood is cold
and changes with the temperature of the medium in which they live.

Besides giving warmth to a land mammal, hair acts as a protection for
its tender skin; but since a whale lives in the water, where bruises or
abrasions are unlikely, such protection is unnecessary. With the loss of
hair the sweat and oil glands which are present in the skins of land
mammals finally disappeared.

When any creature becomes aquatic it must necessarily develop means for
progression through the water, and thus the caudal portion of the
whale’s body by degrees expanded into the wide, flat, boneless tail, or
flukes. But instead of being vertical to the axis of the body like the
tail of a fish, the whale’s flukes are horizontal, obviously to give the
animal greater facility in rising to the surface to breathe.

With the development of the flukes there came a change in the whale’s
fore-limbs, which were flattened and covered with connective tissue and
blubber. The excellent paddles thus formed, while probably of little use
in forward motion, assist in rapid turning and act as balancing organs
to keep the animal upright in the water. In some species an adipose
dorsal fin has also developed as a further balancing aid.

During the development of the flippers and flukes the hind-limbs, which
were no longer of use to the whale, became small and weak, sunk into the
blubber and finally disappeared altogether, the greatly modified pelvic
elements and nodules of bone or cartilage representing the femur alone

The heads of most cetaceans are long and pointed, acting as a
“cut-water,” but one of the most remarkable aquatic adaptations is the
position of the nostrils, or blowholes, which open upon the very summit
of the head, in either a single or double aperture, instead of at the
end of the snout. The cause of this migration of the nostrils is
obvious, for in this position the blowholes first appear at the surface
and the whale can begin to breathe while the rest of its body is yet
under water.

In all cetaceans the facial portion of the skull is greatly elongated,
and especially in the Mystacoceti the mouth is exceedingly large to
accommodate the baleen, which hangs in two parallel rows from the upper
jaw. Probably no mammalian adaptation for the securing of food is more
remarkable than the whale’s baleen. It is almost unbelievable that an
animal which once had teeth could, as its food changed, replace them by
a complicated straining apparatus such as the whalebone. The baleen is
an epidermal growth and is in reality merely an exaggeration of the
transverse ridges present in the mouths of land mammals.

We know that the Mystacoceti at one time had teeth, for in fœtal whales
two sets of minute teeth are present under the skin, corresponding to
the “milk” and “permanent” dentition of ordinary mammals, but these
disappear before the baleen begins to develop.

Another interesting feeding adaptation is present in the throat of the
whale. The nostrils, instead of opening into the back of the mouth, as
in land mammals, are directly connected with the lungs by a prolongation
of the “windpipe” called the epiglottis, which entirely shuts off the
whale’s breathing passage from the mouth. Thus the animal can swallow
its food beneath the surface without danger of strangulation through
getting water into its lungs.

When whales lived upon the land external ears were necessary, but as
they became completely aquatic such “sound collectors” were not only of
no more use but highly undesirable, because, like the useless
hind-limbs, they offered additional resistance to the water; therefore
the external ears were lost, but their muscles still remain about the
minute ear-orifices of the present-day Cetacea.

The internal modifications which the whales underwent as they assumed an
aquatic existence are fully as remarkable as the external changes. In
the section on osteology it has been explained how, in living cetaceans,
the entire skeleton is loosely articulated so that great flexibility and
freedom of movement is given to the body, how the neck is shortened and
the vertebræ have become thin and closely packed together to support the
large head, and how the breast bone is reduced and the ribs so loosely
articulated to the vertebral column that the huge lungs have full power
of expansion. All these are necessary modifications of the mammalian
skeleton which have been caused by the change from a terrestrial to an
aquatic existence.

The lungs of the Cetacea are unlobulated and of extraordinary size; the
diaphragm, the muscular partition which separates the thoracic from the
abdominal cavity, is oblique, and the brain greatly convoluted and of a
high type; the brain is especially notable for the loss of the
olfactory, or smelling portions, which are of no use to an aquatic

Thus it is apparent in a review of only the most obvious changes what a
wonderful example of adaptation to environment is furnished by the


 _Aate_ (_Calanus finmarchius_), 126

 _Acinomyx jubatus._ _See_ Cheetah

 Admiralty Island, Alaska, 4
   Tyee Company erected station on, 185

 Aikawa, 91, 130, 143, 152, 235, 263

 _Airondo Maru_, 105, 130

 _Akebono_, 105

 Alaska, vii, 4, 5, 46, 59, 63, 64, 143, 148, 158, 175, 180, 230, 252

 Alaska Whaling Company, 5

 _Albatross, U. S. S._, 77, 78

 Aleutian Islands, 5, 230

 Allen, Doctor Glover M., 45

 Allen, Doctor J. A., vii

 Amagansett, 253, 255

 Ambergris, 225, 226, 227

 America, Pacific Coast of, 185, 186

 _American Museum Journal_, viii

 American Museum of Natural History, vii
   skeletons of all the large Japanese cetaceans in, viii
   trustees of, viii, 230, 235, 255, 266

 American West Coast whaling industry, vii

 American whaling ships, 189

 Americans, 23

 Andersen, Captain Y. E., vii, 61, 92, 95, 100, 101, 102, 104, 105, 107,
    108, 110, 111, 113, 114, 115, 117, 120, 121

 Andrews, Yvette Borup, vii

 Antarctic circle, 304

 Antarctic Ocean, 124, 184

 Antwerp, 265

 _Aosaki_ (red blubber whale), 214

 Apple Island, 269

 Arctic Ocean, 186, 249, 263

 Arctic Region, 184

 Argentina, 9, 304

 Arytenoid cartilages, 43

 Atlantic finwhalers, 176

 Atlantic Ocean, 183, 184, 304

 Australia, 6, 169, 248, 265

 Baffin Bay, 296

 _Balænopterinæ_, 183

 Balcom, Captain, 24, 25, 30

 Baleen, 37, 69
   objects made of, 90, 158
   value of, 247, 248, 253

 Baleen whales, food of, 67

 Banks Land, 249

 Barclay Sound, 4, 22, 24

 Barnacles, 65, 66, 211, 248

 Barneson, Captain John, viii, 4

 Barrel view from the crow’s nest, 26

 Basques, 245

 Bay City, Washington, 5

 Bay of Biscay, 245, 296

 Bay of Islands, 6

 Beluga or white whale, 54

 _Berardius bairdi_, 266

 Bering Sea, 204, 220, 249, 301

 Bering Strait, 249

 Bernheimer, Mr. and Mrs. Charles L., vii

 Birds, 107, 109, 110

 Black codfish (_Polachius virens_), 123

 Blackfish, sometimes called pilot whale, 291

 _Blahval_, Norwegian name for blue whale, 178

 Blanket piece, 82

 Blow, 47

 Blowholes, 43
   adaptation to aquatic life, 44, 153
   elevation of, 45
   position of, 44, 153

 Blowing, 43

 Blubber, 35, 74, 149, 151, 152, 153, 208, 213, 214, 240, 261, 277, 302

 Blue whale, 14, 19, 24, 39, 41, 57, 70, 150, 155, 178, 179, 180, 183,
    185, 302, 305
   capture and delivery to station, 139, 140, 142, 143
   Millais’ interesting account of hunt of, 144–147
   photographing of and shooting at, 132

 Blue whale, skeleton of, 75, 80, 91, 122, 127, 130
   vigorous attempt to capture, 133

 Boiling vats, 11

 Bomb, 12

 Bomb harpoon, 3

 Bonnaterre, Abbé, 245

 Borneo, vii

 Bottlenose (_Hyperoödon rostratum_), 57, 72, 154
   habits and characteristics of, 262
   method of hunting, 258–261
   origin of name, 258
   where found, 263, 264

 Bottlenose porpoise (_Tursiops truncatus_), 278, 282

 Bowdoin, George S., vii

 Bowhead, 2, 221, 245, 247, 251, 296
   food of, 248
   grounds of, 249

 Brazil, 9

 Breach, 63

 Breaching, 64

 Breathing, 42

 Breeding grounds, 202, 203

 Breeding habits of all large whales, 72

 Brett, Captain, 6

 Bryde, John, 5

 Bull, Captain, 300

 Bumpus, Doctor Herman C., vii

 Bunk-houses, 11

 _Cabot_, 146

 _Calanus finmarchius, Aate_, 126

 Calf, 69

 Calf, enormous size at birth, 143

 California, 202, 203
   coast of, 204

 California gray whale, 72, 125, 178, 189, 190, 192, 195, 196, 197, 200,
   length when born, 73

 California lagoons, 186, 189

 Camera, vii, 27, 30, 96, 97, 104, 113, 130
   important part of, in natural history, 55

 Canadian North Pacific Fisheries, Ltd., 5

 Canting winch, 35

 Cape Beale, 25

 Cape Good Hope, 183

 Cape Hatteras, 239, 278, 280, 282, 290

 Cape Horn, 183

 Cape Ommaney, 5

 Cape St. Mary, 146

 Carcass platforms, 11, 36

 Castberg, Captain, 176

 Cetacea, 124

 Cetaceans, 127, 149, 267
   color changes when dead, 17
   hair on, 212, 213, 214
   individual variation of, 17, 20
   physiology of, 59

 Cheetah (_Acinomyx jubatus_), 127

 Chili, 9

 Chinese, 23

 Christiania Bay, 1

 Cinematograph, 100

 Clark, James L., 255

 Communicate, how whales, 60

 Cook Brothers, 6, 89

 Cope, Professor, 189

 Copepod (_Penella antarctica_), 124

 _Coronula_, 248

 _Coronula diadema_, 212

 Coryphæna, 267

 Crew, 14

 Crow’s nest, whales sighted from, 14

 _Cryptolepas rhachianectei_ (shell-like barnacles), 212

 Cutters, 82

 Cutting in, 20, 33, 34
   Japanese method of, 79

 Cutting operations, 37

 Cuttlefish, 226, 230

 _Cyamus_, 248

 _Cyamus scammoni_ (whale lice), 212

 _Daito No. 2_, whaleship, 130

 Davis Strait, 245, 263, 296

 _Delphinidæ_, 267

 _Delphinapterus leucas._ _See_ White porpoise

 Devilfish, 178, 189, 195, 204
   affection of, 208

 Dinosaurs, 140

 Dolphin, 151, 219, 223, 267

 Dorsal fin, 153

 Double-finned whale, 61, 62

 Dryer, 11

 Durban, 5

 Dutch East Indies, vii, 77

 East Indies, Dutch, vii

 _Eclipse_, Captain David Gray’s schooner, 258

 Edwards, Captain Josh, 255

 Engine house, 11

 England, 9, 265

 Epiglottis, 44

 Eskimos, 251, 252, 253

 _Eubalæna glacialis._ _See_ Right whale

 _Euphausia inermis_, 67, 126, 301

 Fagan, D. W. O., quoted, 8

 Falkland Islands, 9, 123, 230, 304

 Fanshaw, Cape, 47

 Faroe Islands, 9, 263, 291

 Feed, 47

 Feeding, 50

 Feeding operations, 68

 Fertilizer, 36, 37, 88

 Finback, 19, 24, 39, 46, 55, 56, 57, 59, 61, 62, 70, 91, 122, 127, 129,
    143, 158, 160, 164, 166, 169, 172, 173, 175, 176, 178, 179, 180,
    183, 185, 223, 305, 306
   Millais’ description of killing, 181, 182

 Finland, 296

 Finmark, 3, 122, 263
   accident off coast of, 72

 Finners, 2

 Fins, 148, 149

 Fin whale, 2, 3, 143, 153, 223, 297, 304
   mating and pairing of, 73
   small fish eaten by, 69
   value of baleen of, 37

 Flensing knives, 81

 Flensing slip, 11, 36

 Flippers, 35, 149

 Floating factories, 9
   development of, 301, 302

 Flukes, 148

 Food, 11

 Formosa, 77

 Foyn, Svend, inventor of harpoon-gun, 1, 2, 16
   best years of (1871–1880), 3

 Frederick Sound, 4, 46, 59

 French Antarctic Expedition, 124

 _Fukushima_, 105

 Fur seal, 204, 208

 Fusan, 191

 Galapagos Islands, 9

 _Globicephalus brachypterus_, 295

 _Globicephalus melas_, 291

 _Globicephalus scammoni_, 295

 Glue, 37

 _Gracia_, whaling ship sunk by a finner, 176

 Grahame, Captain Charles, 46, 58, 59, 158, 168, 169, 173

 _Grampus_, 220

 _Grampus griseus_, 221

 Gray, Captain David, 258, 259, 262

 Gray whale, 198, 199
   diseases of, 210, 212, 214, 305
   food of, 207
   migration of, 202
   period of gestation of, 204

 Great Britain, 304

 Great Dismal Swamp Canal, 283

 Greenland, 9, 240, 263, 296

 Greenland right whale, 245, 247

 _Grind_, 291, 292, 294

 Guano, 37

 Guldberg, Dr. G. A., 262

 Gunner, 14, 16

 Hakata, 190

 Hansen, Captain, 109

 Harpoon, 12, 14

 Harpoon-gun, 2, 11, 16, 26
   charge of, 12
   weight of, 12

 Hebrides, 9

 Hermitage Bay, Newfoundland, 69, 146

 Herschel Island, 253

 Hibberd, Captain I. N., viii, 4

 _Hogei Maru No. 5_, 92

 Hudson Bay, 249

 Humpback, 19, 24, 27, 33, 38, 39, 44, 46, 48, 50, 52, 54, 55, 56, 57,
    60, 63
   amorous antics in mating season, 66
   baby, 73
   caught in wire nets, 6
   danger from lancing, 70
   dive of, 29
   great affection of, 69, 71, 72
   habits of, 59
   period of gestation, 73, 87, 130, 148, 149, 152, 158, 167, 168, 185,
      232, 305
   photograph of, breaching, 64
   playful disposition of, 66

 Hurum, Captain, 60, 197, 199

 Huxley, Leonard, 218

 _Hyperoödon rostratum._ _See_ Bottlenose

 Iceland, 3, 263, 296

 Ikeda, Mr., 79

 Indians, 23

 Indians, Siwash, 186

 Individual variation, 17, 20

 Inland Sea, 79

 Isafjord, 72

 Island Empire, cutting operations at, 37

 Italian hemp, tested for a breaking point of eighteen tons, 14

 _Iwashi kujira._ _See_ Sardine whale

 Jacobsen, Captain Reidar, 130

 Japan, 5, 14, 37, 57, 61, 64, 79, 123, 152, 189, 220, 230, 235, 249,
    253, 263, 266, 302
   use of whales for food in, 304, 305
   whaling banks of, 77

 Japan Sea, 190

 Japanese Empire, 5, 35, 178, 214
   coast of, 5, 57, 58
   stations in, 79

 Jarfjord, 3, 176

 Johanessen, Hans, mate of the _Puma_, 144

 Johnson, Captain, 197, 200

 Kamaishi, 130

 Kay Verde Islands, 239

 Kerguelen Islands, 9, 142, 304

 Killer whale, 197, 218, 220, 221, 222, 223, 261, 263, 267, 289, 295
   food of, 219
   strength and ferocity of, witnessed by Captain Scott, 215

 Kinka-San, 104, 121

 Kirkeö, site of first factory for converting whale flesh into guano, 3

 _Kirkwood_, ship, 156

 Kishimoto, 79

 _Koku kujira_ or devilfish, 108, 189, 190, 196

 Korea, 57, 178, 189, 190, 191, 202, 206, 208, 210, 220, 221
   coast of, 204

 Koreans, 193, 194, 195
   dress of, 192

 _Kronprinz Wilhelm_, 39

 Kyuquot, 4, 24, 153

 Labrador, 144, 263, 301
   coast of, 143

 _Lagenorhynchus obliquidens._ _See_ Porpoise

 Larsen, Captain, 19, 130

 Leopard, African hunting, 127

 Line, harpoon, 14

 Liouville, Doctor, 124

 Lobtail, 38

 Lobtailing, 65

 Lucas, Doctor Frederic A., vii, 75, 142
   extract from “_The Passing of the Whale_,” by, 298–300
   weighing and measuring of blue whale by, 140

 Layard’s whale (_Mesoplodon layardi_), 264

 Machine for drying the flesh, 11

 Magdalena Bay, 209

 _Main_, Captain Melsom’s ship, 195, 201

 “_Mammals of Great Britain and Ireland, The_,” by J. G. Millais,
    extracts from, 70, 146, 176, 182

 Manager’s house, 11

 Manatee. _See_ Sea cow

 “_Marine Mammalia, The_,” by Scammon, 196

 _Marsouin blanc_, 269

 Mast, 14

 Matsumoto, Mr., 195

 Maury, Lieut., 184, 256

 McGrath, R. T., 298

 McMurdo Strait, 220

 Megapteras, 66

 Melsom, Captain H. G., vii, 60, 70, 146, 195, 199, 201, 208, 263
   blue whale killed by, at Ulsan, Korea, 57

 _Mesoplodon densirostris_, specimen of, found on New Jersey coast, 265

 _Mesoplodon grayi_, 264

 _Mesoplodon layardi_ (Layard’s whale), 264

 _Metropolitan_, viii

 Mexico, Norwegian firm built station on Pacific coast of, 5, 301

 Milk, taste and appearance of, 73, 74, 75

 Milk glands, 74

 Millais, J. G., quoted, 69, 70, 71, 72, 144, 145, 146, 176, 180, 181,

 _Minerva_, whaling steamer, 72

 Montana, 140

 Motion-picture film, 100, 101

 Müller, Mr., 264

 Murderer’s Cove, 4, 46

 _Mystacoceti._ _See_ Whalebone whales

 Nagasaki, 77

 Nannaimo, Vancouver Island, Pacific Whaling Company erected a station
    at, 185

 Narwhal, 269, 276

 _National Geographic Magazine_, viii

 Naturalist, 16, 19, 20, 54

 _Ne Taihei_, 104

 Nets, for catching whales, 6

 New Bedford, Mass., 1, 2, 16, 239, 278

 New Bedford whalers, 238

 New England states, 1

 Newfoundland, 4, 5, 23, 24, 45, 75, 140, 144, 146, 178, 196, 297, 301

 Newfoundland fishery, 298

 New York, 91, 295

 New York Aquarium, 218, 278

 New York Zoölogical Society, 278, 280

 New Zealand, 6, 89, 140, 265

 Nilsen, Captain, 69, 146

 North Atlantic Ocean, 123, 124, 263, 291, 295

 North Atlantic right whale, 245, 296

 North Cape, 3, 176

 Norway, 1, 3, 5, 9, 24, 126, 147, 258, 304

 Norwegian captains, authentic instances related by, 72

 Norwegian fishermen, relation to whaling, 3

 Norwegian gunner, 14

 Norwegian whalers, 4

 Norwegians, 5, 16, 23, 24, 75, 122, 143, 181, 210, 258

 Nostrils, 44, 55

 Nova Zembla, 263

 Nursing of whales, 74

 Nye, Joseph K., owner of porpoise fishery at New Bedford, Mass., 278

 _Odontoceti_, 67

 Offices, 11

 Ogiwara, D., viii

 Ohlin, Axel, 259

 Okhotsk Sea, 203, 249

 Olsen, Captain Fred, vii, 105, 129, 130, 132, 133, 135, 136, 137, 138,
    230, 238, 263

 _Orca gladiator_, 289

 Orca or killer whale, enemy of other whales, 197, 199, 200, 201, 219,
    220, 221, 223, 261

 Oriental Whaling Company, Ltd., 78

 _Orion_, 24, 25, 30, 33, 38

 Osaka, viii, 5, 121

 Osborn, Henry Fairfield, viii

 Oshima, 80, 91, 152

 _Outing_, viii

 Pacific coast of America, 4, 64
   of Mexico, 5

 Pacific Ocean, 124, 142, 183, 184, 202, 263, 264, 295, 301, 304

 Pacific Steam Whaling Company, 252

 Pacific Whaling Company, Victoria, B. C, vii, 4, 5, 22, 185

 Pamlico Sound, 283, 290

 Pan, 14, 27

 Parasite, 66
   discovery of, 124

 “Passing of the Whale,” extract from Zoölogical Society Bulletin,

 _Penella antarctica_, parasite, description of scar made by, 124

 Petersen, Captain John, 72

 Photographic negatives, developing of, 54

 Placentia, 145

 _Plymouth_, ship, 155

 Pod, 17

 Point Barrow, Alaska, 249, 252, 253

 _Polachius virens._ _See_ Black codfish

 Porpoise fishery, 278

 “Porpoise in Captivity, The,” by Charles H. Townsend, 280

 Porpoise oil, 269

 Porpoise, white, 56, 77

 Porpoises, 151, 267
   hide of, 154
   school of, 58, 137

 Pram, 69, 71, 72

 Pregnant whales, 74

 Pribilof Islands, 208

 _Puma_, whale steamer, 144, 145

 Quinton, J. H., vii, 23

 Red shrimp, 67, 126

 _Rekkusu Maru_, 105, 129, 130

 Revenue from shore whaling, 2

 _Rex Maru_, 200

 Right whale, 2, 143, 145, 184, 253
   food of, 248
   origin of name, 245
   skeleton and baleen of, in American Museum, 255

 Rocovitza, 59

 Rolls, Mr., 23

 Rope, five-inch, 12, 14, 27

 Rope-pan, 26

 Ruck, Sidney C., vii

 Russian industry, 5

 Russian-Japanese War, 5

 St. Lawrence River, 56, 77, 269

 _St. Lawrence_, whaler, 19, 69, 130

 Saldanha Bay, 6

 San Francisco, 249

 _San Hogei_, 105, 109

 Sandefjord, 5

 Sardine whale (_Iwashi kujira_), 91, 94, 123

 Sardines, 110

 Scammon, Charles M., quoted, 66, 154, 196, 203, 204–206, 208, 209, 212,

 Scandinavians, 16

 School, 17

 Scientist, 18

 Scotland, 9

 Scott, Captain Robert F., quoted, 215, 217, 218

 Sea cow or manatee, 213

 Sea leopard, 220

 Seals, 213

 Seattle, 249

 Sechart, 4, 22, 24, 33, 73, 74
   cutting operations at, 37

 Sei whale, 91, 104, 105, 120, 125, 127, 185, 305
   food of, 126
   habits of, 123
   migrations of, 124
   origin of name, 122
   parasite on body of, 124
   speed of, 97

 _Seje_, 122

 Sharps, 117, 118, 119, 121

 Shetlands, 9, 146

 Sherwood, George H., vii

 Shimonoseki, viii, 78, 91

 _Shiro-nagasu_, 130, 178

 _Shiro-nagasu kujira_, 80

 _Shirosaki_ (white blubber whale), 214

 Shore stations, 9, 20

 Shore whaling, 19
   development of, 1
   operations of Japanese and Russians in, 5
   plea for proper legislation of, 305, 306
   revenue from, 2

 Shrimps, 68, 69, 301

 Siberia, coast of, 5, 146

 Siwash Indians, 186

 Sleep, where whales, 60

 Slicing machine, 35

 Slip, 20

 Slocum, Victor, quoted, 240–244

 Smithsonian Institution, 219

 Soft palate, 44

 Sorenson, the gunner, 50, 52, 53, 63, 161, 164, 168, 171, 172

 _Sorenson_, wooden whale ship, sunk by a finback, 175

 Sound produced by blowing, 55

 Sounded, 63

 Sounding, 39

 South Africa, 5, 123

 South America, 9, 249

 South Atlantic grounds, 9

 South Atlantic Ocean, 11, 124, 142, 302, 304

 South Georgia Islands, 9, 142
   as whaling center, 302, 304

 South Orkneys, 9, 304

 South Sea Islands, 90

 South Shetland Islands, 123, 304

 Spain, 296

 _Spes et Fides_, ship, 3

 Sperm whale, 2, 67, 77, 91, 94, 95, 143, 177, 184, 223, 224, 225, 227,
    228, 229, 230, 232, 238, 239, 261, 263, 265
   killed in Japan for the American Museum, 235

 Spermaceti, 225, 261

 Spitzbergen, 9, 263, 296

 Spout, 45, 55, 56
   height and density of the, 44

 Spouting, 43, 50, 55
   number of times of, by humpback, 56

 Squid, 226, 230

 Steam whalers, effect of development of, in capture of finners, 2

 Steller’s sea lions, 219

 Stillman, Doctor J. D. B., quoted, 155, 156, 157

 Stokken, Captain, 181

 Storm Island, 48

 Störthing, prohibited shore whaling in 1903, 4

 Straits of Juan de Fuca, 25

 Street, V. H., vii

 Sub-Antarctic Islands, 9

 Sulphurbottom or blue whale, 155, 157, 178

 Swedish iron, 12

 Swordfish, 222, 223

 Tadoussac, 269, 277

 _Takamatsu_, Japanese name for killer, 220

 Tasmania, 6

 Teats, 73, 74

 _Tees_, 22

 Thresher, 220, 222

 Tokyo, 91

 Tokyo Bay, 266

 Tongue, 68

 Tønsberg, 1, 2, 16

 Toothed whales (_Odontoceti_), 67

 Towing line, 27

 Townsend, Charles H., 218, 279
   experience of, on Pribilof Islands, 218, 219
   quoted, 280–290

 Toyo Hogei Kabushiki Kaisha, president and directors of, viii, 5, 78,
    90, 190

 Trachea or windpipe, 44

 Trying out vats, 35

 _Tursiops truncatus._ _See_ Bottlenose porpoise

 Twins, 74

 Tyee, Alaska, 46

 _Tyee_, Captain Charles Grahame’s ship, 46, 158

 Tyee Company of Alaska, 4, 5, 175, 185

 Ulsan, Korea, 57, 60, 190, 192, 195, 197, 200, 202, 207, 208, 210

 Unimak Pass, 5

 United States National Museum, 75

 United States Whaling Company, 5

 Vadso, 176

 Vancouver, factories of Canadian North Pacific Fisheries, Ltd., at, 5

 Vancouver Island, 4, 19, 22, 46, 130, 185, 220

 Varangerfjord, 3, 176

 Vardö, 3

 Victoria, B. C., 4

 Vocal organs, 55

 Voice, 55

 Wads, 12

 Wainscott, L. I., 256

 Walrus, 213, 221

 Wangamumu, 6

 Weddell seal, 220

 Whale lice, 211, 212, 248

 Whale oil, 151

 Whalebone, 2, 37
   growth, composition, shape, bristles, use, development of, 67, 143,

 Whalebone plates, bristles on inner side of, 69

 Whalebone whales (_Mystacoceti_), 67

 Whales, breeding habits of, 72
   carcass used for human consumption, 5
   depth of diving, 41
   description of cutting, 240
   double-finned, 61, 62
   early extinction of, 21
   food of, 67
   inflating, 32, 33
   influence of, upon fishing, 4
   investigations, distribution, life history, relationship of, 20
   manner of swimming, 148
   meat of, 77
     canning of, 89
     chemical analysis of, 88
     for eating purposes, 86
     price of, 87
     taste of, 88
   methods of studying, 19
   milking, 75
   movements of, 67
   nets for catching, 6
   number taken during a season, 19

 Whales, scientific study of, 17
   spouting of, 43
   time below the surface, 56
   with two dorsal fins, 61
   young of, number of, at a birth, 74
     nursing of, 74

 Whales, Asiatic, viii

 Whaling, beginning of, 245
   great part persistency plays in, 136
   new era of, 16

 Whaling companies, assistance of, to scientists, 20

 Whaling grounds, greatest of modern times, 9

 Whaling ships, 11

 Whaling stations, 11

 Wharf, 11

 White porpoise (_Delphinapterus leucas_), 56, 269

 White whale or beluga, 154

 Wilson, Doctor, quoted, 220

 Winch, 14, 32, 34, 134

 Windpipe or trachea, 44

 _World’s Work_, viii

 Wrangle Island, 249

 Wyoming, 140

 Ziphiidæ, 264

 Ziphioids, 258, 265


                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES

 1. Silently corrected obvious typographical errors and variations in
 2. Retained archaic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings as printed.
 3. Re-indexed footnotes using numbers.
 4. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.

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