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WHALEBONE

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Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 574 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WHALEBONE, the inaccurate name under which the baleen plates of the right whale are popularly known; the trade-name of whale-fin, which the substance receives in commerce, is equally misleading. Whalebone is formed in the palate on the roof of the mouth and is an exaggeration of the ridges, often horny in character, which are found on the roof of the mouth of all mammals. Three kinds are recognized by traders—the Green-land, yielded by the Greenland whale, Balaena mysticetus; the South Sea, the produce of the Antarctic black whale, B. australis; and the Pacific or American, which is obtained from B. japonica. Very many different names have been given to whales of the B. australis group, and it is possible that local races exist, whilst some writers are inclined to regard B. japonica as not specifically distinct from B. australis. Of these the Greenland whalebone is the most valuable. It formed the only staple known in earlier times, when the northern whale fishery was a great and productive industry. This whalebone usually comes into the market trimmed and clean, with the hairy fringe which edges the plates removed. To prepare whalebone for its economic applications, the blades or plates are boiled for about twelve hours, till the substance is quite soft, in which state it is cut either into narrow strips or into small bristle-like filaments, according to the use to which it is to be devoted. Whalebone possesses a unique combination of properties which render it peculiarly and almost exclusively suitable for several purposes. It is light, flexible, tough and fibrous, and its fibres run parallel to each other without intertwisting. One of its earliest uses, referred to by William le Breton in the 13th century, was to form the plumes on helmets. It has been found practicable to employ flexible steel for several purposes to which whalebone was formerly applied, especially in the umbrella and corset industries, in which steel is now almost exclusively used. Whalebone, is, however, still in large demand among dressmakers and milliners; but it is principally used in the brush trade. In cases where bristles are too soft and weak, and where the available vegetable fibres possess insufficient elasticity and durability, whalebone offers the great advantage of being procurable in strips or filaments, long or short, thick or thin, according to requirement. Hence it is principally used for making brushes for mechanical purposes. The use of whalebone in brush-making was originally patented by Samuel Crackles in 18o8, and various special machines have been adapted for cutting the material into filaments. When whalebone came into the English market in the 17th century it cost at first about {loo per ton. In the 18th century its price ranged from £350 to £500 per ton, but early in the 19th century it fell as low as X25. Later it varied from 200 to £250; but with the decrease in whaling the article has become very scarce, and upwards of £2000 per ton is now paid for Greenland whalebone. WHALE-FISHERY, or WHALING, the pursuit and capture of the larger species of cetaceans (see CETACEA and WHALE). Man, in all probability, first became acquainted with the value of the products yielded by whales from stranded individuals; but at what time he first ventured to hunt and kill these monsters in the open ocean it is now impossible to ascertain. We know, however, from King Alfred's account of Ohthere's voyage to the White Sea that the Norwegians were expert whalers at least a thousand years ago; and we also know that from the loth to the 16th centuries the Basques of Bayonne, Biarritz, St Jean-de-Luz, San Sebastian and certain other French and Spanish ports were carrying on a lucrative trade in the products of a whale-fishery conducted by themselves, which supplied Europe with whalebone and oil. In the latter, and not improbably also in the former case, the species hunted was the Atlantic right-whale, or black whale (Balaena biscayensis), which the Basques seem to have well-nigh exterminated in their own waters; and it was not till a later epoch that the pursuit of its larger-headed cousin, the Greenland right-whale (B. mysticetus), was initiated. Hunting the sperm-whale, or cachalot, in the South Sea was a still later development, while rorqualhunting is quite a modern industry. Of whaling vessels of the old type, a brief notice will suffice. Those engaged in the British South Sea fishery, which was in its prime about the year 1790, were from 300 to 400 tons burden, and equipped for at least a three-years' voyage. They carried from 28 to 33 officers and men, and six whale-boats. Built sharp at both ends, these boats were about 27 ft. long, and were furnished, in addition to masts and sails, with a couple of Zoo-fathom whale-lines. When a whale was sighted from the " crow's-nest " at the masthead of the vessel, four boats, each carrying a crew of six men, were lowered and despatched in pursuit. The crew consisted of a boat-steerer in the bow, four rowers and a headsman in the stern. The boat-steerer carried the harpoons with which the whale was first attacked, and when the boat was once " fast " to a whale by means of the harpoon and line, the attack was carried on by the headsman, who was armed with long slender lances. When several whales were seen, two or more of the boats might make separate attacks; but in other instances they kept together, so that their united lines were available when the whale descended or " sounded." After the first blow of the harpoon, or at all events after the first effective lancing, the " sounding " was deep and prolonged; but loss of blood eventually caused the victim to keep near the surface, when, if all went well, it was finally despatched by lance-thrusts behind one of the flippers into the vital parts. When a sperm-whale was killed, the carcase was made fast to the side of the vessel, and the process of flensing, or " cutting-in," commenced. On being made fast to the vessel, the whale was enveloped in a framework, and a strip of the blubber cut in a spiral direction. By raising this strip with the aid of proper apparatus, the whale could be turned round and round on its axis, and nearly the whole of the blubber removed in a continuous piece, to be cut, as required, into convenient lengths. Meanwhile the liquid spermaceti, or " head-matter," was ladled out in buckets from the great cavity in the skull and put in casks, where it solidified, to be carried to port and there refined. The blubber was, however, reduced to oil by " try-works " with which the vessel was provided, and stored in barrels. A large male sperm-whale will yield as much as eighty barrels, or about 3 tons of oil; while the yield of a small female does not exceed I or 2 tons. In the old days the cargo of a successful vessel might include the products of a hundred whales, yielding from ISO to 200 tons of boiled sperm-oil in addition to the spermaceti. In the old days of the Greenland whale-fishery vessels of about 350 tons burden were deemed the most eligible, these being constructed in such a manner as to resist so far as possible the pressure of the ice. The crew was about fifty in number, and the vessel carried six or seven whale-boats of the same length as those used in the South Sea fishery. The vessels left Peterhead and Dundee (the ports for the Greenland fishery, as was London for the South Sea fishery) about the beginning of April, and, after touching at the Shetlands, reached the whaling-grounds before the end of that month. In approaching a whale, which was effected from behind, silence was essential, and the harpoon had to be delivered within a distance of a few yards. The moment the wounded whale disappeared a flag was hoisted in the boat to give notice that assistance was required from the ship. Attention to the line was a matter of the utmost importance, as if it became entangled the boat would be drawn under water by the whale. Sometimes its motion was retarded by one or more turns round the " bollard," a post fixed for this purpose in the boat; when this was done the friction was so great as to produce quantities of smoke, fire being prevented by sluicing the bollard with water. Even with the assistance offered by the bollard, the whale-line might be run out within ten minutes, when the lines of a second or even a third boat would be attached. In this manner some 600 or 700 fathoms of line would be taken out; the whale commonly remaining under water when first wounded for about 40 minutes, although a period of an hour is said to be not unfrequent. On rising after its second descent the whale was attacked with lances thrust deep into the body and aimed at the vital parts. The old-fashioned lance was a 6-ft. rod and 1-in. iron, flattened at one end into the form of a lance-head with cutting edges, and at the other expanding into a socket for the reception of a short wooden handle. Torrents of blood spouted from the blow-hole of the whale denoted the approaching end of the struggle. So soon as the whale was dead, no time was lost in piercing the tail or " flukes," and thus making the carcase fast to the boats by means of a cable, and then towing it in the direction of the ship. From fifteen minutes to as much as fifty hours might be occupied in a whale-hunt. The following account of the operation of " flensing," or securing the blubber and whalebone of the Greenland whale, is taken from Sir William Jardine's Naturalists' Library:-- " The huge carcase is somewhat extended by strong tackles placed at the snout and tail. A band of blubber, two or three feet in width, encircling the whale's body at what is the neck in other animals, is called the kent, because by means of it the whale is turned over or kented. To this band is fixed the lower extremity of a combination of powerful blocks, called the kent-purchase, by means of which the whole circumference of the animal is, section by section, brought to the surface. The harpooners, having spikes on their feet to prevent their falling from the carcase, then begin with a kind of spade, and with huge knives, to make long parallel cuts from end to end, which are divided by cross-cuts into pieces of about half a ton. These are conveyed on deck, and, after being reduced to smaller portions, are stowed in the hold. Finally, being by other operations still further divided, the blubber is put into casks, which is called ` making-off,' and packed down completely by a suitable instrument. " While this flensing is proceeding, and when it reaches the lips, which contain much oil, the baleen (whalebone) is exposed. This is detached by means of bone hand-spikes, bone knives and bone spades. The whole whalebone is hoisted on deck in one mass, when it is split by bone wedges into junks, containing five or ten blades each, and stowed away. When the whole whalebone and blubber are thus secured, the two jaw-bones, from the quantity of oil which they contain, are usually hoisted on deck, and then only the kreng remains—the huge carcase of flesh and bone, which is abandoned either to sink or to be devoured by the birds, sharks and bears, which duly attend on such occasions for their share of the prey." The largest cargo ever secured by a Scotch whaler was that of the " Revolution " of Peterhead in 1814, which comprised the products of no less than forty-four whales. The oil, which amounted to 299 tons, realized £9568, while the price obtained for the whalebone, added to the government bounty then given to Greenland whalers, brought up the total sum to £1s,000. Allowing a ton to each whale, the whalebone alone at present prices would have yielded about £1ro,000! At a later period, say about 188o, the Greenland whaler had grown to a vessel of from 400 to 500 tons gross register, rigged either as a ship or a bark, and provided with auxiliary engines of about 75 horse-power. She would be manned by from fifty to sixty hands, and would carry eight boats of the type mentioned above. Below the hold-beams were fitted about fifty iron tanks capable of containing from 200 to 250 tons of oil. Such a vessel would cost about £17,500 to build, and her working expenses, exclusive of interest and insurance, would be about £500 a month. At the period mentioned each whale-boat was armed with a harpoon-gun measuring 4 ft. 6 in. in length and weighing 75 lb; the barrel being 3 ft. long, with rz-in. bore, and mounted in a wooden stock, tapering behind into a pistol-handle. The gun-harpoon is used solely for first getting on to the whales; hand-harpoons being employed for getting a hold with other lines. Without referring to further improvements in the weaponsand vessels employed, it will suffice to state that in the Greenland whale-fishery the whales are still killed from whale-boats. In the rorqual-fishery, as at Newfoundland, on the other hand, the actual attack is made from a steam-vessel of considerable size, as is described in the following quotation from a paper by Mr G. M. Allen in the American Naturalist for 1904, refer-ring to the fishery at Rose-au-Rue, Placentia Bay, Newfoundland:- The fishery itself, " observes the author, " is carried on by means of small and staunchly built iron steamers of something over one hundred tons. A cannon-like gun is mounted on a pivot at the bow, and discharges a 5-ft. harpoon of over too lb weight, which at short range is nearly buried in the body of the whale. A hollow iron cap filled with blasting powder is screwed to the tip of the harpoon, forming its point. A timed fuse discharges the bomb inside the body of the whale. The harpoon carries a stout cable which is handled by a powerful 5-sheet winch on the steamer's deck." Explosive harpoons of the type referred to were invented by Svend Foyn, a Norwegian, and used by him about the year 1865 or 1866 in the manner described above, as they still are in various Norwegian rorqual-fisheries. In fisheries of this type the carcases of the whales are towed into harbour for flensing; and in place of the kreng " being wasted, the flesh is worked up to form an excellent manure, while the bones are ground up and also used as fertilisers. A somewhat similar mode of proceeding characterizes the sperm-whale fishery now carried on in the Azores, so far at least as the towing of the carcases to shore for the purpose of flensing is concerned. According to an account given by Professor E. L. Bouvier in the Bulletin de l'Institut Oceanographique for 1907, American whalers have observation stations on most of the islands of the Azores group; Horta, in Fayal, being the favourite station. The carcases of the cachalots are towed for flensing into a small creek adjacent to the port, where, after the removal of the spermaceti and blubber, they are left to rot. Even the teeth have a commercial value, being either sold as curiosities in Horta, or utilized for ivory. Whenever practicable, the whales caught by the vessels belonging to the great sperm-whaling station at New Bedford are towed into the harbour for flensing. Passing on to a review of some of the more important whale-fisheries of the world, the Atlantic fishery by the Basques in the loth and six succeeding centuries claims first mention. Readers desirous of obtaining further insight into the little that is known about it are referred to an interesting paper by Sir Clements Markham published in the Proceedings of the Zoo-logical Society of London for 1881. Although, as already mentioned, the black whale (Balaena biscayensis) was well-nigh exterminated in the north Atlantic by the Basques, and for many years afterwards was excessively rare, yet quite recently several examples have been taken by Scottish whalers off the Hebrides, while the whalebone of others has been received at New Bedford. The discovery in 1596 by the Dutch navigator Barents of Spitzbergen, followed by the voyage of Hudson in the " Hope-well " in 1607, may be said to have inaugurated the second phase in the whaling industry; these adventurous voyages bringing to light for the first time the existence of the Greenland whale (B. mysticetus) ; a species of much greater value than any that had been previously hunted. Here it may be well to refer to two common misconceptions regarding this whale. In the first place, it does not appear to be, as commonly supposed, a circumpolar species. There is, for instance, no evidence of its occurrence eastward of Spitzbergen along the Siberian coast between to° and 1700 E.; and it is not till the latter parallel is reached, at Cape Schelagskoi, that the domain of the so-called bowhead of the American whales is entered. " On the other side of Bering Strait," writes Mr T. Southwell in the Annals of Scottish Natural History for April 1904, " these whales do not appear to penetrate much farther east than Cape Bathurst, and it seems highly improbable that there is any inter-communication between those at that point and the whales in Baffin Bay. On the other hand, the whales on the east side of Davis Strait do not descend so far south as Cape Farewell, nor are those in the Greenland Sea known to pass westward round that cape. It seems therefore that, although their range as a species is undoubtedly extensive longitudinally, the localities they inhabit are greatly restricted, each being inhabited by a local race differing from the other in some slight degree." The second misconception is that the Greenland whale has gradually been driven northward by the whalers. A sufficient proof of the falsity of this idea is afforded by the fact that the minute organisms constituting the food of the species are restricted to the icy seas of the far north. The Greenland whale is, in fact. essentially an ice-whale. To revert to the history of the fishery, no sooner was the accessibility of the Spitzbergen seas made known than vessels were fitted out for whaling there, at first by the British, and soon after by the Dutch. The seas absolutely swarmed with whales, which showed little fear of vessels and could thus be captured with ease. The first whaling expedition was despatched by the Muscovy Company, under the command of Jonas Poole; and the success of four voyages (16o9-161 2) soon attracted the attention of other nations. Some indication of the abundance of the whales may be gathered from the fact that in the year 1697 no less than 1959 of these monsters were killed off Spitzbergen by 188 vessels. The fishery in Davis Strait was begun in 1719 by the Dutch, who at first killed large numbers of whales and were subsequently followed by the British. Although many whales have been seen in recent years, few are taken; and it is the opinion of many that in Greenland waters, at any rate, steam has been fatal to the industry. The following summary of the rise and fall of the British Greenland whale-fishery is given by Mr Southwell in the article already cited: " For the first quarter of the 19th century scarcely a seaport of any importance on the east coast of England was unrepresented in the Arctic seas: from Scotland, Berwick, Leith, Kirkcaldy, Dundee, Montrose, Aberdeen, Peterhead, Kirkwall, Greenock and for a time Banff and Bo'ness, all took part in the whale-fishery. Gradually, one by one, they fell off, till only Peterhead, which sent out her first whaler in 1788, and Dundee (which started in 1790) were left. In 1893 Peterhead, which in 1857 sent out 34 vessels, ceased to be represented in the industry, leaving Dundee in possession of the field. Dundee sent out its largest fleet in 1885,–16 vessels; in 1903 she was represented by 5 vessels only, one of which was wrecked." According to Mr Southwell's account of the Arctic fishery (Zoologist, 1906), a Dundee vessel, the " Scotia," visited the east Greenland seas in the summer of 1906, where she took four small right-whales; this visit being the first made to those seas by a British vessel since 1899. As already mentioned, the British whalers were accustomed to sail for the Arctic Ocean early in April; and if their destination was the east Greenland sea, off the west coast of Spitzbergen, they generally arrived on the grounds about a month later. The whales make their appearance amongst the ice near the sea edge about the 15th of May, but only remain until the opening of the barrier-ice permits them to resume their northward journey; for about the middle of June they suddenly disappear from these grounds, and are last seen going north-west, when the north Greenland whale-fishing is over for the season. If unsuccessful in obtaining a cargo at the northern grounds, the whale-ships were accustomed to proceed southwards as far as lat. 75°; where, if the sea were sufficiently open, they penetrated west-wards until the coast of Greenland became visible. There they cntised amongst the ice until August, when the darkness of the nights put an end to the season's fishing. If the south-west fishery, in Davis Strait, were the first object of the voyage, the vessels arrived at the edge of the ice near Resolution Island in April. If unsuccessful here they proceeded direct to Disco Island, where they usually arrived early in May. The whales appear about the middle of May at South East Bay, where a great fishing was once carried on. The dangerous passage of Melville Bay was next performed; the whales entering the north water in June, and pushing on towards the sounds. If there were a " land-floe across," i.e. if the land-ice of the west side were continuous across the entrance of Ponds Bay and Lancaster Sound,whales would be seen in considerable numbers and good cargoes might be obtained; but immediately the land-floe broke up they departed to the westward. When there was no land-floe across, the whales proceeded at once to the secluded waters of Eclipse Sound and Prince Regent Inlet for the summer months. At this season most of the vessels cruised in the sounds, but a few searched the middle ice, until the darkness of the August nights compelled them to seek anchorage in some of the harbours of the west side, to await the return of the whales south. This migration takes place on the formation of young ice in the sounds, usually in the latter part of September. Only the larger whales, most of which are males, come, however, close down along the land of the west side. These the ships sent their boats to intercept; this forming the inshore-fishing, or " rock-nosing," which continued till the formation of young ice drove the vessels out of harbour, usually early in October. A few vessels, American as well as British, occasionally entered Hudson Bay and prosecuted the fishing in the neighbourhood of Southampton Island, even entering Fox Channel. There were whaling-stations in Cumberland Inlet, and a few vessels usually remained throughout the winter, ready to take advantage of the opening of the ice in the following spring. Here both young and old whales make their appearance in May; and the fishing continued till the whales migrated northwards in June. Of the other nationalities which took part in the Spitzbergen-Greenland fisheries, it may be mentioned that the Dutch had fisheries both at Jan Mayen till 164o and at Spitzbergen. In the Spitzbergen fishery 10,019 whales were taken by them in the ten years from 1679 to 1688. About 1680, when the fishing was probably most prosperous, they had 26o vessels and 14,000 seamen employed. The fishery continued to flourish on an extensive scale till 1770, when it began to decline, and it finally came to a close before the end of the century. At the same time the Germans prosecuted the fishing to a very considerable extent; 79 vessels from Hamburg and Bremen being employed in 1721, while during the fifty years from 167o to 1719 an average of 45 vessels sailed yearly from Hamburg alone. German vessels continued to engage in the fishery until 1873. The Spaniards, although they at first supplied the harpooners to the crews of the English and Dutch vessels, never seem to have engaged largely in the northern fishery. The Danes, although likewise early appearing on the Spitzbergen fishing-grounds, never pursued the industry on a large scale until after the commencement of the Davis Strait fishing in 1721, in which year they had 90 vessels engaged; but by 1803 the number had fallen to 35. The continually increasing rarity of the Greenland whale has caused an enormous appreciation in the value of whalebone of recent years, as compared to the prices obtaining the first half of the last century. For about twenty years preceding the year 1840 the average price of this commodity was about £163 per ton; while in the year 1835 whalebone of the Greenland whale sold at £250 per ton, and that of the south Atlantic black whale (Balaena australis) at £145 per ton. At the present date the price is about £2500 per ton, but a few years ago it touched £2800, although soon after it fell for a short time to £1400. The reason of the fall from £2800 to £2500 (at about which figure the price has stood for some time) is believed to be owing to the use of strips of horn for many purposes where whale-bone was formerly employed. Owing to its much greater length, the whalebone of the Greenland whale is, as indicated above, far more valuable than that yielded by the northern and southern Atlantic black whales, of which comparatively little generally comes into the market. The best quality of whalebone is known in the trade as " size-bone," and consists of plates not less than 6 ft. in length. In the twenty years preceding 184o the average price of whale-oil from the northern fisheries was £30 per ton; the actual price in 1835 being £4o per ton. At the present day the price is only £23 per ton. It may be added that in 1835 South Sea oil sold at £43 and sperm-oil at £75 per ton. A few words will suffice for the American fishery of the so-called bowhead, the western race of the Greenland whale, in Bering Strait. Here the whales are mostly sought for and killed in open water, and the vessels are consequently less adapted for ice-work. For the most part the vessels sail from San Francisco in March, and arrive at the ice-edge off Cape Navarin, where the fishing is begun, in May. The whales disappear during summer, but return in the autumn, when the " fall-fishing " is carried on in the neighbourhood of Point Barrow; and between the seasons it was customary for the vessels to go south for sperm-whaling. The Bering Strait fishery was begun in 1848, and in the three following years 250 ships obtained cargoes. In 1871 no less than 34 vessels were abandoned in the ice off Cape Belcher, the crews making good their escape to other vessels; while again in 1876 a dozen vessels experienced a similar fate. The sperm-whale fishery, of which the products are spermaceti, sperm-oil, ambergris (mostly found floating in masses in the sea) and teeth, appears to have been initiated by the Americans in 1690, who for a considerable period found sufficient occupation in the neighbourhood of their own coasts. The British are, however, stated to have opened up the great whaling-grounds of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, although they did not embark on sperm-whaling till 1775. Within less than twenty years from that date their trade had, however, attained its maximum; no less than 75 British vessels, all from the port of London, being engaged in this industry in the year 1791. After this there was a steady decline till 1830, when only 31 vessels were thus employed; and since 1853 sperm-whaling has ceased to be a British industry. As regards the American fishery, the island of Nantucket embarked in this trade about the year 1712, and by 1774 there were 36o American ships engaged in sperm-whaling, while in 1846, when the fishery was about at its zenith, the number was 735, mostly from New Bedford. Between 1877 and 1886 the average number of vessels had sunk to 159. New Bedford, on the Atlantic, and San Francisco, on the Pacific side, are the two great whaling centres; and during the period last mentioned the average imports of whaling products into the United States totalled 5304 tons of sperm-oil, together with 4863 tons of whale-oil and 145 tons of whalebone. During the first half of the last century the colony of New South Wales was busily engaged in this trade, and in 1835 exported 2989 tons of sperm-oil. Since the year 1882, when no less than 203 head were taken by the Peterhead whaler " Eclipse," the Norwegians have carried on a fishery for the bottle-nosed whale (Hyperoodon rostratus), a species which although greatly inferior in point of size, yields an oil closely akin to sperm-oil, but possessed of even greater lubricating power. An average male bottle-nose will yield about 22 cwts. of oil, containing 5% of pure spermaceti. Bottle-nose fishing is chiefly carried on in the neighbourhood of Jan Mayen and Iceland during the months of May, June and July, the whales usually disappearing quite suddenly about the middle of the last-mentioned month. In 1903 about 1600 tons of this oil came on the market, which would imply the destruction of nearly 2000 whales. The invention by Svend Foyn of the explosive harpoon, already referred to, inaugurated about the year 1866 the Norwegian fin-whale fishery, an industry which has since been taken up by other nationalities. The rorquals or fin-whales (Balaenoptera), which include the largest of all cetaceans, are built for speed, and are much fiercer animals than either the Greenland or the Atlantic right whale; their rush when wounded being of enormous velocity, while their vitality is such that attacking them in the old-fashioned way with the hand-harpoon is practically useless, and at the same time fraught with great danger to the pursuers. To a considerable extent the same may be affirmed of the humpbacked whale (Megaptera). Under these circumstances, previous to the invention of the bomb-harpoon, these whales were left entirely alone by the whalers. By the year 1885 the Norwegians had a fleet of over 30 vessels engaged in this fishery off the coast of Finrnark, the amount of whose catch comprised 1398 whales in 1885, and 954 in the following year. Gradually the Norwegians have developed and extended the rorqual-fishery, and they now possess stations in Iceland, the Faroes and Shetlands, and also at Buneveneader in Harris in the Hebrides. In the Shetlands there are two stations at the head of Hones Voe on the north-west side of themainland where operations are carried on from May and June till September, when the whales leave the shore. During the first season (1903) the Norrona Whaling Company's vessels killed 64 whales, while 62 were accounted for by the Shetland Whaling Company. In 1898 a successful rorqual-fishery was established by the Newfoundland Steam Whaling Company at Rose-au-Rue, Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. Four species of rorquals as well as humpbacks are hunted; and during a portion of the season in 1903 the catch included 174 of the former and 14. of the latter. In addition to the above-mentioned fisheries for the larger whales, there are considerable local captures of the smaller kinds, commonly known as grampuses or killers, porpoises,and dolphins. Of these, however, very brief mention must suffice. The most important captures are generally made in northern seas. The black pilot-whale, or grindhval (Globicephalus melas), is, for in-stance, not infrequently taken in large shoals by the Faroe islanders; these whales being driven by boats into the shallows, where they are sometimes slaughtered by hundreds. Much the same may be stated with regard to the grampus or killer (Orel gladiator), of which no less than 47 head were killed at once in January 1904 at Bildostrommen, Norway. Of even more importance is the white-whale or beluga (Delphinapterus leucas), which is hunted for its blubber, hide and flesh; the average yield per head being about loo gallons of oil. In 1871 the Tromsoe whalers captured no less than 2167 individuals; while in 1898 300 out of a school of some 900 were captured on a single occasion at Point Barrow, Alaska. These whales, which are worth about £3 a head, yield the leather known commercially as " porpoise-hide." The narwhal (Monodon monoceros), yielding both blubber and the valuable ivory tusks, is usually captured singly by the Greenlanders in their " kayaks." Local porpoise and dolphin fisheries are carried on by the fishermen in many parts of the world, the natives of the Travancore coast being noted for their success in this respect; while even the fresh-water susu or Ganges dolphin (Platanista gangetica) and the Rio de la Plata dolphin (Pontoporia blainvillei) are also caught in considerable numbers for the sake of their blubber. WHALE-OIL, the oil obtained from the blubber of various species of the genus Balaena, as B. mysticetus, Greenland or " right " whale (northern whale-oil), B. australis (southern whale-oil), Balaenoptera longimana, Balaenoptera borealis (Finback oil, Finner whale-oil, Humpback oil). The " orca or " killer " whale, and the " beluga " or white whale, also yield " whale-oils." " Train-oil " proper is the northern whale-oil, but this term has been applied to all blubber oils, and in Germany, to all marine animal oils—fish-oils, liver oils, and blubber oils. The most important whale-oil is sperm or spermaceti oil, yielded by the sperm-whales. Whale-oil varies in colour from a bright honey yellow to a dark brown, according to the condition of the blubber from which it has been extracted. At best it has a rank fishy odour, and the darker the colour the more disagreeable the smell. With lowering of the temperature stearin, accompanied with a small proportion of spermaceti, separates from the oil, and a little under the freezing-point nearly the whole of these constituents may be crystallized out. When separated and pressed, this deposit is known as whale tallow, and the oil from which it is removed is distinguished as pressed whale-oil; this, owing to its limpidity, is sometimes passed as sperm-oil. Whale-oil is principally used in oiling wools for combing, in hatching flax and other vegetable fibres, in currying and chamois leather-making, and as a lubricant for machinery. Sperm-oil is obtained from the cavity in the head of the sperm-whale, and from several smaller receptacles throughout the body of the animal. During the life of the whale the contents of these cavities are in a fluid condition, but no sooner is the " head matter " removed than the solid wax spermaceti separates in white crystalline flakes, leaving the oil a clear yellow fluid having a fishy odour. Refined sperm-oil is a most valuable lubricant for small and delicate machinery (see OILS).
End of Article: WHALEBONE
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