Page:Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821.djvu/195

This page has been validated.

to be both the principal, and the favourite, food of the whale; and, according to Captain Scoresby, it was these animalculæ which here gave colour to the ocean. That which appeared to me the most curious among their varieties, was the medusa pileus; it consisted of eight lobes, with a beautiful iridescent finny fringe on the external edge of each; and in the canal that penetrated them I observed a reddish fluid which moved through it, in the manner that blood is shewn to circulate in a pulse glass. The very favourable appearance of the water excited great surprise that no whales had been seen in it, but the most experienced persons among us supposed, that the fish had been living luxuriously, (traces of them being visible on the surface of the water,) and had proceeded to the westward. This increased our anxiety to pursue that course, and almost determined us to persevere in despite of the lateness of the season, and other local impediments, such as dense fogs, which are attendant on this period of the year. The ships that had been our companions for some time, now began to evince a hopelessness in the minds of their commanders, for about mid-day, we saw them change their course, and steer to the eastward. Knowing by a previous observation taken by Captain Scoresby, that we could not now be more than twenty or thirty miles from the land, which the fog consequently alone hid from our sight, we went to the bottom of the bay, determined to leave no effort untried where there was the slightest probability of success; but we found that the ice formed a complete and