Page:Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821.djvu/26

This page has been validated.



green-colour blended with a light brown or brassy tint. These colours are produced, (as discovered by Captain Scoresby) by myriads of small animalculæ of the Mollusca family, with which this part of the ocean abounds, and which are so minute, as scarcely to be visible to the eye, even with microscopic aid, several hundreds of them being contained in every drop. These smaller give nourishment to a larger class of medusa, from which whales are supposed to derive a considerable part of their subsistence, filtering or separating them from the fluid by means of two rows of fringed whalebone, which will be spoken of hereafter. Being now in a situation where whales might be seen, and the afternoon being fine, all the crew were called to get up the whale-boats and prepare them for service. These boats are from twenty-five to twenty-seven feet in length, and five and a half in breadth; sharp at both ends, and rather finer at the stern than at the stem. The required properties of these boats are, buoyancy with liveliness in a sea, speed for pursuit, and facility of turning to follow the rapid movements of the whale. The first two of these properties are produced by the rise in the floor, given in their construction; the second, by the fine entrance, and run at each end; and the last by the curvature of the keel. Six lines, of two inches and a quarter in circumference and of one hundred and twenty fathoms in length each, making an extent of one thousand four hundred and forty yards, were distributed to each