Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/558

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

whales were lying upon the water in all directions; their enormous breadth quite astonished us. The color of the sea was a dirty brown, probably occasioned by minute ferruginous infusoria, which were found in the greenish-colored mud that was brought up by the deep-sea clams from a depth of two hundred and seven fathoms." The sea was as Ross describes it, and soundings were obtained at 8 p. m. in one hundred and ninety-four fathoms, but no black whale did we see, only whales with fins on their backs, but be it noted that several grampuses or killers were seen from the masthead, and they are noted persecutors of the black whale in the north.

Up to this time several seals had been obtained—the large seal, the white antarctic seal, and the sea leopard; also four different kinds of penguins, including a few of the large emperor penguins, and one seen in the neighborhood of the Falklands. Besides these, we had met with a good many sheathbills, several snowy petrel, the blue petrel, the giant petrel, the stormy petrel, the cape pigeon, a gray gull, and later with many terns and a few great petrel. Christmas eve and Christmas day, when we were fast to the floe, will long be remembered l)y the members of the expedition. There was a perfect calm; the sky, except at the horizon, had a dense canopy of cumulus rolls, which rested on the summits of the western hills, and when the sun was just below the horizon the soft grays and blues of the clouds and the spotless whiteness of the ice as it floated in the black and glossy sea were tinted with the most delicate of colors—rich purples and rosy hues, blues, and greens, passing into translucent yellows. At midnight the solitude of the vacant deck was grand and impressive, and perhaps more so since we had, for well-nigh a week, been drifting among bergs with dense fog and very squally weather. Nothing broke the calm peacefulness; now a flock of the beautiful sheathbills would hover round the vessel, fanning the limpid air with their wings of creamy whiteness, and over yonder was a foul carrion bird with outstretched wings feeding upon the gory corpse of a slaughtered seal. All was in such unison, all in such perfect harmony; but it was a passing charm. Soon we had to think of more prosaic things, and reluctantly we turned our thoughts to the cargo we were to seek. It was with the produce of seals that we were destined to fill our ship, and till February 17th we were literally up to the neck in blood. All the sails are stowed; the captain sits in the crow's nest from early morning till late in the evening; the two engineers, relieving one another, take charge of the engines; the cook or the steward is on the lookout on deck or on the bridge; and the doctor takes the helm, unless ho can manage to get away in the boats, in which case some other noncombatant has to take his place—all the rest