Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 55.djvu/378

This page has been validated.



but every year come new actors, and the lines which they repeat were "written for them centuries before they were born." But each generation which passes changes their lives just a little, just as the brook and the meadow itself is changing.


THE dolphin family (Delphinidæ) contains nine genera, with only one species in each, but the most interesting one is the white whale (Delphinapterus leucas of Pallas, or D. catodon [Linn.] of Gill), because it is the only one that can be kept in confinement and its habits observed under semi-domestication. It has fallen to my lot to care for several of these animals in confinement, and to have a chance to note their peculiarities.

"The Great New York Aquarium," at Broadway and Thirty-fourth Street, New York city, was built by Messrs. Coup and Reiche, and opened in 1876. Mr. Butler was the superintendent. I supervised fish culture, and when not otherwise engaged made collections of fishes and invertebrates in Bermuda and in other parts. In 1877 I had charge of their branch aquarium at Coney Island. At both places we had many white whales at different times, for the management would keep whales penned up on the St. Lawrence River to replace those which died, and would never show more than two at a time, claiming that they were rare animals and only to be had at "enormous" expense. The aquarium was a private concern; admission fifty cents; and as the owners were W. C. Coup, a former circus proprietor and once the business manager of Barnum's Circus, and Henry Reiche, an animal dealer, who would sell you giraffes, elephants, or white mice, the attractions were duly exaggerated by the press agent, no matter what the facts might be. This is why we kept a reserve stock of white whales. It would never do to have the public know that they were common during the summer in the St. Lawrence, and when one was getting weak another would be sent down, and the public supposed that the same pair was on exhibition all the time.

This species is common in the North Atlantic, North Pacific, and Arctic Oceans. According to the late Prof. G. Brown Goode, "stragglers have been seen in the Frith of Forth, latitude 56°, while on the American coast several have been taken within the past decade [1880] on the north shore of Cape Cod. They are slightly abundant in New England waters, but in the St. Lawrence River and on the