Page:Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821.djvu/166

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122

VOYAGE TO GREENLAND.

whale tribe, but the most powerful of created beings, which from the great danger attending the attack, of it, the small produce of blubber, and the inferior quality of the laminæ, roams undisturbed by the fishers. The length of the physalis is stated to be upwards of one hundred feet, and its circumference thirty-five feet. It derives its name from a fin upon its back near the tail; its habits are unlike the mysticetus, for it never rests upon the surface of the water when it comes up to blow, but keeps moving with great speed and activity. Some daring fishers have attempted to take it with a harpoon, but the instant it is struck it sets off with prodigious velocity, soon dragging the boat through the water, beyond the reach of assistance and out of sight of the ship and boats, so that the fishers are obliged to cut the line for their own security. Captain Scoresby stated to me the following particulars of attempts which he had made to capture one of these formidable creatures. "In the year 1818, I ordered a general chase of them, providing against the danger of having my crew separated from the ship, by appointing a rendezvous on the shore not far distant; I prepared also against the loss of much line, by dividing it at two hundred fathoms from the harpoon, and affixing a buoy at the end of it. Thus arranged, one of these whales was shot and another struck: the former dived with such impetuosity, that the line was broken by the resistance of the buoy as soon as it was thrown into the water; and, the latter was liberated in a minute, by the separa-