Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/364

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greasy cloths, as a sort of disguise, and then to heave it overboard. This was the work of a few minutes; and the effect was triumphant. The monster followed after the hissing prey. We saw it dart at the brick like a flash of lightning, and gorge it instanter. The shark rose to the surface almost immediately, and his uneasy motions soon betrayed the success of the manoeuvre. His agonies became terrible; the waters appeared as if disturbed by a violent squall, and the spray was driven over the taffrail where we stood, while the gleaming body of the fish repeatedly burst through the dark waves, as if writhing with fierce and terrible convulsions. Sometimes we thought we heard a shrill, bellowing cry, as if indicative of anguish and rage, rising through the gurgling waters. His fury, however, was soon exhausted; in a short time the sounds broke away into distance, and the agitation of the sea subsided. The shark had given himself up to the tides, as unable to struggle against the approach of death, and they were carrying his body unresistingly to the beach."

Crouch, in his "Fishes of the British Islands," would indirectly claim some apology for the habits of the shark tribe; in reference to which he asks why the lion and the eagle should occupy the elevated places they do in popular estimation, as the king of beasts and monarch of the air. They live by the exercise of powers similar to those of the sharks, and if insatiable appetites are to take precedence, sharks ought to stand in the foremost rank.

The appearance of sharks occasionally upon our coast naturally creates a certain panic among bathers; and we may trace the breakage of the nets of our fishermen to their presence, among other causes. The six-gilled shark, or gray shark, is sometimes eleven or twelve feet in length, and is very destructive among the pilchards on the Cornish coast. The white shark is a formidable fellow; but although his class occasionally send over to our isles deputations of one or two, we have, fortunately, not had to record of late years such a visitation as that of 1785, when hundreds appeared in the British Channel. This individual is, perhaps, the most formidable of all the inhabitants of the ocean. Ruysch says that the whole body of a man, and even a man in armor, has been found in the body of a white shark. Captain King, in his "Survey of Australia," says he caught one which could have swallowed a man with the greatest ease. Blumenbach says a whole horse has been found in it; and Captain Basil Hall reports the taking of one, in which, besides other things, he found the whole skin of a buffalo, which a short time before had been thrown overboard from his ship. The blue shark is a horrible nuisance to the fishermen, but, fortunately, it is with us only in summer, when it makes itself known by hunting after the fish entangled in the nets, which it does by seizing both fish and net with its keen and serrated teeth, and swallowing fish and mesh together. As it is not always pleasant to have sharks following a ship, it cannot be too well