Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/365

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351
ABOUT SHARKS.

known that a bucket or two of bilge-water has been known to drive them off.

The shark tribe are remarkably retentive of life, and instances are related which would be almost beyond belief, if not vouched for by numbers of witnesses. For instance, an individual was caught with a line; its liver was cut out, and the bowels left hanging from the body, in which state the sailors, as an object of abhorrence, threw it into the sea. But it continued near the boat; and not long afterward it pursued and attempted to devour a mackerel that had escaped from the net. In another instance, a shark was thrown overboard after the head had been severed from the body; after which, for a couple of hours, the body continued to use the efforts of swimming in various directions—to employ the conjecture of a boy among the crew—as if it were looking for its head. Next, we have the thrasher, which has obtained the name of fox-shark, because of the shape of its tail. The title of thrasher, however, is most appropriate, from its habit of lashing the sea with its tail, by which it has been known to put to flight a herd of sportive dolphins, and even to fill the whale with terror. The porbeagle is another of the shark tribe, and is a common visitor on the western coasts in summer. Then follows that too plentiful and rapacious fish, the toper, known likewise as the white-hound, penny-dog, or miller-dog. However, as it swims deep, it does not do so much injury to the fishermen's nets as some of its congeners. Then we have the smooth-hound, or ray-mouthed dog, or skate-toothed shark, which are presumed to come from considerable distances, from the kind of hooks sometimes found in them, which resemble those used on the coast of Spain. They feed upon crustaceous animals, but will take a bait. The picked-dog, spur-dog, or bone-dog, but commonly known as the dog-fish, is the smallest, but unquestionably the most numerous of the shark tribe. It frequents our coasts all the year round, and even in the severest weather. Then there are the spinous shark, and Greenland shark, which will not be driven away from feeding upon the blubber of a stranded, half-immersed whale, although pierced with spears, but come again to the oleaginous banquet while a spark of life exists. The basking-shark also, occasionally, casts up on our coasts. It is of a large size, is capable of breaking a six-inch hawser, and is only taken with considerable difficulty. Then we have the rashleigh shark, the broad-headed gazer, and the hammer-head or balance-fish, which may be said to complete the list of these occasional unwelcome visitors to our shores.

And now that we have said so much that is prejudicial to the Squalidæ or shark community, let us see what we have as a set-off in their favor. As a food for man, the toper is found exposed for sale in the markets at Rome; and in Paris, that city of gastronomy, the small kinds of shark, when divested of their tantalizing titles, are to be detected as entries in the menu of many of the most distinguished