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Moment by moment, and day by day,
3. “Little by little,” said a thoughtful boy,
improving, getting better. / rearing, raising up. hidden, out of sight. verdure, greenness. slender, very thin. treasured, saved up. 1. The name of whale is given to a number of fishlike animals living entirely in the sea, and widely spread over the world. The whale is not really a fish, for it breathes air in the same manner as animals do which dwell on the land, and like them it has also warm blood.
sip-ped im-prov-ing slen-der
rear-ing sun-beams thought-ful
2. Whales are the largest animals in existence, some of them being from fifty to sixty feet in length, others as many as eighty, while a few are met with a hundred and twenty feet long.
3. Whales often visit the seas around the British islands. A few years ago a shoal of whales was seen off the east coast of Scotland. Many of these were caught, but they were mostly young ones, some of them being only about twenty feet long. They are sometimes left high and dry on the beach when the tide recedes, and then are easily killed. One, seventy-five feet in length, was thus caught in the Firth of Forth. When whales go about in shoals, sailors call them “a school of whales.”
4. There are several varieties of whales, but the two kinds of greatest value to man and of which we know most are the Greenland whale and the Sperm whale. Both kinds are sought after and captured, the former for oil and whalebone, the latter for oil and spermaceti.
5. The Greenland whale is from fifty to eighty feet long. The head is about one-third the length of the body, and is of enormous size. This whale has no teeth, but instead, has a great number of plates of whalebone hanging down from the roof of the mouth on either side, their lower ends spreading out into a number of fibres or fringes, so as to form a kind of sieve. When open, the mouth is big enough to admit a boat, crew and all.
6. Although this whale has such an enormous mouth, it has a very small throat, so that it could not swallow any fish much larger than a herring. Its food consists chiefly of a kind of jelly-fish, which is found in great abundance in these seas, and also of small shell-fish and sea-slugs. Its mode of obtaining food is very different from that of other animals and fishes.
7. When in want of food it opens its mouth wide, and swims rapidly through the water, which flows out at the sides of the mouth, while the plates of whalebone catch the small animals it contains. Every now and then it closes its mouth and presses the tongue against the whalebone sieve, being then able to swallow the mass of minute creatures that it has caught. 8. Like other whales it has a very broad and strong tail. This tail is its only means of defence against enemies. When attacked, it often lashes the sea with it until the water is covered with a white foam. The whale can easily knock a boat out of the water with its tail, and dash it to pieces.
9. Whales have also two large fins or paddles, one on each side. These are useful in swimming, and serve the purpose of arms, for when in danger from enemies, the female whale often puts them round its young one, of which it is very fond.
10. The nostrils are situated on the top of the head, and when the animal comes up to breathe, the air from its lungs sends up a mass of water or spray.
11. These whales are very timid creatures naturally, unless when attacked or their young are in danger. The slightest noise, or even a bird alighting on their backs, as they lie on the surface of the water, will frighten them off to the bottom.
Name the largest animal in the world. Where is it found? What is the ordinary length of the whale? What are a number of whales swimming together called ? Name the two chief varieties of the whale. How big is the mouth of the Greenland whale? What sort of a throat has this whale? What is its chief food ? How does it obtain its food ? What sort of a tail has the whale? What does it use this tail for? How many fins has the whale? Where are the nostrils situated ?
THE WHALE.—PART II.
1. The Sperm whale, which is found in the southern seas, differs very much from the Greenland whale. The head, which occupies about one-third the length of the body, and nearly half the whole bulk, is blunter and heavier. It has no whalebone, but in the lower jaw are a number of sharp teeth. Its throat is said to be large enough to admit the body of a man, and it feeds on fish, and squids or cuttle-fishes.
2. The head of this whale contains a large cavity. It is filled with a vast amount of a clear oily fluid, which consists of sperm oil and spermaceti. The latter when pure is a white substance, and is used in making ointment and the best kinds of candles.
3. Whale fishing is carried on by men in ships, which are called “whalers,” and are specially fitted
for this purpose. Both kinds of whales are captured much in the same way.
4. When the ships engaged in the Greenland whale fishery arrive at the whaling grounds, as they are called, a very striking scene presents itself to the sailors on board. Large mountains of ice, called icebergs, are seen floating about. Sounds like the firing of cannon are often heard, which are caused