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Cape of Good Hope. These different whales have for common characters a very small head, a bifid first rib, the lower ends of the ribs very thick and almost round.
“The Sarde of the Newfoundland banks, and the Balona cisarctica of the coast of North America, belong to a different group, very near to the Balæna australis of the Cape of Good Hope, and the B. antipodum of New Zealand. The head is comparatively longer than in Hunterius, the first rib is simple; the lower extremities of the ribs are compressed.
There exist then in our temperate regions of the Atlantic at least two species of Right whales."
In 1881, Fischer again raised the question of the number of species of Right whales in the North Atlantic (44, 33-55), but by this time had somewhat modified his views. He reviews the literature of the subject, ancient and modern, and devotes two pages to conclusions. These are in brief as follows:
1. That “it may be considered very probable that (a) the ‘Nordcaper,' () the Sletbag,' (c) Balæna tarentina of Capellini, and (d) Balana biscayensis belong to the same species, as well as the fossil species B. lamanoni, glacialis, and svedenborgi.”
2. That “the Sarde' and B. cisarctica of Cope are synonyms and (awaiting fuller information) distinct—at least as a race—from the whale of the Basques, by the longer head. The skeleton is otherwise similar.”
3. That Halibalana britannica, B. vanbenedeniana, and B. mediterranea “ have not sufficient characters to be classified,” and can be as well associated with the Nordcaper as with B. mysticetus.
Fischer adds the following: “A species, among cetaceans, is perhaps what we call a genus; and in that case, the Nordkaper would be a single one, with two or three races, with distinct geographical distribution.”
The second of the foregoing opinions is that which is of most interest in the present connection. On page 41, Fischer makes the remarkable statement, already mentioned elsewhere (see p. 13), that armed with the compass and“ balestrille” the Basques roamed westward in the Atlantic and in 1372 discovered the banks of Newfoundland, where they saw whales in abundance. This statement appears to rest on a memoir prepared by the merchants of St. Jean de Luz and Cibourre in 1710, and published in 1857. The whale which they first found here, according to Fischer, they considered different from the whale of the Bay of Biscay, and called Sardaco Baleac, or the whale which goes in herds or schools, in contradistinction to the former, which appears singly. Continuing their explorations, they entered the Gulf of St. Lawrence where they found still another and better whale which they called Grand Bayaco Baleac or Grand Bay whale. They afterwards recognized this as the same as the Greenland whale, B. mysticetus, found at Spitzbergen.
The character of the evidence on which these statements rest is unknown to
I“Mémoire addressé en 1710 à M. de Planthion, syndic général du pays de Labourd, par négociants de Saint-Jean-de-Luz et de Cibourre.” (Journal La Gironde, 29 Avril, 1857.)
me, but it appears singular that the matter has not attracted the attention of American historians, considering its importance in connection with the history of the discovery of America.
The “Sarde” should, of course, be the Right whale of the Atlantic coast of the United States, Canada, and Newfoundland, B. cisarctica Cope. Fischer, even, seems to have little doubt of that fact. He recalls Gray's claim that it is distinct because it has 14 pairs of ribs, while the San Sebastian whale has 15' and further. more has the first pair bifurcated, but is not impressed with the importance of these distinctions. He adds :
“ The notable difference which I find between the B.cisarctica and the Biscay whale is the greater relative length of the head of the former. According to the measurements given by Cope, the length of the head in B.cisarctica is to the total length as 1 to 3.69; in Segnette's whale the proportion is 1 to 4; in the young whale of San Sebastian the proportion is still less, and approaches 1 to 5. We shall see further on that the whale stranded at Taranto in 1877 has the head extremely small, 1 to 5.” 2
What is meant by the “head” in this and other discussions of proportions by various European authors is not clear. The length of the skull as compared with that of the skeleton is as follows in various American and European specimens:
BALÆNA GLACIALIS BONNATERRE. AMERICAN AND EUROPEAN. LENGTH OF SKULL.
It will be observed that the proportion is remarkably constant in both the American and the European specimens, considering the uncertainties involved in comparing measurements made by different observers. The Taranto skeleton alone offers a marked departure. Considering the whole series, it hardly seems probable that there is any real foundation for the character brought forward by Fischer.
Incorrect-Gasco gives 13 pairs, but considers that there may have been 14 pairs.
From the animal in the flesh; but from the skeleton this proportion is not more than
Type of B. cisarctica, Cope's measurements. My own measurements give 3.84.
Note.--Since the foregoing account of Balæna glacialis was written, I have received from Mr. J. Henry Blake of Cambridge, Mass., some measurements of the male specimen found dead off Highland, Cape Cod, Mass., April, 1895. These are as follows:
A large, Alat knob, or "bonnet," near tip of upper jaw.
WHALEBONE WHALES OF THE EASTERN NORTH PACIFIC OCEAN.
Present knowledge of the large whales of the west coast of North America rests almost exclusively on the observations of Capt. C. M. Scammon, made more than thirty years ago. The record of these observations, together with some pieces of whalebone, bones, etc., was sent by Capt. Scammon to the Smithsonian Institution. The manuscript was placed by the secretary of the Institution in the bands of Professor E. D. Cope, who edited it and published it in the name of Capt. Scammon, and at the same time described a number of the species as new (83).
Later, Capt. Scammon published his well-known work entitled Marine Mammals of the Northwestern Coast of North America (82), in which additional information was given regarding the various species, together with more elaborate figures. This work was accompanied by an appendix by Mr. Wm. H. Dall, giving a list of species and valuable measurements, references to specimens, etc.
In 1872 Capt. Scammon published a description of a small Balenoptera, under the name of B. davidsoni, which had been omitted from the large work (81). Very little has been added since Capt. Scammon's time either in the way of new observations or specimens, and the present knowledge of these West Coast whales is still very incomplete.
In 1893 the skeleton of a Humpback whale from the West Coast was exhibited in the World's Columbian Exposition. A few notes on it which I made at the exposition are given on a subsequent page. Photographs of a Humpback killed in Henderson Bay, Puget Sound, were obtained by the National Museum in 1896. In 1899 a fine adult skeleton of a West Coast Finback, which had been formerly the property of Prof. Cope, was mounted and exhibited in the Wistar Institute, Philadelphia. The greater part of the material sent to the Smithsonian Institution by Capt. Scammon in 1869 and subsequent years is still in the National Museum, and has been examined and verified by the writer.
Observations of the large whales of the western shores of the North Pacific have been recorded by Pallas (72, 286,288), Temminck and Schlegel, Gray (53, 96; 54, 1; 55, 43), Möbius (70), and others. These observations, of course, throw light on the identity of the species of the American coasts and the scientific names in some instances doubtless have priority over those of Cope. While it is not possible at the present time to investigate the identity of the species in the same detail as in the case of the Atlantic species, it seems desirable to review the subject in the present connection, and to add such new information as has accumulated.
It is certain, as pointed out by Van Beneden (8, 234) and others, that the whales of the North Pacific bear a strong resemblance to those of the North Atlantic, so much so that the question of their identity with them may properly be raised. To this statement a notable exception must be made in the case of the Gray whale, Rhachianectes, which has no counterpart in the North Atlantic, since it is now certain that the genus Agaphelus of Cope, supposed to be based on an allied Atlantic species, is fictitious. There is no reasonable doubt that the following Atlantic and Pacific species are closely allied in the manner indicated :
“Cullamach " whale allied to Balæna glacialis Bonnat.
Balanoptera acuto-rostrata (Lac.)
Balænoptera borealis of the eastern North Atlantic has no representative, so far as known at present, in the North Pacific,-an interesting circumstance.
Balæna sieboldii Gray (?).
The whale mentioned by Scammon under the name of the “Right whale of the Northwestern Coast,” must be dismissed with a few words, as no new material is at command by means of which to determine its identity. Scammon (82, 66) states that “the color of the Right whale is generally black, yet there are many individuals with more or less white about the throat and pectorals, and sometimes they are pied all over. Its average adult length may be calculated at 60 feet-it rarely attains to 70 feet,—and the two sexes vary but little in size. Its head is very nearly one third the length of the whole animal, and the upper intermediate portion, or the part between the spiracles and ‘bonnet,' has not that even spherical form, or the smooth and glossy surface present with the Bowhead, but is more or less ridgy crosswise. Both lips and head have wart-like bunches moderately developed, and in some cases the upper surface of the head and fins is infested with parasitical crustaceans."
Pechuel in 1871 (73, 1184) published a figure of a Right whale killed near the Aleutian Ids. during his expedition. It resembles Scammon's figure in a general way, but is entirely black. No measurements could be taken on account of stormy weather.
The whalebone, as far as may be judged from pieces in the National Museum, is entirely black, occasionally with a bluish or greenish tinge, but without the distinct whitish stripes which occur in many specimens of the whalebone of B. mysticetus. The bristles are coarser than in the latter species. The following are the lengths of the pieces in the National Museum which may be assigned to this species :