Rorqual

Rorqual  (Balænoptera musculus ).—The common Rorqual is a typical species of the “finners,” as sailors term them; the generic name means “Finned Whale,” in reference to the small back fin that lies near the region of the tail. It attains an enormous size; one caught in the North Sea was ninety-five feet in length, twenty-two feet in width, and weighed over two hundred and fifty tons. Rorquals are the most widely distributed of all the larger Cetaceans; they are found nearly everywhere outside the Antarctic regions.

Whale Fisheries.—With the older method of whale-fishing the chief products were oil and whalebone. Recently the industry has been revolutionized, principally by Norwegians, and practically every part of the animal is used. For the new method a suitable island is selected, a cutting-up station constructed, and all whales killed are towed to the station and there drawn upon land to be dealt with. The modern whaling-vessel is a small and powerful steamer with a heavy harpoon gun mounted in the bows. The harpoon is a special kind of barbed spear. No boats are used, the steamer following the whales when sighted. By dealing with the carcase on shore all parts are now used, including the bone, blubber (or fat), the soft parts after the oil has been expressed being prepared as fertilizers. The flesh is asserted to be palatable and may ultimately be sold for food.