A shifting reef

Theyear1866wassignalisedbyaremarkableincident, amysteriousandpuzzlingphenomenon, whichdoubtlessnoonehasyetforgotten. Nottomentionrumours whichagitatedthemaritimepopulation andexcitedthepublicmind, evenintheinteriorofcontinents, seafaringmenwereparticularlyexcited. Merchants,commonsailors,captainsofvessels,skippers, bothofEuropeandAmerica,navalofficersofallcountries, andtheGovernmentsofseveralStatesonthetwocontinents, weredeeplyinterestedinthematter. 

Forsometimepastvesselshadbeenmetby"anenormousthing," alongobject,spindle-shaped,occasionallyphosphorescent, andinfinitelylargerandmorerapidinitsmovements thanawhale. 

Thefactsrelatingtothisapparition (enteredinvariouslog-books) agreedinmostrespectsastotheshapeoftheobjectorcreatureinquestion, theuntiringrapidityofitsmovements, itssurprisingpoweroflocomotion, andthepeculiarlifewithwhichitseemedendowed. Ifitwasawhale, itsurpassedinsizeallthosehithertoclassifiedinscience. Takingintoconsiderationthemeanofobservations madeatdiverstimes rejectingthetimidestimateofthose whoassignedtothisobjectalengthoftwohundredfeet, equallywiththeexaggeratedopinions whichsetitdownasamileinwidth andthreeinlength wemightfairlyconclude thatthismysteriousbeingsurpassedgreatlyalldimensions admittedbythelearnedonesoftheday, ifitexistedatall. Andthatitdidexistwasanundeniablefact; and,withthattendencywhichdisposesthehumanmindinfavourofthemarvellous, wecanunderstandtheexcitementproducedintheentireworld bythissupernaturalapparition. Astoclassingitinthelistoffables, theideawasoutofthequestion. 

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