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Now it's time to meet out faithful narrator: Pierre Aronnax. He's been out in the Badlands of Nebraska, doing a little research. He's a lecturer at Paris's Museum of Natural History, which is sort of like being a professor, only less prestigious.
Anyway, he's just gotten to New York, and is preparing to make the trip back home to France, when the news of the Scotia incident breaks. At this point, it's been decided that the cause of the Scotia tragedy isn't a floating reef or floating wreck.
No, the experts believe it's either a big monster or some kind of super-powerful "submarine vessel" (1.2.12). Our narrator—and every other sensible person—knows the "submarine vessel" explanation is kooky. How could anyone build such a machine in secret? Only a government could do that, and there's no way they could keep it under wraps.
Our lecturer-narrator-dude has written a little two-volume work called The Mysteries of the Ocean Deeps, so it's only natural that journalists want to know what he thinks about the whole thing.
After much hemming and hawing, he tells The New York Herald that the "thing" is most definitely a "Giant Narwhal." Yes, a huge whale with an equally huge ivory "sword" on its noggin is what's causing the ruckus.
Aronnax's hypothesis is debated, and a bunch of people support his conclusion. Aronnax asks, Why shouldn't the sea hold such creatures?
Merchants and insurance companies get increasingly antsy, given that they don't want their ships getting destroyed by giant whales and all.
So a hunting expedition, led by the American Captain Farragut, is put together.
Aronnax receives a letter from the U.S. Secretary to the Navy asking him if he'd like to join the hunt aboard the Abraham Lincoln.