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only a comparatively small number being captured. Arch. i'Ur Naturgesch., 1864, p. 72.

6 GAY, J. E., in Zoologist, 2d ser., vol. vii, 1872, p. 3338.

In my "Catalogue of the Mammals of Massachusetts," I refer to this large Seal a follows, supposing it to be the
Hooded Seal : " From accounts I have received from residents along the coast of a Seal of very large size, observed by
them, and occasionally captured, I am led to think this species is not of iiufrequent occurrence on the Massachusetts
coast. Mr. C. W. Bennett informs me of one taken sume years since in the Providence River, a few miles below Provi-
dence, which he Haw shortly after. From his very particular account of it I cannot doubt that it was of this species.
Mr C. J. Maynard also informs me that a number of specimens hav. been taken at Ipswich within the past few years,
that have weighed from seven huudred to nine hundred pounds. It seems to be most frequent in winter, when it appar-
ently migrates f:-::i III" north." Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. i, Xo. 8, 1869, pp. 193, 194. This identification was
made almost solely on the ground of size, taken in connection with the fact that the specieji had been taken in Long
Island Sound near New York Ciry. The question, however, may fairly be raised whether the large Seals more or less
frequently seen on the coast of New England are not, really the Gray Seal (Halichairns yrj/pun).

'Ann. New York I/ycenm Nat. 8ci., vol. i, 1824, p. 94.


in a small creek that empties into Long Inland Sound :it Ka-t I'he-tei-, about fifteen miles from
New York City. Twenty years' later be refers to this as the first and only known instance of it*
occurrence within the limits of the State of New York, where, he nays, " it can only be regarded
as a ran- and accidental visitor." Professor Cope, however, has recorded its capture in the Chesa-
peake Hay, where he says it has twice occurred. 1 The first specimen was recorded in 18Uff*M
" some species of Cyntophora, taken near Cambridge, Maryland, on an arm of the Chesajwake Bay,
eighteen miles from salt water, by Mr. Daniel M. Henry." The specimen, it is said, "measured
<i : f feet, and weighed, when living, about 330 Ibs." Although Professor Cope adds, "Whether this
spei-ies is the 0. cristata or antillarum, cannot be determined, owing to the imi>erfection of extant
descriptions," there is no reason for doubting that it was really the Crested Seal, a conclusion to
which 1'rot'essor Cope seems to have later arrived. Although Gray's suggestion anent the English
specimen naturally arises, namely, transportation from the north in some ship, it seems more
probable that they were really wanderers from the usual home of the species.

HABITS. As already noted in the account of the geographical distribution of this secies, it is,
like the Harp Seal, pelagic and migratory, preferring the drift ice of the "high seas" to the vicinity
of land, and seems rarely if ever to resort to rocky islands or shores. It brings forth its young on
the ice, remote from the land, in March, a week or ten days later than the Harp Seal, with which
it appears only rarely to associate, although the two species are often found on neighboring ice-
floes. It is commonly described as the most courageous and combative of the Phocids, often
turning liercely upon its pursuers.

The Hooded Seal is described as very active when in the water. It swims very low, with only
the top of the head above the surface. During the rutting season the males wage fierce battles for
the possession of the females, the noise of which may be heard miles away. At times the sexes
are said to live apart, but associate in families during the breeding season. Their iifl'ection for
each other, and especially for their young, is represented as very strong, both parents remaining
by them wi.h such persistency that the whole family are easily killed.

FOOD. The food of this species doubtless consists chiefly of fishes of different secies. Malm-
1:11-11 supposed it to subsist mainly on those of large size. That it also feeds upon squids, and
probablj' on other mollusks, is evinced by their remains having been found in their stomachs, as
well as "the beaks of large cuttle-fish."*

HUNTING AND PRODUCTS. This species, owing to its scarcity, is of relatively small commer-
cial importance, yet many are taken every year by the Newfoundland and Jan Mayen sealers;
generally no separate estimates, however, are given of the number taken. Dr. Kink states that
the average annual catch in Greenland is 3,000. The flesh is greatly esteemed by the Greenlanders.

The Hooded Seal is usually taken on the ice, but Mr. Ileeks states that many are also shot in
the spring of the year by the settlers along the coast of Newfoundland. As already stated, the
hood of the male affords such a protection to its owner as to render the animal so provided very
hard to kill with the ordinary seal-club, or even with a heavy load of shot; and they are, further
more, "at times very savage, and it requires great dexterity on the part of the seal-hunters to keep
from being bitten."

"New York Zoobgy, or the Fnumi of New York, 1842, (>t. i, p. Ott.

New Topographical Alias of Maryland, 1873, p. 16.

Proceedings of the Acadrmy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, 1865, p. 273.

1 JUKES: Excursions in Newfoundland, vol. i, p. :'!-'.



GENERAL HISTORY. The California Sea Elephant, Macrorhinits anguatirostru Gill, was first
described by Dr. Gill, in 1866, from a skull of a female in the Museum of the Smithsonian Institu-
tion, received from Saint Bartholomew's Bay, Lower California. Its external characters were first
made known by Capt. C. M. Scammou in 1869, and the species was redescribed by hint in 1874,
with detailed measurements of two adult females and a newly-born pup. This is all that has thus
far appeared relating to its technical history. Captain Scammon, as early as 1854, gave some
account of the habits of this species, under the name Sea Elephant, and earlier incidental references
to it doubtless occur in the narratives of travelers. Dr. Gill observes, in his paper already cited,
"For a long time, the fact that a species of the genus Macrorhinus or Elephant Seal inhabits the
coast of Western North America has been well known. But, on account of the want of opportunity
for comparison of specimens, the relations of the species have not been understood." I fail to find,
however, in any technical account of the Sea Elephant, any previous notice of their occurrence on
the coast of North America.

GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION. The Sea Elephant seems to have been formerly very abun-
dant on the coast of California and Western Mexico, whence it became long since nearly extirpated.
Captain Scammon, in writing (about 1852) of Cedros Island, off the coast of Lower California, says :
"Seals and Sea Elephants once basked upon the shores of this isolated spot in vast numbers, and
in years past its surrounding shores teemed with sealers, sea-elephant and sea-otter hunters; the
remains of their rude stone houses are still to be seen in many convenient places, which were once
the habitations of these hardy men." 1 A few Sea Elephants are still found at Santa Barbara Island,
where they are reported, however, to be nearly extinct. Whether or not they still occur elsewhere
along the Californian coast I am without means of determining, although it is probable that a small
remnant'still exists at other points, where scarcely more than a quarter of a century ago vessels
were freighted with their oil. Neither is it possible to determine with certainty the limits of their
former range. Captain Scammon, who doubtless obtained his information from trustworthy sources,
states that it extended from Cape Lazaro, latitude 24 46' north, to Point Reyes, in latitude 38, or
for a distance of about two hundred miles. As has heretofore been stated, Dampier, in 1080, niv:t
with Seals on the islands off the western coast of Mexico, as far south as latitude 21 to 23, but of
what species his record unfortunately fails to show. They were doubtless either Sea Elephants 01
Sea Lions (Zalophus calif or nianus), and may have included both. This rather implies its former
extension, two hundred years ago, considerably to the southward of the limit assigned by Captain
Scammou, on probably traditional reports current among the residents of this part of the coast at
the time of his visit there in 1852.

"The sexes vary much in size, the male being frequently triple the bulk of the female; the oldest
of the former will average fourteen to sixteen feet; the largest we have ever seen measured twenty-
two feet from tip to tip." ''The adult females average ten feet in length between extremities."
Scammon. ''Round the under side of the neck, in the oldest males, the animal appears to undergo
a change with age; the hair falls off, the skin thickens and becomes wrinkled the furrows cross-
ing each other, producing a checkered surface and sometimes the throat is more or less marked
with white spots. Its proboscis extends from opposite the angle ol the mouth forward (in the larger
males) about fifteen inches, when the creature is in a state of quietude, and the upper surface
appears ridgy ; but when the animal makes an excited respiration, the trunk becomes elongated,
and the ridges nearly disappear." The females "are destitute of the proboscis, the nose being like
that of the common Seal, but projecting more over the mouth." Scammon.

'.SCAMMON, C. M.: "On a new species of the grim* Muernrlimwi." Proc. Chicago Acad., i, 18<Xi, ]>p. 3:1,34.


Captain Scummon gives the length of a "new born pup" as four feet.

HABITS. We are indebted to Captain Scaminon, who has fortunately had favorable oppor-
tunities for observation, for everything of importance that has thus far been recorded rcspcctin;;
the habits of the Sea Elephant of California. "The habits of these huge leasts," lie tells us.
"when on shore, or loitering about the foaming breakers, are in many respects like those of tli<-
Leopard Seals [Phoca vitulina]. Our observations on the Sea Elephants of California go to show
that they have been found in much larger numbers from February to June than during other
months of the year; but more or less were at all times found on shore pon their favorite beaches,
which were about the islands of Santa Barbara, Cerros, Guadalupe, San Bonitos, Natividad, San
Koque, and Asuncion, and some of the most inaccessible points on the mainland between Asuncion
and Cerros. When coming up out of the water, they were generally first seen near the line of surf;
then crawling up by degrees, frequently reclining as if to sleep; again moving up or along the
shore, appearing not content with their last resting place. In this manner they would ascend the
ravines, or 'low-downs,' half a mile or more, congregating by hundreds. They are not so active on
land as the Seals; but, when excited to inordinate exertion, their motions are quick the whole
lioily quivering with their crawling, semi-vaulting gait, and the animal at such times muiiifeHting
great fatigue. Notwithstanding their unwieldiness, we have sometimes found them on broken and
elevated ground, fifty or sixty feet above the sea.

"The principal seasons of their coming on shore are, when they are about to shed their coats,
when the females bring forth their young (which is one at a time, rarely two), and the mating
season. These seasons for 'hauling up' are more marked in southern latitudes. The different
periods are known among the hunters as the 'pupping cow,' 'brown cow,' 'bull and cow,' and
'March bull' seasons; 2 but on the California coast, either from the influence of climate or some
other cause, we have noticed young pups with their mothers at quite the op|K>site months. The
continual hunting of the animals may possibly have driven them to irregularities. The time of
gestation is supposed to be about three-fourths of the year. The most marked season we could
discover was that of the adult males, which shed their coats later than the younger ones anil the
females. Still, among a herd of the largest of those fully matured (at Santa Barbara Island, in
June, 1852), we found several cows and their young, the latter apparently but a few days old.

"When the Sea Elephants come on shore for the purpose of 'shedding,' if not distnrl>ed they
remain out of water until the old hair falls off. By the time this change comes about, the animal
is supposed to lose half its fat? indeed, it sometimes becomes very thin, and is then called a
' slimskin.'

"In the stomach of the Sea Elephant a few pebbles lire found, which has given rise to the
saying that 'they take in ballast before going down' (returning to the sea). On warm and sunny
days we have watched them come up singly on smooth beaches, and burrow in the dry sand.
throwing over their backs the loose particles that collect about their fore limbs, and nearly covering
themselves from view; but when not disturbed, the animals follow their gregarious propensity, nml
collect in large herds." "The largest number I ever found in one herd," he states in another
connection, "was one hundred and sixty-five, which lay promiscuously along the beach or up the
ravine near by."

'Marine Mammal*. 1874, pp. 117-119. See also Proe. Arad. Nat. Sci. Philn., l^U, pp. ftl-tCi, nheie ili<- .1. ,,nmi
here 1 1 not i>il was lirHt published. Sec further.!. Ko.ss Browne'.* K< Minni-nol the I 'at- i tic Coast" [Append. ], p. I-'.', wln-iv
the siniii -aniliiir has a!-o yiven a slum annunl of its lial>it> ;i* oliwrvi -il at Ci-ilro.* (or Cerros) Inland in I-.'-'. A!MIIIII
article entitled "Sea-elephant limiting." in the "Overland Monthly," iii. p]>. H'J-117. Nin., IS70

-'Helen-inn in the haliits nl' tlie Southern 9n I I. phanl (Mut-rorliinu* trout***), u he had "learned from whip
m nil" have taken Seal* about Kn^n.-l.-n'~ Land, tin- ( i../etn, and linrd'a Inland." 8u Proc. Acatl. Nat >, -i.
Phila., 1 "i", p <U.


Nothing further respecting the breeding habits or sexual relations of the species appears to
have been as yet recorded, but they may be presumed to be similar to those of the Sea Elephant
of the Antarctic Seas.'

COMPARISON WITH THE SOUTHERN SEA ELEPHANT. So far as can be determined by descrip-
tions, Ihe Northern and the Southern Sea Elephants 2 differ very little in size, color, or other
external features. Captain Scanimon gives the average length of the full grown male of the
northern species as twelve to fourteen feet, and says that the largest he ever measured had a length
of twenty-two feet "from tip to tip." P&ron gives the length of the 'southern species as twenty to
twenty-five, and even thirty feet, with a circumference of fifteen to eighteen feet. Anson gives
the length as twelve to twenty feet, and the circumference as eight to fifteen feet. Pernety records
the total length as twenty-five feet. Scammon gives the length of the young of the northern
species, at birth, as four feet; and P6ron gives four or five feet as the length of the young at birth
for the southern species. The skeletons of the two old males of the southern species, already
mentioned, allowing for the intervertebral cartilages that have disappeared in maceration, measure
respectively not over fifteen and sixteen feet, adding to which the length of the hind flipper and
the proboscis gives a total length, from "tip to tip," of about twenty-one to twenty -two feet. From
the foregoing we may infer that the usual difference in size between the two species is not great,
the southern species on the whole appearing to be somewhat the larger of the two. It would seem
that tlie Northern and Southern Sea Elephants, though presumably distinct, are closely allied, as
well iu structural characters as in habits. In respect to geographical distribution, I am not aware
that the southern species has been found north of about the 35th degree of south latitude (the
Island of Juan Fernandez), or the northern species south of about the 24th degree of north latitude.
It may consequently be safely assumed that the two forms have been long isolated, and that the
southern is an offshoot from northern stock, since the only other known species of the Cystophorina
is also northern in its distribution.

1 It is here :i-siin,i-il that the Sea Elephants of the Southern Hemisphere arc all referable to a single species, the
I'hoca leonina of l.inm''. 1758, based on the Sea Lion of Lord Ausou, which was renamed 1'lioca elejilianliiia by Molina,
1782, and a^ain renamed Plioca prultoecitlea by Perou, in 181(>, and of which I'hoca Ilijroni of Desmarest, and also Plioca
Ansoni of tin' same author (the latter species in part only), and the Mirounr/a patagomca of Gray are synonyms. I am
a ware, however, that Peters has recently proposed the recognition of four species, namely, Cystopliora leonina (= Alison's
Sea l.iuiii. C. falklandica (=Peruely's Sea Lion), V. proboscidea (ejc Peron), and C. kei-g mini sin (the Sea Elephant of
Kergiielen Island). He seems nut, however, to have arrived at this course by an examination of an extensive snitr of
fs|"-i 'linens from various localities, as he refers in this connection to only a single old male example from Kergoelen
Inland. He seems to have been influenced merely by the varying statements in respect to size and some other features
given by Pernety, An.sou, and Pe>on. His entire presentation of the caste is as follows: "Perncty gibt von seinem
Seeliiw en cine lame Mahne, cine Totalliingc von 25 Fuss mid eiuein Durcliniesser tier Basis der Ki'k/.iiline von ;i Zoll au.
Pelons See-Elephautrn solleu bis 30 Fuss laug mill von blaugrauer Farbe sein. Vielleicht siml nlle diese Arten
viTsvhiedfii nnd es wiirde dann der Name C. leouiita L. blossdcm AIISOII'M lirn Serliiuen /. belasseir sein. wiihrend die >.'.
1'iilklaiiiliin, \vii- man die von P. rnety lienenneii kotiDte, die C. proboscidia I'cron, die C. anijtironlrig Gill der iiordlichcn
Ilrmisphiin- mid ilie von Kergiiul<;iilaiid besoudereu Arten ungi<lii>reii wiirden. Fiir den letztercn Fall srlilage ich vor,
die se Art keryuflemiui zu beuemuieii." (Monat.sh. d. K. P. Akad. Wisseiisch. zu Berlin lH7f), p. :','.)!, toot-note).

The Sea Elephants appear to be exceptional among the I'hvcidte iu the great disparity of size brtwei-n (he sexes,
in which, as well as iu their breeding habits, they closely resemble the Otaries. Although, unlike the latter, they
have not i In' power of using the hind limbs in locomotion on land, and are hence unable to walk, tlu-y mauage to
crawl to a considerable distance from the sea according to Scammou, a "half a mile or more." The habits of the
Southern Sea Elephant ( Afacrorhinug teotiiiiim) were long since described by Alison and Pernety, and later by P6ron,
but their accounts seem in some respects to be tinged with romance. According to these writers the males fight
desperately for the possession of the females.




DESCRIPTION OP AN ADULT MAM:. The Fur Seal, which repairs every year to the Pribylov

Islands to breed and to shed its hair and fur, in numbers that seem almost fabulous, is the highest
organized of all the /'i/iniperfia, and, indeed, for that matter, when laud and water are weighed in
tin- jr. mini together, there is no other animal known to man which can be truly, as it is, classed
superior, from a purely physical point of view. Certainly there are few, if any, creatures in
the animal kingdom that can be said to exhibit a higher order of instinct, approaching even our

1 wish to draw attention to a s|tecimen of the finest of this race a male in the Hush and prime
of his tirst maturity, six or seven years old, and full grown. When it comes up from the sea early
in the spring, out to its station for the breeding season, we have an animal before us that will
measure six and a half to seven and u quarter feet in length from tip of nose to the end of its
abbreviated, abortive tail. It will weigh at least 400 pounds, and I have seen older specimens
much more corpulent, which, in my best judgment, could not be less than (5<H pounds in weight.
The head of this animal now before us, appears to be disproportionately small in compHrison with
the immense thick neck and shoulders; but as we come to examine it we will llnd it is mostly all
occupied by the brain. The light frame- work of the skull supports an expressive pair of large
bluish hazel eyes; alternately burning with revengeful, passionate, light, then suddenly changing
to the tones of tenderness and good nature. It has a muzzle and jaws of about the same size and
form observed in any full blooded Newfoundland dog, with this difference, that the lips re not
flabby and overhanging; they are as firmly lined and pressed against one another as our own. The
upper lips support a yellowish white and gray moustache, composed of long, stiff' bristles, and when
it is not torn out and broken oft' in combat, it sweeps down and over the shoulders as a luxuriant
plume. Look at it as it comes leisurely swimming on tow aid the land; see how high al>ove the
water it carries its head, an I how deliberately it surveys the beach, after having stepjed upon it
(for it may lie truly said to step with its fore-flippers, as they regularly alternate when it moves
up), carrying the head well above, them, erect and graceful, at least three feet from the ground.
The fore-feet, or flippers, are a pair of dark bluish-black hands, about eight or ten inches broad at
their junction with the body, and the metacarpal joint, running out to an ovate point at their
extremity, some fifteen to eighteen inches from this union; all the rest of the forearm, the ulna,
radius, and humerus being concealed under the skin and thick blubber-folds of the main body and
necU. hidden entirely at this season, when it is so fat. Hut six weeks to three months after this
tune of landing, when that supertliioiis fat and flesh lias been consumed by self-absorption, those
bones show plainly under the shrunken skin. On the upper side of these tlip|>crs the hair of tin-
body straggles down liner and fainter as it comes below to a point close by, and slightly beyond
that spot of junction where the phalanges and the metacarpal bones unite, similar to that point on
onr own hand where our knuckles are placed; and here the hair ends, leaving the rest of the skin
to the end of the Hipper bare and wrinkled in places at the margin <pf the inner .side; showing, also,
line small pits, containing abortive nails, which are situated immcdiatch over the union of the
phalange* with their cartilaginous continuations to the end of the Hipper.


On the other side of the flipper the skin is entirely bsuv, from its outer extremity up to the
body connection; it is sensibly tougher and thicker than elsewhere on the body; it is deeply and
regularly wrinkled with seams and furrows, which cross one another so as to leave a kind of sharp
diamond-cut pattern. When they arc? placed by the animal upon the smoothest rocks, shining :md
slippery from algoid growths and the sea-polish of restless waters, they seldom fail to adhere.

When we observe this Seal moving out on the land, we notice that, though it handles its fore-
feet in a most creditable manner, it brings up its rear in quite a different style; for, after eveiy second
step ahead with the anterior limbs, it will arch its spine, and in arching, it drags and lifts up, and
together forward, the hind-feet, to a fit position under its body, giving it in this manner fresh
leverage for another movement forward by the fore-feet, in which the spine is again straightened
out, and then a fresh hitch is taken upon the posteriors once more, and so on as the Seal progresses.
This is the leisurely and natural movement 011 laud, when not disturbed, the body all the time
being carried clear of and never touching the ground. But if the creature is frightened, this method
of progression is radically changed. It launches into a lope, and actually gallops so fast that the
best powers of a man in running are taxed to head it off. Still, it must be remembered that it cannot
run far before it sinks trembling, gasping, breathless, to the earth ; thirty or forty yards of such
speed marks the utmost limit of its endurance.

The radical difference in the form and action of the hind-feet cannot fail to strike the eye

Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 17 of 146)