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witnessed here at any time during that period; and the sight of such climbing as this of Tolstoi
is exceedingly novel and interesting. Why, verily, they ascend over and upon places where an
ordinary man might, at first sight, with great positiveness say that it was utterly impossible for
him to climli.

HAULING-GROUNDS ON THE BEACHES. The other method of coming ashore, however, is the
one most followed and favored. In this case they avoid the rookeries altogether, and repair to the
unoccupied beaches between them, and then extend themselves out all the way back from the sea,
as far from the water, iu some cases, as a quarter and even half of a mile. I stood on the Tolstoi
sand dunes one afternoon, toward the middle of July, and had under my eyes, in a straightforward
sweep from my feet to Zapaduie, a million and a half of Seals spread ont on these hauling-gronnds.
Of these, I estimated that fully one-half, at that time, were pups, yearlings, and "Holluschickie."
The rookeries across the bay, though plainly in sight, were so crowded, that they looked exactly as
I have seen surfaces appear upon which bees had swarmed in obedience to that din and racket
made by the watchful apiarian, when he desires to hive the restless honey-makers.

The great majority of yearlings and "Hollnschickie" are annually hauled out and packed
thickly over the sand-beach and upland hanling-grounds, which lie between the rookeries on Saint
Paul Island. At Saint George there is nothing of this extensive display to be seen, for here is
only it tithe of the seal-life occupying Saint Paul, and no opportunity whatever is afforded for an
amphibious parade.

GENTLENESS OP THE SEALS. Descend with me from this sand-dune elevation of Tolstoi, and
walk into that drove of "Holluschickie " below us; we can do it ; yon do not notice much confusion
or dismay as we go in among them ; they simply open out before us and close in behind our tracks,
stirring, crowding to the right and left as we go, twelve or twenty feet away from us on each side.
Look at this small flock of yearlings, some one, others two, and even three years old, which are
coughing and spitting around us now, staring up in our faces iu amazement as we walk ahead;
they struggle a few rods out of our reach, and then come together again behind us, showing no
further sign of notice of ourselves. You could not walk into a drove of hogs at Chicago, without
exciting as much confusion and arousing an infinitely more disagreeable tumult ; and as for sheep
on the plains, they would stampede far quicker. Wild animals indeed ! You can now readily
understand how easy it is for two or three men, early in the morning, to come where we are, turn
aside from this vast herd in front of and around us two or three thousand of the best examples,
and drive them back, up and over to the village. That is the way they get the Seals; there is not
any ''hunting" or "chasing" or "capturing" of Fur Seals on these islands.

"HOLLUSCHICKIE" DO NOT FAST. While the yonng male Seals undoubtedly have the power
of going for lengthy intervals without food, they, like the female Seals on the breeding-grounds,
certainly do not maintain any long fasting periods on land ; their coming and going from the shore
is frequent and irregular, largely influenced by the exact condition of the weather from day to day ;


for instance, three or four thick, foggy days seem to call them out from the water by hundreds of
thousands upon the different hauling-grounds (which the reader observes recorded on my map).
In some cases, I have seen them lie there so close together that scarcely a foot of ground, over
whole acres, is bare enough to be seen; then a clear and warmer day follows, and this seal covered
ground, before so thickly packed with animal life, will soon be almost deserted: comparatively so
at least, to be filled up immediately as before, when favorable weather shall agaiii recur. They
must frequently eat when here, because the first yearlings and " Holluschickie" that appear in the
spring are no fatter, sleeker, or livelier than they are at the close of the season ; in other words,
their condition, physically, seems to be the same from the beginning to the end of their appearance
here during the summer and fall. It is quite different, however, with the "Seecatch"; we know
how and where it spends two to three months, because we find it on the grounds at all times, day
or night, during that period.

SPORTS AND PASTIMES OF THE YOUNG " BACHELORS." A small flockof the young Seals, one
to three years old, generally, will often stray from these hauling-ground margins, up and beyond,
over the fresh mosses and grasses, and there sport and play one with another, just as little puppy-
dogs do; and when weary of this gamboling a general disposition to sleep is suddenly manifested,
and they stretch themselves out and curl up in all the positions and all the postures that their
flexible spines and ball-and-socket joints will permit. They seem to revel in the unwonted vege-
tation, and to be delighted with their own efforts in rolling down and crushing the tall stalks of
the grasses and umbelliferous plants; one will lie upon its back, hold np its hind-flippers, and lazily
wave them about, while it scratches, or rather rubs, its ribs with the fore-hands alternately, the
eyes being tightly closed during the whole performance; the sensation is evidently so luxurious
that it does not wish to have any side-issue draw off its blissful self-attention. Another, curled up
like a cat on a rug, draws its beath, as indicated by the heaving of its flanks, quickly but regu
larly, as though in heavy sleep; another will lie flat upon its stomach, its hind-flippers covered and
concealed, while it tightly folds its fore-feet back against its sides, just as a fish carries its pectoral
fins and so on to no end of variety, according to the ground and the fancy of the animals.

These "Bachelor" Seals are, I am sure, without exception, the most restless animals in the
whole brute creation, which can boast of a high organization. They frolic and lope about over the
grounds for hours, without a moment's cessation, and their sleep, after this, is exceedingly short,
and it is ever accompanied with nervous twitchings and uneasy muscular movements; they seem
to be fairly brimful and overrunning with spontaneity to be surcharged with fervid, electric life.

Another marked feature which I have observed among the multitudes of "Holluschickie,"
which have come under my personal observation and auditory, and one very characteristic of this
class, is, that nothing like ill-humor appears in all of their playing together; they never growl or
bite, or show even the slightest angry feeling, but are invariably as happy, one with another, as
can be imagined. This is a very singular trait; they lose it, however, with astonishing rapidity,
when their ambitiou and strength develop and carry them, in due course of time, to the rookery.

The pups and yearlings have an especial fondness for sporting on the rocks which are just at
the water's level and awash, so as to be covered and uncovered as the surf rolls in. On the bare
summit of these wave-worn spots, they will struggle and clamber in groups of a dozen or two at a
time throughout the whole day, in endeavoring to push off that one of their number which has just
been fortunate enough to secure a landing; the successor has, however, but a brief moment of
exultation in victory, for the next roller that comes booming in, together with the pressure by its
friends, turns the table, and the game is repeated, with another Seal on top. Sometimes, as well
as I could see, the same squad of "Holluschickie" played for a whole day and night, without a

mi: KIM; SKAI,: SPORTIVI-: n.vr.irs.

moment's cessation, around such a rock as this, oft' Nah Speel Rookery; but in this observation
I may bo mistaken, because the Seals cannot be told apart.

SKAI.S AMONG THE BREAKERS. The graceful unconcern with which the Fu^Seal sports
safely in, amon^, and under booming breakers, during the prevalence of the numerous heavy gales
at the islands, ha,s afforded me many consecutive hours of spell-bound attention to them, absorbed
in watching their adroit evolutions within the foaming surf, that seemingly, every moment, would,
in its fierce convulsions, dash these hardy swimmers, stunned and lifeless, against the iron-bound
foundations of the shore, which alone checked the furious rush of the waves. Not at all. Through
the wildest and most ungovernable mood of the roaring tempest and storm-tossed waters attending
its transit, I never failed, on creeping out, and peering over the bluffs, in such weather, to see
squads of these perfect watermen the most expert of all amphibians gamboling in the seething,
creamy wake of mighty rollers, which constantly broke in thunder tones over their alert, dodging
heads. The swift succeeding seas seemed, every instant, to poise the Seals at the very verge of
death. Yet the Callorhinwi, exulting in his skill and strength, bade defiance to their wrath, and
continued his diversions.

SWIMMING FEATS OF THE "BACHELORS." The "Ilolluschickie" are the champion swimmers
of all the seal tribe; at least, when in the water around the islands, they do nearly every fancy
tumble and turn that can be executed. The grave old males and their matronly companions sel-
dom indulge in any extravagant display, as do these youngsters, jumping out of the water like so
many dolphins, describing beautiful elliptic curves sheer above its surface, rising three and even
four feet from the sea, with the back slightly arched, the fore-flippers folded tightly against the
sides, and the hinder ones extended and pressed together straight out behind, plumping in head
first, to reappear in the same manner, after an interval of a few seconds of submarine swimming,
like the flight of a bird, on their course. Sea Lions and Hair Seals never jump in this manner.

All classes will invariably make these dolphin-jumps, when they are surprised or are driven
into the water, curiously turning their heads while sailing in the air, between the "rises" and
"plumps," to take a look at the cause of their disturbance. They all swim rapidly, with the
exception of the pups, and may be said to dart under the water with the velocity of a bird on the
wing; as they swim they are invariably submerged, running along horizontally about two or three
feet below the surface, guiding their course by the hind-flippers as by a rudder, and propelling
themselves solely by the fore-feet, rising to breathe at intervals which are either very frequent or
else so wide apart that it is impossible to see the speeding animal when he rises a second time.

How long they can remain under water without taking a fresh breath, is a problem which I
had not the heart to solve, by instituting a series of experiments at the island; but I arn inclined
to think that, if the truth were known in regard to their ability of going without rising to breathe,
it would be considered astounding. On this point, however, I have no data worth discussing, but
will say that, in all their swimming which I have had a chance to study, as they passed under the
water, mirrored to my eyes from the bluff above by the whitish-colored rocks below the rookery
waters at Great Eastern Rookery, I have not been able to satisfy myself how they used their long,
flexible hind-feet, other than as steering media. If these posterior members have any perceptible
motion, it is so rapid that my eye is not quick enough to catch it; but the fore-flippers, however,
can be most distinctly seen, as they work in feathering forward and sweeping flatly back, opposed
to the water, with great rapidity and energy. They are evidently the sole propulsive power of the
Fur Seal in the water, as they are its main fulcrum and lever combined, for progression on land.
I regret that the shy nature of the Hair Seal never allowed me to study its swimming motions, but
it seems to be a general point of agreement among authorities on the Phocidcr, that all motion in


water by them arises from that power which they exert and apply with the hind feet. So far as
my observations on the Hair Seal go, I am inclined to agree with this opinion.

All their movements in water, whether they are traveling to some objective point or are in
sport, are quick and joyous; and nothing is more suggestive of intense satisfaction and pure physi-
cal comfort, than is that spectacle which we can see every August, a short distance out at sea from
any rookery where thousands of old males and females are idly rolling over in the billows side by
side, rubbing and scratching with their fore- and hind-flippers, which are here and there stuck up
out of the water by their owners, like the lateen-sails of the Mediterranean feluccas, or, when the
hind-flippers are presented, like a " cat-o'-nine tails." They sleep in the water a great deal, too,
more than is generally supposed, showing that they do not come on land to rest very clearly not.

LEAPING OUT OF WATER: " DOLPHIN- JUMPS." As I never detected the Sea Lions or the Hair
Seals leaping from the water around these islands, in those peculiar dolphin-like jumps which I have
hitherto described, I made a note of it early during my first season of observation, for corrobora-
tion in the next. It is so: neither the Sea Lion nor the Hair Seal here ever leaped from the ocean
in this agile and singular fashion heretofore described. Allen, so conservative usually, seems, how-
ever, to have fallen into an error by reading the notes of Mr. J. H. Blake, descriptive of the Sea
Lions of the Gallapagos Islands. As Allen quotes them entire in a foot-note, 1 I am warranted in
calb'ng attention to the fact, that no authentic record has as yet been made of such peculiar
swimming by Plwcidcc, or the sea-lion branch of the OtariidcK, My notice has been called to this
mistake by Professor Allen's own note, page 367, upon a quotation from my work, citing Mr.
Blake's notes above referred to, which are themselves very interesting, but do not even hint at a

How fast the Fur Seal can swim, when doing its best, I am naturally unable to state. I do know
that a squad of young " Holluschickie" followed the "Reliance," in which I was sailing, down from
the latitude of the Seal Islands to Akootan Pass with perfect ease, laying around the vessel, while
she was logging straight ahead, 14 knots to the hour.

The Fur Seal, the Sea Lion, the Walrus, and the Hair Seal all swim around these islands, and
in these waters, submerged, extended horizontally and squarely upon their stomachs. I make this
note here because I am surprised to read 2 that the Harp (Hair) Seal's "favorite position when
swimming, as affirmed by numerous observers, is on the back or side, in which position they also
sleep in the water." Although this is a far-distant, geographically speaking, relative of the Hair
Seal of Saint Paul Island, yet the remarkable difference in fashion of swimming seems hardly
warranted, when the two animals are built exactly alike. Still, I have no disposition to question,
earnestly, the truth of the statement, inasmuch as I have learned of so many very striking radical
differences in habits of anima's as closely related, as to pause, ere seriously doubting this assertion
that a Harp Seal's favorite way in swimming is to lie upon its back when so doing. It is simply
an odd contradiction to the method employed by the Hair Seals of the North Pacific and of Bering

While I am unable to prove that the Fur Seal possesses the power to swim to a very great depth,
by actual tests instituted, yet I am free to say that it certainly can dive to the uttermost depths,
where its food-fish are known to live in the ocean; it surely gives full and ample evidence of
possessing the muscular power for that enterprise. In this connection, it is interesting to cite
the testimony of Mr. F. Borthen, the proprietor of the Fro Islands, a group of small islets off
Trondhjems Fiord, in Norway; this gentleman has had an opportunity of watching the Gray Seal

1 History of Nortti American Pinnipeds, p. 211.
ALLEN: op. tit., p. 651.


(JIalichteru* ijrypun) as it l>ivd and rested on these rocks duriiigan extended period of time. Among
many interesting notes as to tbo biology of this large Hair Seal, he says: " As a proof that they [the
Seals] fetrh their food from a considerable depth, it is related that a few years ago a young one was
found caught by one of the hooks of a tishing line that was placed at a depth of between seventy
and eighty fathoms, on the outer side of the islands. Gray Seals have several times been seen to
come up to the surface with lings (A/of pa eulgaru) and other deep-water fishes in their mouths,
such fishes seldom or never found at a less depth than between sixty and seventy fathoms." 1

CLASSING THE "HOLLUSCHICKIE" BY AGE. When the "Holluschickie" are up on land they
can be readily separated into their several classes as to age by the color of their coats and size,
when noted, namely, the yearlings, the two, three, four, and five years old males. When the
yearlings, or the first class, haul out, they are dressed just as they were after they shed their pup-
coats and took on the second covering during the previous year in September and October; and
now, as they come out in the spring and summer, one year old, the males aud females cannot be
distinguished apart, either by color or size, shape or action ; the yearlings of both sexes have the
same steel-gray backs and white stomachs, aud are alike in behavior and weight.

Next year these yearling females, which are now trooping out with the youthful males on the
hauling-grounds, will repair to the rookeries, while their male companions will be obliged to come
again to this same spot.

SHEDDING THE HAIR: STAGEY SEALS. About the 15th and 20th of every August, they
have become perceptibly "stagey," or, in other words, their hair is well under way in shedding.
All classes, with the exception of the pups, go through this process at this time every year. The
process requires about six weeks between the first dropping or falling out of the old over-hair, and
its full substitution by the new. This takes place, as a rule, between August 1 and September 28.

The fur is shed, but it is so shed that the ability of the Seal to take to the water and stay
there, and not be physically chilled or disturbed during the process of molting, is never impaired.
The whole surface of these extensive breeding-grounds, traversed over by us after the Seals had
gone, was literally matted with the shed hair and fur. This under fur or pelage is, however, so
fine and delicate, aud so much concealed and shaded by the coarser over hair, that a careless eye
or a superficial observer might be pardoned in failing to notice the fact of its dropping and renewal.

The yearling cows retain the colors of the old coat in the new, when they shed it for the first
time, and from that time on, year after year, as they live and grow old. The young three-year-
olds aud the older cows look exactly alike, as far as color goes, when they haul up at first and dry-
out on the rookeries, every June and July.

The yearling males, however, make a radical change when they shed for the first time, for
they come out from their "staginess" in a nearly uniform dark gray, and gray aud black mixed,
and lighter, with dark ocher to whitish on the upper and under parts, respectively. This coat,
next year, when they appear as two-year-olds, shedding for the three-year-old coat, is a very much
darker gray, and so on to the third, fourth, and fifth season; then after this, with age, they begin,
to grow more gray and brown, with rufous-ocher and whitish-tipped over-hair on the shoulders.
Some of the very old bulls change in their declining years to a uniform shade all over of dull-
grayish ocher. The full glory and beauty of the Seal's moustache is denied to him until he baa
attained his seventh or eighth year.

COMPARATIVE SIZE OF FEMALES AND MALES. The female does not get her full growth and
weight until the end of her fourth year, so far as I have observed, but she does most of her

1 ROBKRT COLJ.KTT : On the Gray Seal. Proceedings Zoological Society London, prt >) 18S1 - P- 3frt -



growing longitudiually in the first two; after she has passed her fourth and fifth years, she weighs
from thirty to fifty pounds more than she did in the days of her youthful maternity.

The male does not get his full growth and weight until the close of his seventh year, but
realizes most of it, osteologically speaking, by the end of the fifth ; and from this it may be
perhaps truly inferred, that the male Seals live to an average age of eighteen or twenty years,
if undisturbed in a normal condition, and that the females attain ten or twelve seasons under the
same favorable circumstances. Their respective weights, when fully mature and fat in the spring,
will, in regard to the male, strike an average of from four to five hundred pounds, while the
females will show a mean of from seventy to eighty pounds.

I did not permit myself to fall into error in estimating this matter of weight, because I early
found that the apparent huge bulk of a sea-lion bull or fur-seal male, when placed upon the
scales, shrank far below my notions: I took a great deal of pains, on several occasions, during the
killing season, to have a platform scale carted out into the field, and as the Seals were knocked
down, and before they were bled, I had them carefully weighed, constructing the following table
from my observations :

Table showing the weight, size, and growth of the Fur Seal (CaUorhinus ursinm), from the pup to the

adult, male and female.




weight of




12 to 14

10 to 10)































Eight to twenty

75 to 80

70 to 71

400 to 500

45 to 50

An estimate only, calculating on their weight when fat, and early in the season.

WEIGHT OF FEMALE SEALS. The adult females will correspond with the three-year-old
males in the above table, the younger cows weighing frequently only seventy-five pounds, and
many of the older ones going as high as one hundred and twenty, but an average of eighty to
eighty-five pounds is the rule. Those specimens of the females which I have weighed were
examples taken by me for transmission to the Smithsonian Institution, otherwise I should not
have been permitted to make this record of their weight, inasmuch as weighing them means to
kill them; and the law and the habit, or rather the prejudice of the entire community up there, is
unanimously in opposition to any such proceeding, for they never touch females here, and never
set their foot on or near the breeding-grounds on such an errand. It will be noticed, also, that I
have no statement of the weights of those exceedingly fat and heavy males which first appear on
the breeding-grounds in the spring; those which I have referred to, in the table above given, were
very much heavier at the time of their first appearance in May and June, than at the moment
when they were in my hands, in July; but the cows, in the other class, do not sustain protracted
fasting, and therefore their weights may be considered substantially the same throughout the year.

CHANGE IN WEIGHT. Thus, from the fact that all the young Seals and females do not change
much in weight from the time of their first coming out in the spring, till that of their leaving in
the fall and early winter, I feel safe in saying that they feed at irregular but not long intervals,


during the time that they are hero under our observation, since they are constantly changing from
land to water and from water to land, day in and day out. I do not think that the young males
fast longer than a week or ten days at a time, as a rule.

DISPERSAL OF THE " HOLLUSCHICKIE." By the end of October and the 10th of November,
the great mass of the "Ilollnschickie," the trooping myriads of English Bay, Southwest Point,
Heef Parade, Lukannon Sands, the table-lands of Polavina, and the mighty hosts of Novostashnah,
at Saint Paul, together with the quota of Saint George, had taken their departure from its shores,

Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 22 of 146)