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and had gone out to sea, spreading with the receding schools of fish that were now returning to
the deep waters of the North Pacific, where, in that vast expanse, over which rolls an unbroken
billow, five thousand miles from Japan to Oregon, they spend the winter and the early spring,
until they reappear and break up, with their exuberant life, the dreary winter isolation of the land
which gave them birth.

TASTE OF THE SEALS IN THE MATTER op WEATHER. A few stragglers remain, however,
as late as the snow and ice will permit them to, in and after December; they are all down by the
water's edge then, and haul up entirely on the rocky beaches, deserting the sand altogether; but
the first snow that falls makes them very uneasy, and I have seen a large hauling-ground so
disturbed by a rainy day and night, that its hundreds of thousands of occupants fairly deserted
it. The Fur Seal cannot bear, and will not endure, the spattering of sand into its eyes, which
always accompanies the driving of a rain-storm"; they take to the water, to reappear when the
nuisance shall be abated.

The weather in which the Fur Seal delights is cool, moist, foggy, and thick enough to keep the
sun always obscured, so as to cast no shadows. Such weather, which is the normal weather of
Saint Paul and Saint George, continued for a few weeks in June and July, brings up from the sea
millions of Fur Seals. But, as I have before said, a little sunshine, which raises the temperature
as high as 50 to 55 Fahr., will send them back from the hauling-grouuds almost as quickly as
they came. Fortunately these warm, sunny days on the Pribylov Islands are so rare that the
Seals certainly can have no ground of complaint, even if we may presume they have any at all.
Some curious facts in regard to their selection of certain localities on these islands, and their
abandon men t of others, I will discuss in a succeeding chapter, descriptive of the rookeries ; this
chapter is illustrated by topographical surveys made by myself.

ALBINOS. I looked everywhere and constantly, when treading my way over acres of ground
which were fairly covered with seal-pups, and older ones, for specimens that presented some
abnormity, that is, monstrosities, albinos, etc., such as I have seen in our great herds of stock ; but
I was, with one or two exceptions, unable to note anything of the kind. I have never seen any
malformations or "monsters" among the pups and other classes of the Fur Seals, nor have the
natives recorded anything of the kind, so far as I could ascertain from them. I saw only three
albino pups among the multitudes on Saint Paul, and none on Saint George. They did not differ,
in any respect, from the normal pups in size and shape. Their hair, for the first coat, was a dull
ocher all over; the fur whitish, changing to a rich brown, the normal hue; the flippers and muzzle
were a pinkish flesh-tone in color, and the iris of the eye sky-blue. When they shed the following
year, they are said to have a dirty, yellowish- white color, which makes them exceedingly conspic-
uous when mixed in among a vast majority of black pups, gray yearlings, and "Holluschiekie" of
their kind.

MONSTROSITIES AMONG THE SEALS'. Touching this question of monstrosities, I was led to
examine a number of alleged examples presented to my attention by the natives, who took some
interest, in their sluggish way, as to what I was doing here. They brought me an albino fur-seal



106 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

pap, nothing else, and gravely assured me that they knew it owed its existence to the fecundation
of a sea-lion cow by a fur-seal bull; if not so, how could it get that color! I was also confronted
with a specimen a full and finely grown four-year-old Callorhinus which had, at some earlier day,
lost its testicles either by fighting or accident while at sea; perhaps shaven off by the fangs of a
saw-toothed shark, and also gravely asked to subscribe to the presence of a hermaphrodite !

Undoubtedly some abnormal birth shapes must make their appearance occasionally ; but at
no time while I was there, searching keenly for any such manifestation of malformation on the
rookeries, did I see a single example. The morphological symmetry of the Fur Seal is one of the
most salient of its characteristics, viewed as it rallies here in such vast numbers, but the osteological
differentiation and asymmetry of this animal are equally surprising.

WHERE DO THE SEALS DIE ? It is perfectly evident that a large percentage of this immense
number of Seals must die every year from natural limitation of life. They do not die on these
islands ; that much I am certain of. Not one dying a natural death could I find or hear of on the
grounds ; they evidently lose their lives at sea, preferring to sink with the riyor mortis into the
cold, blue depths of the great Pacific, or beneath the green waves of Bering Sea, rather than to
encumber and disfigure their summer haunts on the Pribylov Islands.

THE REPRODUCTION OF THE FUR SEAL.' By treating this subject at length, my object is to
fix attention upon several points connected with the reproduction of the Fur Seal which have vital
importance to its relation with, and residence upon, the breeding-grounds of these islands under
discussion. In the first place, naturalists generally have taken notice of the generative appara-
tus exhibited by the Phocidce ; and, while they have spoken at length in anatomical detail and
discussion of the male organs of the Otariidce, yet they exhibit a strange neglect or oversight
with respect to those of the female. The singular cloaca! arrangement of the female organs of
generation in the Phocidce has excited comment and description from the earliest times.

The modification of the generative apparatus peculiar to the male Otariidce, in contradistinc-
tion to those organs possessed by the male Phocidcc, has been noticed to some extent by several
authorities 2 prior to the date of this publication; but, while calling attention to this marked change
in the morphology of the male organs of the Otariida;, they are silent in regard to the fact that,
though the Phocidce are very distinct, by the armature of the males, from the Otariidce, yet the
cloacal arrangement of the females in both genera is identical. This is in itself, as I view it, quite
as remarkable with regard to the females as it is noteworthy in respect to the males. Surely the
wonderful modification of the physical structure of the male Fur Seal from that of his kindred,
the Hair Seal, is very great ; and we are not surprised to find that his generative organs are pro-
nounced, in common with all the others, distinct. So the females differ, physically, in every respect,
to as great a degree, with the solitary exception of the intra-uterine life, and the cloacal form of
the external generative organs.

NECESSITY OF UNDERSTANDING THE SUBJECT. This subject of the method of reproduction,

'When they the approaching time perceive,
They flee the deep, and watery pastures leave :
On 'the dry ground, far from the swelling tide,
Bring forth their young, and on the shores abide
Till twice six times they see the Eastern gleams
Brighten the hills, and tremble on the streams,
The thirteenth morn, soon as the early dawn
Hangs out its crimson folds or spreads its lawn,
No more the fields and lofty coverts please,
Each hugs her own, and hastes to rolling seas.

Old Roman poem : Hair Sealt of the Mediterranean.
ALLEN: North American Pinnipeds, 1880. MURIE: Trans. Zool. Soc., 1869-72.



THE FUR SEAL: REPRODUCTION. 107

as carried out by the Fur Seals on the breeding-grounds of the Pribylov Islands, should be under-
stood distinctly and authoritatively, before the truth or falsity of certain hypotheses, which depend
upon it, can be intelligently discussed. The general impression and commonly-received opinion
in the popular, as well as the scientific world, is that the amphibian life of the ocean breeds in the
water thereof; or, in other words, that the fertilization of the seal-life takes place by coition therein,
and that the young may be born in this watery element, safely nurtured and cared for by their
mothers. 1 No end of fanciful rumor and romance has been published touching this point. We are
told that some man of great credibility has seen Seals in the water, with their new-born clasped
to their bosoms, rising in the waves to look at their disturbers, and then sinking, to carry away
their young to safety and quiet. To this fanciful description, undoubtedly, the mermaid owes its
origin in our recent mythology ; for the Hair Seal, in especial, has a bland, round, full physiog-
nomy ; the large circular eyes are placed more in front of the skull than in the crania of any other
genera of its kind. Such a head popping up suddenly in front of the mariner might naturally
suggest a human face; and it needs but a very little embellishment to trim it with long hair,
place inammaB on its bosom, and all the other peculiar attributes of the yellow-haired mermaid
so celebrated in song and art.

FINE OPPORTUNITIES FOR OBSERVATION. Therefore, what I wish to distinctly settle with
regard to the reproduction of the Fur Seal, which I now have under consideration, is that mooted
question as to the place, the manner, and the time of the union of the two sexes necessary for the
reproduction of its kind. I have no personal knowledge of the system of fertilization employed,
with reference to it, by the Phocidce;. hence I shall not attempt to describe it. J What I have

1 Reasonably enough, the closet naturalist, no matter how able, will be deceived now and then in this manner by
untrustworthy statements made by those who are supposed to know by personal observation of what they affirm.

As an apt illustration of this confusion which the best of closet natnralists are thrown into by untrustworthy
information touching this very matter, I may cite the case of Hamilton, who, in 1839, while writing of the Fur Seal of
Cook and Forster, discovered in particular by them on South Georgia, in 1771, declares it to be no Fur Seal at all ! He
feels warranted in doing so, because one Captain Weddell says so. This authority was a hardy sailor who made sealing
a specialty in the Antarctic during I-.'it-'-ji;. Hamilton, after specifying the wide range of this Arctocephalu*, "at
Dusky Bay, New Zealand, in New Georgia, Staten Land, Juan Fernandez, and the Gallapagos," goes on to say :

" It will be observed that several of these authorities, particularly Damptur and Cook, speak of the fineness of the
fur of this Seal. It is probably these statements which have led the able author of the article Phoque in the "Diet.
Classiqne d'Hist. Natarelle " to state that this Seal is the Fur Seal of commerce. His words are : ' L'otarii de Forster
est le Phoqne a fourrures des pecheara europeens.' But this, we suspect, is a mistake. No one will doubt that Captain
\\Yililrll was familiar with the Fur Seal. He was also familiar with the Ursine Seal, both as encountered in its haimU
and as described by naturalists ; and yet, when speaking of the Ursine Seal (so denominated by him), he never once
hints that its fur has any peculiar value, but the contrary." Amphibious Carnivora. Edinbnrg, 1339, p. 265.

Thus Hamilton quotes this old sailor, Weddell, throughout his whole memoir, with the utmost tnist; and in the
same manner others have been cited. They are worthless, unless taken " cum grano salis." The " long and short" of
it is this : when most of the seafaring sealers and whalers are in the field, they are blind to everything except the
mere capture of their quarry. When they return, they are importuned, usually at first, for details which, in fact, they
have never thought of, while away.

9 " The inconsequential numbers of the Hair Seal around and on the Pribylov Islands, seem to be characteristic of
all Alaskan waters and the northwest coast ; also, the Photida are equally scant on the Asiatic littoral margins. Only
the following four species are known to exist throughout the entire extent of that vast marine area, viz :
PHOCA VITUUNA Everywhere, between Bering Straits and California.
Pnocx FffiTiDA Plover Bay, Norton's Sound, Knskokvim month, and Bristol Bay, of Bering Sea ; Cape Startle

Kammin, Arctic Ocean to Point Barrow.

ERIONATHUS BARBATUS Kamtchatkan coast, Norton's Sound, Knskokvim month, and Bristol Bay, of Bering Sea.
HISTRIOPHOCA FASCIATA Yukon month, and coast south to Bristol Bay, of Bering Sea and drifting ice therein.

Then, in addition to this, Mr. Ivan Pi-trov, the special agent of the Tenth Census, United State* Army, report*
the presence of a land-locked Seal in the fresh waters of Iliamna Lake, and also in Lake Walker. It may be as distinct
from any of the Phocid<r above enumerated as is the Baikal or the Caspian Seals; and, as such, I suggest that it shall
receive the name of I'hoca petroH, when it is eventually secured, and if identified as new to our liste. Preliminary
Report of Progress, Census of Alaska : Ivan Petrov, Washington, December, 1880, p. 46.

In this connection, it is a somewhat curious fact that the description which Aristotle [300 B. C.] give* of the



108 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

heard from the natives would point clearly to the fact, that they know nothing really worthy of
scientific attention ; but in regard to the Fur Seal I have had unusual advantages, and an extended
experience, ranging over four consecutive breeding-seasons, in which thousands of these animals,
all perfectly in accord, have passed within the scope of my observation and record.

GENITALIA OF THE MALE AND FEMALE FUR SEAL. Considering the male Callorhinus:
When it is first born the external organs of generation are not evidenced to the sight, and it
requires a nice touch to find them under the skin. It is not until this animal has rounded off the
second year of its existence, that the testes descend and become externally exposed: first faintly,
but rapidly succeeding to the same prominence and same relative position that they occupy in the
example of the dog. When this creature becomes three and four years old, its testes hang pendant
in a somewhat flabby scrotum, which in the old male is as pendulous as that of an ordinary
bull; the sack is smooth and shiny, entirely devoid of hair, and black, with a slightly wrinkled
surface. The sheath of the penis is so merged with the skin of the abdomen that it does not lie
ribbed there and prominent as in the other carnivora ; but it is an erectile organ, with a bony
skeleton, measuring, when fully developed, from five to seven inches in length. The females have
their parts of generation exactly as they are described by Owen and Huxley which descriptions
are based upon examples of the well-known Phocidcc; their external organs are entirely concealed,
by the fact that the rectum terminates on the opposite side of the vulva; and a common, somewhat
flaccid, sphincter closes both apertures. In other words, the anal and. genital openings of the
female are united into a single one, through which the regular secretions of the body pass, and the
forces of reproduction are received and introduced. Thus, while the female PJwcidce correspond
in this respect with the female Otariidce, yet the extraordinary development of the male organs in
the Otariida; are quite marked, when contrasted with those peculiar to the Phocidas. 1

No EVIDENCE OF BUTTING ODORS: SPEEDY BIRTH OF PUPS. When the male Fur Seals
or " Seecatchie," as the natives call them a term implying strength and virility arrive first
upon the breeding grounds, long before the coming of the females, as described in a preceding
chapter of this monograph, they give no evidence of being in rut ; nor do they emit any odor
during the rest of the season which at all resembles the " rutting odor " ascribed to many animals.
I call attention to this because a common blunder has been made, and likely will be made, whereby
the smell upon the rocks, so far-reaching and so offensive, is called the " rutting funk." It is, as
I have also stated, due to other causes which are conspicuous and which have been specified here-
tofore. When the females came to land upon the breeding grounds, I noticed that, with the
exception of the virgin cows, they were heavy with young ; that the period of their gestation must
soon culminate by the birth of their offspring, which usually took place within a couple of hours
after they reached the shore, or within as many days at the most. Frequently I have observed
the mothers land, and ere they were dry the young would be expelled ; and the thought rose then
to my mind " how wonderfully well-timed the return of those gravid cows was " for, in spite of
tempests and currents, and many of them quite two and three thousand miles from their winter

Hair Seal (Monachus dibit-enter, very likely) is, in most respects, correct ; while Bnffon, the celebrated French zoologist,
as late as 1785, has not, despite his vast advantages, been nearly as accurate in his treatment of the Pinnipeds. That
this old Grecian philosopher, three hundred years before the Christian era, should have done better in this respect
than that world-wide distinguished academician did more than two thousand years afterward, affords an entertaining
suggestion as to the alleged degeneracy of the present age, especially so since the monument erected over Buffon's
remains bears au inscription which declares that he possessed ' a mind equal to the majesty of nature." (!)

1 See Owen's Anatomy of Vertebrates," vol. iii, p. 699, London, 1868. The Phocidce are the subject of this eminent
author's examination and report.



Till: I IK SEAL: Sl'KKDY B1ETH. 109

feeding places, yet they reach this land-speck in Bering Sea just in season for instant delivery after
arrival."

PANGS OF IMPENDING PARTURITION ALONE PROMPT FEMALES TO LAND. The females do
not land until they are obliged to by the precipitation of this event of parturition. They land
upon the breeding grounds of Saint Paul just as they come in contact with the shore guided and
influenced at the moment of approach to the islands by only one ruling thought, and that is, to
reach as near as possible the locality upon which they resided in former years. Soon after lauding,
which I have heretofore described, the birth of the young takes place, and in this wise: the cow
shows, an hour or so prior to delivery, great nervous agitation ; she trembles all over ; her eyes
blinking, and flippers twitching; rolling, stretching, and thoroughly uneasy, until the labor-pains.
If the ground where she happens to rest is rocky, she manages to lie upon the top of a bowlder,
her hind-flippers working spasmodically with a wavy, fan-like motion backward and forward, as
she rests full upon her stomach, with the fore-flippers alternately pressed tightly to the rock or
closely to her sides, like pectoral fins ; she sways her head, her eyes are partly closed and her
mouth slightly opened in panting, during the fifteen or twenty minutes which usually ensue
between the first contraction of the uterus, until the expulsion of the intra-uterine life takes place.
These labor-pains are not, in my opinion, at all very severe or abnormal in any respect. The pup
carries with it, at the moment of birth, the entire placental pouch or "after-birth." This envelope
is broken, usually by the mother, in forcing the labor and during the first expulsion of the pup's
head, which is always presented in advance. Tho little "Kotick" may be said to fairly drop upou

1 If there is any one faculty better developed than the others in the brain of the intelligent CaUarkinut, it must bo
its "bump " of locality. The unerring directness with which it pilots its nnnnal course back through thousands of
miles of watery waste to these spots of its birth small fly-dots of land in the map of Bering 8t>a and the North
Pacific is a very remarkable exhibitiou of its skill in navigation. While the Russians were established at Bodega
and Ross, California, sixty years ago, they frequently shot Fur Seals at sea, when hunting the Sea Otter off the coast
between Fuca 81 rails and the Farallones. Many of these animals, late in May and early in June, were so far advanced
in pregnancy that it was deemed certain by their captors that some shore must be close at hand upon which the near
impending birth of the pnp took place ; thereupon, the Russians searched over every rod of the roast-line of th main-
land and the archipelago, between California and the peninsula of Alaska, vainly seeking everywhere there fur a fur-
seal rookery. They were slow to understand how animals, so close to the throes of parturition, could strike out into
broad ocean to swim fifteen hundred or two thousand miles within a week or ten days ere they landed on the Pribylov
group, and almost immediately after gave birth to their offspring.

There is no record made which shows that the Fur Seals have any regular or direct course of travel np or down the
northwest coast. They are principally seen in the open sea, eight or ten miles from land, outside the heads of the
Straits of Fuca, and from there as far north as Dixon Sound. During May and June they are aggregated in greatest
numbers here, though examples are reported the whole year around. The only Fur Seal which I saw, or which was
noticed by the crew of the Reliance, iu her cruise, Juno 1 to 9, from Port Townsend to Sitka, was a solitary "Hollu-
sehack" that we disturbed at sea well out from the lower end of Queen Charlotte's Island; then, from Sitka to Kadiak,
we saw nothing of the Fur Seal until we hauled off from Point Greville, and corning down by Ookamok Islet, a squad
of agile "Holliischii-kit'" suddenly appeared among a school of hump-back whales, sporting in the most extravagant
manner around, under, and even leaping over the wholly indifferent cetacea. From this eastern extremity of Kadiak
Inland clear up to the Pribylov group we daily saw them here and there in small bands, or also as lonely voyageura,
all headed for one goal. We were badly outsailed by them ; indeed, the chorus of a favorite "South Sea pirate's"
song, as incessantly sung on the cutter's "'tween decks," seemed to have special adaptation to them :

"For they bore down from the windwi'ard,
A sailln' wren knot* to our fonr'n."

The ancient Greeks seemed to have been impressed somewhere by rookery odors, for old Homer say*

' ' The web-footed seals forsake the stormy swell.
And, sleeping in herds, exhale nauseous smell."

Where this illustrious bard sniffed up this characteristic unpleasantness of breeding-seals, I am at loss to say.
The Pribylov Islands and the great Antarctic grounds were, as far from that poet then as the moon is from us to-day.
He must have been introduced to it within the confines of th Caspian Sea, or else credibly informed, by trustworthy
authority, of this peculiarity of the large herds of Phocidir in those waters. Small bands, however, of Hair Seals breed
now, as they bred then, in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. He may have stumbled upon a few of them while
provoking his muse in lonely travels over Grecian pelagic shores.



110 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

its feet, for the moment it appears from within the natal walls it seems to be in full possession of
all its faculties; its eyes are wide open, and its voice is raised in weak, husky bleatings, as it feebly
paddles around, still attached to the umbilical cord, which it, by its own efforts, pulls asunder as
it flounders about on the rocks or ground of the rookery. The mother, in the mean time, gives her
offspring none of that attention so marked in the case of the Ganidce and other carnivores, not even
turning to look at it; but she draws herself up with an expression of intense comfort and relief,
throwing her head back with a gentle, swaying motion, as she fans herself slowly with either one
or both of the hind-flippers. She also pays no attention to the cleansing of her own person, the
after-birth lying undisturbed by her, it being speedily trampled under foot and ground out of
recognizance by the restless multitudes around her, which pass to and fro. The pup quickly dries
off, with rapid alternations of short naps with awakenings, in which it gets up and on its flippers
to essay brief scrambles over the rocks and ground until, in nosing about, it claims the attention
of its mother (sometimes hours after birth) : this she gives by gently elevating her abdomen and
turning her parts posteriorly, so that one or two of the obscure teats, filled with milk, can be seized
by the hungry pup, which now nurses therefrom greedily, even to gorging itself.



Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 23 of 146)