G. Brown (George Brown) Goode.

The fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) online

. (page 24 of 146)
Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 24 of 146)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


MILK OF THE FUR SEAL. The milk of the Fur Seal mother is very rich and creamy, and
the secretion is always abundant, but there is not, under any circumstances, the enlarged udder
and mammae peculiar to dogs and similar animals ; the nipples are scarcely distinguishable, even
when exposed to the reach and notice of the young.

IRREGULAR FEEDING OF THE PUPS. The umbilicus of the pup rapidly sloughs off, and the
little fellow grows apace, nursing to-day heartily in order that he may, perhaps, go the next two,
three, or four days without another drop from the maternal fount; for it is the habit of the mother
Seal to regularly and frequently leave her young, on this spot of its birth, to repair for food in the
sea; she is absent on these excursions, on account of the fish not coming inshore within a radius
of at least one hundred miles of the breeding-grounds, through intervals varying, as I have said,
from a single day to three or four, as the case may be. The manner in which she returns after
feeding, and in which she singles out by scent, and at a glance, her own offspring from many
thousands surrounding it, I have clearly described in a foregoing chapter. 1

PRELIMINARY ADVANCES OF THE SEXUAL UNION. The pup being born, the cow rapidly passes
into "heat." I have noticed examples where ten hours only elapsed between the event of the birth
and that of copulation, and I doubt not of full impregnation for another period. But as a rule
forty-eight hours is a fair figure to express the time from the birth to the state known as "being
in heat." The cow always makes the first advances to the bull. If she is one of the earlier subjects
for his attention, the union is soon accomplished ; but should she be of the later applicants in his



1 When the females first come ashore there is DO sign of affection manifested, whatever, between the sexes. The
males are surly aud morose, and the females entirely indifferent to such reception. They are, however, subjected to
very harsh treatment sometimes in the progress of battles between the males for their possession, and a few of them
are badly bitten and lacerated every season.

One of the cows that arrived at Nah Speel, Saint Paul Island, early in June, 1872, was treated to a cruel mutilation
in this manner, under my eyes. When she had finally lauded on the ban-en rocks of one of the numerniiH "Seecatchie"
at the water front of this small rookery, and while I was carefully making a sketch of her graceful outlines, a rival
bull, adjacent, reached out from his station and seized her with his month at the nape of the neck, just as a cat lifts
a kitten. At the game instant, almost simultaneously, the old male that was rightfully entitled to her charms, turned,
and canght her in his teeth, by the skin of her posterior dorsal region. There she was, lifted and suspended in mid air,
between the jaws of her furious rivals, until, in obedience to their powerful struggles, the hide of her back gave
way, and, as a ragged flap of the raw skin more than six inches broad and a foot in length was torn up and from her
spine, she passed, with a rush, into the possession of the bull who had covetously seized her. She uttered no cry
during this barbarous treatment, nor did she, when settled again, tutu to her torn and bleeding wound to notice it in
any way whatsoever that I could observe.

When severe inflammation takes place, they seek the water, disappearing promptly from your scrutiny.



IMM; SKAI,: i:r:ri:ouucTlon. Ill

harem. :iftT lie has lu-cn IMOIV or less exhausted liy the vital drafts made upon him. -h,- must wait.
I have observed instances of this cliaracter iu which the female teased the male for hours aud
hours before arousing him.

I'KLAGIC COITION IMPOSSIBLE. In this act of coition ou these breeding-grounds of Saint Paul
and Saint George, I have noticed the fact that, whenever the female was well covered by the
male on the tlat or smooth shelves of rock or earth, they moved and shuffled about without any
particular effective coition until brought up agaiut a rougher inequality, or some fragments of lava
shingle, so characteristic of the rookery grounds. The reason for this is due to the fact, that in
spite of the great weight of the male, six times more than that of the female which he covers, the
orgasms are so rapid and violent that, unless the female is held by some other agency than the
weight of the male, she is literally shoved ahead and away from under him. This fact I call
attention to, as it alone is sufficient, upon the slightest reflection, to satisfy any judicial mind that
it is a physical impossibility for these Seals to copulate in the water. Under no conceivable position
assumed for this supposed pelagic coition could effectual sexual connection be made. 1

ACTION OF REPRODUCTION. The male serves the female exactly as a big Newfoundland dog
would serve a small terrier slut. The "Seecatchie" draws his heavy body over and upon the out-
stretched spine of the female, who lies prone before him on her stomach; HO that when the male
has adjusted himself, which he does by arching his back from the shoulders to the o* coccyx, he
covers her so completely that nothing of her body can be seen, except a portion of her head just
peering out from between his fore flippers aud under his broad chest.

Notwithstanding their great rapidity and the muscular power employed, the orgasms last,
without interruption, for the surprising space of from eight to fourteen minutes not a second's
intermission. Of course, toward the close of the season, when the male is tired, he does not remain
in coitu longer than three or four minutes. On account of the vigor and duration of this first
coitus, I am inclined to think that that female has no further intercourse with that male, or any
other one, during the rest of the season. She is satisfied, and passes rapidly out of heat. Certain
it is that she is not noticed by him again; she goes up to his seraglio-grounds, to and from the sea,
seeking her young and feeding undisturbed for the balance of the time; also, that the other bulls
seem to recognize this condition of passed sexual requirement aud satisfaction, in her case, by
paying her no attention.

PERIOD OF GESTATION. Thus it is apparent that the period of gestation in the Fur Seal is
nearly, lacking a few days, twelve calendar months; for the next year finds her again heavy with
young at almost exactly the same day that she gave birth to her previous offspring in the prior
season. The systematic and regular appearance of the females every year upon the Pribylov
Islands at such a time, usually in June or July, without the slightest regard to what the weather

Those extremely heavy adult males which arrive flret in the season, and take their stations on the rookeries, are
MI tat that they do not exhibit a wrinkle or a fold of the skins enveloping their blubber-lined bodies; most of this
fatty deposit is fonnd aronnd the shoulders and the neck, though a warm coat of blubber covers all the other pnrlimiN
of the body save the flippers; this blubber thickening of the neck and chest is characteristic of the adult males only,
which are, by its provisions, enabled to sustain the extraordinary protracted fasting periods incident to their habit of
life and reproduction.

When those superlatively fleshy bulls first arrive, a cnrions body tremor seems to attend every movement which
the animals make ou land; their fat appears to ripple backward and forward under their hides, like waves; as they
alternate with their flippers in walking, the whole form of the "Seecatchie" shakes as a bowl full of j-lly does when
agitated on the table before us.

There is also a perfect uniformity in the coloration of the breeding coats of the Fur Seals; and it is strikingly
manifest while inspecting' the rookeries late in .July, when they arc wilidly mawd tlim-on. At a quarter mile distance,
the whole immense aggregate of animal life seems to be fused into a huge homogeneous body that is alN-rnat.-ly roused
np in sections and then composed, just as a quantity of iron filings, covering the bottom of a saucer, will rise and fall,
when a magnet is passed over aud aronnd the dish.



112 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

may have been during the winter and spring previous, or is when they land, establishes without
doubt this exact limit of their gestation.

IMPORTANCE OF THIS SERVICE. The reason why I dwell upon these details is because
they have a vei-y important bearing upon the question as to what ratio of males every year is
needed for service on this great breeding-ground of Bering Sea. If the common opinion, hitherto
entertained, was tenable, of free and effective pelagic coition, then it will be readily understood
that nearly all the males from four years up, and on, could have easy access to the females ; and
that it would be a matter of very small concern how many old males, or rather those males upon
the land located over the rookeries, were fit for service. But understanding, as I now do, without
a shadow of tenable contradiction, that these "Seecatchie" which receive, fight for, and cover the
females on the rookeries, are the only active fertilizing powers toward the reproduction and
perpetuation of their kind, the importance of my detailed description of the method of coition is
evident; for it shows conclusively that unless we see every year, long prior to the arrival of the
females, a full supply of able-bodied "Seecatchie" holding out upon and located over the rookeries
of Saint Paul and Saint George unless we see such a number in good condition we may safely
count upon the fact that danger will arise of imperfect and nugatory fertilization for the coming
year. It will not do to indulge the hope, should a scarcity or diminution of the old males ever
occur, when the rookeries are mapped out in spring, of the deficiency being made good by the
young males which are swimming around everywhere in the water.

VITALITY OF THE MALE. I believe that an able-bodied adult "Seecatchie" is capable of
serving well from the 14th June to the 14th July, during which period the height of the breeding
season occurs, one hundred females. If he is, however, as he frequently is, enfeebled by previous
fighting and struggling with other males to hold the station which he has selected and fought for,
it is more than likely that his virility will not extend beyond the proper serving of twenty or thirty
cows. As I have said in another place, I found great difficulty in finding, to my own satisfaction,
a fair number of females as the average to every harem on the rookery. 1 Some instances occur
where the male treats forty -five or fifty females, owing to the peculiar configuration of the landing
grounds; but most generally, and as the rule, I think fifteen or twenty cows to every bull is a true
computation; hence I do not believe, under any normal circumstances and all normal disad-
vantages, such as fighting involves by weakening the males, that, when the females arrive, there
is the least risk of a single one of them getting back to the water without a perfect and effectual
impregnation. A common opinion was prevalent on the islands among the employe's touching this
matter, that, when the female was not instantly covered during her first heat, she went to the
water, cooled off, and on returning, sexual desire never reappeared, and she became a farrow or
barren cow from that time to the end of her natural life. Analogous physiology confutes this

1 This striking and accurate average is still further complicated by that unknown distribution of the virgin females
which come np to the rookeries every year for their first meeting with the virile males. What proportion of them
reach the rear of the breeding-grounds compared with their numbers which are served at the water-line T I surely am
at fault to say, for they do not leave that tangible evidence which the other older cows do in the forms of their young.
One of the cnriong contradictions to generally received ideas of the habit of Seals is the fact that (ho Fur Seal will
not rest either upon snow or ice ; it seems to positively avoid all contact with either of those substances upon which
the Phocidce wholly, and the Sea Lions to some degree, delight in hauling over. Callorhinuf has the warmest of sea]
coats, by all odds, yet it dreads a snowy or an icy bed with as much sincerity as any habitne' of the tropics can. The
Sea Lions and Hair Seals have often been surprised in sporting, or sleeping on the ice floes of Bering Sea in the spring,
by whalemen while cruising at the edge of the frozen pack, wailing for the channel to open, clear into the Arctic
O'.ean ; as neither Eumetopian uor Phoca has any under wool, their sea-jackets are not half as heavy as those peculiar
to the bodies of Fur Seals; hence in taking personal notice of this odd aversion of the Callorhinvs to snow and ice, I
believe that its dislike is one of pure sentimentality rather than one based on physical inability to rest upon as cold
Hiirfaces, for there is not much difference between the water's temperature and that of the snow and ice in the spring
10 Fahr., perhaps both cold enough at all events.



THK FITK SEALVITALITY OF MALES.

completely; that such warm-blooded, highly-organized creatures should never have a ni]>iil
recurrence of sexual desire, in common with all other animals of their class, until it is gratified
in the uual way, is not at all probable, though it may be possible.

SMALL NUMBER OF BARREN FEMALES. To show, however, that a very small proportion of
the myriads of breeding females are barren, I have only to present this illustration, which is happy
in ito conclusion, and easily portrayed: Whenever a female ceases to breed she refuses to haul
upon the rookeries; she roams with the "nolluschickie," or the "Bachelors," growing a third
heavier and marked with corresponding darker tones to her coat, yet still preserving the familial-
pattern of the female, so that she can be picked out quickly by an experienced eye from the old
and young males around her. In driving up every season the " Holluschickie" to the killing-
grounds, the natives noticed, and pointed out to me, those barren females in the drive, several of
which were secured for my examination and measurement; but the proportion of barren females
is not more than one in a thousand to the "Uolluschickie" with which they consort.
8P



114 NATURAL HISTOEY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.



C. THE SIRENIANS OR SEA-COWS.

By FREDERICK W. TRUE.
31. THE AMERICAN MANATEES.

SPECIES OF NORTH AMERICAN MANATEES. The uumerous zoologists and travelers who
have written upon the American Manatees are not agreed as regards the number of existing species.
In the many and oftentimes discoidant descriptions and observations extant, some see but the
variations of a single species; 1 others discern two species, 2 one of Florida, the other of South and
Central America; and others still are able to distinguish three species, one, as before, in Florida,
but two in South America, a marine and a fluviatile species. I have satisfied myself by examina-
tion of specimens in the National Museum that there are at least two species, and that, both occur
within the borders of the United States. Regarding the Manatee of the upper water-courses of
South America I am still in doubt. In the following pages I shall refer to the southern form,
Ttichevhux manatux, Liuue, as the South American Manatee, and to the Floridan form, Tricheclmx
latirostrix, (Harlan) True, as the Florida Manatee.

DISTRIBUTION OF THK FLORIDA MANATEE. We have, then, upon our coasts two representa-
tives of the Sireniaus. The Florida Manatee, the lea.-t widely spread species, apparently inhabits
only the Floridan Peninsula and the eastern Gulf States. Regarding its distribution Mr. Silas
Stearns of Pensacola, Fla., contributes the following notes:

"It is gent-rally supposed in Florida and the Gulf State- that there are very few Manatees in
existence in this country, and that these are to be found in the southern portion of the Florida
Peninsula, in the fresh- water rivers, both on the Atlantic and Gulf sides. I have heard of their
being taken or seen in the Myakka River, Peace Creek, Caloosahatchie River, and other small
streams south of Charlotte Harbor and Okeechobee Lake, on the Gulf side,, and in the Sainte Lncie
River on the Atlantic side.

"On the Gulf coast (where I am better acquainted) the oldest settlers say that ten, fifteen, or
twenty years ago Manatees were occasionally seen in nearly all the inland waters from Key West
westward to civilization at Pensacola, Mobile, and New Orleans. It is evident that they have
been abundant along the entire Gulf coast, and probably on the Atlantic as far north as the
Carolinas, for their bones can be found along the shore nearly everywhere that civilization
lias not reached.

"Those generally found in the salt water along sand-beaches are petrified and black. I have
reason to think that there are still scattering individuals all through Florida, for during the
summer of 1880 I saw one in Santa Rosa Sound, some twenty miles east of Pensacola, where there
has been none seen for many years. While landing a sail-boat on the island we surprised the
aniin.il in shoal water and had a fine opportunity to examine it as it swam by into deeper water.
As they are so shy, there may be many more existing in the Stat than we are aware of, and their
range may include the whole State of Florida."

Mr. Goode informs me that specimens could be taken from time to time in the year 1878 near
Saiute Lucie on Indian River.



1 GRAV : Cat. Seals ami Whales, Brit. Museum, I860, p. 35H, and others. (Manatun auttralit.)
*HARI.AN : Journal Aea<l. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, first series, iii, I*i4, pp. :!90-:('J4.



TIIK MANATKKS: <! F.c ><; I! A I'll M'AI. DISTRIBUTION. 1]5

A writer in tin- journal "Forest and Stream," of June 11, 1874, under the heading "The.
Manatee at Saint Augustine, Fla.," quotas from the Saint Augustine "Press," as follows:

"The .Manatee continues her domicile in Bar Creek (Saint Augustine). Fishermen have again
reported it and eiti/ens are anxious to go after it. . . . There are also vague rumors of a very
large animal of the same species having been seen roaming about a place on the North River called
Oleander Town. If so, the one is probably the dam and the other the ealf that have In-come sep-
arated. It is also probable that during some of the heavy blows along the coast between here and
Indian Kiver some herd of these animals has become disjiersed and these two may have wandered
into our harbor. It will be remembered that two or three years ago a very large one was seen in
this harbor, which came up to the water-battery of the fort, where it remained until pelted by the
boys. Fishermen report them as having been frequently seen in the harbor."

Mr. C. J. Maynard, who lias been much in Florida, has recorded some valuable notes on the
distribution of the Florida Manatee. lie writes: " This singular animal is found in large mi ml UTS
about the inlets of Indian River, and Capt. Dummctt informs me that he has captured specimens
as far north as his place, which is within five miles of the head of the river. I have been informed
by creditable authorities that it is remarkably abundant upon the western coast in the various
rivers and creeks which abound between Tampa Bay and Cape Sable. I have never seen it in
Mosquito or Halifax Lagoons, and am confident that it does not occur there. This species is said
to feed upon the leaves of the mangrove during the night." 1

Dr. von Frantzius stated some years ago, in an essay on the mammals of Costa Rica, that
the Florida Manatee was the only species found in that country. He writes as follows: "If we
recognize M. latirostriv as a separate species, we shall be able to say that only this species is found
on the coast of Costa Rica."* It is evident, however, that he lias confounded the two species, for a
few lines further on he says: "Nearly all the museum specimens arriving in Europe in later years
come from Surinam and belong to the species known as M. latirnslrig; so far as 1 know no speei-
metis from the coast of Costa Rica or from Greytown have ever been sent to Enroj>e. I had but
one opportunity of seeing the Manatees on the shores of the Sarapiqui, and that at a distance." 3

This statement is in part erroneous; a large proportion of the different figures of specimens
in European museums are those of the southern form, Trickeckm manatu*.

DISTRIBUTION OF THB SOUTH AMERICAN MANATEE. The South American Manatee in
most abundant in the northern part of that continent and in Central America. Its range extends
much farther north, I believe, than is generally supposed. A skull in the National Museum,
belonging undoubtedly to this species, was received from Texas in 1855. It would seem that the
animal must occur in some abundance along the Mexican coast. Its range extends on the south at
least as far as the Saint Matthew's River in Brazil. 4 Manatees are found in nearly all the rivers
of northern South America, particularly in the Amazon and its tributaries, and in the Orinoco.
Those which are found in the upper water-courses, as has been already stated, are by some regarded
as distinct, and by others as identical with those of the lower regions and the sea.

THE MANATEE OF THE WEST INDIES. A species of Manatee occurs more or less abmidanth
in the West Indies, particularly about Cuba, San Domingo, and Porto Rico, but whether it is
the Florida or South American species seems not to have been ascertained. It is supposalily.
however, the Florida Manatee.



1 MAYXAKD, C. J. : Cat. Mammal* of Klnriita. Ex. Bull. Ewtrx Institute, iv, 9-10, l^r-.'. j.
'Vox KUAN I /.i i <: Siiiigi-tliiere Costa Hi can, in Wiegmann'H Archiv, xxxv, .la lire, i, pp. 304-307.
3 Loc. cit.
'Prince Maximilian.



116 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

BOUNDARIES OF THE RANCH OF AMERICAN MANATEES. The entire range, therefore, of
the American Manatees extends over about forty-nine degrees of latitude that is, from 30 north
to 19 south. It is probable, as Mr. Stearns surmises, that the existing species ranged farther
north in former days, and, furthermore, it is not definitely known that the southern Manatee does
not extend south of 19 south in Brazil. It is certain, however, as Burmeister distinctly states,
that it is not found on the coast of the Argentine Republic. 1

As an instance of the unusual wandering of (probably) the Florida Manatee, it may be noted
that an animal, the description of which fairly portrayed the appearance of that species, was cast
on the coast of Shetland in 1785. It was described by the British zoologist Fleming as probably
being a Rhytina, but this seems very unlikely to one acquainted with the facts of the geographical
range and size of that animal. Gray refers it to his Munatm australis, which includes both the
Florida and South American Manatees. It seems to me that if it was carried across the ocean by
the Gulf Stream, as Gray suggests, it most probably "set sail" from the Floridan coast. 2

Dr. Leidy has described the teeth of two fossil species, Manatus antiquiti;'* and Manatus inor-
natug, 4 from the "phosphate beds" of the Ashley River, South Carolina, showing that, as in the
case of many other American genera, there has been a movement southward in geological time.

ORIGIN OF THE NAME "MANATEE." I doubt if it is possible to arrive at any satisfactory
conclusion regarding the origin of the name Manatee. Certain it is that it was first used by the
early Spanish and Portuguese explorers. Pietro Martire, who is the first to record the existence
of the animal, in 1500, as I gather from Ramusio's collection of early voyages, does not give it a
name. 5 The notes which he gives regarding the animal were probably taken from the original
records of Columbus's fourth voyage, in the midst of the narrative of which they are given.
Oviedo, in 1535, calls it "Manati"; 6 Exquemelin, about 1650, states that the Spanish call it
"Manentine"; 7 Atkins in 1735 uses "Manatea"; Gumilla, in 1741, uses "Manati." 8 The French
writers, beginning with Biet, in 1604, employ the names "Lamantin," "Lament-in" (Condamine,
1745), and "Manaty" (Du Tetre, 1667). The appellation "Manatee" occurs for the first time, so
far as I am aware, in 1703. in Dampier's account of his voyages round the world. The word in
this form, or as " Manati," has been used by most English writers. Whether this name, in its
various forms, refers to the peculiar fore-legs of the Manatee or to its means of suckling its young,



Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 24 of 146)