J. A. (Joel Asaph) Allen.

History of North American pinnipeds, a monograph of the walruses, sea-lions, sea-bears and seals of North America online

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orbits. In dentition and in the general form of the palatal re-
gion there is a close agreement with the Einged Seal, the Baikal
Seal being, in a word, a slender form of the Phoca fcetida type.

It also differs notably in coloration, being apparently never
spotted. According to Dr. Dybowski, the adults are silvery-
brown ("silberbraunlich") above, and dingy silvery-brown
("schmutzig silberbraun") below ; in the younger animals the
silver-brown color has a whitish lustre ; in the newly-born young
the thick, long wool-hair is silvery- white. The length of the
full-grown animal is given as 1,300 mm.

While it is pretty clear that the Caspian Seal and the Baikal
Seal are both specifically distinct from the Einged Seal, and
that neither of them has any near relationship to Phoca mtulina,
the points of difference between the two first-named are not so
evident. In coloration the Caspian Seal appears to not differ
greatly from the Einged Seal; both consequently differ sim-
ilarly in color from the Baikal Seal, namely, in being spotted,
while the latter is con color. On the other hand, the Caspian
and Baikal Seals agree in being considerably larger than the
Einged Seal, and in the skull being narrower in proportion to
its length, with the upper surface more convex. The Baikal
Seal, however, appears to be distinguished by the greater atten-
uation of the facial region coupled with a much greater expan-
sion of the zygomatic arches.

The peculiar features of coloration presented by the Baikal
Seal have been given with uniformity since the time of Steller,}
who first made them known. Schreber's short description,

* Estimated from Dybowski's figure.
t Besckreibmig von dem Lande Kamtschatka, 1774, p. 108.


as 192 mm., and their average breadth as 118 mm., which I find
founded on that of Steller, is as follows : " Er ist einfarbig,
silberweiss vom Harren, so gross als der genieine." He further
says: "Man findet ihm in den beiden sibirischen Landseen
Baikal und Oron, die weit von deni Ocean entfernt sind und
mit demselben durch keinem Fluss Gemeinschaft haben. a Ob
er vom dem gemeinen wesentlich verschieden sei, ist mir uicht
bekannt." *

Nilsson refers to a specimen supposed to have come from Lake
Baikal as being "Braungrau einfarbig mit flasserer Farbung an
den untern Korpertheilen". Eadde says its color is "scho'n
grau (fast stahlgrau)" on the back, becoming lighter on the
sides, and yellowish-gray beneath, t

" a Steller, a. o.

* Saugth., iii, 310. The above is Schreber's account in full.

t PHOCA (PUSA) SIBIRICA, Allen ex Gmelin.
Baikal Seal.

The Seal [of Lake Baikal], BELL, Travels from St. Petersb. in Russia to diverse parts of

Asia, "i, 1768, 261"; ibid., i, 1788, 320.

Die virte Sorte Seehunde, STELLER, Bescbreibung von dem Lande Kamtschatka, 1774, 108.
Der sibirische Seehund, SCHREBER, Saugth., iii [1776?] 310 (ex Steller).
Phoca vitulina, /3, ERXLEBEN, Syst. Beg. Anim., 1777, 588 (ex Steller et Schreber).
Phoca vitulina, y, sibirica, GMELIN, Syst Nat., i, 1788, 64. KERR, Anim. King., 1792, 124.
2 Phoca annellata, NILSSON, Arcb. fiir Naturg., 1841, 312 (in part).
Phoca annellata, KADDE, Reisen im Siid. vom Ost-Sibiriens, i, 1862, 296 (in part, only tbe

Baikal specimen).
Phoca baicalensis, DYBOWSKI, Arch, fiir Anat. u. Phys., 1873, 109, pll. ii, iii (skulls of adult

and young).

This species was apparently first mentioned by Bell (as above cited),
in 1763, who refers to its habits, but gives no account of its characters. It
was quite fully described by Steller in 1774, and was first formally intro-
duced into systematic zoology by Schreber about two years later, whose
account is based wholly on S teller's. It was cited as a variety of Phoca vitu-
lina by Erxleben in 1777, and named as a variety of that species by Gmelin
in 1788. Nilsson described a skin and an imperfect skull under Phoca annel-
lata in 1837, but thought it might prove to be a distinct species, and, more-
over, was not certain whether or not his specimen came from Lake Baikal.
Radde, the first naturalist after Steller who described the Baikal Seal,
from an authentic specimen, referred it unhesitatingly to Phoca annellata
(=fcetida). The single skull on which his observations were based he
stated to be that of a female about three or four years old, but his figures
of it show it to have been much younger, the principal sutures being rep-
resented as unobliterated. He found it to be considerably smaller than


From a geographical stand-point there is no a priori reason
for their identity, they occupying entirely distinct drainage
basins, which have had no connection since comparatively re-
mote geological times. Their geographical position, indeed,
considered in relation to the present distribution of their
nearest allies, as well as to their peculiar environment, is one
of the most interesting facts in their history. The Baikal Seal
is an inhabitant of a fresh-water lake, while the waters where
the other finds a home are only to a slight degree salt. Neither
of these remote interior seas has had any recent connection
with the Polar Seas, where alone the nearest affines of these
Seals are now found. If their oceanic connection was south-
ward (as was most likely that of the Caspian Sea), at the remote

either of his skulls of Pkoca fcetida, but its small size is explainable on the
ground of its immaturity. He himself states that his specimen of the
Baikal Seal weighed in the flesh only "3iPud" (126 pounds), while the
weight of the Baikal Seal, as he says he was informed by the Seal-hunters,
ranges from "8 zu 10 Pud" (288 to 360 pounds). Radde's evidently erro-
neous estimate of the age of his specimen is pointedly noticed by Dr. Dy-
bowski, who, in referring to the fact of young Seals being often mistaken
for old ones, adds, " wie es G. Radde gethan hat, der ein 7-8 monatliches
jimges Thier fiir ein 3-4 jiihriges ausgiebt."*

In 1873 Dybowski described the species with admirable fullness, including
its external and cranial characters, giving figures of an adult and a young
skull, together with a detailed account of its external characters, of not
only the adult but young of various ages. He, moreover, was the first to
positively claim its specific distinctness, and it is an open question whether
Ms name baicalensis ought not to supersede Gmelin's long previously imposed
name sibirica.

According to Dybowski, these Seals are pretty common in Lake Baikal,
but there is rarely opportunity for observing them in summer. The native
hunters informed him that they are often seen and shot in the months of
July and August on the rocky southwest shore, by lying in wait for them
behind rocks. It is during these months that the rutting time occurs, and
the young are born in January and February, so that consequently the
period of gravidity must be reduced to about six or seven months. The
young are said to depend for sustenance exclusively upon the mother's milk
for about four months. The lake becomes closed with ice in January, and
from that time till the middle of May a period of about four months the
Seals remain wholly under the ice, but have their breathing-holes through
which they obtain air. About the end of March or beginning of April, af-
ter the deep snows have become melted by the sun, the hunters seek out
these breathing-holes by means of dogs especially trained for the purpose,
and capture the Seals in nets placed in the breathing-holes. Arch, fur Anat.
ft. Phys., 1873, pp. 121-125. See further Bell's account of their capture about
the middle of the last century, already cited (anted, p. 612).
* Arch, fur Anat. u. Phys., 1873, p. 122.


time when these basins formed a part of the great Tertiary sea,
of which the Mediterranean and connected interior waters are
now the greatly diminished remnants, whence came the stock
from which these two allied species of Seal are the descendants?
Are we to look for an ancestor in Phoca foetida, or in some allied
extinct species, from which came not only these species but also
their present northern ally ? As shown by the researches of Van
Ben eden, Seals were abundant in the Pliocene seas of Southern
Europe, and among them were forms more or less nearly re-
lated to each of the existing types, his genus Phocanella being
the early representative of the modern Phoca fcetida.

GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION. Although the Ringed Seal is
a well-known inhabitant of the Arctic Seas, of both hemispheres,
the southern limit of its distribution cannot be given with cer-
tainty. Wagner * records specimens from Labrador, which is the
most southern point on the eastern coast of North America from
which it seems to have been reported. It is not enumerated by
Jukes or Carroll as among the species hunted by the Newfound-
land sealers,t nor is it mentioned by Gilpinf as occurring in Nova
Scotia. Its occasional presence here and in the Gulf of Saint
Lawrence is doubtless to be expected. Further northward, and
especially along the shores of Davis's Straits and Greenland,
its abundance is well attested. It has also been found as far
north as explorers have penetrated, having been met with by
Parry as high as latitude 82 40'. J. C. Boss states that it is

* Schreber's Saugt., vii, 1846, p. 31.

t Professor Jukes says four species are known on the coast of Newfound-
land, namely, the "Bay Seal" (Phoca vitulina}, the Harp Seal (Phoca grcen-
landica), the Hooded Seal (Cystophora cristata), and the "Square Flipper"
(probably Halichwrus grypus). The first he did not see on the ice among the
Seals pursued by the sealers. The second is the one that forms the principal
object of the chase. The third seems not to be numerous, but occurs occa-
sionally out on the ice-floes with the Harp Seals. The fourth is referred to
as very rare, and as being larger than the Hooded Seal. Not one was heard
of or seen that season. He supposes it may be the Phoca barbata. Excur-
sions in Newfoundland, vol. i, pp. 308-312.

Carroll states that the species of Seal that are taken on the coiist of New-
foundland are the " Square Flipper Seal " (probably Halichverus grypus), the
'Hood Seal" (Cystophora cristata), the " Harp Seal " (Phoca grcenlandica), and
the "Dotard" or "Native Seal" (Phoca vitulina). Seal and Herring Fisheries
of Newfoundland, 1873, p. 10.

t The species given by Gilpin as found on the coast of Nova Scotia are the
Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina), the Harp Seal (Phoca grwnlandica), the Gray
Seal (Halichoerus grypus), and the Hooded Seal (Cystophora cristata).


common on both sides of the Isthmus of Boothia, where it forms
the chief means of subsistence to the inhabitants during eight or
nine months of the year.* It is common in Iceland, and Malm-
gren and Yon Heuglin state it to be numerous at Spitzbergen.
The last-named author gives it as abundant in summer in the
Stor-Fjord and its branches, in Hinlopen Strait, and in the
bays of the northwest coast of Spitzbergen, occurring in great
herds as well as singly, in the open water along the shores and
in the openings in the ice-floes. He states that it is also numer-
ous about Nova Zernbla, where great numbers are killed for
their skins and fat.t It is a common species on the coast of
Finland, and further eastward along the Arctic coast of Europe
and doubtless also of Western Asia.f It is also a common in-
habitant of the Gulf of Bothnia and neighboring waters, and
also of the Ladoga and other interior seas of Finland. It is
said by Blasius to extend southward along the coast of Middle
Europe to Xorth Germany, Ireland, and the British Channel.
Professor Flower has recorded its capture on the coast of Nor-
wich, England, and it undoubtedly occurs at the Orkneys and
the Hebrides, where it is supposed to be represented by the
species known there as "Bodach" or " Old Man". A specimen
was also taken many years since on the coast of France, but here,
as on the shores of the larger British Islands, it can occur as
merely a rare straggler. Its fossil remains have been reported

* Ross's Sec. Voy., App., 1835, p. xix.

t Reise iiack deni Nordpolarmeer, Th. iii, p. 50.

tin an account of Professor Nordenbkj old's late Arctic voyage, published
in " Nature" (vol. xxi, p. 40, Nov. 13, 1879), it is stated that Phoca foctida
"was caught in great numbers, and along with fish and various vegetables
forms the main food of the natives" at Ca,pe Serdze (about 120 miles from
Behring's Straits), the point where the " Vega " wintered, this and the Polar
Bear being the only marine mammals seen.

Respecting the southern limit of the habitat of this species in Europe,
Professor Flower has the following : " Nilsson speaks of it as being found
on all the Scandinavian coasts, and as having been met with as far south
as the Channel, on the strength of specimens in the Paris Museum from that
locality ; but he was unable to find any proofs of its having been met with
on the coast of England. Nor have I been able to discover any positive evi-
dence that it can, at the present day, be reckoned a British species, although
there is little doubt that it must occasionally visit our shores, where its
occurrence would be easily overlooked." Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond., 1871, p. 510.

Collett, contrary to the testimony of Nilsson, excludes it from the mam-
malian fauna of Norway, and states that he does not know of an authentic
instance of its capture on the Norwegian coast. Bemcerkninger til Norges
Pattedyrfauna, 1876, p. 57, footnote 2.


by Professor Turner as having been found in the brick clays of
Scotland. It appears also to be a common species in the North
Pacific, there being specimens in the National Museum, unques-
tionably of this species, from the coast of Alaska, and from
Plover Bay, on the Siberian side of Behring's Strait. Its
southern limit of distribution along the shores of the North
Pacific, on either the American or the Asiatic side, cannot at
present be given. Judging from its known distribution in
other portions of the Arctic waters, there is no reason to infer
its absence from the northern shores of Eastern Asia and West-
ern North America.

notices of this species in systematic works are based on the brief
account given by Cranz in 1765, but there appear to be still
earlier references to it by Scandinavian writers. As, however,
they involve no questions of synonymy, and may in part relate
to the Gray Seal (Halichcerus yrypus), they call for no special re-
mark, in the present connection. The "Gra Sial" of Linne's
"Fauna Suecica" (1747), however, was referred by Otto Fabri-
cius, in 1791, to Phoca fcetida, but recent writers, notably Lillje-
borg, have assigned it to Halichcerm grypus, but Linne's account
seems to be too vague to be positively identified, although it
later became the basis of Gmelin's Phoca mtulina botnica.

As already noticed, the early technical history of the species
is based on the brief notice of it published in 1765 by the Dan-
ish missionary, Cranz, who, in his " Historie von Gronland," re-
ferred to it under its native or Eskimo name Neitsek. He says
it is not very different from the Attarsoak (Phoca grcenlandica
of systematists) "in size or color, only that the hair is a little
browner or a pale white, nor does it lie smooth, but rough,
bristly, and intermixed like pig's hair."* Pennant, in 1771, in
his " Synopsis of Quadrupeds," called it the Rough Seal, and
paraphrased Cranz's description, adding thereto the conjec-
ture : u Perhaps what our Newfoundland Seal-hunters call Square
Phipper". In 1776 it was enumerated in the introduction to Miil-
ler's "Zoologia3 Danicse Prodroinus" (p. viii), in a list of Green-
land animals supplied by Otto Fabricius after the main body of
the work had been printed, where it first receives a systematic
name, being there called Phoca fcstida. No description is given,
but its supposed Icelandic and Greenlandic names are appended,
namely, " I. Utselr. Gr. Neitsek, Neitsilek," but unfortunately the

* English edition, 1767, vol. i, pp. 124, 125.


Seal called Ut-Selur by the Icelanders proves to be Halichcerus
grypus. It thus happens that the first technical name of the
species, as well as some of its earliest vernacular names, relates
in part to the Gray Seal. At about the same time (certainly
not earlier) it was described by Schreber in the third part of his
" Saugthiere" as Der rauhe Seehund, his description being based
entirely on Cranz's and Pennant's. No Latin name is given in
the text, but on the plate appears the name Phoca hispida. The
date of the publication of the fasciculus containing Schreber's
descript ; on and figure cannot be definitely determined, but con-
temporary evidence indicates that it must have appeared during
the year 1776,* as it is cited by Erxleben in a work published
the following year, who adopts Phoca hispida for the name of
the species. But Erxleben's first reference is to the "Long-
necked Seal" of Parsons, whose diagnosis of which Erxleben
cites in full. The Long-necked Seal, however, is some indeter-
minable species of Otary. But all of Erxleben's other refer-
ences, with one exception (for here u Utselr"is again cited),
are pertinent, and his diagnosis is evidently based on the Neitsek
of Cranz.

Three years later (1780), Fabricius, in his " Fauna Grcenland-
ica," gave the first adequate description of the species, under
the name Phoca fcetida, and quoted Phoca hispida as a synonym.
Eleven years later (1791), in his celebrated memoir on the Green-
laud Seals, he reverts to the name hispida, conceding it priority,
but on what ground is not apparent. The case is thus a peculiar
one, and has already received attention at the hands of numer-
ous writers, the matter having been quite recently very fully
discussed by Professor Flower, t Although Flower favors the
adoption of hispida, he admits that u There is nothing either in
Schreber's description or figure to identify the species j and it
has since been thought (as by A. Wagner in his continuation
of Schreber's work, 1846) [*] to refer to a totally distinct animal,
viz, Halichcerus grypus." He says, further, "Although it may
still be a matter of opinion which of these names ought to be

* The date on the title-page of the "Dritter Theil" is 1778 ; the two pre-
ceding parts are both dated 1775. The Seals occupy the first pages of the
third part.

t Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond., 1871, pp. 507-510.

[* Gray, apparently following Wagner, referred, both in 1850 and in 1866,
Schreber's Phoca hispida to Halichoerus grypus, while at the same time he re-
ferred Lesson's Phoca schrebein, avowedly = Phoca hispida. Schreber, to his Cal-
locephalits fwtidiis !]


adopted, it appears to me that, on the whole, preference should
be given to hivpida, on account of priority 5 for although the
earliest descriptions under this name are very meagre and in-
accurate, they are avowedly founded on the Neitsek of Cranz,
the appellation by which this Seal is known to the Greenland ers
to this day, according to Mr. E. Brown,* and are therefore in-
tended for this species, and especially because Fabricius, in
1790 [1791], definitely adopted the name, withdrawing that of
fcetida. I am further strengthened in this opinion," he con-
tinues, " by finding that those eminent Danish naturalists Steen-
strupt and Keinhardtf both use hispida when speaking of this
Seal." As regards use, although good authorities have adopted
hispida, by far the greater number of writers, including equally
eminent authorities, among them Lilljeborg and Collett among
recent Scandinavian writers, adopt fcetida. The question is cer-
tainly pretty evenly balanced. Granting, however, that the in-
troduction of the two names was practically simultaneous, and
that fcetida, as first given, was unaccompanied by a description,
while hispida had this backing, it is admitted that neither the
description nor the figure is of any value in determining what
species was intended, and that the Greenland name ^eitsek is
the only clew to what was meant. Just this clew, backed by the
best authority Fabricius himself we have also in the case of
fcetida, while the first real description (in "Fauna Grcenland-
ica," 1780) of the species was given under this name, and eleven
years before the species was recognizably described under the
name hispida (by Fabricius in 1791). Fabricius gave as his
reasons for withdrawing the uame/eefaY7 and adopting hispida
that the latter was not only an appropriate name but also the
oldest, although he ascribes the name hispida to Erxleben. It
would seem, however, that he really adopted the name from Pen-
nant, considering Pennant's name " Bough Seal" a strict equiva-
lent of Phoca hispida.^ The name fcetida appears certainly to
be most characteristic.

* " 'On the Seals of Greenland/ P. Z. S., 1868, p. 414."

t" ' Melketandssettet hos Remmesseleu, Svartsiden, og Fjordsaeleu (Phoca
larbata, O. Fabr., Ph. gronlandica, O. Fabr., og Ph. hispida, Schr.)/ Vid.
Medd. f. d. Naturh. Forening, 1860. Kjobh. 1861, s. 251-261."

J " ' Om Klapmydsens uiodte Norge og dens Melketandsaet/ Naturh. Foren.
Vidensk. Meddelelser, 1864."

As being of interest in this connection I submit the following rendering
of Fabricius's opening paragraph of his history of the Fiordsjel : "This, next
to the Black-side, is the species which is most numerously met with in Green-
land. 1 give to it the Danish name Fiordstel, because it keeps mostly in the


Another name of considerable prominence in connection with
this species is anndlata of Nilsson, proposed by him in 1820 for
Scandinavian representatives of the species, because he did
not feel sure of their identity with Greenland examples. This
name was adopted later by various writers for a species sup-
posed to be distinct from the Phocafcetida of Greenland, notably
among whom are Wagner and Eadde, while Giebel held both
fcetida and hispida as synonyms of annellatal

The name discolor, introduced in 1824 by F. Cuvier as that of
a new species, was later abandoned by its author, and never ob-
tained currency except with a few compilers. Lesson, in 1828,
characteristically changed it to frederici, and at the same time
renamed Schreber's hispida, calling it schreberi.

preeminently boreal, its home being almost exclusively the icy
seas of the Arctic Eegions. Its favorite resorts are said to be
retired bays and fjords, in which it remains so long as they are
filled with firm ice; when this breaks up they betake them-
selves to the floes, where they bring forth their young. It is
essentially a littoral, or rather glacial species, being seldom
met with in the open sea. From its abundance in its chosen
haunts it is a species well known to Arctic voyagers, and fre-
quent reference is made to it in most of the narratives of
Arctic Explorations. These notices are, however, mostly inci-
dental and fragmentary, no one having given a detailed and
connected history of the species. I am, therefore, gratified to
be a,ble to present, in addition to excerpts from various more
or less well-known sources, much fresh information kindly fur-
fjords and rarely goes out to sea. In my Fauna Gronlandica I called it Phoca
foutida because it lias a stronger stink than the other species. It Was pre-
viously mentioned under this name, first in my report quoted in Muller's
Prodromus (Zool. Dan. Prodr., p. viii). It was then regarded as a new spe-
cies, as I found it not in Linne" ; he either did not recognize ifc or did not dis-
tinguish it from the common Seal (Phoca vitulina), for at most he only re-
garded it as a variety of this under the name Gra-Sjal (Faun. Suec., p. 2,
under Spec. 4). But Pennant, however, gave it as a distinct species, with
the name Rough Seal (Syn. Quadr., p. 341, u. 261); afterwards Schreber
called it Der rauhe Seehund (Siiugth. III. Th. p. 312), and Erxleben Phoca,
hispida (Syst. Regn. Anim. p. 589), which name Gmelin (Syst. Nat., p. 64)
has retained. This name is suitable and a very good one for this species
on account of its hair, and, although this is also found in the Klapmydsen
(Phoca leonina, Linne"), so are some other characters ; wherefore I do not now
hesitate to prefer the name hispida before fcetida, especially as it is the oldest,
although the stench is so characteristic." Skrirter af Xat:irhistorie-Sel8-

Online LibraryJ. A. (Joel Asaph) AllenHistory of North American pinnipeds, a monograph of the walruses, sea-lions, sea-bears and seals of North America → online text (page 63 of 79)