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The Sera;,' is of special interest on account of its influence in first developing the whaling
industries of Nan tucket. Macy, the historian of the island, states that in the very eai 1\ days of t hat
colon.N. prior to KIT. 1 , -A whale of the kind called the Scragg came into the harbor and continued
there t In ve days. This c veiled the curiosity of the people and led them to devise measures to prevent
his return out of the harbor. They accordingly invented and caused to b wrought for them a
harpoon with which they attacked and killed the whale. This ftrst success encouraged them to
undertake whaling as a permanent business; whales being at that time numerous in the vicinity
of the shores." '

Scummon remarks: "Our observations make it certain that there is a 'Scrag' Right Whale in
the North Pacific which corresponds very nearly to that of the Southern Ocean, - - - and
which yields a paltry amount of oil." 3 No identification of this form has yet been made. Dieffen-
bach states that in the southern seas "Scrags" is the whalers' name for the young of the right
whale. 4


DISTRIBUTION. The California (hay Whale, Rhachianecteg glauctu Cope, called by whalemen
"Devil-fish," " Hard Head," " Gray Back," "Hip Sack," and " Mussel Digger," though long known
to fishermen, was first described in 18(59, from specimens brought to the United States National
Museum by ('apt. W. H. Dall, of the United States Coast Survey. The only account of its habits
is in Scainmon's Itook, already often quoted. Its range is from the Arctic Seas to Lower Cali-
fornia. From November to May it is found on the California coast, while in summer it resorts to
the Arctic Ocean and the Okhotsk Sea. In October and November it is seen off Oregon and
Upper California, returning to warm water for the winter.

HABITS. They follow close along the shore, often passing through the kelp, and congregate
in the lagoons of the southern coast, where they are the objects of the extensive lagoon or bay
whale fishery.

ABUNDANCE. Their abundance in former years and at present was thus discussed by Captain
Scaminon in 1874: "It has been estimated, approximately, by observing men among the shore
whaling parties that a thousand whales passed southward daily from the 15th of December .to the
1st of February, for several successive seasons after shore whaling was established, which occurred
in 1851. Captain Packard, who has been engaged in the business Cor over twenty years, thinks
this a low estimate. Accepting this number without allowing for those which passed oft' shore out
of sight from the land, or for those which passed In-fore the 15th of December, and after the 1st
of February, the aggregate would be increased to 47,000. Captain Packard also states that at the
present time the average number seen from the stations passing daily would not exceed forty.
From our own observation upon the coast, we are inclined to believe that the numbers resorting
annually to the coast of California from 185;? to 185(5 did not exceed -1(1,0(10 probably not over
30,000; and at the present time there are many which pass oft' shore at so great a distance as to

'Ai.i.K.N : Mammalia of M:i-.:n hu-.-tts. <I!iilli-tin of the Mum-urn of Comparative Zoology, 8, p. 203.

-MACY: llismrv of Nantiickct, p. 28.

"SSCAMMOX: loc. eil., p. 67.

4 JDiBFPKMiAcu, E. : Travels in Now Zealand, i, 1843, p. 45.


be invisible from the lookout stations ; there are probably between 100 and 200 whales going south-
ward daily from the beginning to the end of the ' down season' (from December 15 to February 1).
The estimate of the nnnnal herd visiting the coast is probably not large, as there is no allowance
made for those that migrate earlier and later in the season. From what data we have been able
to obtain, the whole number of California Gray Whales which have been captured or destroyed
since the bay whaling commenced in 1846 would not exceed 10,800, and the number which now
periodically visits the coast does not exceed 8,000 or 10,000." 1

On another page he writes: "None of our whales are so constantly and variously pursued as
this; and the large bays and lagoons where these mammals once congregated, brought forth and
nurtured their young, are already nearly deserted. The mammoth bones of the California Gray lie
bleaching on the shores of these silvery waters, and are scattered along the broken coasts from
Siberia to the Gulf of California ; and ere long, it may be questioned whether this mammal will
not be numbered among the extinct species of the Pacific." 2

SIZE. The male attains the average length of thirty-five feet, while the female grows to forty
or more. A female forty -four feet long and twenty-two feet in circumference is considered large,
though some still greater have been caught, yielding sixty or seventy barrels of oil. The average
yield of the male is twenty to twenty-five barrels. The baleen is light brown or nearly white,
coarse-grained, with a heavy, uneven fringe, the longest strips measuring from fourteen to sixteen
inches. The blubber is solid and tough, reddish in color, and from six to ten inches thick.

FOOD AND REPRODUCTION. The nature of the food of the California Gray Whale is not
satisfactorily known, though it is reasonable to suppose that it consists of surface animals, strained
out by the baleen.

They breed in the winter, the females entering the California lagoons, while the males remain
outside. To their disturbance on their breeding grounds may be attributed the great diminution
in numbers. The period of gestation is about a year. After the young are born, male and female
and calf are seen working northward together, and Scaminon thinks that they bear young only
once in two years.

CAPTURE. The habit of frequenting shoal bays is peculiar to this one species. They are
often seen among the breakers, where they are tossed about by the grouudswell, and where the
water is hardly deep enough to float them. The pursuit of this whale is very dangerous, owing
to their savage disposition and the shoaluess of the water into which they are followed. The
Eskimos and Indians of the Northwest kill many, using their flesh for food and their skins for

1 SCAMMON : op. cit., p. 23.
8 SCAM MOV : op. cit., p. 33.



N i >TK. The following biographiesof tin- Seals and Walruses aie. by the ]>cimissioiiof the author,
.I. A. Allen, extracted from the Monograph of the Piniiipedsof North America." It is considered
important to present in this K'eport. in a form convenient for reference, biographies of all tin- im-
portant a|iiatir animals of the Tinted States; and since it is manifestly impossible to secure from
any other source so complete and reliable a discussion of the Seals as that given liy Allen, it lias
been thought allowable to reprint the biographical portion of his monograph. The material is here
published in such a different form, being divested of the great mass of technical matter, interesting
ehictly to xoologists, \\itli which it was originally surrounded, that it is to all intents a fresh pre-
sentation of the subject.

The liiograpliy of the Walruses has been comlens-d and rewritten by Mr. Goodc, during the,
ill-health and absence of Mr. Allen, the discussions in the monograph lieing too extended for the
needs of this lleport. I'or an exceedingly interesting biography of these most interesting animals
the reader is referred to Mr. Allen's more detailed work"


The I'iuuipeds. or 1'in/ii/xilin, embracing the Seals and Walruses, are commonly recognized by
recent systematic writers as constituting a suborder of the order Fera, or Carnivorous Mammals.
They are, in short, true Carnivora, modified for an aquatic existence, and have consequently been
sometimes termed " Amphibioivt Carnironi." Their whole form is modified lor life in the water,
which element is their true home. Here they display extreme activity, but on land their move-
ments are confined and labored.

The existing Pinnipeds constitute three very distinct minor groups or families, differing quite
widely from each other in important characters : these are the Walruses, or Odnlxruiild', the Eared
Seals, or Otariidw, and the Earless Seals, or Phocida 1 . The first two are far more nearly allied than
are either of these with the third, so that the Odoba'nida- and Otariida: may IK- together contrasted
with the Phocidce. The last named is the lowest or most generalized group, while the others appear
to stand on nearly the same plane, and about equally remote from the Phneidtr. The Walruses
are really little more than thick, clumsy, obese forms of the otarian type, with the canines enor-
mously developed, and the whole skull correlatively modified. The limb structure, the mode of
life, and the whole economy are essentially the same in the two groups, and aside from the cranial
moditications presented by the Odobamida', which are obviously related to the development of tlie
canines as huge tusks, the Walruses are merely elephantine Otariids, the absence or presence of
an external ear being in reality a feature of minor importam e.

The Pinnipeds present a high degree of cerebral development, and are easily domesticated
under favorable conditions. They manifest strong social and parental affection, and defend their
young with great persistency and courage. They are carnivorous (almost without exception),
subsisting upon fishes, mollusks, and crustaceans, of which they consume enormous ipiantities.
The Walruses and Eared Seals are polygamous, and the males greatly exceed the females in si/.e.
The ordinary or Earless Seals are commonly supposed to be monogamous, ami tln-i<- u generally
little dilferciice in the size of the sexes. The Walruses and Eared Seals usually resort in lai
numbers to certain favorite breeding grounds, and during the season of reproduction leave tin-
water, and pass a considerable period upon land. The Earless Seals, on the other hand, with the
exception of the Sea Elephants, do not so uniformly resort to particular breeding grounds on land,

'1880. AM.KX. .Inn. ASAIMI : llii"i\ c.fNnrili Atnrriraii l'i>iiii|>(iU; H nmn< j-ra|ih of tin- Walruses, 8e Lion*, Sea
Bears, ami Seals of North Aim-ii. a. Wii<.liin-;t<>ii. (invi-rniiii-iit I'riiilin;; Oilir.-. I.-HI. -MKI pp., \\i, 7*. Miscellaneous
. No. 1-J, U. S. Geol. &. Ou. >mv.. K. V. H:I\.|.-II, .;i-nli.i,t in charge.


and leave the water only for very short intervals. They usually briug forth their young ou the ice,
most of the species being confined to the colder latitudes. Only one of the various species of the
l'!n)iii><'tlin appears to be strictly tropical, and very few of them range into tropical waters. As a
group, the Pinnipeds are distinctively characteristic of the arctic, antarctic, and temperate portions
of the globe, several of the genera being strictly arctic or subarctic in their distribution. Tin-
Walruses are at present confined mainly within the Arctic Circle, and have no representatives south
of the colder portions of the Northern Hemisphere. The Ot artifice and Phocidcc, ou the other hand,
are abundantly represented on both sides of the Equator, as will be noticed more in detail later.


that of the Atlantic, Odobamits rosmarus Malmgreu, and that of the Pacific, 0. obcsus (Illiger) Allen.
These animals are found only in the extreme north, and it was for many years commonly supposed
that there was but a single circumpolar species. Mr. Allen has confirmed the views of Pennant,
expressed in 17!>2 and emphasized since 1870 by Elliott and Gill. Their differences are tints
described :

The Pacific Walrus is similar in size, and probably in general contour, to that of the Atlantic
(though possibly rather larger, and commonly described or depicted as more robust or thicker at the
shoulders), but quite different in its facial outlines. The tusks are longer and thinner, generally more
convergent, with much greater inward curvatures, the bristles upon the muzzle shorter and smaller.
The chief external difference appears to consist in the shape of the muzzle and the size and form
of the bristly nose-pad, which has a vertical breadth at least one-fourth greater than in the
Atlantic species. Very important differences between the two species are exhibited in the skulls,
which are fully described in Mr. Allen's book.

DISTRIBUTION OF THE ATI- ANTIC WALRUS. The Atlantic Walrus is not now to be found
within the limits of the United States, nor has it been within historic time, or during the last three
hundred and fifty years, though, like the musk ox, the caribou, and the moose, it ranged during
the great Ice Period much beyond the southern limit of its boundary at the time fhe eastern coast
of North America was first visited by Europeans. During the last half of the sixteenth century
they are known to have frequented the southern coast of Nova Scotia as well as the shores and
islands to the northward, but this apj>ears at that time to have been their southern limit of
distribution, and to these islands New England vessels seem occasionally to have resorted to kill
them for their teeth and oil. 1 In 177."* they were abundant in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, at the
Magdalen Islands, Saint John's, and Anticosti, when; they congregated yearly to the number of
seven or eight thousand, and where they were soon exterminated by the "Americans." 2

In isr.iiaiid is(i<) Packard and Gilpin recorded the killing of individuals near the Straits of
Belle Isle, and in I si is one was driven ashore in Saint George Hay, Newfoundland. The last seen
in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence was, icctirdiug to Professor Packard, in 1S11, when one was killed
at Saint Augustine, Labrador. Dr. 15ernard Gilpin speaks of the occurrence of their bones at
Miscon, on the IJay of (Mialeur, ill such numbers as to form artificial sea-beaches. These were,
doubtless, victims of "the Hoyal Company of Miscou," founded during the earlier part of the seven-

.. .-. - ,-_.-_ T _

A eaael that returned ;it tliiit time (Iti-ll) fioiu I hit Jslcg of Snhh-s inaile ;i better \ii\jip-, l>mi;;in<r loin hnii'ln-d
pair of SI:I-|M>IM- In-ill vvilli divers tun cil' oil. li.-ides niurli other "oeds <if like MHI \\liiili they left Ireland, worth
jL'l.VNI. Ill lil!\i:i>'s Ilisloiy of New |-:iif>hin<l In. in Hie iliseover.v to !'.,!-. p. :;7St.

Tin- Si-a-Co-.v or Mor>e is plenty upon I In- eoawts oC \nvii-Si-otia .-mil lliel.'ulph of St. Laurence, partirularly ill tin:
ixlaml of St. John's; it is of the bigness of a middling eow (it is not the same with tin- Manatee of ihi- (.'nlph of
M llco . a very thick skin with hair like that of a HUH]. Dor<;i.\<"' North America, I?"..").

; .Meaning, of course, people from tin- southern colonies.


leentli century li.v tin- Kin- lit' France, and whose ephemeral city of New Itochelle hits passed
away, leaving no sign. The murdered Sea horses have left a more enduring monument than their
murdereis. At the present time its ilistrilmtion in the Western Atlantic seems to be limited on
tin- south li.v the parallel of latitude <J5, and on tlie \vi-st along the arctic coast by the ninety -
seventh meridian of longitude. It inhabits the shore of Hudson's Buy, Davis's Strait, and Green-
land, ranging north to llcpulse May and Prince Regent Inlet. In the Old World it is found only
about the islands and in the icy seas of Eastern Europe and the neighboring waters of Western

A^a. It has rarely heei t with to the eastward of the Jenisei (longitude 82 E.), and has not

been s i eastward of the one hundred and thirtieth meridian. As lately as 1857 a straggler was

seen at Orkney and another in Nor" Isles. The distribution of this sjwcies has been thus carefully
noted Id-cause its destruction has been participated in, and the time of its extermination doubtless
to >oine extent hastened, by the efforts of American whalemen.

The Walrus is the Morse or Sea-horse of ancient writers, many quaint extracts from whom, with
reproductions of their figures, are given by Mr. Allen.

KISI -IMIII i ION di mi: PACIFIC WALRUS. While the Atlantic Walrus has been familiar to
our race since A. I). 871, when the Normau explorer Othere brought tusks of the "Horsewhale"
from the Arctic Sea to King Alfred of England, that of the Pacific was not discovered until 1048.
when the Cossack adventurer Staduchin found its tusks on the arctic coast of Eastern Asia; nor
was it fairly known until the time of Steller, Cook, Kotzebue, and Pallas, in the latter half of the
eighteenth century. Its range is comparatively narrow, being confined on the one hand to a com-
paratively small stretch of the northern and eastern coasts of Asia, and to a still smaller portion of
the opposite American coast. To the westward the Walrus appears not to have been traced beyond
Cape Schelatskoi (157 .'?>' east longitude), and to have occurred in large herds only as far west as
Koljntschin Island (150 east longitude). On the eastern coast of Asia, as early as 1742, none had
been >een south of latitude 00, and of course their southern range in that direction is now still
more limited. Jn the Arctic Sea, north of Bering Strait, they have been met with as far north
as ships have penetrated, their westward range being limited only by the unbroken ice sheet. On
the American coast they have been traced eastward only as far as Point Barrow. They were
formerly abundant about the islands in Bering Sea, but there is no evidence that they ever ranged
as far south as the outermost islands in the Aleutian chain. On the mainland they were found by
Cook, at Mristol Bay, latitude 58 42', where now, according to Elliott, they are more numerous
than at any point south of the Arctic Circle. Their immense destruction, chiefly by American
\\ halei-s. renders it probable that before long they will be entirely exterminated in the territory of
the I'nited States.

SIZE. The length of a full-grown male Atlantic Walrus is given by Dr. (lilpin at twelve feet
three inches, its weight being estimated at LM',~<) pounds, while Elliott gives the length of a
similar Alaska specimen at twelve to thirteen feet, its girth ten to fourteen feet, and its weight
2.000 pounds, the skin alone weighing from 250 to 400, the head from 110 to .so pounds.

HABITS. The Wall-uses are at all times more or less gregarious, occurring generally in l.>
or small companies, according to their abundance. Like the Seals, they are restricted in their
wanderings to the neighborhood of shores or large masses of floating ice, being rarely seen far out
in the open sea. Although moving from one portion of their feeding ground to another, they are
said to lie in no sense a migrating animal. They delight in huddling together on the ice Hoes, or on
shore, to which places they resort to bask in the sun. pressing one against another like so many
swine. They are also said to repair in large herds to favorable shoies or islands, usuallv in May
and June, to give birth to their young, at which times they sometimes remain constantly on land


for two weeks together, without ever taking food. They are believed to be monogamous, and to
bring forth usually but a single young at a time, and never more than two. The period of gesta-
tion is commonly believed to be about nine months. The young are born from April to June, the
time probably varying with the latitude. The Walrus, like the common Seal, is said to have its
breathing hole in the ice. The tusks appear to be used for two purposes, to aid in landing upon
icy and rocky shores, and in aid of their clumsy locomotion, and also iu digging up the shell-fish
and roots of marine plants upon which they feed. Their voice is a loud roaring or Chucking," and
the voices of a herd may be distinguished at the distance of several miles. Although savage in
appearance, they are inoffensive and harmless, except when attacked, but when enraged are fierce
and vindictive, especially iu defense of their young, for which they exhibit much affection. They
are wary and shy, however, and difficult to approach except under cover of darkness.

The hide, the oil, and the tusks of the Walrus are of commercial value, and the walrus fishery
of the Pacific is of considerable importance.

''In looking at this uncouth animal," writes a contributor to ' Scribner's Monthly Magazine,'
" the most natural question at once arises, What earthly service can such an ungainly, stupid beast
render? What, indeed, is the use of its existence! But the answer is swift and satisfactory: were
it not for the subsistence furnished so largely by the flesh and oil of the Morse, it is exceedingly
doubtful whether the Esquimaux of North America, from Bering Strait clear around to Labrador,
could manage to live. It is not to be inferred that walrus meat is the sole diet of these simple
people, for that is very wide of the truth ; but there are several months of every year when the
exigencies of the climate render it absolutely impossible for the hardiest native to go out and procure
food, and then the value of the cache of walrus meat is appreciated, when for weeks and weeks it
forms the beginning and end of every meal. The Walrus responds to as many demands of the
Inuuit as the camel of the Arab, or the cocoa-palm of the South Sea Islander. Its flesh feeds him;
its oil illuminates and warms his dark hut; its sinews make his bird-nets; its tough skin, skillfully
stretched over the light wooden frame, constitutes his famous kayak, and the serviceable oomiak,
or bidarrab ; its intestines are converted into water-proof clothing, while the soles to its flippers are
transferred to his feet; and, finally, its ivory is a source of endless utility to him in domestic use
and in trade and barter. Walrus famines among the Esquimaux have been recorded in pathetic
legends by almost all of the savage settlements in the arctic. Even now, as I write (November,
1880), comes the authentic corroboration of the harsh rumor of the starvation of the inhabitants of
Saint Lawrence Island those people who live just midway between the Old World and the New,
in Alaskan waters. The winter of 1879-'80 was one of exceptional rigor in the arctic, though iu
this country it was unusually mild and open. The ice closed in solid around Saint Lawrence
Island, so firm and unshaken by the mighty powers of wind and tide that the Walrus were driven
far to the southward and eastward, out of reach of the unhappy inhabitants of that island, who,
thus unexpectedly deprived of their mainstay and support, seem to have miserably starved to death,
with the exception of one small village on the north shore. The residents of the Poonook, Poogo-
vellyak. and Kagallegak settlements perished, to a soul, from hunger nearly 300 men, women,
and children. I was among these people in 1874, during the month of August, and remarked their
manifold superiority over the savages of the northwest coast and the great plains. They seemed
then to live, during nine months of the year, almost wholly upon the flesh and oil of the Walrus.
Clean-limbed, bright-eyed, and jovial, they profoundly impressed one with their happy subsistence
and reliance upon the walrus herds of Bering Sea; and it was remarked then that these people had
never been subjected to the temptation, and subsequent sorrow, of putting their trust in princes;
hence their independence and good heart. But now it appears that it will not suffice, either, to put
.your trust in Walrus."

Till! KAKKD SI'.AI.S: II. A HITS A M > IMS TIM 111' HUN 37


in Mi UTKKS. The largest species of Hi,- Otaries (genera Olaria and Ktu,.< toping)
an' Hair Seals, while iln- smallest genera Ctilldrliimix ;nn\ Arctocepltaluii) an- Fur Seals; but the
species nt Xnlupliiix, although Hair Seals. MIC ititrrmriliate in si/.e between the other Hair Seals and
the Fur Seals. All ihe Hair Seals have coarse, hard, still 1 hair, varying in length with ago and
.season, and are wholly without soft underfill-. All the Fur Seals have an abundant soft, silky
underfill-, giving to the skins of the females and younger males great value as articles of coiiiiiieife.
The longer, eoarser overhair varies in length and abundance with season anil age. All the Hair
Seals are \cllowish or reddish liruwn (in Xalophun sometimes brownish-black), generally darkest

Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 10 of 146)