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Walker, | Superintendent. | | The history and present condition | of the fishery industries. | Prepared under the
direction of Professor S. F. Baird, U. S. Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries, by G. Brown Goodc, Assistant I>ii'-<i..r,
I T . S. National Museum. | | The Seal-Islands of Alaska, | by | Henry W. Elliott. | (Seal of Department of the Inte-
rior.) | Washington: I Government Printing Office: | 1881. Quarto, pp. 176. Two maps; twcnty-iiiur pin-

1881. ELLIOTT, HKNKY W.: U. S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries. | Spencer F. Baird, Commissioner. | | 170.
| Special liullctin. | | A Monograph | of the | Seal Islands of Alaska | by | Henry W. Elliott | | Reprinted, with
additions, from tbo Report on the Fishery Industries | of the Tenth Census. | Washington: | Government Printing
Office. | 1H82. Quarto, pp. 176. Two maps; twenty-nine plates.

These twu editions diner in (lie fact that in the census edition, pp. 102 to 109, relating to "The Reproduction of
the Fur Seal, Soa Lion, and Walrus," aro replaced by "A Brief Review of the Official Reports upon the Conduct of
Altai rs on the Seal Islands."


were copied, however, by Buffon, Sclireber, Pennant, and other early writers, and are the only
representations of this species known to me that were made prior to about the year 1830, except
Choris's plate of a group of these animals entitled " Ours marins dans 1'ile de St. Paul," 1 published
in 1822. This represents three old males, surrounded by their harems, and indicates very faithfully
the mode of grouping and the variety of attitudes assumed by these animals when assembled
on the rookeries. Hamilton, in 1839, gave a figure of the "Sea Bear of 8 teller (Otaria urn! mi)"
which he tells us is "from the engraving of the distinguished Naturalist of the Rurick," 2 the original
of which I have not seen. This represents a male and female, the latter reclining on its side, with
a pup resting on its right flipper.

The first figure of the skull is that published by Gray in 1859, 3 a view in profile of the skull
of an adult male. A wood-cut of the same was given in I860, 4 and a fine lithographic plate in
1874,* representing the skull in profile, from above and from below. 6

In 1870 I gave figures of two adult male skulls (two views of each), of an adult female skull
(three views), of a very young skull (three views), and of the scapula, dentition, etc. These, so far
as known to me, are the only figures of the skull or other details of structure thus far published.

In 1874 Captain Scammon gave figures of the animal, 7 a zincograph of an old male, 11 from a
sketch by Mr. Elliott, a wood-cut of the head of a female seen from below (drawn by Elliott),"
two outline figures representing the female as seen from below and in profile, and two others in
outline illustrating "attitudes of the Fur Seals." Mr. Elliott, in his first Report on the Seal
Islands, in a series of over two dozen large photographic plates (from India ink sketches from
nature), has given an exhaustive presentation of the phases of fur seal life so faithfully studied
by him at Saint Paul's Island. Among these may be mentioned especially those entitled "The East.
Landing and Black Buttes The beach covered with young Fur Seals"; "The North Shore of Saint
Paul's Island" (giving an extensive view of the rookeries) ; "Lukannon Beach" (Fur Seals playing
in the surf, and rookeries in the distance); "Old male Fur Seal, or 'Seecatch'" (as he appears at
the end of the season after three months of fasting); "Fur-seal Harem" (showing the relative size
of males, females, and young, various attitudes, positions, etc.); "Fur-seal Males, waiting for their
'Harems'" (the females beginning to arrive); "Fur-seal 'Rookery'" (breeding-grounds at Polavina
Point) ; " Fur-seal Harem" (Reef Rookery, foreground showing relative size of males and females) ;
"Fur-seal Pups at Sleep and Play"; "Hauling Grounds" (several views at different points);
"Capturing Fur Seals"; "Driving Fur Seals"; "Killing Fur Seals Sealing gang at work," etc.

The only other pictorial contributions to the history of the Fur Seal of noteworthy importance
prior to the publication by the Census of Mr. Elliott's latest work, is Mr. Clark's colored plute, on
which are represented a nearly full-grown male, a female, and a pup, prepared from skins sent to
the British Museum by the Alaska Commercial Company. In these the attitudes are excellent and
the coloring fair.

For detailed discussions of this species, its capture and its commercial uses, the reader is
referred to Elliott's "Monograph" and to the chapters on THE HABITS OF TIIK FUR SKAL, and
TIIK FUR SEAL FISHERY, in subsequent pages of this work.

'Cliows, L. : Voyage pittorcsquc autour <lii Monde, Paris, 1822. lien Ale'oulieiiiies, pi. xv.

1 HAMILTON, R. : Marino Amphibia;, p. 2t>6, pi. xxi.

'GRAY, J. E., in Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1859, pi. Ixviii.

'GRAY, J. E. : Catalogue of the Seals and Whales in the British Mnsi-nm, p. <if>, fig. 10.

T.RAY, J. E. : Hand-List ofSeals.pl. xix.

I infer this to he the same specimen in each case, not only from the resemblance the figures lic:ir to each other,
luit from Dr. Gray, fu> far as I can discover, referring to only the single skull from Bering's Strait, received in 18&!>.

'ScAMMnN, ('. M. : The Marine Mammals of the Northwest Coast. A B., pi. xxi, two figures.

ELLIOTT, HENRY W. : Report on the Pribylov (froup. or l-'nr Seal Islands, of Alaska, unpaged, and plates not

9 Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1878, 271, pi. xx.



(iKNKUAl. HISTORY AND SYNONYMY. Till' (-(minion Seal. 1'hoca (/'/) rillllina Linnc, is
mentioned ill the earliest works on natural history, having been described and rudely figured by
various writers as early as the middle of the sixteenth century as well as during the seventeenth
century. Kveu down to the time of Linne* it was the only species recognized; or, more correctly,
all the species known were usually confounded as one species, supposed to l>c the same as the
common Seal of the European cosusts. Consequently almost down to the beginning of the present
century the common Seal" was generally supposed to inhabit nearly all the seas of the globe,
Bnft'on, Pennant, Schreber, and others referring to it as an inhabitant of the Southern Hemisphere.
Liiine distinguished only a single species, even in the later editions of his "Systema Natnne." As
is well known, the smaller species of Seal arc, with difficulty distinguishable by external characters,
particularly during their younger stages. Few, however, arc so variable in color as the present,
and none has so wide a geographical range.

<ii:o<;i:ApniCAi, DISTRIBUTION. The Harbor Seal appears to have formerly l>ecn much mom
numerous on portions of our eastern coast than it is at present. 1 Dr. DeKay, writing in 1842,
states that the "common Seal, or Sea Dog," is "now comparatively rare in our [New York]
waters," though "formerly very abundant." He adds, "A certain reef of rocks in the harbor of
New York is called Kobin^ Reef, from the numerous seals which were accustomed to resort there;
roliiii or i-obi/ii being the name in Dutch for Seal. At some seasons, even at the present day, they
are very numerous, particularly about the Execution Rocks in the Sound; but their visits appear
to be very capricious." He further alludes to their capture nearly every year in the Passaic River,
in New Jersey, and states that a Seal was taken in a seine in the Chesapeake Bay, near Elko,
Maryland, in August, 1824, supposed by Dr. Mitchill, who saw it, to be of this species. 2 Although
still occasionally appearingon the coast of the Atlantic States as far southward as North Carolina.'
it is of probably only accidental occurrence south of New Jersey, and rare south of Massachusetts.

In respect to its occurrence on the New Jersey coast, Dr. C. C. Abbott, the well known
naturalist of Trenton, N. J., kindly writes me, in answer to my inquiries on this point, as follows:
"In going <>vcr my note-books, I find I bave there recorded the occurrence of Seals (1'lwi-n
ritulina) at Trenton, N. J., as follows : December, 1861 ; January, 1864; December, 1806; February.
1870; and December, 1877. In these five instances a single specimen was killed on the ledge of
rocks crossing the river here and forming the rapids. In December, 1861, three were seen, and
two in February, 1870. A week later one was captured down the river near Bristol, Bucks County,
Pennsylvania. My impression is that in severe winters they are really much more abundant in
the Delaware River than is supposed. Considering how small a chance there is of their being seen
when the river is choked with ice, I am disposed to believe that an occasional pair or more come
up the river, even as high as Trenton, the head of tide-water, and one hundred and thirty-eight
miles from the ocean.

' The "Semi- Weekly Advertiser," Boston, January 10, 1872, had the following:

"The keeper of tin- Bird Island light-house at Marion reports that one day last week he saw over 300 Seals on the

ice atone time. He .shot and obtained from it two gallons of oil. In eight years that In- has kept the light he

never saw more than throe at a time until now."

'DKKAY, JAMES E. : New York Zoology, or the Fauna of New York, part i, 1842, pp. 54, .Vi.

A recent ree.>nl >( its capture in North Carolina is the following, the reference, I think, unquestionably relating
to the present s|M>cio:

"SOUTIHOW RAXOK OK THIS SEAU The Wilmington, N. C., 'Star' of February **, mentions the rapt IIP-, in
River. On-dow County, of a large female Spotted Seal, measuring about wv.-n feel in length, and weighing i
pounds. This is an interesting note. The species must probalily have l-en the common Harbor Seal < l'h,^,i <ilnlii,a).
The same newspaper says one was retried nonr Beaufort some time ago." [\V. K. I). SCOTT,] " Country," vl
Jl, p. '-IK;, March 111, I


"On examination of old local histories, I find reference to the Seals as not uncommon along
our coast, and as quite frequently wandering up our rivers in winter. I can find no newspaper
references to the occurrence of Seals later than February or earlier than December, but as histor-
ical references to climate, as well as the memory of aged men still living, show conclusively that
our winters are now much milder than they were even fifty years ago, it is probable that Seals did
come up the river earlier in past years.

"In conversation with an old fisherman, now seventy-six years old, who has always lived at
Trenton, and has been a good observer, I learn that every winter, years ago, it was expected that
one or more Seals would be killed; and that about 1840 two were killed in March, which it' was
supposed had accompanied a school of herring up the river.

" In my investigations in local archaeology I have found, in some of the fresh-water shell heaps,
or rather camp-fire and fishing-village sites along the river, fragments of bones which were at the
time identified as those of Seals. I did not preserve them, as I had no knowledge of their being of
interest. They were associated with bones of deer, bear, elk, and large wading birds, and then
gave me the impression, which subsequent inquiry has strengthened, that the Seal, like many of
our large mammals, had disappeared gradually, as the country became more densely settled, and
that in pre-European times it was common, at certain seasons, both on the coast and inland." '

In later communications (dated January 25 and March 20, 1879) he inclosed to me newspaper
slips and notes respecting the capture of eight specimens in New Jersey, mostly near Trenton,
during the winter of 1878-'79.

On the coast of Massachusetts they occur in considerable numbers about the mouth of the
Ipswich River, where I have sometimes observed half a score in sight at once. They are also to
be met with about the islands in Boston Harbor, and along the eastern shore of Cape Cod. Captain
N. E. Atwood states that they are now and then seen at Provincetown, and that in a shallow bay
west of Rainsford Island "many hundreds" may be seen at any time in summer on a ledge of
rocks that becomes exposed at low water. 2

Farther northward they become more numerous, particularly on the coast of Maine and the
shores of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, Newfoundland, and Labrador, and are also common on the
shores of Davis's Strait and in Greenland, where, says Dr. Rink, " it occurs here arid there
throughout the coast," and is likewise to be met with at all seasons of the year. Mr. Kumlien
says it is one of the " rarer species " in the Cumberland waters, but its exact northern limit I have
not seen stated.

On the European coasts it is said to occur occasionally in the Mediterranean, and to be not
rare on the coast of Spain. It is more frequent on the coasts of France and the British Inlands,
and thence northward along the Scandinavian peninsula is the commonest species of the family.
It also extends northward and eastward along the arctic coast of Europe, but late explorers of
the Spitzbergen and Jan Mayen Islands do not enumerate it among the species there met with.
Malmgren states distinctly that it is not found there, 3 and it is not mentioned by Von Heuglin
nor by the other German naturalists who have recently visited these islands. From its littoral
habits its absence there might be naturally expected. It is also said by some writers to occur in
the Black and Caspian Seas, and in Lake Baikal, but the statement is seriously open to doubt, as
will be shown later in connection with the history of the Ringed Seal.

On the Pacific coast of North America it occurs from Southern California northward to

1 Letter dat<l Trenton, N. J., Dec. 26, 1878.
See Bull. Mua. Coinp. Zool., vol. i, p. 19:5.
>Weigm. Arch. fUr Natnrg. 1864, p. 84.


Merino's Strait, where it seems to bo an abundant species. 1 have examined specimens from tho
Sant;i I'.arbara Islands, and various intermediate points to Alaska, and from Plover Bay, on the
eastern coast of Siberia. The extent of its range on tho Asiatic coast has not been ascertained.
If it is the species referred to by Pallas under the name Phoca canina, and by Temminck, Von
Schrenrk, and other German writers, under the name Phoca nummulari*, as seems probable, it
(ii curs in Japan and along the Amoor coast of the Ochotsk Sea. Von Schrenck speaks of it, on
the authority <>f the natives, as entering the Amoor River. 1 Tho late Dr. Gray referred a speci-
men from Japan to his "llalicyon Richardsi," which, as already shown, is merely a synonym of
riiora vitulina. It thus doubtless ranges southward along the Asiatic coast to points nearly cor-
responding in latitude with its southern limit of distribution on the American side of the Pacific.

The Harbor Seal not only frequents the coast of the North Atlantic and the North Pacific,
and some of the larger interior seas, but ascends all the larger rivers, often to a considerable dis-
tance above tide-water. It even passes up the Saint Lawrence to tho Great Lakes, and has Iteen
taken in Lake Champlain. DeKay states, on the authority of a Canadian newspaper, that a Seal
(in all probability of this species) was taken in Lake Ontario near Cape Vincent (Jefferson County,
New York) about 1824, and adds that the same paper says that Indian trailers report the previous
occurrence of Seals in the same lake, though such instances are rare.' Thompson gives two
instances of its capture in Lake Champlain; one of the specimens he himself examined, and lias
published a careful description of it, taken from the animal before it was skinned.- 1

They are also known to ascend the Columbia River as far as the Dalles (above the Cascades,
and about two hundred miles from the sea), as well as the smaller rivers of the Pacific coast, nearly
to their sources. Mr. Brown states that " Dog River, a tributary of the Columbia, takes its name
from a dog-like animal, probably a Seal, being seen in the lake whence the stream rises." 4

HABITS. The Harbor Seal is the only species of the family known to lie at all common on
any part of the eastern coast of the United States. Although it has been taken as far south
as North Carolina, it is found to be of very rare or accidental occurrence south of New Jersey.
Uespeeting its history here, little has been recorded beyond the fact of its presence. Captain
Seanmioii has given a quite satisfactory account of its habits and distribution as observed by him
on the Pacific coast of the United States, but under the supposition that it was a species distinct from
the well-known Phoca vittilina of the North Atlantic. Owing to its rather southerly distribution,
as compared with its more exclusively boreal afflnes, its biography has l>een many times written
in greater or less detail. Fabricius, as early as 1791, devoted not less than twenty pages to its
history, based in part on his acquaintance with it in Greenland, and partly on the writings of pre-
ceding authors; 5 and much more recently extended accounts of it have been given by Nilssouand

1 VON SCHKENK : Reisen im Ainoor-Lande. B<1. i, p. 180.

f DEKAY: New York Zoology, or the Fauna of Now York, pt. i, 1842, p. 55.
His record of the captnro of these examples ia as follows:

"While several persons were skatin;; upon the ice on Lake Champlain, a lit! li- Bonth of Burlington, in February,
1810, they discovered a living Seal in a wild state which had found its way through a crack and was crawling upon
the ice. They took off their skates, with which they attacked and killed it, and then drew it to the shore. It is said to
have been fonr and a half feet long. It must have reached our lake by way of the Saint Lawrence and Hirhelieu."
Tliompsons' Nat. and Civil Hist, of Vermont, 1842, p. 38.

"Another Seal was killed npon the ice between Burlington and Port Kent on tho 23d of February, 1840. Mr.
Tabor, of Koeseville, and Messrs. Morse anil Field, of Peru, were crossing over in sleighs when they discovered it
crawling npon the ice, and, attacking it with the butt end of their whip*, t hey Mirceeiled in killing it and brought it on
shore at Burlington, where it was purchased by Morton Coin, esq., and presented to the University of Vermont, where
it- skin and skeleton are now preserved. * * * * At the time the above-mentioned Saal was taken, tho lake, with
tho exception of a few cracks, was entirely covered with ice." Ibid., Append., 1853, p. l:i.

Proc.Zool. Soc. Lond., 1808, p. 412, foot-note.

'Fabricius appears to have exhaustively presented its literary history, his references to previous authors, in hia
table of synonymy, occupying nearly fonr pagea.


Lilljeborg, but unfortunately for English readers the first of these histories is written in Danish
and the other in Swedish. It has, however, been noticed quite fully by Bell, Macgilliviay. and
other British authors, while lesser and more fragmentary accounts of it are abundant. On the N c\\
England coast, as elsewhere, it is chiefly observed about rocky islands and shores, at the mouths
of rivers and in sheltered bays, where it is always an object of interest. Although ranging far
into the arctic regions, it is everywhere said to be a sedentary or non-migratory species, being
resident throughout the year at all points of its extended habitat. Unlike most of the other
species, it is strictly confined to the shores, never resorting to the ice-floes, and is consequently
never met with far out at sea, nor does it habitually associate with other species. On the coast of
Newfoundland, where it is more abundant and better known than at more southerly points, it is
said to bring forth its young during the last two weeks of May and the early part of June, resorting
for this purpose to the rocky points and outlying ledges along the shore. It is said to be very
common along the shores of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and of Newfoundland in summer, or during
the period when the shores are free from ice, but in winter leaves the ice-bound coast for the re-
moter islands in the open sea. It is at all times watchful, and takes great care to keep out of reach
jof guns. Still, many are surprised while basking on the rocks, and fall victims to the seal-hunters,
while considerable numbers of the young are captured in the seal-nets. They are described as very
sagacious, and as possessing great parental affection. Mr. Carroll states that when an old one is
found on the rocks with its young it will seize the latter and convey it in its mouth so quickly to
the water that there is not time to shoot it; or, if the young one be too large to be thus removed, it
will entice it upon its back and plunge with it into the sea. The same writer informs us that this
species is a great annoyance to the salmon-fishers, boldly taking the salmon from one end of the
net while the fisherman is working at the other end. It is also troublesome in other ways, since,
whenever the old ones get entangled in the strong seal-nets, they are able to cut themselves free, a
feat it is said no other Seal known in Newfoundland will do.

This species is known to the inhabitants of Newfoundland as the "Native Seal," in conse-
quence of its being the only species found there the whole year. The young are there also called
"Rangers," and when two or three years old at which age they are believed to bring forth their
first young receive the name of "Dotards." Here, as well as 'in Greenland, the skins of this
species are more valued than those of any other species, owing to their beautifully variegated
markings, and are especially valued for covering trunks and the manufacture of coats, caps, and
gloves. 1 Mr. Brown informs us that the natives of the eastern coast of Greenland prize them h igh l.y
"as material for the women's breeches," and adds "that no more acceptable present can be given
to a Greenland damsel than a skin of the ' Kassigiak,' as this species is there called." The < ! reen
landers also consider its flesh as "the most palatable of all 'seal-beef'". 2

According to Mr. Reeks, the period of gestation is about nine months, the union of the sexes
occurring, according to the testimony of the Newfoundlanders, in September/' Only rarely does
the female give birth to more than a single young. This agrees with what is stated 1>,\ Hell and
other English authors respecting its season of procreation.

Respecting its general history, I find the following from the pen of Mr. John (Bordeaux, who,
in writing of this species, as observed by him in British waters, says: "The Seal (Phoca ritulhui)
is not uncommon on that part of the Lincolnshire coast adjoining the Wash. This immense
estuary, lying between Lincolnshire and Norfolk, is in great part occupied with large and dangerous

'CAIIROLI,, MICHAEL: Seal aud Herring Fisheries of Newfoundland, 1873, pp. 10, 11.
'BROWN, ROBKRT, in Proceedings of the Zoological Socii-ly <>f London, 18(58, p. 413
3 REKKg, HKNHY: Zoologmt, 2d Her., TO!. vi,1871, p. 2541.


mil-hanks, intersected by deep but nariow channels. At ebb the sands are uncovered; and at
these times, on hot days, numbers of Seals may be found basking and sunning themselves on the
hot sands, or n. Ilin- ami wallowing in the shallow water along the bank. Sometimes a herd of
lil'teen or twenty of these interesting creatures will collect on some favorite Hand-spit; their chief
h. 1 11 n i > an- tin Long sand, near the centre of the Wash ; the Knock, along the Lincoln coast ; and the
Hogshead sand, near the entrance to Boston Deeps. In the first week of July, when sailing down
I lie I >eeps alon- the edge of the Knock, we saw several Seals; some on the bank; others with their
bodies bent like a bow, the head and hind feet only out of the water. They varied greatly in size,
also in color, hardly any two being marked alike; one had the head and face dark colored, wearing
the color like a mask; in others the upper parts were light gray; others looked dark altove and
li^'ht below, and some dark altogether. '. . . The female has one young one in the year;
and as these banks are covered at flood, the cub, when born, must make an early acquaintance with
the water. In most of the FhoritUr the young one is at first covered with a sort of wool, the second
01 hairy dress being gradually acquired; and until this is the case it does not go into the water.

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