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The fur seals and fur-seal islands of the North Pacific Ocean. Part 1 Jordan, David Starr, 1851-1931 1898

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BRITISH COLUMBIA I   r J   Frontispiece.
Drawn from life by Bristow Adams.
President of Leland Stanford Jr. University,
Of the   TJ.  S.   National   Museum.
Lieutenant-Commander, U. S. N.,
In Command of the TJT. S. Fish Commission Steamer Albatross
Of the   TJT.   S.   Fish   Commission.
Secretary   and.   Stenographer.
Special   Agent.
PART   1.
J r
william e. ritter,
joserh n. rose,
eugene a. schwarz,
robert e. snodgrass,
william a. snow,
charles w. stiles,
wilbur w. thoburn,
Frederick: w. true. PART   I.
54 1
1 Treasury Department,
Document No. 2017.
Division of Special Agents.
* February 24,1898.
Sir : I have the honor to submit herewith my final report as commissioner in charg<
of fur-seal investigations for the seasons of 1896 and 1897.
Very respectfully, yours,
David Starr Jordan,
Hon. Lyman J. Gage,
Secretary of the Treasury, Washington, D. G.
Chapter I.—Introduction :
The occasion of the inquiry	
The act of Congress	
The commission	
The scope of the work	
The investigations	
The report	
Itinerary, 1896	
Itinerary, 1897	
Chapter        II.—Historical Sketch:
Discovery and exploration	
Bering's second voyage	
Discovery of Commander and Pribilof isla
The Russian-American Company	
Its organization	
The ukase of 1821	
The second and third charters	
The company's management	
Injurious methods	
Protection of females	
The herd at the close of Russian control ..
The interregnum	
Professor Ball's notes	
The number of seals kiUed	
Mr. Howes's notes	
The trading companies 	
The work of sealing	
Methods of driving	
Russian methods	
The killing not indiscriminate	
American management :	
The Alaska Commercial Company	
The first lease 	
The North American Commercial Companj
The present lease	
The decline in the bachelor herd	
Land and sea kiUing	
The extension of sealing to Bering Sea	
The Tribunal of Arbitration	
The effect of the Regulations	
Chapter      III.—The Home of the Fur Seals:
A. The Pribilof Islands	
Their geography	
St. Paul Island	
St. George Island	
Otter Island	
Walrus Island	
III.—The Home of the Fur Seals—Continued.
A. The Pribilof Islands—Continued. Page.
SivutchRock  32
The climate '.. 32
No good harbors  32
Vegetation  33
The mammals  33
The birds  33
Inhabitants  33
Conditions in Russian days  34
Conditions in American days  34
The handling of the seals  34
The support of the Aletits  35
The Government agents  35
B. The fur-seal rookeries  36
The breeding grounds  36
The hauling grounds  36
The St. Paul rookeries  36
Vostochni  36
Morjovi  37
Polovina  37
Lukanin  38
Kitovi  38
Reef  38
SivutchRock  38
Gorbatch  39
Ardiguen  39
Spilki  40
Lagoon -'  40
Tolstoi  40
Zapadni  40
Little Zapadni  40
Zapadni Reef  41
Marunichen  41
The St. George rookeries" 41
Zapadni  41
Staraya Artel -    41
North  42
Little East  42
East  42
IV.—The Fur Seal or Sea Bear:
Its relatives  43
The sea bear and true seal  43
The fur seals of the Antarctic  43
The fur seals of the North Pacific  44
Steller's account  44
The three herds  44
The Pribilof herd  44
The Komandorski herd     44
The Robben Island herd  45
Three distinct species  45
Callorhinus alascanus  45
Callorhinus ursinus  45
Callorhinus curilensis  45
The nomenclature of the fur seal   46
The categories of seals  46
The male  46 TABLE   OF  CONTENTS. <
-The Fur Seal or Sea Bear—Continued. Page.
The categories of seals—Continued.
The female  46
The bachelor - 46
The half bull  47
The idle bull  47
The yearlings and virgins  47
The pups  47
The migrations of the seals  47
Their summer movements  47
The limits of migration  48
Its course and duration  48
-The Daily Life of the Rookeries:
The arrival at the islands  49
The males  49
Date of earliest arrivals  49
The oldest come first  49
The bachelors  50
Statistic of killings  50
Beginning of the sealing season  50
The arrival of the cows  51 *
Their incoming gradual  51
Their arrival ^not the occasion of fighting  52
The method of landing  52
Massed rookery formation  52
Daily rookery counts  53
Synopsis of Kitovi rookery   53
The height of the season  53
Fluctuation of population  54
Amphitheater of Kitovi  54
Increase of families  54
What the height of the season means  54
The period currently misunderstood  55
The birth of the pup  55
The feeding of the cows  55
Swimming seals  55
The seal digests its food in the water -.  56
The evidence of the pups  56
The fasting of the seals  57
The harem     57
Large harems  57
Harem sizes  58
Harem discipline  58
The departure of the cows  58
Methods of discipline  59
The fighting of the bulls  59
The early fighting overestimated  59
No fighting over arriving cows  60
Fighting influenced by sexual instinct  60
Manner of fighting  61
Real fighting  61
The treatment of the cows  61
The wounds of the fur seal  62
The instinct for fighting  62
The noise of the rookeries  63
The sleeping seals  63 TABLE OF CONTENTS.
V.—The Daily Life of the Rookeries—Continued. Page.
The arrival at the islands—Continued.
Their attitudes  64
The coloration  64
The pelage  65
The stagy season  65
The arrival of the younger seals  66
The breaking up of the breeding season  67
The condition of the bulls  67
The food and feeding grounds  68
The age of the fur seals  68 -
The fur seal pup  68
The swimming of the pups  ~     69
The excursions of the pups  69
Mortality among the seals  70
Death of pups  70
The parasite, Uncinaria  70
The count of dead pups, 1896  70
Comparative counts  71
The departure of the seals  71
The enemies of the seals  71
The Great Killer  71
The departure of the bachelors and bulls  72
The swimming of the seals  72
The rate of travel  72
Habits of the southern fur seals  73
Their movements  73
They do not migrate  73
Breeding habits  73
Breeding grounds..  74
The fighting of the bulls  74
Difference in time of birth  74
VI.—The Condition of the Fur Seal Herd:
A. Past conditions  75
Acreage measurements  75
Their difficulty  75
Absence of reliable surveys  76
The irregular nature of the ground  76
Chiefly guesswork  76
Magnitude of the problem  76
Early estimates  77
Captain Bryant's estimate  77
The beginning of acreage measurements  77
Elliott's estimate of 1872-74  77
Important assumptions  78
The law of distribution .  78
Assumptions incorrect  78
, -, ' '    The true law of distribution  78
Stability of rookery conditions only apparent  78
Results of Elliott's enumeration  79
The figures unreasonable  79
The methods of enumeration  79
The surveys can not be verified  80
The effect of inaccurate surveys  80
Inadequate unit of space  80
A more rational unit  81 TABLE   OF   CONTENTS. »
Chapter       VI.—The Condition of the Fcr Seal Hkrd—Continued. Page.
A. Past conditions—Continued.
The estimate for Kitovi and Lukanin  81
A measure of the overestimate  82
The counts of Mr. Beaman  82
Captain Bryant's note  82
Spilki and Pölovina  83
Personal estimates differ  83
EDiott'B use of figures  83
Mr. Tingle's estimate  84
The estimate incorrect  84
EUiott's 1890 estimate  84 ~
This estimate unsatisfactory  8L
The True and Townsend estimate for 1895  85
The estimate must be doubled  85
It anticipated the season  85
Arbitrary reduction for massed rookeries  85
The estimate revised  88
The important feature of the estimate  86
Mr. Crowley's estimate for 1895  86
Colonel Murray's estimate  87
Defects of this estimate  87
Contrast of estimates for 1895  87
Contrast of acreage measurements  88
Summary of past conditions  88
A reconstruction of earlier estimates  88
The earlier and later quotas  88
The quota dependent upon the breeding herd  88
Estimates of non-breeding seals  89
The reconstruction still only an estimate  89
Completed estimate  89
B. Present conditions  90
The census  90
Its difficulty  90
Actual counts  90
Kitovi rookery taken as typical  91
Census of harems and cows  91
Original counts for St. George  91
Estimate for St. George  91
This estimate unsatisfactory  92
The great excess of pups  92
Count of pups  92
Correction for absent cows  93
Summary of breeding seals  93
Revision of census of 1896  93
Corrections on St. George  93
Corrections on St. Paul  94
SivutchRock  94
The important error in the census of 1896.  94
Revised census of 1896  95
The value of this.census  95
The census of 1897  96
The count of pups in 1897  96
Comparison of counts of cows and pups  96
Proportion of cows to pups    96
Average harem of Kitovi ;  97
Census of 1897  97 10 TABLE   OF   CONTENTS.
Chapter       VI.—The Condition of the Fur Seal Herd—Continued. Page.
B. Present conditions—Continued.
Its value  97
The enumeration of nonbreeding seals  98
Idle and half bulls  98
The bachelors  98
Rejected seals  98
The one and two year old females  99
The losses among the young seals  99
The estimates of nonbreeding seals  99
The completed estimate for animals of all classes  100
Animals present, season of 1897  100
Deductions for losses  100
Animals dead, season of 1897  100
The value of the estimate -  101
The true basis of enumeration  101
Chapter        VII.—The Decline of the Herd:
Russian management  102
Gradual improvement in methods  102
The equilibrium of the herd  102
The beginning of decline  102
The failure of the quota...  103
The breeding herd  103
The quota since 1890 '.  103
Quota of 1894-95  103
The evidence of decline :  104
Abandoned grounds  104
Their extent  104
Grass-grown areas  104
Time necessary to establish these areas  105
Photographs  105
Between successive seasons inadequate  105
Their value covering long periods  105
Their record of the abandonment of territory  106
Their limitations  106
Their relations to daily rookery counts  106
The true value of photographs  107
Townsend's crosses  107
Shrinkage of breeding area  107
Tolstoi sand flat, Ardiguen, etc  107
Decrease of dead pups  108
Dead pups, 1896-97  108
Increased mortality among the cows  108
The diminished quota  108
The decline between 1896 and 1897  109
Comparative counts  109
Actual counts  109
Summary of percentages  110
Decrease in the average size of harem  HO
The count of cows  110
The count of pups an absolute measure  HO
Lagoon rookery  HI
The quotas of 1896 and 1897  m
The quota of 1896 fixed  m
The quota of 1897 indefinite  m
Killings for the quota, 1896-97   112-113 TABLE OF CONTENTS.
—The Decline of the Herd—Continued. Page.
The evidence of decline—Continued.
The quota of 1897 harder to get  114
The quota a direct measure of breeding herd  114
The qnota of 1897 and the Paris regulations  114
The total decline in the herd..'..,  114
,—The Cause of the Decline:
Joint agreement of 1892  115
No competent natural cause  115
Natural causes of mortality constant  115
The real cause an artificial one  116
Land and sea killing  116
A. Land killing—its methods  116
■     Animals-kiUed  116
KiUing season  116
The driving  116
The drive  117
The killing  118
The Aleuts  118
The skinning of the seals  119
Division of labor  119
Treatment of the skins  119
The effects of land killing  119
Removal of superfluous male life beneficial  120
Possibility of overkilling  120
A hypothetical case  120
Such killing not practicable  121
Otter Island not driven  121
Defective skins  121
Overkilling of males has not occurred  121
Statistics of the quota  122
Land killing, 1870-97  122
Voluntary reduction of quota, 1876-77  122
Voluntary reduction, 1882-83  122
No dearth of male life  122
Killing of males not a factor in decline  123
Premature killing  123
Anticipation of quota  123
Table showing date of filling quota, etc  123
The killing of undersized seals  124
Such killing did not affect the herd  124
Premature killing wasteful but not injurious  124
-(Killing of pups wasteful  124
Absence of injury to the herd  125
Methods on the Commander Islands  125
Dr. Stejneger's observations  125
The dearth of male life on Bering Island  125
—The Theory of Overdriving:
Driving and its supposed results _  126
The process of driving  126
The animal driven  127
The theory intangible  127
Its logical conclusion  127
The drives and driveways  128 12
IX.—The Theory of Overdriving—Continued.
The Russian drives ,
The drive from Northeast Point	
The American drives	
The drives greatly shortened	
Reef driveway	
The character of the route	
The length of the drive	
Comparison of drives	
The Commander driveways	
No evil results from these drives	
Care exercised in driving	
The fur seal not ill-adapted to land travel	
The " carcass-strewn " driveways	
Fatalities on the drives	
Injuries to bachelors could not affect herd	
Voluntary movements of the males	
Driving not a factor in the decline	
X.—Alleged Possible Change of Habits:
Migration to Commander Islands	
The seal's low intelligence	
Contact with man has had no effect	
Alteration of conditions	
The bachelors of Bering Island	
Arbitrary selection of males	
The effect of decline	
Possibility of driving the seals elsewhere	
The abandonment of Spilki	
The presence of the village not the cause..
Exposed condition of Lagoon rookery	
The real cause of the abandonment	
Abandonment of Marnnichen	
Elliott's theory for Sivutch rookery	
Sivntch overlooked in 1872-1874	
The notions of the Aleuts	
These notions shared by Government .agents...
The policy of seclusion detrimental	
Intelligent inspection not wanton invasion	
Inspection not harmful	
Relations of man have not affected the seals	
XL—Pelagic Sealing, or Killing at Sea:
The nature of pelagic sealing	
The hunting of the Indians	
Introduction of white men and vessels	
The expansion of the industry	
The use of firearms .-	
The modus vivendi	
The regulations of the Paris award	
The sealing vessels	
Methods of sealing	
The seals as found	
Methods of capture—the spear.. TABLE  OF  CONTENTS. 13
XL—Pelagic Sealing, or Killing at Sea—Continued. Page.
The shooting of the seals  144
Loss resulting from shooting  145
The spear least wasteful  145
Northwest Coast sealing  146
Bering Sea sealing -  146
Pelagic catch  146
Does not include seals killed, but lost  147
Early sealing confined to Pribijof herd  147
Suspension of land killing  147
Modus vivendi transferred sealing to Asiatic side  147
Decline of the catch '.  148
Unfavorable weather not the cause   148
Pelagic killing and land killing compared  148
Statistics regarding land and sea killing  149
The period from 1871-1882  149
Growth of the catch  149
Relation of gains and losses in the herd  149
Period subsequent to 1882  150
Expansion of pelagic; decrease of land sealing  150
Cause of decline to be sought in breeding herd  150
The beginning of the decline  151
Early pelagic sealing a mere check  151
Irregular quota since 1890  151
Pelagic sealing and the Commander herd  152
Literrelation of pelagic and land catches  153
XII.—The Effect of Pelagic Sealing:
Pelagic sealing kills females  153
Pelagic sealing and the sealing of the South Seas  153
Methods of southern sealing  153
"Indiscriminate" not "excessive"  154
The preponderance of females  154
The sealing captains' record of sexes taken  154
Customs-house examination by experts  155
Contrast of sex returns  155
The sex of salted skins easily determined  155
Investigations of Alexander and Halkett  155
Females more easily taken  156
The capture of males not important  156
Possibility of equilibrium  156
Equilibrium a theoretical fact  157
Death from old age  157
A hypothetical case  157
Possible, abstraction of females  157
Secondary loss of pups  158
Pelagic catch still involves 16 per cent  158
Pelagic catch must still fall to one-third before equilibrium  158
The equilibrium could not be maintained  159
Equilibrium exists only far below commercial ruin  159
Destruction of unborn pups  160
Females pregnant and nursing  160
Pelagic sealing takes compound interest  160
Destruction of nursing pups  160
Pups dependent upon milk until December  160
The absence of excrement  161
The supposed nonfeeding of females  161 14 TABLE  OF  CONTENTS.
Chapter     XII.—The Effect of Pelagic Sealing—Continued. Page.
Absence of food in stomachs  161
The seal digests its food in the water  162
Absurd theory of indiscriminate nursing  162
Fur-seal mother and pup  162
Mistaken observations  162
Supposed self-feeding of pups *  163
The absurdity of the theory  163
Determination of the matter by killing pups  163
Pups absolutely dependent upon mothers' milk  164
Chapter    XIII.—The Starvation of Pups:
The count of starved pups  165
Beginnings of starvation  165
Notes on starving pups  165
The hungry pup  166
The breaking down  166
The death of the starveling  166
Difficulty of distinguishing early dead pups  166
Many early dead pups disappear  167
Starving pups  167
The work of the foxes  167
Dead pups, St. George Island  167
Reconstruction of St. George estimates  168
The detailed estimate  168
Pup statistics  169
The count of starved pups in 1897  169
The removal of the early dead  170
Estimate of starved pups for 1897  170
Importance of these figures  170
Destructive effects of pelagic sealing established  170
The cumulative effect  171
Total effect of pelagic sealing  171
The effect since 1883  171
The effect under the Paris regulations  172
Chapter    XIV.—Effect of Pelagic Sealing on the Seal Skin Industry-:
International interest in the fur seals  173
United States interests  173
Russian interests  174
The interest of Great Britain  174
Canadian pelagic sealing interests  174
Valuation of the fleet  174
Pelagic sealing suicidal  175
Effect of the declining catch  175
Legality of pelagic sealing  175
Prohibition to Americans  176
Distinctly a Canadian industry  176
Chapter      XV.—The Results of the Paris Award:
A. The arbitration  177
The origin of the fur seal question  177
The seizure of vessels  177
Efforts to secure international action  177
Proposed measures of protection  177
Objection by Canada  178
Renewal of negotiations  178
The counter proposition unsatisfactory  178
Proposals for arbitration  178 TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Chapter      XV.—The Results of the Paris Award—Continued. Page.
A. The arbitration—Continued.
The modus vivendi  179
The joint commission of inquiry  179
The tribunal  179
The joint report of the commission  179
The American contention  180
The British contention  180
Their comparative merits  180
B. The regulations  180
The minor provisions  180
The sixty-mile zone  181 g
The close season  181
Regulations adapted to work of sealers  181
The cost of enforcing the regulations  182
The failure of the regulations  182
The redeeming feature of the regulations  182
The purpose of arbitrators  183
The obligation to protect and preserve  183
Chapter    XVI.—Summary of Conclusions:
Statements of fact  184-186
Chapter XVII.—The Remedy for the Decline of the Herd:
Revision of the regulations not adequate  187
Pelagic sealing can not exist without the killing of females  187
Total prohibition of pelagic sealing the only remedy  187
Chapter XVHI.—The Future of the Herd:
A reconsideration of the question  188
A basis for the reopening of the subject  188
Findings of fact—the decline  188
Slow rate of increase in the herd  188
Males can be killed with impunity  189
Excessive destruction of females   189
Compromise findings  189
The herd commercially ruined  189
Pelagic sealing incompatible with preservation  189
The skin of the female to be contraband  190
The proposed extermination by slaughter on the rookeries  190
Importance of the fur seal herd  190
A strong nucleus remains  190
Chapter    XIX.—Recommendations:
Inadequacy of past knowledge ."  191
The Government agents not investigators  191
Failure to understand conditions  191
The wildsanimal policy  192
Lack of faith in our methods  192
Wasteful management  192
The two vital questions yet unknown  192
The fixing of the quota  193
Questions which require continuous study  193
A fixed quota not desirable  194
The proportion* of males needed  194
Minor problems.  194
The herd should be placed in charge of a naturalist  194
Appendix  I.—Statistics  197
Table of killings  197-207
Summary of totals  207 16 TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Appendix    I.—Statistics—Continued. Page.
Killings, Northwest Point-Zapadni  207
Totalseals killed—accepted, rejected  208-209
Killings, 1896  209
Killings, 1897  210
Statistics of land and sea killing  211
Daily counts of cows  212
Comparative census ,  213
Pup statistics, 1896  213
Dead pups, 1897  214
American fur-seal catch, 1894  215
Canadian fur-seal catch, 1894  216
American and Canadian catch, 1895  217
American and Canadian catch, 1896  219
American and Canadian catch, 1897  220-22L
Statistics of pelagic catch  222-225
Percentage of females.  225
Value of pelagic fleet  226
Cape Horn seals  226
Lobos seals  226
Appendix   II.—Documents.
Modus vivendi  227
Arbitration treaty  228-231
Award of the tribunal  231-234
The regulations  234
Declarations  236
Alaska Commercial Company's lease  236
North American Commercial Company's lease  238
The conference of fur-seal experts  240
Joint statement of conclusions  241
Furriers' affidavits regarding sex  244
The law prohibiting sealing by Americans  246
Appendix III.—Illustrations  247 CHAPTER   I.
The present inquiry into the condition and needs of the fur-seal herds of the North
Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea is the outgrowth of a belief on the part of the United
States that the regulations formulated by the Paris Tribunal of Arbitration for "the
protection and preservation of the fur seal" had failed to accomplish their avowed
object. The inadequacy of these regulations was apparent at the close of the first
season of their operation, and each succeeding season has only rendered it more
conspicuous. Failing to secure the cooperation of Great Britain in the immediate
revision of the regulations, the United States in the spring of 1896 accepted the
proposal of Great Britain for a scientific investigation of the whole subject, to be
made independently by each nation, the results of such an investigation to form the
basis.of a reconsideration of the regulations at the end of the specified trial period ol
five years.
The act of Congress under which the present commission of investigation for the
United States was organized is as follows:
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress
assembled, That the Secretary of the Treasury be, and is hereby, authorized to expend, from any
moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, a sum sufficient to provide for the employment
of persons to conduct a scientific investigation, during the fiscal years eighteen hundred and
ninety-six and eighteen hundred and ninety-seven, of the present condition of the fur-seal herds on
the Pribilof, Commander, and Kuril islands in the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea, said amount
not to exceed for both said years the sum of five thousand dollars.
The Secretary is also authorized to employ a stenographer in connection with this investigation
at a rate of compensation not exceeding one thousand five hundred dollars per annum, and to pay his
compensation and expenses out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated.
The President is authorized to detail, for the purposes of assisting in this investigation, any
officer or officers or employees of the United States Government, their actual expenses and the
expenses of the person or persons employed under the preceding paragraph to be paid by the
Secretary of the Treasury out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated.
The President may detail a vessel of the United States for the purpose of carrying out this
In accordance with the above act, Dr. David Starr Jordan, president of Leland
Stanford Junior University, was appointed commissioner in charge of the investigation, and with him were detailed as associates Lieut. Commander Jefferson F. Moser,
commanding the United States Fish Commission steamer Albatross; Dr. Leonhard
15184 2 18
Stejneger, curator of reptiles, United States National Museum; Mr. Frederic A.
Lucas, curator of comparative anatomy, United States National Museum, and
Mr. Charles H. Townsend, naturalist of the Albatross. Mr. George Archibald Clark,
president's secretary of Stanford University, was appointed secretary to the commission, and Col. Joseph Murray, of Fort Collins, Colo., formerly United States Treasury
agent at St. Paul Island, and reappointed in 1897 to the same position, was made
special assistant.
Great Britain named as her commission of investigation Prof. D'Arcy Wentworth
Thompson, of University College, Dundee, Scotland; Mr. Gerald E. H. Barrett-
Hamilton, of Dublin, Ireland, and Mr. James Melville Macoun, of the Geological
Survey of Canada. The Canadian government detailed Mr. Andrew Halkett to
make special investigation of the operations of the pelagic fleet.
In his letter of instructions to the commission, under date of June 13, 1896, Hon.
Charles Sumner Hamlin, then Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, outlined the
general scope and purpose of the investigation, as follows:
Your final report will be expected to relate more specifically to the group of- seals which resort
to the Pribilof Islands, but the Asiatic herd may be investigated to such extent as seems advisable
in order to afford the opportunity for instituting comparisons from which important deductions may
be reached.
The principal object of this investigation is to determine by precise and detailed observations,
first, the present condition of the American fur-seal herd; second, the nature and imminence of the
causes, if any, which appear to threaten its extermination; third, what, if any, benefits have been
secured to the herd through the operation of the act of Congress and act of Parliament based upon
the award by the Paris Tribunal of Arbitration; fourth, what, if any, additional protective measures
on land or at sea, or changes in the present system of regulations as to the closed season, prohibited
zone, prohibition of firearms, etc., are required to insure the preservation of the fur-seal herd.
Your inquiries should furthermore be extended, in so far as the time and circumstances permit,
to embrace the consideration of all important questions relating to the natural history of the seals,
both at sea and on the islands, with special reference to their bearing upon the sealing industry.
To this general plan of inquiry was appended the following list of specific
1. The effect of pelagic sealing in the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea upon the fur-seal
herd, due account being taken of the classes of seals killed.
2. What effect, if any, has the annual removal of bachelor seals, which has taken place on the
Pribilof Islands, had upon the fur-seal herd?
The solution of these two questions involves a study of the entire subject of the regulations of
the two sexes and the proportion of the male seals required to be preserved in order to maintain the
stability of the herd.
3. Whether killing on land or sea has interfered with the regular habits and occupation of the
islands by the herd, or has operated to reduce the strength of the seal race as a whole by a natural
4. The propriety of existing.methods of driving seals from the hauling grounds to the killing
grounds, culling, and other practices connected therewith.
5. The cause of the destruction of nursing pups upon the islands.
During the seasons of 1894 and 1895 about 20,000 and 30,000 dead pups, respectively, were found
upon the islands. You should specially consider the causes of their death, whether from starvation
or other cause, preserving specimens whenever practicable.
6. The extent, date, and cause of mortality on the islands of seals of all classes.
7. The breeding habits of the seals, with special reference to the age at which the females begin
or cease to breed, and the frequency of the breeding, whether annually or at longer intervals.
8. The condition of female seals taken at sea, as to nursing and pregnancy.
9. The distance which the several classes of seals go from the islands and the directions which
they take in search of food or rest at different times during the season.
10. The actual decrease, if any, in the number of seals in each class on the Pribilof Islands
which has occurred during the past year, and also since the year 1890, and since the year 1870. A
careful census of the rookeries should be taken this season for comparison with the enumeration
made in 1895 and previous years.
11. An examination of the question as to the character of the food of fur seals.
12. Whether the Pribilof Island herd of fur seals intermingle with the Asiatic herds of the
Commander or Kuril islands.
13. Whether nursing seals nurse other than their own pups on the islands.
Acting under these instructions the commission of investigation have made a
detailed inspection and study of the habits, condition, and needs of the Pribilof
Islands herd, with a comprehensive and almost equally exhaustive study of the herds
of the Commander and Kuril islands. The main results of our investigations for the
season of 1896 have already been published by the Treasury Department in the form
of a preliminary report.*
The work during the season of 1896 was sufficient to prove the depleted condition
of the herd and to point out the cause of its threatened destruction. It, however,
showed clearly that all preceding calculations as to the number of seals resorting to
the Pribilöf Islands were useless for purposes of comparison, being grossly exaggerated
in the early years of American control, and as largely underestimated in the later years
through a misapprehension of the actual conditions of rookery life. It therefore
became impossible to form an accurate estimate of the relative conditions of the
breeding herd or of the rate of its decline. The work of investigation was therefore
continued during the season of 1897, and its supplemental results have been embodied
in condensed form in a second preliminary report t which has recently been published
by the Treasury Department. It now remains for us to bring into the shape of a
final report the completed results of our labors. In accordance with the broad scope
of our instructions we have endeavored, so far as opportunity afforded, to consider
" all important questions relating to the natural history of the seals, both at sea and
on the islands," and the work has therefore become very voluminous.
This report naturally falls into four parts or divisions. In Part I the main
phases of the fur-seal controversy have been taken up and discussed at length, such
historical matters as seem necessary for a clear understanding of the matter being
added. In this general discussion the results of more detailed studies on special
topics, which appear in Part HI, are freely used and the original studies referred to
for more complete information. Part I, therefore, becomes a complete report in itself
of the investigation so far as the general condition, needs, and possibilities of the
Pribilof Islands herd of fur seal are concerned.
* Observations on the Fur Seals of the Pribilof Islands, Jordan, 1896.
t Second Preliminary Report of the Bering Sea Fur-Seal Investigations
In Part II is given the minute and detailed journal of daily observations of the
members of the commission. This record, being the chief basis for the conclusions
m the general report, becomes a most important part of the work. To it is appended
an-abstract of the record in the log of St. Paul Island for the past twenty-seven
years, in so far as it pertains to the life history, and habits of the seals.
The third division of the report contains the series of special papers and reports,
already referred to, which deal with various phases of the life history, movements and
the surroundings of the seals, and which have been prepared by different members
of the commission and by various specialists. These take up in minute detail such
phases of the subject as have important bearing on tbe fur-seal question.
In Part IV are included the reports for the seasons of 1896 and 1897 by Dr.
Stejneger on the Commander and Kuril islands, which form a continuation of his
more extended investigations in the season of 1895, the results of which have already
been published.* To the reports on the Commander herd such reference as has been-
necessary to throw light upon the condition of the Pribilof herd have been made in
the general discussion.
The United States Fish Commission steamer Albatross, with the American commission and Professor Thompson and Mr. Macoun, of the British commission, left
Seattle on the morning of June.24, arriving at St. George Island, Bering Sea, on the
afternoon of July 8. July 9,10, and 11 were spent in and about this island making
general observations, photographing the rookeries, and counting the breeding seals.
The time between July 12 and 18 was occupied in similar work on St. Paul Island.
July 18 the Albatross steamed for Unalaska, leaving Mr. Townsend there and
taking Dr. Stejneger to the Commander Islands. July 30 to August 9 were spent
about these islands, August 22 to 26 about the Kurils, and August 28 to September 2
about Bobben Island, reaching Hakodate, Japan, September 10.
On July 28 Mr. Lucas, Professor Thompson, and Colonel Murray visited St. George
Island, tne first two returning to St. Paul on August 5. Mr. Townsend returned from
Unalaska August 8, and he and Mr. Lucas spent the time until the 12th at sea, on
board the Rush, boarding vessels of the sealing fleet.
August 8 to 14, inclusive, was occupied in counting dead pups on St. Paul
A similar count was made by Mr. Lucas and Mr. Macoun August 16 to 21 on St!
On August 16 Professor Thompson and Dr. Jordan left St. Paul Island in HMS
Satellite for the Commander Islands, spending August 24 and 25 on the rookeries of
these islands and returning to St. Paul on September 1, bringing with them Mr
Barrett-Hamilton, another member of the British commission.
Mr. Townsend left St. Paul on the company's steamer Homer for San Francisco
August 23. Colonel Murray returned from St. George September 1 and on the following day made experiments in branding pups on Lukanin rookery. Messrs. Lucas
and Barrett-Hamilton spent September 2 to 5 at sea on the Bush, among the pelaeic
sealers. ö
*The Russian Fur Seal Islands, Stejneger; Bull. U. S. Fish Com., 1896. ITINERARY. 21
On September 8 Dr. Jordan, Professor Thompson, and Mr. Lucas sailed with the
Rush for Sitka and thence to Seattle, Messrs. Clark, Macoun, Bairett-Hamilton, and
Colonel Murray remaining on St. Paul.
On September 11 further experiments in branding were made. The starved and
starving pups on St. Paul were counted September 28 to October 1. A similar count
was made on St. George October 6. On October 7 Messrs. Clark and Macoun returned
to St. Paul, Mr. Barrett-Hamilton remained on St. George, and Colonel Murray went
to Unalaska. On October 22 the remaining commissioners left the islands on the
Bear and arrived in Port Townsend November 3.
May 22.—Mr. Clark sailed from San Francisco on the North American Company's
steamer Del Norte May 22. Mr. Bristow Adams accompanied him as artist assistant
to the commission. Col. Joseph Murray, chief agent, Mr. John M. Morton, assistant
agent, and Mr. James M. Macoun, Canadian commissioner, were also passengers on
the vessel. The Del Norte arrived at Wood Island, Kadiak, May 31, and at Dutch
Harbor, Unalaska, on the morning of June 4.
June 7.—The Del Norte arrived at St. George Island, remaining at anchor dis
charging cargo until the evening of the 11th, during which time all the rookeries of
St. George were visited and daily visits were made to North rookery, near the village.
June 12.—On the morning of June 12 Mr. Clark was landed on St. Paul Island
and began daily observation of the breeding rookeries.
July 1.—Mr. Lucas arrived on the Bush at St. Paul July 1, Dr. Stejneger, who
accompanied him to Unalaska, having sailed direct from that port for the Commander
Islands on board the Grant.
July 7.—Dr. Stejneger was landed by the Grant on Bering Island.
July 9.—Mr. Lucas examined the rookeries of St. George Island. Mr. Chichester
accompanied him and photographed the rookeries for the United States Fish Commission.
July 12.—The counting of the cows was begun on the rookeries of St. Paul and
the series of photographs for the United States Fish Commission made.
July 25.—Dr. Jordan arrived at St. George Island and, after visiting the rookeries
there, was landed on St. Paul July 28.
July 30.—The count of live pups was begun on the test rookeries. Kitovi was
counted by Messrs. Clark and Macoun on August 2. This was followed by a count of
dead pups on the " death traps " of Zapadni and Tolstoi.
August 5.—Professor Thompson arrived at St. Paul on H. M. S. Bainboio from the
Commander Islands.
August 8.—Mr. Macoun left St. Paul on H. M. S. PJieasant.
August 11.—Dr. Jordan and Mr. Clark left St. Paul Island on the revenue-cutter
Rush, arriving at Seattle in the evening of the 21st.
August 15.—Dr. Stejneger was transferred from Bering Island to Copper Island
on the Bussian cruiser Koreets.
August 16.—Professor Thompson left the Pribilof Islands on H. M. S. Amphion.
August 18.—Mr. Lucas left St. Paul on the Del Norte, arriving in San Francisco
August 31. r
August 31.—Dr. Stejneger returned to Bering Island by the Bussian cruiser
Yakut, leaving immediately for Petropaulski, where he arrived on September 4.
September 2.—Seals were driven from Reef, Lukanin, and Middle Hill and retained
in the Lagoon in closure until the 9th.
September 9.—Beginning with this date Colonel Murray, on St. Paul, and Mr.
Judge, on St. George, branded fur-seal pups.
September 11.—Mr. Farmer and assistants in the work of electrical branding left
St. Paul Island on board the revenue-cutter Perry.
September 27.—Dr. Stejneger made a final visit to Bering Island to investigate
the starvation of pups, returning to Petropaulski on October 20, sailing thence homeward by way of Japan.
October 15.—Colonel Murray made a final counting of starved pups on Lukanin
and Kitovi rookeries of St. Paul Island.
A more minute daily record of investigations will be found in connection with the
journal of daily observations kept by the commission, and which appears in full
elsewhere in this report. CHAPTER  II.
The early discoveries and explorations in and about the waters of Bering Sea
followed as a result of the occupation of the eastern coast of Siberia by the Russians
in the latter part of the seventeenth century. The organized efforts to explore the
unknown seas beyond were begun in the reign of Peter the Great and were completed
after his death by his successor, the Empress Catherine.
The first important expedition sailed in two vessels from Kamchatka in 1728 under
charge of Vitus Bering. One vessel discovered St. Lawrence Island and sailed through
the straits to the north; the other reached the continent of North America near the
mouth of the River Yukon.
Thirteen years afterwards Bering set out with a second expedition which reached
America at Kayak Island, in the vicinity of Mount St. Elias. Upon the homeward
voyage the Commander Islands were discovered, and the ship on which Bering sailed
Was wrecked on the island now called Bering. Here Bering died, and, after wintering,
such of the crew as survived made their way to Kamchatka in the spring under the
direction of the famous naturalist, Georg Wilhelm Steller.
This second voyage in 1741, making known the valuable fur resources of the
Commander Islands, stimulated the fur trade and led to many expeditions among
the islands of the Aleutian chain in search of other regions inhabited by fur seals.
During these voyages the herd of seals now known to resort to the Pribilof Islands
were encountered on their migrations through the passes of the Aleutian Islands,
and efforts were made to ascertain the shore to which they belonged. They were
followed to the northward and to the southward for this purpose, but without result
until, in 1786, Gerassim Pribilof, a navigator in the employ of one of the Russian
trading companies, finally succeeded in finding the group of islands which now bear
his name and are the home of the American fur seals. The island of St. George, so
called from the name of his vessel, was the first land found. In the following year
St. Paul Island was discovered.
Immediately upon the discovery of the Commander Islands in 1741, and later upon
the discovery of the Pribilof Islands in 1786, numerous trading companies began to
develop their lucrative fur resources. The rivalry and competition which naturally
arose nearly resulted in the destruction of the fur-seal herds. To prevent this, the
entire fur trade of the Russian colonies passed into the control of a single powerful
organization, the Russian-American Company. This company was created in the year
1799, by decree of the Imperial Government, and was vested for a period of twenty
years with exclusive privileges to trade along the shores of northwestern America,
between latitude 55° north and Bering Strait, on the Aleutian and Kuril Islands, and
the islands of the Northeastern or Bering Sea.
The company's chief place of business was originally at Irkutsk, but,was afterwards transferred to St. Petersburg. Its shareholders, exclusively Russians, numbered
members of the Imperial family and the high nobility. For purposes of administration
the Imperial Government and the directors of the company jointly appointed a chief
manager, who resided at Sitka, in Alaska, then called New Archangel. The powers
of this manager were absolute within the territory over which the company exercised
jurisdiction. Under him were submanagers, overseers, and other agents. Reports
of the company's affairs were required to be submitted to the Imperial Government.
Under its charter the Russian-American Company paid no royalty or rental to the
Government, but as its trade consisted chiefly in the exchange of furs for teas on the
Chinese frontier, the Government received indirectly large sums through the resulting
On the 4th of September, 1821, the Emperor Alexander I issued an edict known
as the ukase of 1821, which provided for a set of rules and regulations controlling the
boundaries of navigation and trade on the coasts and waters over which the Russian-
American Company exercised jurisdiction. These regulations provided for the
prohibition of all foreign vessels from landing on or approaching within 100 Italian
miles of the coasts and islands belonging to Russia.* Shortly after the issuance of this
decree the Emperor renewed for an additional term of twenty years the charter of
rights and privileges of the Russian-American Company.
The ukase of 1821 involved Russia in a controversy, on the one hand with the
United States and on the other hand with Great Britain, which resulted in the treaties
ot 1824 and 1825, the former between the United States and Russia and the latter
between Great Britain and Russia. These treaties left undisturbed the right of strict
control claimed by Russia " over all interior waters and over all waters inclosed by
Russian territory, such as the Sea of Okhotsk, Bering Sea or the Sea of Kamchatka,
as well as all gulfs, bays, and estuaries." t
The second charter of the Russian-American Company was 1829 to
conform to the treaties of 1824-25 and its provisions reconfirmed. In 1842 it was
again renewed for a period of twenty years, with all its exclusive franchises and
privileges. This third charter expired in 1862 and was not renewed. The company,
however, continued to operate under it, pending a decision of the question of renewal.
But before a decision was reached the territory of Alaska was transferred to the
United States by the treaty of 1867.
* Appendix to case of U. S., Fur Seal Arb., p. 16 ff.
t Appendix to case of U. S., Fur Seal Arb., Letter No. 10, p. 63. HISTORY  OF  THE  FUR  SEAL   ISLANDS. 25
At once upon assuming control of the islands the Russian American Company
put a stop to tue ruthless slaughter which threatened the fur-seal herds with destruction. They, however, attempted to limit the extent rather than to reform the character of the slaughter. They still continued to kill males and females alike. The injury
to the herd naturally continued, and in 1806 and 1807 it was found necessary to
suspend killing in order to give the herd an opportunity to recuperate. In 1808 killing
was resumed, but still without proper regard for the conditions of seal life.*
Gradually, however, the habits and interests of the herd began to be better known
and cared for. In 1820, Yanovsky, an agent of the Imperial Government, after au
inspection of the fur seal rookeries, called attention to the practice of killing the
young animals, leaving only the adults as breeders. He writes: "If any of the young
breeders are not killed by the autumn they are sure to be killed in the following
spring."t From this course of action he concludes that the industry decreases every
year in volume, and may in the course of time be extinguished entirely. Probably as
a result of this, in 1822, as Veniaminof tells us, provision was made for the reservation
of young seals for breeding purposes. This provision was hardly sufficient, however,
to accomplish the desired end so long as females of any age were killed. As a natural
result, another crisis in the history of the herd was reached in 1834. But it is not clear
whether this was due entirely to indiscriminate slaughter or to the combination of
this with disaster resulting from the continuance of the ice floes about the islands far
into the summer, preventing the cows from landing to give birth to their young and
grinding them to pieces in the ice itself. This latter possibility exists as a tradition
among the Aleuts, though in their minds it may have been confused with a subsequent catastrophe of a similar character recorded by the manager of St. Paul Island
in 18594 ln any event, it seems very clearly established that in the year 1834 the
herd was in a most precarious condition. The natives were not even allowed to take
seals for food, and for a time all killing was suspended.
At this time it seems to have become fully understood that if the herd was to
continue its females must be protected.§ Accordingly from this time on the taking of
seals was limited strictly to the males. But the managers of the fur-seal herds had
still something to learn. The requirements of the Chinese market were the only guide
to the class of skins desired, and as all sizes were taken the killing of males included all
ages from old bulls down to the gray pups. Gradually this wasteful killing stopped.
The bulls were no longer taken and the killing of gray pups was limited to such as
were needed for food and oil. ||
* Veniaminof, Trans. Elliott, Monograph, Fur Seal Isds., 1881, p. 140.
t Appendix to case of U. S., Fur Seal Arb., Letter No. 6, p. 58.
t Appendix to case of U. S., Fur Seal Arb., Letter No. 29, p. 87. The dire results here predicted
seem not to have been felt by the herd.
§ Appendix to case of U. S., Fur Seal Arb., Letter No. 23, p. 82.
|| Appendix to case of U. S., Fur Seal Arb., Letter No. 24, p. 82. 26 ' THE   FUR  SEALS  OF .THE  PRIBILOF   ISLANDS.
Under these gradually perfected methods of operation the herd seems to have
prospered and increased so that in the year 1864, as we learn from the instructions*
to the agents of the Russian-American Company on the islands it was considered
possible to take annually 70,000 seals on St. Paul Island alone. The number for
St. George Island is not given. This in brief is the condition of the fur-seal herd as it
came into the possessioniof the United States. In definite facts and data there is but
little; but it may be taken for granted in the light of subsequent events that the herd
was in a condition of normal increase.
The year 1868, or the season following the transfer of Alaska from Russian to
American control, is generally known as the "interregnum." It was impossible
immediately to provide an administrative system for the Territory, and a period of
lawlessness reigned on the islands. The state of affairs is thus described by Prof.
William H. Dall,t who visited the islands during the year:
During my visit to St. George Island in 1868, this vast territory of Alaska had just fallen into
the possession of the United States, and the Government had not yet fairly established more than a
beginning of an organization for its management as a whole, without mentioning such details as the
Pribilof Islands. In consequence of this state of affairs private enterprise, in the form of companies
dealing in furs, had established numerous sealing stations on the islands. During my stay, except on
a single occasion, the driving from the hauling grounds, the killing, and skinning was done by the
natives in the same manner as when under the Russian rule, each competing party paying them so
much per skin for their labor in taking them. Despite the very bitter and more or less unscrupulous
competition among the various parties, all recognized the importance of preserving the industry and
protecting the breeding grounds from molestation, and for the most part were guided by this
During this year a very great number of seals were killed on the islands. Estimates
vary, but it is evident that the number amounted to not far from 300,000. As this
subject has been frequently referred to and strenuous efforts made to connect the
heavy killing of this year with the subsequent decline of the herd, we feel justified
in quoting here at length the statement of Mr. Osborne Howes, now editor of the
Boston Herald, who spent the summer of 1868 on St. George Island as agent of one
of the companies.   He says:
I left San Francisco early in March on board a schooner cleared by Messrs. Parrott & Co., of
that city, for a trading voyage in Bering Sea and the coast of Kamchatka. Our schooner put into
Sitka on the way up and took on board a number of natives, sailing from Sitka to the Shumagin
Islands and thence into Bering Sea. It was the first vessel to reach the island, arriving at St. George
in the latter part of April. I was landed with the goods, and the schooner continued her voyage
toward the coast of Kamchatka. I immediately secured possession of the salt house and the services
of the natives for the season.
* Appendix to case of U. S., Fur Seal Arb., Letter No. 31, p. 89.
t Fur Seal Arb., vol. 2, p. 132. METHODS  OF TAKING FUR SEALS. 27
In a few days a schooner representing the firm of Hutchinson, Kohl & Co. also landed representatives on St. George Island. Not long after the arrival of this second schooner a third, in the
interest of the firm of Williams & Haven, landed men on the opposite side of the island, at Zapadni
rookery. This firm had headquarters on St. Paul Island. It was impossible for these separate
interests to carry on their operations independently, and they therefore placed their business under
my charge. Drives were made alternately for the different companies and the natives employed
in turn.
Before the season was well under way a fourth expedition was landed on the south side of the
island across the point from East rookery. There were three men in the party, and they set about
killing the seals on the rookery without driving them. The natives objected to this because it involved
the killing of females. The men were remonstrated with, but were obdurate. One was bribed off by
the promise of double wages, but the other two continued their work. They were finally taken
prisoners and sent off to Sitka by the first schooner that touched at the island. With them were*
returned the men brought from Sitka, who were found to be unsnited for the work. When the
captain of the schooner whose men were interfered with arrived in the fall for his cargo of skins he É
was pacified by being allowed to take the results of one big drive made by the natives for his benefit-
The work of sealing was carried out by the natives under the direction of their chief. Representatives of the different companies did not concern themselves with the work of driving or killing.
They simply paid the natives so much per skin—30 to 35 cents—payment being made in trade goods.
The natives evidently followed the traditions of earlier days in their work. They seemed very jealous
and careful of the seals, avoiding any disturbance of the breeding grounds. Their objection to the
methods of killing on East rookery was based upon the ground that if the females were killed there
would be no seals in the years to come. It is my belief that not a single female was killed on St.
George Island during the season, except by the three men above mentioned. Occasionally a female
was included in the drive, but it was quickly detected by the natives and released.
Most of the seals killed were taken from North rookery and Zapadni. No drives were made from
Staraya Artel. Only occasional drives were made from East rookery. AH the animals were killed on
the ground below the village.
The method of driving was to gather up the pods of bachelors from the different hauling grounds
and drive them back from the rookeries, dividing them into pods of 150 to 250, and bringing them
thus into the village. As the pods were being formed and driven in, the small and large seals
unsnited for killing were worked out and released. Each man knocked down his own allowance of
seals and skinned them afterwards. Sixty was considered the usual day's work for a man. Practically all the seals driven up were killed. Not more than one seal in ten was rejected. The rule of the
companies was that skins too small, too large, or cut would not be accepted or paid for. The
sealers were therefore very careful in the work. A day's killing averaged from 800 to 1,800. There
were about thirty available men among the natives.
Of the conditions on St. Paul I heard only indirectly through the representatives of Williams
& Haven, who in their work were.evidently directed by instructions from the head station on St.
Paul, where the same methods were probably employed. The Williams & Haven and Hutchinson,
Kohl & Co.'s interests were supreme on St. Paul Island, and they divided the rookeries between them.
To the best of my recollection 115,000 were taken on St. George and 250,000 on St. Paul during
the season. Prior to this season it was understood that for several years no seals had been killed. In
1869 no skins were taken, except a few from seals killed for food for the natives. The privilege of
taking these skins was given to Hutchinson, Kohl & Co., who, owning the principal salt houses and
stores on the islands, were allowed to visit them to care for their property. Parrott & Co. sent a
schooner to St. George to take off the skins which had been left over, but they took no new skins.
The testimony of Mr. Howes, corroborating the evidence of Professor Dall, is
valuable for a double purpose.   It gives us an idea of the final methods of handling 28 THE  FUR   SEALS  OF  THE  PRIBILOF   ISLANDS.
the seals which the Russians had evolved. It is evident that in these operations of
1868 the natives were carrying out rules and methods which had become traditional
with them. One of these rules, as we learn from instructions to the officer in charge
of the islands in the year 1853, was the strict protection of females.*
We are also justified in assuming that the killing as practiced in 1868 did not in
any way injure the herd, being confined as heretofore to the killing of the bachelors.
That so large a number were killed is in part accounted for by reduction in killing
in the years immediately prior to the transfer of the islands to the United States. A
surplus of the larger animals thus saved remained to be gathered in. It is further
evident that the killing extended down to the younger seals, doubtless including all
or most of the two-year-olds. This latter fact is given support by the absence of any
regular killing for the year 1869 and the small quota of 23,000 only which was taken
in 1870. We are not aware that the usual number of seals could not have been
obtained in these years, but it may well have been that the quota for 1869 and 1870
had been anticipated to large extent in the year 1868. This much, however, remains
certain, that the absence of large killings in 1869 and 1870 removed any possible
injury which might have resulted to the herd from the too close killing of bachelors in
1868, and the fact that for fifteen years subsequent to 1870, 100,000 and more males
were to be obtained on the hauling grounds of the islands shows conclusively that not
only were the breeding females not disturbed in 1868, but furthermore that the supply
of male life was not so reduced as in any way to affect the life of the herd.
In the spring of 1869 Dr. H. H. Mclntyre, the representative of the United States
Government, landed upon the island, establishing the authority of the Government,
and taking the necessary steps for the protection of the rookeries.
The period of lawlessness which marked the season of 1868 was thus terminated
in 1869 by Dr. Mclntyre. He was appointed in 1868 and endeavored to reach his
destination in the fall of that year, but on account of the lateness of the season he
was forced to winter at Sitka.
In the meantime the Government had under consideration the most advantageous
method of managing its fur-seal industry. After a thorough consideration of all
recommendations and suggestions bearing upon the matter, it was decided to lease
the islands to a single reliable company uuder the immediate supervision and control
of agents of the Treasury Department, duly commissioned for that purpose. In
accordance with this decision in July, 1870, Congress passed an act authorizing this
course of procedure, and immediately afterwards the Secretary of the Treasury
advertised for bids for the lease of the seal fisheries for a period of twenty years.
Of the numerous offers received from various companies and associations, that of
the Alaska Commercial Company, with a capital of $2,000,000, was accepted as the
one most likely to promote the "interests of the Government, the native inhabitants,
the parties heretofore engaged in the trade, and the protection of the seal fisheries."
"Appendix to Case of U. S., Fur Seal Arb., Letter No. 23, p. 82. 1
Under the terms of this lease the company were given the right to take 100,000
male seals over one year of age during the months of June, July, September, and
October of each year. In 1874, by act of Congress, the number of seals to be taken
and the time of sealing was made subject to the control of officers of the Treasury
Department, and killing after August 1 was limited to the necessities of the food supply
of the natives. The use of firearms or of other methods of killing, tending to drive
the seals away, was prohibited, as was also the killing of the animals in the water.
In consideration for the skins so taken the lessees agreed to pay to the Treasury
of the United States an annual rental of $55,000 for the islands, and a revenue tax of
$2.62£ on each skin taken and shipped by them. In addition they were to furnish^
free of charge to the inhabitants of the islands each year 25,000 dried salmon, 60 cords
of firewood, and a sufficient quantity of salt and preserved meats. The company was
also to maintain a school on each island for at least eight months of the year, and
were forbidden to sell any distilled spirits or spirituous liquors.
Under the provisions of this lease the affairs of the islands were conducted until
the close of the season of 1889, when it expired. The Treasury Department again
advertised for bids and again leased the islands for a term of twenty years to a new
company, the North American Commercial Company, their offer having been accepted
as most advantageous to the Government.
The new lease differs from the old to the advantage of the Government in the
following points: The rental of the islands is fixed at $60,000. The tax of each skin
is $9.62£. Eighty tons of coal are furnished the natives. The quantity of salmon,
salt, and other provisions to be furnished can be fixed by the Secretary of the
Treasury. The company furnishes free dwellings, churches, physicians, medicines,
employment to the natives, and cares for the aged, the widows, and the orphans.
The quota was fixed at 60,000 for the first year, and has since been subject to the
regulation of the Secretary of the Treasury.
During the closing years of the lease of the Alaska Commercial Company a
marked decrease in the fur-seal herd had begun to be noted. In the opening year of
the new company's lease the depleted condition of the herd became apparent in the
reduction to one-fifth in the original quota of 100,000 skins. Various factors entered
into this decline, which it is not necessary here to discuss fully. These, as well
as the original cause of decrease in the herd, were at best but imperfectly understood
at the time.
To make the matter clear in the briefest possible space, at this point it is necessary
to review somewhat the history of the herd. Conjointly with the killing on land, as
practiced by the Russians and Americans, there had been going on from time immemorial killing of another sort now known as pelagic sealing.   This was carried on at 30 THE  FUR  SEALS   OF   THE   PRIBILOF  ISLANDS.
first by the Indians off the Northwest Coast, going out in their canoes to capture the
seals in the course of their winter migration. The number of animals so taken was
at first merely nominal, and it was not until about the year 1879, when schooners were
first introduced to transport the canoes to their field of operations and care for them
there, that the industry began to make itself felt on the herd. The rise of pelagic
sealing thereafter was rapid, and in 1880 it was extended into Bering Sea. From
this time on the killing at sea steadily increased, and as the bulk of the catch was
composed of females the operations of pelagic sealing necessarily produced an
injurious effect on the herd, which disclosed itself first in the diminished product of the
hauling grounds already noted.
At the first entry of sealing vessels into Bering Sea the United States acted on
the precedent established by Russia in the Ukase of 1821, seized a number of the
sealing vessels and confiscated them. Pelagic sealing being largely a Canadian
industry, this action at once started a controversy with Great Britain which extended
over the period from 1886 to 1890. Meantime the injurious effect of the slaughter of
large numbers of females was more and more evident in the herd, until in 1890 it became
alarming, the number of killable seals having decreased to one-fifth the usual number.
From the discussion of the seizures of Canadian vessels and the efforts of the
United States to secure protection to its fur-seal herd, resulted a treaty, in the spring
of 1892, remanding the whole matter to the consideration of a tribunal of arbitration
which should pass upon the legal questions involved, and if need be provide such
measures as were necessary for the proper protection and preservation of the herd.
As a basis for such action, provision was made for a thorough investigation of the
condition of the herd by a joint commission of experts.
This Tribunal of Arbitration met at Paris in the summer of 1893, and as a result
of its labors a set of regulations was formulated, the essential features of which
were the establishment of a closed zone of 60 miles in Bering Sea about the islands
and a closed season, from May 1 to August 1, within which all sealing was prohibited.
During the pendency of the deliberations of the Tribunal, pelagic sealing was in
part suspended. The season of 1894 witnessed the first operations of the regulations,
and the resumption of pelagic sealing under them showed an increased catch over the
unrestricted killing of 1891. The United States became convinced at the close of the
first season that the regulations were inadequate. A protest was entered and Great
Britain was asked to consider their immediate revision. At the close of each subsequent season this protest and request were again renewed. Failing to obtain such
reconsideration the United States early in 1896 accepted the proposal of Great
Britain to prepare for a reexamination of the regulations at the end of the five-year
trial period, by subjecting the whole question to independent scientific investigation
on the part of the two Governments. The present report is the outcome of this
investigation so far as the United States is concerned. CHAPTER III.
The little group of rocky islets known as the Pribilof Islands, from the name of.
their discoverer, is situated in the Bering Sea, in latitude 57° north and longitude
170° west.   They are isolated from other land, the nearest point to the south being!»
Unalaska Island, at a distance of 214 miles.   Cape Newenham, on the mainland of
Alaska, at a distance of 309 miles, is the nearest point to the eastward, while St.
Matthew Island, 220 miles away, is the first land to the northward.
The islands are of volcanic origin, and are five in number—St. Paul, St. George,
"Otter, Walrus, and Sivutch Rock. The first two only are of importance. The last
three are small islets lying about St. Paul Island and within about 7 miles of its
shores.   The main islands are separated by about 40 statute miles of water.
St. Paul, the largest island, lies in latitude 57° 07' north and longitude 170° 17'
west.* It has an extreme length from northeast to southwest of 13J miles. Its
maximum width is 7§ miles. It has a shore line of about 45J miles and an area
of 43 square miles. The surface of the island is in the main low. Rocky plateaus
alternate with low valleys, some of which contain ponds of fresh water. One of
these covers a space upward .of 2 miles in length by half a mile in width, but is very
shallow. It is shut in by sand dunes, and lies along the narrow neck which joins
the rocky headland called Northeast Point with the main body of the island. In the
southeast end of the island is a salt-water lagoon, covering some 169 acres in extent,
and connected with the sea by a narrow channel some 75 to 100 feet in width. The
average elevation of the upland areas is not more than 150 feet, but a number of cinder
cones and volcanic craters rise to varying heights in the interior portion of the island.
Bogoslof attains» an elevation of 590 feet, but Rush Hill on the west shore is the
highest, 665 feet. A number of shallow bays indent the coast line, bordered by long
stretches of sandy beach, behind which are areas of shifting sand dunes; but for the
most part the shores are bowlder-strewn and rugged, rising in sheer cliffs at the
St. George lies to the southeast of St. Paul at a distance of about 40 miles, in
latitude 56° 36' north and longitude 169° 32' west.* It has a total length of 12 miles
and a width of 4£ miles. The area is about 35.9 square miles, and it has a coast line
of 30 miles. The central portion of the island is composed of an elevated ridge
containing one peak over 900 feet in height.   The general altitude of the island
* Latitude and longitude of the village.
is about three times as great as that of St. Paul. The coast line is for the most part
a succession of steep, rocky cliffs, breaking at intervals into short stretches of rocky
slope. High Bluff, on the north shore, with an elevation of over 1,000 feet being the
highest. The perpendicular cliffs and crevices among the bowlders in the upland
portions of the island are the homes of innumerable sea birds. There are practically
no sand beaches on the island, and the shore space available for rookery purposes is
limited.   By blasting off the cliffs it might, however, be greatly extended.
Otter Island is situated on the south of St. Paul Island and about 6 miles distant
from it. It is said to be the only island.of the group which shows evidence of recent
volcanic action. Its area is very small, being less than 115 acres in extent. Its shores
are for the most part inaccessible. At the western end a cinder cone rises in a grassy
slope to the height of 300 feet and drops off in a sheer cliff on the seaward side. At
the eastern end is the pit of a crater, connected by a subterranean passageway with
the shore. On the northern face the surface of the island slopes down into a low,
rocky beach of limited extent, the only one on the island.
Walrus Island lies about 7 miles to the east of St. Paul. It is a narrow ledge of
lava rock about half a mile in length. It reaches no degree of elevation, and in
stormy weather the breakers wash over it. It is the home of countless numbers of
sea birds and was formerly frequented by walruses.    Sea lions occasionally laud there.
Sivutch Rock is a little crescent-shaped rocky islet about a third of a mile off the
southern shore of St. Paul. Its area is insignificant, but the island attains some
degree of importance through the presence of a small fur-seal rookery, which fills its
available space.
There are no harbors of any kind about the islands of the Pribilof group. The
bays are small and very shallow. In calm weather, however, there is anchorage for
small vessels at various points. In stormy weather it is impossible to load or unload
vessels of any kind with safety. Dangerous reefs are found about both islands, and
navigation in their vicinity is subject to many risks.
The climate of the Pribilof Islands in summer is damp and chilly. Dense fogs
almost constantly envelop them, rain falls frequently, and the sun is seldom seen.
The summer temperature ranges between 40° and 45° F., reaching its highest point in
August. During June, July, and August but few clear days occur. In September
the cold winds sweep away the moisture from the atmosphere and bright days become
more numerous. On a clear day the islands are extremely picturesque. Toward the
end of October the storms become more violent, and in November winter begins, the
change of season being very rapid. *i
During the winter much snow falls, but it is swept away by the high winds which
. prevail throughout the season. The winter temperature ranges from 22° to 26° F.
The waters about the islands do not freeze, but toward the end of the winter the drift
ice from the north floats down and incloses the islands, piling high upon the beaches
and in the bays under the action of the surf. It remains packed about the islands
until about the 1st of May, when it gradually disappears under the approaching
change of season.
The surface of the elevated portions of both islands is in summer clothed with
moss and grasses, in which are surprising numbers of showy wild flowers. Conspicuous among them are the Iceland poppy, monkshood, species of lupine, betony,
chrysanthemum, senecio, saxifrage, harebell, and many others. The lower parts
of the islands are covered with a soil of black lava sand, in which flourishes a coarse,
rank, useless grass—the wild rye grass (Elymus mollis). Mingled with it is the coarse
putchM, a species of Archangelica, used by the Aleuts as a spice. The abandoned
hauling grounds of the fur seals are rapidly invaded by two species of slender,
light-green grasses, Glyeeria angustata and Desehampsia ocespitosa, known as "seal
grass." These contrast sharply with the coarse, dark-green rye grass and a luxuriant
species of wormwood, neither of which grow on land where seals have regularly
hauled. About the rookeries themselves the movements of the animals virtually
destroy all vegetation. There are no trees or shrubs. A small, dwarfish willow and
a species of crowberry are the only approach to them that are to be found.
The principal mammals of the Pribilof Islands are the fur seals, which have
their breeding grounds on the rocky beaches of St. Paul and St. George islands. At
certain points on the islands are sea lion rookeries, and numbers of the animals are
at all times to be seen lying about among the fur seals. A smaller number of hair-seals
also frequent points about St. Paul Island. Formerly sea otters and walruses were
not uncommon, but they are now practically extinct. The blue fox is common to
both islands, and mingled with the blue foxes are a limited number of white ones.
Lemmings are found on St. George and shrews on both islands.
Myriads of sea birds breed on the roeky cliffs of St. George Island. Among these
are the cormorants, murres, and chutchkis, sea parrots and gulls. Walrus Island
is literally covered with these birds in the nesting season. Their eggs are gathered
by the natives in boat loads in the spring. About the little ponds in the interior
of the islands sandpipers abound. Phalaropes are numerous in the summer. Teal
and mallard ducks are found in the fall. Geese in limited numbers alight on St. Paul
to feed on the berries near north shore.   White owls have been found on both islands.
At the time of the discovery of the Pribilof Islands, in 1786, they were uninhabited.   In order to obtain laborers to handle the seals, natives were brought over from
the Aleutian Islands, and the first colony was established on St. George Island, near
Staraya Artel rookery, so called from this fact, the name meaning "old guild" or
association. Other villages were afterwards established on this island at Zapadni and
at Garden Cove.
In the course of time men were carried in similar manner to St. Paul Island, the
Aleutian settlements at Unalaska and Atka being chiefly drawn upon. The first
settlement on St. Paul was established at the foot of the large shallow Mishalke Lake
at the northern end of the island. Later settlements were located at Polovinna and at
Zapadni of St. Paul.
When, in 1799, the Russian-American Company came into control of the islands,
the various settlements on St. Paul were grouped into one at Polovina. Afterwards
they were transferred to the present location of the village, in order to be near the
most advantageous landing places. In like manner, the villages at Garden Cove,
Zapadni, and Staraya Artel were gradually broken up and the inhabitants grouped
on the present site of the village of St. George, on the northern face of the island.
Of the condition of the Aleuts in these early days of Russian control Mr. Elliott
They were mere slaves, without the slightest redress from any insolence or injuries which their
masters might see fit in petulance or brutal orgies to inflict upon them. Here they lived and died,
unnoticed and uncared for, in large barracoons, half underground and dirt roofed, cold and filthy.
This is probably not an extreme picture of the condition of the natives in Russian
times. The Aleuts at the present time look back to these as their halcyon days; but
this feeling may exist as the memory of indulgences which they are forbidden now.
It is certain that but little thought or care was bestowed upon them by their Russian
managers beyond seeing that they did the required work.
Under American control matters changed. The Alaska Commercial Company
early in the period of its lease erected suitable frame cottages, furnished with the
substantial comforts of life, which took the place of the cheerless and insanitary sod
houses, or barrabaras. . A physician with the necessary medical supplies was stationed
on each island to care for the wants of the people. Churches were erected and presided over by priests of the Russian-Greek faith. Schools in which the English
branches are taught were established. Wood and coal took" the place of the filthy
seal-blubber and driftwood fuel. The former exclusive diet of seal meat was supplemented by many of the staples and even luxuries of civilized living.
All the work of driving, slaughtering, and skinning the seals, as well as the curing
of the skins, is done by the Aleuts under the direction of the agents of the lessees.
They are paid by the lessees for this labor at so much per skin. Under the old lease
this was 40 cents, and for the 100,000 skins regularly taken this gave a fund of
$40,000 for the support of a total population of between 400 and 450, of both sexes
and all ages. At the present time the price is 50 cents a skin, but the number
of skins taken has greatly decreased. THE ALEUT PEOPLE. 35
The earnings of the natives are treated as a community fund, which is distributed
to the workers in several classes, according to their skill or experience. The amount
due to each family is credited to them on the books of the lessees and is drawn upon
by them through the island store as it is needed.
When, in 1890, the quota of seal skins fell to about one-fifth its former number, and
when it was still further reduced under the modus vivendi of 1891-1893, the income
of the Aleuts became so greatly reduced as to be inadequate to meet their wants. To
cover the deficiency the Government has each year since that time appropriated an
additional sum of money for their support. The liberal, not to say prodigal, character
of this allowance can be judged by the fact that for the season of 1896 these people
exhausted, in addition to their earnings, of about. $16,000, from the taking of seal and
fox skins, the full Congressional appropriation of $19,500. They pay nothing for rent,
taxes, or for medical attendance, and during the greater part of the year their meat
is free. There'are few laboring communities whose people can boast of such generous
conditions of support.
The original colony of Aleuts transported to the islands numbered, according to
Mr. Elliott, 137 souls. To these additions were made from time to time. In 1871
Captain Bryant tells us that the population of the two islands numbered 426 persons,
of both sexes and all ages. No new accessions have been made lately, and the
population has dwindled to slightly less than 300 at the present time.
The Aleuts are a gentle and tractable class of people. They are courteous in
their manners and unusually skillful in their work. They have the usual aboriginal
weaknesses for rum and the vices of civilization, but as a result of the isolated
position of the islands, and the strict control which the Government is able, through
its officers, to exercise over them, the people of St. Paul- and St. George are a
respectable and orderly class.
The interests of the Government on the islands are in charge of agents of the
Treasury Department, who supervise the work of the natives, look after their wants,
and enforce the authority of the Government. The natives are allowed, in large
measure, nominally to govern themselves. They have a head chief and second chief,
who deal directly with the people, and are in turn dealt with by the Government
agents. The relations of the people with one another are controlled by a council of
the wise men, chosen, like the chiefs, by the people themselves.
On the whole, the lot of the Aleut on the Pribilof Islands is an unusually favored
one. He works but a few months in the summer and is liberally fed and clothed by
the Government. If the seal herd is again restored to its former capacity, he may in
time even become wealthy. The chief social drawback in his relations lies in the want
of consecutive work. The lack of anything to do through the long winter induces
laziness and gambling. Even useless work if continuous would be a real boon to the
Wherever there is a rocky beach of some breadth or a sloping rocky hill on the
Pribilof Islands the fur seals have located their breeding grounds, or "rookeries," as
they are called. The best type of rookery ground is a moderate slope covered with
coarse rocks and descending to a beach of shingle or rounded bowlders. On these
beaches their gregarious habits cause the animals to crowd together in close-set
masses. The limits of the rookeries are defined by abrupt cliffs or headlands, which
cut off the beaches, by inaccessible cliffs that rise in the rear and by intervening sand
beaches. They seldom extend far back from the sea under any condition, as access
to the water is an essential feature.
Adjoining the breeding grounds and an essential part of each rookery are what
are known as the " hauling grounds" of the bachelors, frequented by the young males
of the ages of 5 years and under, these classes being strictly excluded from the breeding grounds. These hauling grounds are usually located on sandy beaches bordering
the breeding grounds or on the flat "parade" grounds above and in the rear of the
harems. In most cases the bachelors are forced to encircle the end of the breeding
grounds to reach their locations in the rear, but in some cases neutral strips or runways are left among the harems through which the bachelors haul out unmolested.
Not infrequently the bachelors seek to use runways which are not recognized as
neutral, and they are summarily thrown out by the harem masters. This leads to
confusion and fighting among the bulls, and the consequent destruction of females
and young pups. In many cases the hauling grounds are at a considerable distance
from the breeding grounds, but even where they are located immediately in the rear
of the harems, a buffer of idle or reserve bulls keeps them at a safe distance. The
young males have a wholesome and well-defined fear of the bulls, which experience
amply justifies.
In the present depleted condition of the fur-seal herd much ground once occupied
has been abandoned. The tendency of the animals, in obedience to their gregarious
instincts, is to crowd together, and as their numbers decrease the rookeries shrink
up. With the restoration of the herd these abandoned grounds will undoubtedly be
reoccupied. It is probable that the occupation of absolutely new ground could only
result from an overcrowded condition of the rookeries. Not all the available space on
the islands was ever occupied even in the time of greatest expansion, as there are
long stretches of suitable beach line on which seals have never been known to breed.
The following is a brief description of the breeding rookeries of St. Paul Island,
beginning at Northwest Point:
1. Vostochni* (eastern).—This rookery lies on the northern face of the peninsula of
Northeast Point.   It extends from the vicinity of Cross Hill, at the termination of the
* The different fur-seal rookeries have for the most part retained their picturesque Russian names.
It is very desirable that they should continue to do so, and it would be appropriate if Russian equivalents were substituted for the few English names which have come into use. In the spelling of the
Russian names we have followed the present accepted methods of transliteration under the advice of THE  ROOKERIES  OF  ST.   PAUL. 37
great sand beach known as "North Shore," to the tip of the point itself. It occupies
for the most part beaches of coarse bowlders, with occasional ontcroppings of harems
on the flat ground above. The line of harems is frequently broken by short stretches
of sand beach, which are used by the bachelors as runways to reach their hauling
grounds. On the seaward slope of Hutchinson Hill, which forms the highest part of
the peninsula, the rookery becomes greatly widened and closely massed. Late in the
season harems were even found at the summit of the hill.
From this point to the end of the rookery the harems scatter along the bowlder
beach in a narrow band. About midway to the end is a small sea-lion rookery. At
the eastern angle of Hutchinson Hill and on the sand beach behind Cross Hill are the
most important hauling grounds of the rookery, though at the present time, owing to
the numerous breaks in the lines of breeding seals, small pods of bachelors are to be
found at a large number of other places.
2. Morjovi (of the walrus).—The line of division between this and the preceding
rookery is a purely arbitrary one. At the point there is a considerable break in the
line of harems and behind is a small hauling ground. The harems resume and follow
along the bowlder beach as before for a short distance. Then a break occurs, with a
runway for the bachelors and another sea-lion rookery. Beyond this is the principal
portion of the rookery. It consists of a large body of harems closely massed and lying
back on the flat at the angle of the sand beach at Walrus Bight. Behind and to the
west of this mass is the great hauling ground of Morjovi rookery. Beyond the sand
beach scattering groups of harems occur on the sides of a long, narrow, tongue of land
jutting out to the eastward, called Sea Lion Neck. Another sand beach intervenes, and
the rookery ends in a considerable mass of harems grouped about a rocky point nearly
opposite Webster Lake, on the eastern side of the peninsula. An unimportant hauling
ground lies at the extreme end of the rookery.
Vostochni and Morjovi combined furnish the greatest continuous fur-seal rookery
on the two islands. Along their 3 miles of coast line are upward of 100,000 fur seals
of all classes, about one-fourth of the total number on the Pribilof Islands. From
the summit of Hutchinson Hill a bird's-eye view of the two rookeries can be had, and
the sight is a most impressive one. A greater number of fur seals (or for that matter
any other animals) is to be seen here than for any other point in the world. -
3. Polovina (halfway).—This rookery, as its name indicates, is located halfway
between Northeast Point and the village. The main part of the rookery lies massed
upon the beach and the flat above the cliffs that rise from the low reef of Polovina
Point and shade down with a gentle slope to the great sand beach which stretches
away 2 miles or more to Stony Point. At the angle of the sand beach the bachelors
make their way to the hauling ground in the rear of the massed portion of the rookery.
a competent Russian scholar, Mr. Alexis V. Babine, librarian of the University of Indiana. Much
confusion in the records has arisen through the current use of a Russian and English name for the
same place, as for example, Zapadni and Southwest Bay, Polovina and Halfway Point. We have in
each case tried to select the most suitable name for the purpose, and it is to be hoped that in the
future agents and others concerned will conform to the usage here adopted. We have given a separate
name to each of the three parts of what has been generally known as Zapadni. The great rookery
lying about the shores of Northeast Point has been divided for convenience at the tip of the point.
It has been thought best, because of the importance it has obtained through the frequent observations
made npon it during this investigation, to designate as Ardiguen rookery, a small detached breeding
area on Reef peninsula. dö THE  FUR   SEALS  OF  THE   PRIBILOF  ISLANDS.
Above Polovina Point extend steep cliffs with a narrow beach of shingle, along
which harems are scattered in detached groups. Occasional breaks or runways in
the cliff wall give access to the flat ground above, and at one or two points the harems
overflow on the level. At the last break in the cliff is a large hauling ground.
The cliff then closes in, and for a half mile leaves no room for the seals to lie. Again,
as at the southern end, the cliff shades off in a gradual slope to the sand beach, which
continues to the northward as far as Northeast Point. On this northern rocky slope
of the cliff is situated the small but picturesque rookery of Little Polovina, in reality
an overflow of the greater rookery. The Polovina rookeries have a population of
about 20,000 seals of all classes.
4. Lukanin (name of an early seal hunter).—From Stony Point to the southward is
the great sand beach of Lukanin. At its end rises the rocky slope of Lukanin Hill,
along which the rookery of the same name lies. At the northern end is the hauling
ground of the rookery. It is a favorite resort for the very young bachelors, a greater
proportion being found here than on any other rookery. Part of the breeding ground
lies at the foot of cliffs, which are easy of approach, and as the rookery is near to the
village it has been made the subject of close study by numerous observers.
5. Kitovi (of the whale).—This rookery is merely a continuation of Lukanin, from
which it is separated by the purely arbitrary boundary of Lukanin Point. The
rookery lies along bold rocks, basaltic columns, and slopes of cinder and lava. It
is an ideal rookery ground, as the slight mortality of pups indicates, only about 109
dead pups being found in 1896 in a total of 6,049. The hauling ground of this
rookery is unimportant, probably because the bachelors haul out with those from
Lukanin. The. few which haul out at Kitovi proper are found at the southern end of
the rookery, back of Kitovi Bay. Kitovi and Lukanin are in reality one great
rookery.   They represent a total population of about 25;000 seals.
6. Beef (Bussian, rifovoye).—At the southern end of St. Paul Island another long
narrow neck of land juts out, known as Reef peninsula. On the southern shore of this
peninsula is the great breeding ground known as Reef rookery. The harems lie along
the irregular beach for a distance of nearly a mile. In the central portion the seals
extend back in long, wedge shaped masses for a considerable distance over the gentle
slope strewn with large bowlders.
In the rear of the central portion of this rookery is the great hauling ground,
which lies in a hollow between two rocky ridges. Connecting this hauling ground with
the sea are four runways, which divide the rookery into five large masses. In two of
these runways occur ponds of water, which fill by the surf in the winter and become
indescribably foul in summer, as the bachelors wallow through them.
Reef rookery is one of the largest on the islands. It is separated from its fellow
(Gorbatch) on the other side of the peniusula by a broad flat upland, known as the
"parade ground." This parade ground occupies the highest part of the peninsula.
It extends back from the perpendicular cliffs at the westward end in a long easy slope
to the eastward, where it falls to the water's edge at the beginning of the rookery.
This space was a favorite playground for the bachelors of the two rookeries in the
palmy days, and the wandering bands of seals kept its surface bare. A few bachelors
still haul across it, but for the most part it is to-day overgrown with grass and weeds.
7. Sivutch (sea lion) Bock.—About a third of a mile off shore from Reef rookery
is a small crescent-shaped rocky islet.   Its southern side is an abrupt cliff, but to the THE ROOKERIES  OF  ST.  PAUL. 39
north it slopes back gradually to the water. This northern slope and such other
points on its surface as are accessible, are occupied by a small rookery of three or four
thousand seals. At either end of the islet is a hauling ground. On the southernmost
one the returning bachelors are said to haul out first in the spring.
Six miles farther off to the south lies the larger islet ealled Otter Island. This
is not a rookery proper, but contains a hauling ground, and is resorted to by bachelors,
probably from the rookeries of Reef peninsula. A few seals still haul there, and
during the season of 1896 a single harem of five cows with their pups was found
among them. This is the first record of breeding seals having occupied Otter Island.
No trace of the harem was found during the season of 1897. The hauling ground,
which lies on the northern face of the island, is one of considerable extent, and in
former times a large number of seals evidently occupied it. About 200 were founck
there at the time of our visit in 1896, and upward of a thousand in 1897.
<S. Ardiguen (pile of stones).—On the western edge of Reef peninsula, and just
north of the ultimate point, is an isolated concave rocky slope and beach overlooked
by high parapet-like cliffs, above the general level of Reef rookery, to the surface of
which the breeding ground ascends at one point in a " slide." The rocky beach, the
slide, and, in 1896, a part of the flat above were filled with harems. Other harems
extended along the narrow beach at the foot of the cliff, which everywhere rises sheer
from the western end of the peninsula. The wall-like rocks above the slide portion of
the rookery make it possible to watch the seals at close range without disturbing them.
It is the best point on the island for the observation of rookery life. Almost daily
observations, a record of which will be found in the Daily Journal (Part II), were made
upon it during the summer of 1896, and on this account it has been given a separate
name.   It has heretofore been included in Reef rookery.
9. Gorbatch (the hump).—This picturesque rookery lies on the north shore of Reef
peninsula and faces Zoltoi Bay. The steep cliffs on the western end, at Gorbatch
Point, break down in a long cinder slope, which rises rather steeply from the
shingle beach to the parade ground above. Along the bowlder beach and the foot
of the slope the harems lie close together, extending back at one or two points in
wedge-shaped masses. On the flat rocks at the point marking the beginning of the
bay is a favorite sleeping place for a few sea lions, and near by is an isolated rock on
whieh a small group of hair seals are usually to be seen hauled out.
To the northward the cinder slope shades into a slope of smooth rock, and this is
succeeded in turn by a slope eovered with great irregular bowlders. At the end of
this an abrupt cliff begins, and the rookery terminates in a long belt of harems on the
narrow beach at its foot. At the angle, where the cliff breaks down suddenly into
the sand beach of the bay, is the famous hauling ground known as Zoltoi, (golden)
(more correctly spelled Zolotoi), from its yellowish lava sands. This is the only
hauling ground for Gorbatch rookery, and in the days when the shores of the Reef
rookery were packed with harems it was practically the only hauling ground for the
two rookeries. Across the neck of the peninsula, which is here very narrow, is a small
cove-like beach frequented by bachelors, probably from the Reef rookery.
The nearness of Zoltoi to the village (about one-fourth of a mile away) has brought
its herds under constant inspection. The earliest and latest drives are always made
from this point. r
Reef and Gorbatch rookeries are in reality one great breeding ground. They
represent a total population, including Ardiguen and Sivutch Rock, of about 70,000
10. Spilki (the points).—This is the abandoned rookery space, which formerly
occupied the slope and beach of the hill back of the village of St. Paul. The
ground was occupied until about ten years ago as a rookery, when it was gradually
11. Lagoon.—This rookery is separated from the site of Spilki by a short stretch
of sand beach and the narrow channel connecting the salt lagoon with the village
cove. It is situated on a long reef of coarse bowlders, which has been gradually
pushed up by the ice until it has almost completely shut off the lagoon from the sea.
The rookery is a small one, having a population of only about 6,000 seals. There is
a small hauling ground on the rear or lagoon side of the reef, but no drives are made
from it.
12. Tolstoi (thick).—From the angle of the reef on which Lagoon rookery is located
the cliffs rise abruptly, leaving but little beach. At the bold point of Tolstoi Mys
or headland the rookery of this name begins, extending along the southern curve of
English Bay to the great sand beach at its foot. For a considerable distance the
harems lie on the narrow beach at the foot of steep cliffs. About the middle of the
rookery the cliffs break down in a long concave slope strewn with angular bowlders.
Back of this are sand dunes, and the wash from them has produced at the foot of
the slope a broad sand flat just above the bowlder beach.
This sand tract of Tolstoi has a denser population than is to be found on any other
rookery ground on the island. In the height of the season the crowded area is the
scene of constant fighting among the bulls because of the crowding of the harems.
The breeding mass extends part way up the slope, and in the latter part of the season
the seals move back from the sandy flat, leaving it bare.
At the back of the slope among the sand dunes is a hauling ground for the
bachelors. To reach it they must encircle the end of the rookery. A more important
hauling ground is situated on the sand of English Bay, just beyond the rookery.
Halfway along the curve of the bay is another hauling ground, known as Middle Hill,
which is removed from any rookery and is probably more or less common to all the
breeding grounds about English Bay.
On the whole Tolstoi is the most interesting of the rookeries, and offers the
greatest diversity of conditions of life.    It is also famous for the great mortality   •
among the young pups born there.   The view of the rookery from the sand dunes
to the eastward is exceedingly picturesque.
13. Zapadni (westerly).—This rookery, begins at the rocky cliffs of Zapadni
headland and extends along the convex shore to the sand beach of Southwest Bay.
It occupies the usual bowlder beach and extends back along the gradually sloping
upland. The seals are in many places massed in shallow depressions and gullies
which seam the rocky slope. In these places, as on the sand flat of Tolstoi, many
pups are killed. At different places in the course of the rookery are runways through
which the bachelors haul out to their grounds in the rear. The principal hauling
ground, however, is at the angle of the rookery with the sand beach of Southwest Bay.
14. Little Zapadni.-The sand beach of Southwest Bay intervenes between this
rookery and Zapadni proper.   It occupies a similar but smaller convex beach and THE ROOKERIES OF ST. GEORGE. 41
hillslope toward the east. The surface of this little rookery is rugged and broken in
the extreme, making it an ideal breeding ground. At its eastern end is the single
hauling ground, reached through the open space that lies between this and the
narrow breeding ground which occupies the reef beyond.
15. Zapadni Beef.—This rookery lies on a reef of bowlders similar to that occupied
by Lagoon rookery. The harems are grouped in scattered patches along the narrow,
rocky beach. At the end of the reef is a large hauling grouud which is also more or
less common to the younger bachelors from the three Zapadni rookeries. Here the
sand beach of English Bay begins, which stretches around to Tolstoi rookery.
These three breeding grouuds were originally one, but the decrease of the herd
has so separated them as to make it advisable to give them distinct names.   Their
combined herd is next in size to that of Reef Peninsula, having about 60,000 seals of
all classes.
At a considerable distance above Zapadni headland is an isolated hauling ground *
for the older bachelors and half bulls, known as Southwest Point.   A few still haul
out there, and a hair-seal rookery is situated on an islet offshore.   The place probably
never contained a breeding rookery.
16. Marunichen (personal name).—This is an abandoned rookery ground on North
Shore. It was never an important rookery, and has long been deserted. The oldest
inhabitant of the village of St. Paul simply remembers hearing it spoken of when he
was a boy. No cause was assigned for its abandonment. A herd of hair seals haul
out in the neighborhood of this old rookery.
The rookeries of St. George are five in number. They are smaller and less
important than those of St. Paul, containing only about one-sixth of the total number
of seals on the two islands. On account of the rugged character of the coast line of
St. George its rookery space is limited aud the conditions less varied. The harems lie
chiefly along broken cliffs, on basaltic columns, and bowlder-strewn slopes. Four of
the rookeries are grouped on the northern face of the island, while the fifth lies
isolated on the southwestern corner. Beginning with this last rookery, the following
is a brief accouut of the breeding grounds of St. George Island:
1. Zapadni (westerly).—This rookery lies along the rocky beach of Zapadni Bay,
ascending the slope of the long hill where the harems are located on flat benches of
rock. A part of the beach line lies at the foot of the cliff formed by the breaking off
of the hill. In the rear of the lower or beach portion is the hauling ground of the
rookery, reached by two breaks in the mass of breeding seals and extending inland
some distance.
2. Staraya Artel (old guild).—This is a very picturesque rookery, lying in a narrow
belt along the steep slope of a hill which breaks off in an abrupt cliff on the seaward
side. The beach at the foot of the rookery is a limited one, and the lower harems are
situated on shelf-like, rocky projections which gradually shade into the even surface of
the hill slope, on which the harems are closely massed. The hauling ground of the
rookery lies in the hollow formed by the inward sweep of the hill. In the hollow is a
small pond, once a lagoon, which the reef-like beach has cut off. Over this beach the
bachelors haul out and lie on the bank of the pond. 42 THE  FUR  SEALS   OF  THE   PRIBILOF   ISLANDS.
3. North (Russian, severnoye).—This is the largest of the rookeries of St. George.
It is located about midway between Staraya Artel and the village of St. George. The
rookery is the nearest one to the village, and therefore well adapted for observation.
It lies throughout the greater part of its length on the narrow beach at the foot of
perpendicular cliffs. Through occasional slides or breaks in the cliff wall the harems
draw back to the hill slope behind. The bachelors have runways at both ends of the
rookery and occupy the flat ground above and behind the cliffs.
r 4. Little East.—This is a rather small collection of harems located on the broken
slope formed by the breaking down of the cliffs, which from the village landing
eastward to this point rise perpendicularly. From this point the cliff curves inland
in a gradual slope, to appear again beyond east rookery at the eastern angle of the
island. The small hauling ground of the rookery is located at the eastern end. Little
East rookery resembles Little Polovina rookery of St. Paul Island both in size and in
its relation to the larger rookery of which it is a branch.
5. East.—From Little East rookery for a considerable distance to the eastward
the beach is low, and behind it lies a level plain covered with seal grass, and evidently
once hauled over by bachelors from both rookeries. East rookery begins in a long
line of scattering harems occupying the rocky beach. At the angle where the cliffs
resume, the harems are massed together on the slope and along the narrow bowlder
beach until cut off by the breaking out of the cliff.
The hauling ground of East rookery is in the rear of the first beach portion, and
is reached by several breaks in the line of harems. Along the beach portion of East
rookery the sea lions also haul out and lie among the fur seals, and at the point is a
small rookery located among the fur-seal harems. A larger and more important sea-
lion rookery is located on the southern side of St. George Island toward Garden Cove.  YOUNG MALE SEA LION.
Drawn from nature by Bristow Adams. CHAPTER   IV.
The fur seals, with their associates, the walruses and sea lions, constituting the
suborder Gressigrada* (Allen), are obviously related to the bears. The animals ;
comprising this group, among other characters, have plantigrade feet, the anterior
limbs modified as oars, and with rudimentary claws, if any. The posterior limbs
bend forward at the knee and the long, webbed toes extend beyond the claws. Only
the anterior limbs are used in' swimming. The head and neck can be elevated as
in the bear, and the external ear is moderately developed. The animal can run or
lope along the ground as do ordinary mammals, and with considerable rapidity.
Much misconception as to the nature and habits of the fur seals has arisen from
their supposed resemblance to the animals in the North Atlantic and elsewhere,
called "seals." The fur seal, however, has no close affinity with the suborder
Pinnipedia, to which the true or earless seals belong. The various forms of true or
hair seals constituting the group Pinnipedia have the feet not truly plantigrade, short,
with long claws. Only the posterior limbs are used in swimming, and these are not
susceptible of bending forward at the knee. The animal, therefore, can not walk or
lope at all, and only wriggles while on land. Its neck is short and it can scarcely
raise its head.   It has no external ear.
The internal structures of the animals show equally marked differences. The hair
seals, whatever their origin, must come from a different parent stock, and their
relation to land carnivora is more remote. Beyond the fact that both fur seal and hair
seal are carnivorous mammals, feeding on fish and adapted for life in the water, the
two types have little in common. In both species the thick blubber under the skin
goes with the life in cold water. The resemblances associated with aquatic habitat are
only analogies and have no value in scientific classification. In structure, appearance,
habits, disposition, and method of locomotion, they are entirely distinct, and their
evolution as pelagic animals has been along separate lines.
The fur seals of the world belong to two distinct groups or genera, closely, related
to the sea lions. One of these, the genus Arctocephalus, is widely distributed over the
Antarctic oceans, where its members formerly existed in vast numbers along portions
of the coasts of South America, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, as well
* Called Remipedia in our preliminary report, page 12, but the name Gressigrada i
includes the same forms. 44 THE   FUR  SEALS  OF  THE  PRIBILOF  ISLANDS.
as many of the pelagic islands of the Antarctic regions.* Perhaps the most northern
extent of this genus is the herd which formerly existed in considerable numbers on
Guadalupe Island, and other islands in its vicinity, where a remnant probably still
breed hidden in the caves and recesses of their shores.
The fur seals of the North Pacific belong to the second group, the genus Callorhinus. It is resident upon certain barren and rocky islands in Bering Sea and the
Sea of Okhotsk, unknown to aboriginal man, and, so far as we are aware, never
visited by man before the discovery of the Komandorski Islands by Vitus Bering in
1741 and the Pribilof Islands by Gerassim Pribilof in 1786. In addition to the
Komandorski and Pribilof islands, seals of the genus Callorhinus also occupy certain
islands of the Kuril group, and also the rocky islet known as Robben Reef, off the
coast of Saghalin.
Our first knowledge of the fur seals of the North comes from the account of Georg ~
Wilhelm Steller (1709-1745), a German naturalist, who accompanied Bering on the
Voyage which resulted in the discovery of the Komandorski Islands. During the
winter which the survivors of the ill-fated St. Peter spent on Bering Island, Steller
visited the south, or Poludinnoye rookery of this island and wrote an account t of the
fur seals or "sea bears" as he called them.
On Steller's description of the "sea bear" (Ursus marinus) of Bering Island,
Linnseus based his description of Phoca ursina, or the bear-like seal. From the
Linnsean name the fur seal of the North Pacific came to be called Callorhinus ursinus,
the type of the species being the Komandorski herd.
The fur seals of the North Pacific comprise three distinct herds, which do not
intermingle in any way, having distinct breeding grounds, feeding grounds, and
routes of migration.
The most important of the three herds is that which resorts to the Pribilof Islands.
These breed upon the islands of St. Paul and St. George during the summer, and in
winter pass down through the channels of the Aleutian Islands into the Pacific Ocean
in their migrations reaching as far south as the coast of southern California and
returning along the west coast of North America.
The next herd in importance is that resorting to the Komandorski Islands. These
breed upon the islands of Bering and Medni, passing in winter down along the eastern
coast of Japan and returning by the same route.
* A full account of the southern fur seals will be found in Part%II of this report.
t A translation of Steller's account will be found in Part III of this report. THE  SUBSPECIES  OF  FUR  SEAL. 45
The third herd is resident in the Sea of Okhotsk on Robben Island, where a
considerable remnant still exists, and formerly occupied other rookeries, now virtually
extinct, on four islands of the Kuril group—Musir, Raikoke, Srednoi, and Broughton.
The migration route of this herd lies in the inland sea of Japan.
The fact that the seals of the Pribilof herd differ from those of the Commander
Islands in color, in form, andin character of the fur has long been recognized. These
differences, though slight, are permanent and constant. As no intermediate forms
are known, and as the life courses of the herds are wholly distinct, apparently no
intermediate forms can exist. We may therefore hold that the herds represent
distinct species. As the Komandorski seals formed the type of Callorhinus ursinus,
the Pribilof seals may be taken to represent a new species, to which the name
Callorhinus alascanus may be given, and the Robben Island herd, likewise different,
may be called Callorhinus curilensis.
The description of this new species or subspecies is given in full in a special paper
which appears in Part III. It may be noted here that alascanus may be known by the
stouter, broader head, by the thicker neck, by the prevalence of warm, brown shades
in the coloration of the females and the young males, by the more silvery color of the
gray pups, which have the whitish patches on the rump* less than in ursinus. In
general it shows a lack of sharp contrast between the coloration of the sides and belly.
The fur is of superior quality and exhibits sufficient difference to make it possible for
the dealers handling the skins to distinguish them by this means alone. In alascanus
the claws on the foreflipper are undeveloped, being represented by pits in the skin.
The true ursinus has a slenderer head and neck. The females and young males
are sooty rather than brown, the light and dark shades being alike for the most part
without ochraceous tints. The belly is usually rather sharply paler than the back,
and the gray pup is more brownish and less gray than in the Pribilof animal, having
a pale patch on each side of the rump. The fore feet have two or three rudimentary
The seal of Robben Island and the Kurils, differs from both of the foregoing in
the whitish color of the under fur. This is rusty brown in ursinus and alascanus. It
is said also to have a broader head than ursinus and to exhibit other differences in
the quality of the fur, distinguishing the seals of Robben Island from either of the
other herds.
In the following discussion our attention will be directed chiefly to a consideration
of the Pribilof Islands seals. In Part IV of this report the herds of the Komandorski
and Kuril islands will be discussed in detail.
The eccentricities of the nomenclature of the fur seals have frequently been
noted. Attention is here called to the matter merely to avoid confusion. It is, for
example, incongruous that a "cow" should occupy a place in a "harem" on a
'.' rookery " and bear a " pup," which, if a male, should be known for the first four
years of its life as a "bachelor" and afterwards as a "bull." Moreover, it is absurd
that this animal, which is in reality more like a bear, should be called a " seal," thus
confounding it with a distinctly different animal. But these names are all so closely
identified with the animals and their history that it is useless to attempt to change
them, and so we may expect the "sea bears" of the North Pacific to continue to
produce "seal skins," which, though originally and properly taken only on land, will
remain the product of a "fishery."
The Russian names "sikatch" (grown bull), "polosikatch" (half bull), "holostiak"
(bachelor), "matka" (mother), and "kotik" (pup) are in common use among the
Aleuts on the Pribilof and Komandorski islands. These words form their plurals
in i, thus: sikatchi, holostiaki. The Aleut names "atagh" or "adakh" (bull),
"ennatha" (cow), " lakutha" (pup) are now used mainly by the native children.
The male fur seal or bull reaches full maturity at the age of about 7 years.
He is probably sexually mature at an earlier age, but does not possess the strength
and courage necessary to win and hold a place on the breeding grounds. The weight
of the adult bull is about 350 to 450 pounds. A typical animal measures about 6 feet
in length, has a girth over the shoulders of about 4J feet, and measures nearly 6
feet from tip to tip of the outstretched fore-flippers. In color the adult males vary
considerably, the general shade being blackish or dark brown, with longer hairs
or bristles of yellowish white. These are especially long and numerous on the
thickened back of the neck, forming the so-called " wig." The bulls are excessively
fat on their landing in the spring, but grow gradually lean and thin during the season
on land, never tasting food or leaving their posts during the breeding season. Early
observers made use of the appropriate name of "beachmaster" for the bull, a name
which deserves to be retained for its descriptive qualities.
The female fur.seal or cow is much smaller than the male. When fully grown she
measures about 4 feet in length, has a girth of 2£ feet over the shoulders, and measures
4 feet from tip to tip of the outstretched fore-flippers. The cow has a soft, smooth
fur of varying shades of grey, the younger females being usually, though not
always, silvery white underneath the throat. The cow bears her first offspring at
the age of 3 years, but her full growth is not attained until a year or two later.
Her average weight is about 70 pounds. The name "clap-match," used by early
explorers to designate the female, is now obsolete.
The young male or bachelor is very similar to the female in color, size, and
appearance until the end of the third year.   In this year his skin is at its best.   In
Drawn from nature by Bristow Adams.  HEAD OF FUR SEAL PUP.
Drawn from nature by Bristow Adams.  HEAD OF FEMALE FUR SEAL.
Drawn from nature by Bristow Adams.  HEAD OF A TYPICAL ROOKERY BULL.
Drawn from nature by Bristow Adams.  A TYPICAL ROOKERY BULL.
Drawn from nature by Bristow Adams. THE MIGRATIONS OF THE FUR SEALS. 47
the fourth year his neck begins to thicken aud develop the " wig."   After the wig has
appeared the skin depreciates in value, until in the adult bull it has no value as fur.
In the fifth and sixth years the young male grows rapidly, and in size and
appearance approximates the adult bull, but lacks his strength and courage. He
is then known as a "half bull." The males under 7 years of age are not allowed on
the rookeries, though they hang about the rear and in the water -in front of them.
The bachelors are forced to herd by themselves in separate bands on the hauling
In addition to the half bulls there is a class of males called "idle" or "reserve"
bulls. These are in no way different from the breeding bulls, but on account
of the lateness of their arrival, the unfavorableness of their location, or because of
defeat in battle, they have been unsuccessful in securing harems. They take up their
places in the rear of the breeding grounds, or as near to them as they can get, and
there they fight among themselves, watching for opportunities to invade the harems of
their more successful rivals, and occasionally forming small harems by capture. Late
in the season the idle bulls succeed to the posts vacated by the departing harem
masters and take charge of the late arriving cows and the 2-year olds.
. The seals of 1 year old of both sexes are known as yearlings. There is no marked
difference between the males and females at this age. The yearling males are found
in the latter part of July on the hauling grounds with the older bachelors. The
females come late to the islands and spend much of their time on the rookeries among
the young of the year. They do not associate to any considerable degree with their
brothers on the hauling grounds. The females of 2 years old are known as "virgins,"
and come on the rookeries late in July and early in August to be served by the bulls.
The young of the fur seal or pup is black in color at birth, sometimes with a
brownish strip under the throat and with a large whitish spot in the axil. Its weight
at birth is about 11 pounds, and it is comparatively helpless, though it becomes able
to care for itself in a short time. Its head is large in proportion to its body and
proves a serious handicap in the early efforts of the animal to learn to swim, an art
which it does not possess at birth. When the pup is about 3 months old it sheds its
black coat and takes on a new one of gray. By this has learned to swim well
and weighs 25 or 30 pounds.
In their annual movements the seals of all classes with few, if any, exceptions visit
each season the islands on which their breeding grounds are situated. The earliest
arrivals come about the 1st of May; the latest to depart go some time in December. 48 THE   FUR  SEALS  OF  THE  PRIBILOF  ISLANDS.
In the interval the offices of reproduction are accomplished. The females come and
go from the feeding grounds at intervals, caring for their young. The younger males
spend most of their time resting on the sand beaches, visiting the sea irregularly. In
November the females and young of the year leave the islands. The males, especially
the bachelors, remain until December and even January, in mild seasons probably not
all leaving the vicinity of the islands during the winter.
The adult males and the older bachelors spend the winter in the Pacific Ocean,
somewhat below the Aleutian Islands, and eastward in the Gulf of Alaska. The
younger males go farther south. The pups probably reach the latitude of Cape Flattery. The adult females go farthest south, being found as low down as the Santa
Barbara Channel, off southern California.
The southward trip of the seals must be rapid and more or less direct to the
turning point. The females do not leave the islands much before the middle of
November, but are taken in the latitude of southern California early in December. On
the return trip the movements of the animals are slower, the remainder of the winter
and spring being occupied in the northward journey along the coast, which they follow
at a considerable distance offshore. In December, January, and February they are
found off the coast of California. They are in the neighborhood of Cape Flattery and
Vancouver Island in March, April, and May; and in May and June they are found
in the Gulf of Alaska and along the southern coast of the Aleutian Islands. They
reach the islands at various dates according to the different classes of animals.
In this outline of the movements of the seals at sea only the general course of the
herd as a whole is traced. A more detailed account will be found in connection with
the migration chart prepared by Mr. Townsend and published in Part III of this
report. In Mr. Lucas's account of the feeding habits of the animals, also in Part III,
the movements of the seals on their summer feeding grounds are more fully given. s
The adult males arrive first at the islands iu the spring. Their appearance is
governed largely by the movements of the drift ice, which packs in about the islands
late in winter and remaius until the latter part of April, sometimes until late in May.*
In 1895, when the ice remained thus long about the islands, making the landing of
the bulls difficult, roads were cut in it, through which the animals hauled to reach
their stations.
The average date of the landing of the first bulls, as shown by the record in the
log of the islands, is about the 1st of May. Instances are recorded where the animals have landed on the ice and traveled in for a mile or more, taking up their places
on the snow-covered rookeries. The incoming of the bulls is gradual. They appear
almost simultaneously on all the rookeries, each being represented by one or two.t
The number increases, slowly during the early part of May, rapidly in the latter part.
By the middle of June, practically all of the regular harem bulls are located in their
places on the breeding ground. During the season of 1897 a count of bulls on North
rookery of St. George, June 7, gave 180, where 196 harems were found later in the
season. On Kitovi rookery of St. Paul, a count of bulls made on the 12th of June
gave 156, where 182 harems existed in 1896, and 179 later in the season of 1897 4
It is probable that the earliest bulls to arrive represent the veterans of many
seasons, and that those arriving subsequently come in the order of their ages. Thus
the young half bulls and the idle bulls as a class do not locate about the rookeries
until the time of landing of the cows. They then haul out around the rookeries to
places in the rear, or fight their way through the territory of bulls already in place.
Some of them are doubtless successful in displacing earlier arrivals, or in gaining
advantageous places on the breeding grounds. The young bulls for the most part
in the beginning of the season hang about the water front and try to intercept the
landing cows. It is only after the breeding season is well advanced that they are
seen in numbers about the rear of the rookeries, and even then they come and go
from the water more or less regularly.
* See extracts from log of St. Paul, Pt. II, under date of May, 1895.
t See extracts from log of St. Paul, Pt. II, May of any season.
± Daily Journal, Pt. H, under date of June 12. 50
The bachelor seals begin to arrive at about the same time as the bulls. Their
first appearance about St. Paul is usually on Sivutch Rock. The average date of the
first recorded food drives is about the 20th of May.* This, however, is not the date
of their first arrival, but the one at which the animals are out in sufficient numbers to
make a drive worth while.
The older bachelors come first. This is shown by the excess of older seals that
are turned back in the earlier drives, and the larger percentage of killed in the
number driven. This can best be made clear by citing the statistics showing the
animals rejected, large and small, and the average per cent of animals killed, for the
different dates during the season of 1897, on St. Paul Island:
Statistics of killings, St. Paul, 1897.'
Large.  Small.
144    119
130     26
550     184
402     214
376 214
288     224
107     90
229     175
301     306
355     551
97     115
140     638
216     661
391     586
180 |   412
377 I  1,174
500   2,047
161     698
352   1,380
491     890
221     545
298    1,114
383     708
118     456
350   1,440
y I:::":::::::::::::::
1 This record of rejected aniir
ired his presence constantly oi
ils was, for the most part, kept by Mr. John M. Morton, whose duty s
the killing field.
i Treasury agent
From this table it is apparent that among the rejected animals prior to July 9,
those too large for killing predominated. The large percentage of animals killed for
the total number driven shows that the greater proportion of the seals on the hauling
grounds at this time were of killable age. After July 9 the smaller seals began to
predominate, showing the advent of the 2-year olds and yearlings. About the same
relative number of animals were killed in the later drives, but owing to the increase
of little seals, the percentage steadily diminished from a maximum of 68 per cent to a
minimum of 15 per cent.
It is not until the 1st of June that the regular driving for the quota begins. At
this time the 3-year-old seals, from which the skins for the quota as a rule are taken,
* Log of St. Paul, Pt. II, May of any season. 1
begin to arrive as a class. About the middle of July the 2-year-old seals begin to
come in numbers, followed very soon by the yearlings, which swarm in large numbers
on the hauling grounds during the latter part of July. As the breeding season
advances the young half-bulls, which throng the earlier drives, withdraw from the
hauling grounds to the water front of the rookeries or take up places in their rear.
The arrival of the younger males in the latter part of July makes it advisable that
the driving for the quota should be completed as early in this month as possible. In
the early days of American control, when the seals were numerous, the quota was, as
a rule, filled before the 20th of July.
It is about the 10th of June that the adult cows begin to arrive.* Their appearance, like that of the adult bulls, is very gradual. In 1897 a cow appeared on East
rookery on June 3; a second cow joined her on the 7th; no others had arrived on
the 10th. On St. Paul, the first cow arrived on the 10th; a second appeared on the
12th, and after this date a few could be found at almost every point where harems
were located the previous season. So quietly did the cows come in and take their
places that, though the rookeries of St. Paul were kept under the closest scrutiny, and
many new cows were found at each inspection, it was more than a week before the
landing of a single cow could be noted.
This quiet and gradual incoming of the cows can best be illustrated by the record
of the daily count on Lukanin rookery:
Lukanin rookery, 1897.
1 present.
June 12                                  '      1            1
Thus, though cows began to arrive on this rookery on the 12th of June, by the
27th of June there was on the half mile of its shore front no more than 257 cows. At
this date few, if any, had begun to go to sea. When we contrast this number with
the total of about 3,000 cows which visited the rookery during the season, we get some
idea of the gradual arrival of the breeding females. These figures must also correct
the long current notion that they come in a body or in a succession of great waves.
* For details of the landing of the cows here described, reference should be made to the Daily
Journal in Pt. II, under date of June 12, 1897, and following. 52 THE  FUR  SEALS  OF  THE  PRIBILOF  ISLANDS.
It is probable that with the cows, as with the bulls, the date of landing is influenced
by age, the oldest coming first. The fact that the young cows are first impregnated
early in August, coupled with the fact that pups are born as early as the 10th of June,
shows that there must be a gradual recession of the date of delivery, which may
reasonably be supposed to correspond to the increasing age of the breeding animals
The observations of the season of 1897 must also correct the tradition that the
first appearance of the cows is the signal for a general battle among the bulls for their
possession. Nothing could be further from the truth. There was in 1897 no general
disturbance at this time nor during the month of June. No general recognition of
the arrival of the cows was made by the bulls. The landing female reconnoitered the
shore, swimming backward and forward until she was satisfied of the location, and
then landed on the rocks, being taken in charge by the nearest bull. If the bull
discovered the landing cow and attempted to secure her, she escaped to the water if
she could; if not, she submitted to the inevitable, and took up her place beside him.
Sometimes the escaping cow was overtaken by the bull and carried back. K the cow
escaped, she usually returned to the same place, and in time was located there.
This represented the method of the earliest arrivals. The choice of the cow was
limited to the place of landing. When a bull once obtained a cow, his harem became
the objective point for all cows landing in its vicinity. The landing cow came in
quietly and took her place among the others, in most cases without even the knowledge
of the bull whose circle she joined. When he became aware of her presence, he gave
her a cordial welcome, taking occasion to round up his harem and to show the new
arrival marked attention. As a result of this desire Of the cow to join the crowd,
it happened that large harems were formed at favorite landing places which grew
constantly in numbers, though the shore front on either side remained for the time
being entirely wanting in cows. On all the massed rookery portions this became the
regular method of development.
The large mass of breeding seals on Tolstoi sand flat* was originally a single
harem, which in the course of time numbered upwards of a hundred cows in charge of
a single bull. So long as the cows lay quietly resting before and after the birth of
their pups the single bull was able to control them all. . But in time the task became
too great, and when the cows began to come in heat in numbers, he soon lost control
of them. The idle bulls about him entered the circle. He was unable to exclude
them, and in time a large number of bulls controlled the mass in common, apparently
without clearly defined harems. With the podding and scattering of the pups and
the influx of new cows, the seals became spread out over larger areas, and new bulls
were taken into the circle until the farthest limit of expansion was reached.
What was true for Tolstoi was true also for the great breeding masses on the
other large rookeries.   Under Hutchinson Hill, the great mass occupying this space
* See plate opposite p. 40.   m il  ■^ Ife   THE  HEIGHT  OF  THE  SEASON.
was, on June 28, represented by four of these monster harems located at intervals
along the shore and projecting but slightly above the bowlder beach. They were then
on the point of breaking, and already around the edges were numbers of small harems
of one or two cows which had plainly been stolen from the larger mass. In the
course of a few days thereafter the disintegration of these abnormal harems began, and
they became broken up into numerous smaller families under hitherto idle bulls. The
seals later became spread back over the entire flat. A similar course of development
marked the formation of all the large masses on Reef rookery.
Where the rookeries occupied the narrow bowlder beach, as on Kitovi and Lukanin,
Lagoon or Gorbatch, the distribution of the harems was more regular, and when the
period of scattering and fusion came, they were united in a more or less even band^-
throughout the entire length of the rookery.
With a view of determining the relative condition of the rookeries from day to
day, daily counts were begun on Lukanin and Kitovi rookeries with the first arrival
of cows and were kept up throughout the season, or from June 12 to July 31. A part of
the record of these counts has already been given to illustrate the arrival of the cows.
The full record will be found in Appendix I. The following is a synopsis of the count
on a part of Kitovi rookery known as the Amphitheater:
Synopsis of Kitovi rookery, 1897.
These counts show that the population of breeding cows gradually increases from
the beginning of the season, about June 10, until a climax is reached about the middle
of July. It then decreases until at the close of the breeding season, about August 1,
it numbers about one-half the maximum population present at any one time, or about
one-fourth of the actual rookery population. There is a temporary fluctuation during
the first ten days of August, while the virgin 2-year-old cows are present on the
rookeries. For the rest of the season the adult population remains at about the
point reached at the end of July, probably varying more or less from day to day
according to the condition of the weather.
It had until 1896 been currently believed that at the period known as the "height
of the season," say from July 10 to 20, rookery conditions were fixed and all or practically all the breeding animals present. The counting of pups in August in 1896 first
dispelled this error, by showing that the pups outnumbered two to one the breeding
females counted in the height of the season. 3»
The daily counts of the breeding season of 1897 may here again be cited to give
an idea of the real condition of the rookeries at their maximum. The following figures
are for that part of Kitovi rookery called the Amphitheater, which contained,
according to the count of pups made on August 3, about 1,245 breeding females for
the season:
Amphitheater of Kitovi.
678   1
Such is the height of the season. The actual count shows a difference of 6 per
cent between its beginning and its maximum and a difference of 38 per cent between
the maximum and its close, while between two individual days of the period there is
as great a difference as 20 per cent.
Nor is the fluctuation in individuals all that is to be noted in this consideration of
the height of the season. The following count of harems on this same breeding
ground shows equally important results:
Amphitheater öf Kitovi, 1897.
It is thus apparent that during this time of supposed rookery stability the
number of harems underwent quite as marked a change as did the number of individual animals composing them. The daily observations of this breeding ground and
frequent photographs of its area show, moreover, that the extent of ground occupied
grew steadily from day to day.
What the height of the breeding season really means, therefore, is a time in
rookery development when the stream of incoming cows about equals the stream of
outgoing oues. It is the time when the greatest number of cows are actually present
at one time.   It marks the maximum of rookery development, which probably covers 1
no more than a single day. In observing the rookeries the eye can not adjust itself
readily to the change, and the result is that the period seems to comprehend several
From about the 10th or 12th of June onward new cows are constantly arriving
on the rookeries. About ten or twelve days after her arrival each cow goes away to
feed for the first time. The first arrivals and first departures therefore run roughly in
parallel lines. A disturbing element is brought in by the return of cows from feeding
and their subsequent departure and return at intervals. All these various elements
result in a period of apparent equilibrium at about the 15th of July, which is the
height of the season.
That this period of rookery development should have been misunderstood is not
strange, since the matter was never before tested by mathematical standards.
Events in rookery life, though recurring by the thousands, are difficult of observation.
Their very multitude distracts the observer. -In the summer of 1897, at the maximum
period of rookery life, when thousands of pups were being born, the closest observations, extending at times'through nine hours a day, failed to disclose the actual
birth of more than a dozen pups. Under this same close scrutiny it was a week
after the first landing of cows before one could be discovered in the act, and a much
longer period elapsed before the departure of one could be observed. General
observations of the rookeries have therefore only relative value unless they are
checked by figures. They can be trusted to show large results, but can not be relied
upon to indicate normal changes. To get definite results, exact enumerations and
minute observations are necessary.
Within a period of from six to forty-eight hours after her arrival the cow gives
birth to her pup. After a further period of five to six days she comes in heat and is
served by the bull. Five to six more days pass, during which time the pup grows
rapidly and becomes able to take care of itself; then the mother goes to sea to
bathe and feed. Her first return is possibly within three or four days. Of her
subsequent returns no record has been possible, but from the gradual decrease in the
number of cows present after the height of the season is reached, it must be inferred
that the time of absence lengthens as the pup grows older and is able to remain
longer without food. As the cow does not leave the harem until after impregnation
it necessarily follows that adult cows whenever found at sea are pregnant.
When the cows first enter the water after their long rest on the shore they exhibit
every evidence of genuine satisfaction and pleasure. They do not at once swim away,
but play about, rolling over and over in the water, scratching and rubbing themselves
with their flippers, getting thoroughly cleaned from the filth of the rookeries. This
done, the animals swim away to the feeding grounds.
During the breeding season a band of sleeping, playing, or swimming seals
skirts each rookery front.    Some are plainly bachelors, but most are cows.    This 56 THE  FUR  SEALS'  OF  THE   PRIBILOF  ISLANDS.
band of seals evidently represents the animals preparing to depart and those just
arriving. No one ever sees a seal landing directly from the sea; and one seldom sees
a seal leave the rookery to go directly out to sea, though at a distance from land, as
on our trips to Otter Island, numbers of the animals were seen going rapidly out to sea
and coming in in the same direct manner. The incoming seal doubtless. quietly
joins the outer edge of the group of swimming seals, becoming oue of them in their
motions and pastimes, gradually working to the shore when ready to go on the rookery.
The departing seal, in like manner, evidently takes its place among the swimming
seals and when ready slips away from them on the outer side.
The tendency on the part of the seal on first going into the water to loiter and
enjoy a bath accounts for the delay of the departing seals; but in case of the arriving
seal something more definite must keep the tired animal, eager for her hungry pup,
from landing at once. The reason for this seems to lie in the feeding habits of the
animals. The bachelors, as has long been noted, are never found with food in their
stomachs, whether taken on first landing in the spring or later in the season. It has
been erroneously supposed on this account that they fasted more or less throughout
the season. In the summer of 1896, however, a large number of cows were either
directly killed or examined after accidental death and their stomachs also found to
be devoid of food. Even the stomach of a cow dead from choking on a fish bone was
empty.   The cows are, of course, absolutely known to feed.
It seems necessary, therefore, to find some more rational explanation for the
absence of food in the stomachs of animals taken on land. This explanation seems
to be that digestion with the fur seal is completed in the water, and that if not so
completed before it reaches land, the animal loiters offshore until it is accomplished.
This explanation accounts for the empty stomachs of bachelors as well as cows. It
also explains the reason why the cows do not come directly on shore from the sea.
The fact that digestion is thus accomplished at sea also accounts for the relatively
small amount of excrement to be seen on the rookeries compared with the number of
animals.   It is voided at sea.
In the investigations regarding the feeding of pups carried on during the fall of
1896 some additional light was thrown on this subject. Where the animals were
killed while swimming or sleeping in the water, they were found almost without exception to be well filled with milk. Where they were killed on the rookeries, they were
as a rule empty or had little milk. The conclusion seems warranted that the little
fellows, after learning to swim well, spend most of their time in the water after feeding
and come on shore when hungry to await the return of their mothers. That their
presence in the water was connected with the digestion of their food was borne out by
the fact that in October, when hundreds of pups were playing and sleeping just offshore from the sand beaches of Zoltoi, Lukanin, and English Bay, the sands were
strewn with pup excrement washed up by the receding tide, together with the shells
and pebbles.
I 1
IK :
\\\ \VHl/1\ *
It is of course known that the fur seals are probably capable of abstaining from
food for greater or less periods. Thus the cows evidently do not leave the rookeries
on their first landing within ten to twelve days. Whether such periods of abstinence
from food are regular or not, we do not know; but that the bachelors and cows
do not fast for any considerable part of the summer is plain, if for no other reason,
from the fact that they maintain a uniform condition throughout the season, always
showing a plentiful supply of blubber, but appearing in no better condition at one
time than another.
The bulls, on the other hand, which do undoubtedly fast, on coming ashore in the
early spring are loaded down with blubber, which is gradually absorbed, leaving the
animal thin and greatly reduced by the time the breeding season is over. There is
abundant reason why the bulls should fast, for it would be impossible for them to
leave their places, and nature has made provision for their necessities. A similar
provision seems to be made for the period of fasting which the newly weaned pup
must probably endure after going to sea on the winter migration, before it has become
proficient in the new art of fishing. During the months of October and November,
and up to the time of their departure, the pups grow excessively fat.
The unit of life on the rookeries is the harem. The rookeries themselves are
merely great bands or masses of harems grouped together along suitable beaches.
The average size of a harem, as found from the enumerations of 1896 and 1897, is about
thirty females to a single bull. The minimum and maximum limits range from a
single cow to 150. The single cow harems are formed generally in proximity to large
harems, and are as a rule the result of stealing on the part of idle bulls. Such bulls,
when the harem master's attention is taken from his charges, rush in, seize and carry
off cows bodily. It is rarely that such pirate harems can be made to exceed a
single cow, as the animal must be held against her will, and in the effort to secure a
second the first one usually escapes. Sometimes, however, through the voluntary
desertion of cows from the large harems, it happens that these small harems rival the
original ones in size and are again subject to pillage by other idle bulls still further
in the rear. These small harems are found chiefly in the rear of and on the flanks of
the large breeding masses, such as on Tolstoi, Reef, and Vostochni.
The excessively large harems are the result of accident or favorableness of location rather than strength or prowess in the bulls. They are to be found in isolated
stations and where peculiar angles and turns of the breeding ground hem them in.
Thus on Gorbatch rookery a large bull held in his charge a group of 150 cows for a
week or ten days.* When allowance is made for absentees, this harem must have
numbered between 200 and 300 cows. Behind this bull and his family were a score
of idle bulls lying about on the cinder slope. The secret of his success lay simply in
the fact that the harem occupied a triangular piece of ground bounded on two sides
by precipitous cliffs, and it was only necessary for the bull to guard the neck of land
* Daily Jouraal, Pt. II, under date of July 15, 1897. THE  FUR  SEALS  OF  THE  PRIBILOF  ISLANDS.
connecting with the slope. He, however, held the cows only during that period when
they are quiet and resting after the birth of their pups. When the animals became
restless and demanded attention in numbers, the large mass was presently broken up
into a number of smaller harems in charge of the rival bulls, which could no longer
be held in check.
But such large harems were exceptional, though harems numbering 50 cows were
not so rare where the conditions were favorable. The following is a seetion of Kitovi
rookery, counted by individual harems, which will give an idea of the diversity in
their size:
tion of
ry, July 13,
In the management of the harem the bull is an adept. Whether he has five cows
or fifty, he is master of the situation. His will is law. Not that it is always tamely
accepted as such, but the result is the same. If a cow becomes restless and moves
about, a warning growl usually quiets her. If the movement is persisted in and an
attempt to escape evident, the bull is up at once with a show of fierceness and in
chase. He may simply strike the cow down with his open mouth. Often in doing so
his sharp canines tear a gash in her skin. He may even seize her in his mouth and
deliberately throw her or carry her back into the harem. If the cow thinks she has a
chance to get away, she may try to outrun the bull. If she miscalculates the distance,
he seizes her by the skin of the back and restores her, sometimes in a torn and bleeding condition, to the family circle. As a rule, however, the cow avoids this seizure by
turning and facing the bull, biting him in the breast and neck. The bull then, by
gradually pushing her before him, forces her back into the fold.
These persistent efforts to get away are made by the cows who are ready to leave
for the water. The cows are not allowed to go until they are served. The bull's
actions seem to be based upon a desire to be absolutely sure and to take no chances.
The cow, when forced against her will to stay, bides her time, and when' the bull is
asleep she slips away unmolested. It frequently happens that she has to run the
gauntlet of a band of young bulls which are stationed along the water front and are
always ready to intercept the departing cow. The cow shows much skill and shrewdness in outwitting them.   Once in the water her superior quickness enables her to DISCIPLINE  OF  THE  BEACH  MASTERS. 59
outswim her pursuers. In one or two instances a chase of this sort could be traced
for a half mile or more out to sea by the dolphin leaps of the animals as they rose
above the surface to breathe. These instances were chiefly to be seen late in June,
before the band of seals off the rookery front was large enough to furnish protection
to the departing cows.
In the ordinary discipline of the harem a growl from the bull usually quiets the
cows. This growl is also forthcoming when the cows quarrel among themselves, as
they frequently do. Sometimes it is necessary for the bull to get up and quiet them
by chuckling and scolding over them, apparently in a tone of remonstrance.
At times, even when his cows are all asleep, the bull rouses himself up and by
encircling his harem and whistling, chuckling, and snarling starts the cows up and
crowds them together. No apparent reason for such action can be seen. It seems on
the face of it an unnecessary exhibition of authority, which, however, may serve some
purpose. Having rounded up his harem, the bull may return to his favorite sleeping
spot to resume his nap, or he may pick a quarrel with his neighbor.
At times the young bulls, in attempting to reach the rear of the rookeries without
going around, break through the line of harems. Their entrance into the rookery
confines sets everything in an uproar. Each bull into whose domain he comes attacks
the intruder and passes him along to the next. Occasionally some over-valiant bull
goes too far from his harem. The idle bulls are on the alert and seize the occasion to
carry off cows. In very rare instances an idle bull may step in and take the whole
harem, whipping out its rightful owner when he attempts to return. So, over the
whole section of the rookery thus stirred up, fighting ensues and confusion reigns.
In the height of the breeding season such incidents are of hourly occurrence.
It is in the height of the season, and then alone, that the excessive fighting
among the bulls occurs. It has been currently supposed that from the period of the
landing of the-first bulls they were engaged in defending their positions in bloody
battles; that a truce resulting from these first contests for places was gradually
established; that this was broken on the arrival of the first cows, when a period of
desperate and spasmodic fighting began.
Such, however, was not the case in 1897, and has probably never been the case.
As the bulls spend the days> after the breeding season is over, in resting and sleeping
in good fellowship on the sand beaches, so they seem to spend the period of waiting,
prior to the arrival of the cows, in sleeping and resting. At the time of our landing
at St. George, on June 7, it could not be determined from the deck of the vessel,
anchored but a few rods off the rookery, whether it was occupied or not. With a
glass a few bulls could be seen. On close inspection the beach was found to contain
180 adult bulls evenly distributed over the rookery territory. When disturbed they
roused up and roared both at the intruder and at one another; but they soon returned
to their sleep. There was no commotion, no excitement. When pressed too closely
they gave evidence of willingness to yield their ground.   No test of whether they could 60 THE   FUR  SEALS  OF   THE  PRIBILOF  ISLANDS.
be driven off was deemed advisable. There was no fighting among them at that
time nor any apparent inclination to fight voluntarily. That no marked fighting
had occurred previous to this time was evident from the fact that but few wounds or
fresh scars could be seen upon the animals. In this regard they were in marked
contrast to their condition in the middle of the season, when the harem bull or idle
bull that did not show gashes about the breast and shoulders was the exception and
not the rule.
At this early date the bulls not only did not pay any attention to one another,
but even allowed the bachelors to occupy places among them and to haul out where
they pleased. Later in the season this could not have occurred. A bachelor or young
bull then appearing within range of an adult bull was violently attacked.
As the description of the arrival of the cows has already indicated, there could
be nothing more incorrect than the reported battles over them. To the first arrival
of the cow the bulls are utterly indifferent except where she becomes the object of
capture by a particular bull. Once in the harems, the cows receive little attention even
from their lords after the first brief welcome and absolutely none from other bulls.
This was but natural. The landing cows were heavy with young. These must be
born and a period of a week elapse before they could become an object of interest to
the bull. The attitude of the bull at the outset was oue merely of defense or struggle
for possession.   He was not influenced, as he was later on, by sexual excitement.
The real period of struggle and contest on the rookeries occurred after the 1st of
July, when the cows began to come in heat in large numbers. From this time on to
the close of the season more Or less fighting could always be seen.
When the breeding season was over and the bulls had returned to the sand beaches
from feeding, their fighting instincts were plainly gone and they could be gathered
up and driven about like the bachelors. In securing specimens for dissection or other
purposes, two or three men could round up from 400 to 500 bulls on Zoltoi sands and
drive them over to the killing grounds. They could be handled and driven exactly
as sheep are. In the breeding season a dozen men eould not move one of these bulls
from his place or make away with him otherwise than by killing him. His courage
and fighting qualities are simply boundless in the defense of his harem. He will not
interfere with the observer who keeps at a reasonable distance, but when too closely
approached he will charge fiercely and quickly, and the adult bull on the breeding
grounds is about as dangerous as a bear. Judging from the way in which they tear
one another, a man would fare badly in their clutches. The bull, however, does not
follow up his enemy beyond a certain point, and always returns to his real or imaginary harem. This makes escape an easy matter. The chief source of danger in getting
about among the bulls is in the possibility of slipping or stumbling on the rocks, or
of running into the range of a sleeping animal while escaping from another. One can
not-always easily distinguish, in the foggy atmosphere of Bering Sea, the idle bulls
from the stones among which they lie. That no accidents have occurred to the various
investigators from the attacks of bull seals is due to the wholesome caution and respect
which their courage and apparent capacity for mischief have inspired. .*'.'■ v
i'Hrt  ■^
Drawn from nature by Bristow Adams.  FIGHTING  OF  THE  BEACH  MASTERS. 61
Much of the so-called fighting, especially among the harem bulls, is a species of
"bluffing" accompanied by a good deal of roaring and blowiug, but ending without
injury. The signal for such a performance is a challenging roar on the part of some
bull and an answering roar from the challenged bull. The two animals approach
each other, and when at a certain distance apart, both strike out with that long
serpent-like stroke characteristic of the seal. In making the stroke the bulls let
themselves down with their breasts on the ground, and, after puffing out their musky
breath, which forms a cloud in the coolr moist air, they right themselves and, standing
for a minute with averted heads, return to their places.
These are merely exchanges of friendly greetings between the harem masters.
Between the harem masters and the idle bulls, or between individuals of the latter
class, the matter is more serious. The same preliminaries are gone through with,
but the stroke does not fall short and end in fiasco. The aim is taken for the
foreflipper at the angle of the body, and if it is true, a deep red gash is the result.
But the animals are expert in averting the attack by throwing the flipper under the
body. Failing in reaching the coveted point of attack, a compromise is made, each
animal seizing the other by the skin of the shoulder or breast, wherever the hold can
be obtained. They then clinch and tug and strain in their efforts each to overturn
the other or to push him from his place. The strength of the powerful jaws is such
that not infrequently a great gaping rent in the tough hide is the result. If, however,
the hold is firm, and one animal is strong enough to push the other, this ends the
fight, the one yielding giving it up. If the animals are more evenly matched, after
each clinch they return to renew the struggle in a species of rounds, gauged by the
endurance of the bulls. They are soon fatigued on land, as they have difficulty in
getting breath, and any exertion must be of short duration.
That some of these fights are continued until one or the other of the animals dies
of exhaustion, is abundantly proved by the bodies of dead bulls found on the rookeries
and especially in that territory occupied by the idle bulls. On Zapadni rookery no
less than ten of these animals, freshly dead, were seen about the middle of July. The
bodies were torn and gashed, but none of the wounds were capable of causing death,
which probably resulted directly from exhaustion.
The fights between the harem masters and the idle bulls are at bottom due to the
attempts of the latter class to steal the cows. When an idle bull steals a cow, he
is usually attacked by her master. Sometimes he drops the cow, which returns
to the harem while the bulls settle the account. It sometimes happens, however,
that the master or perhaps a third bull seizes the cow and she is pulled about until
one or the other hold loosens. Doubtless a certain number of cows are literally
torn to pieces in this way. One was seen on Kitovi rookery to lie limp and insensible
for five minutes after being thus treated. She afterwards crawled away, evidently
seriously hurt. That the number of cows killed by the bulls in their struggles or by
the rough treatment of the harem masters is considerable is shown by the fact that 62 THE   FUR   SEALS   OF  THE  PRIBILOF  ISLANDS.
no less than 42 dead cows were found in the season of 1897 on Reef rookery, the
majority of which were so torn and mangled as to point to the harsh treatment of
the bulls as the probable cause. Other cows were found dead from similar cause
on all the rookeries.   In 1896 131, all told, were thus counted.
The bulls are anything but gentle with the cows. Examples of their rough treatment can at any time be seen on the rookeries. Living cows, cut and slashed and
torn, are everywhere visible. In most cases the injury is due probably to accident
rather than intention. In one case, however, on Lukanin rookery during the summer
of 1897, a bull simply bit and worried a stolen cow until he killed her. When first
seen she was considerably torn, having been stolen from a neighboring harem by her
master, an idle bull. She was restless and kept making constant efforts to escape.
The bull treated her roughly, but while observed was not seen to injure her seriously.
At every time the rookery was subsequently inspected, however, she was found to be
in worse condition, until after two days she was found dead. The bloody jaws and
front of her master showed plainly who was responsible. The body was recovered
and the skin taken and tanned as a specimen of the wanton cruelty of the bull.
The attitude of the fur seals toward their wounds is striking. There is no attempt
to nurse, lick, or otherwise notice them. A bull, whose foreflipper is hacked and
bleeding, his every movement lacerating still further the injured muscles, may be seen
rushing about, rounding up his harem, bidding defiance to every idle bull within
reach. A cow may be seen going about with a flap of skin 6 inches square torn from
her back. A pup was seen from whose side the skin and blubber was torn and
hanging in a flap, leaving the intestines bare, and it was still a lively and apparently
cheerful pup. A bull in attempting to carry off a cow from a harem was attacked by
the owner of the cow. Instead of dropping her and defending himself he clung to
her and took his punishment, struggling on. The harem master seized him by the
exposed flank, and when he released his hold, after almost overturning the bull, the
blood gushed out from the holes made by his ugly canines. The thief escaped with
the cow and added her to his small harem of two. In his self-satisfied perambulations
about his family group he soon made a space of about 10 feet square crimson with his
blood. The next day the bull was just as pugnacious as ever, and even made an
attempt to steal a fourth cow. His wounds, of which he had many, were a source of
no apparent annoyance to him.
The thick coating of blubber under the skin with which the seals of all classes are
lined is doubtless not very sensitive, and this, not the muscles, is torn and lacerated.
The climatic conditions, the salt water, and the absence of flies render the healing of
the wounds rapid, and by the middle of August but few traces remain, except the
welt or scar in the skin which at times results from imperfect healing. The wound
which so many bulls receive at the angle of the foreflipper is usually kept gaping open
to such an extent by the movements of the animals that a perpetual scar remains.
The fighting among the bulls has evidently been a feature of the breeding grounds
so long that it has become an instinct with the males. On every hauling ground the
bachelors of all ages are constantly going through in play the movements of their mfi  1
J \
<   /
Jl'l    ■ *   I , V / >
JULY, 1897.
elders. By twos they are striking for the foreflipper or dodging the blow, bracing and
pushing and struggling with each other. They pant and strain, rest for a time, and
then resume the contest.
This same thing is true of the little pups. As soon as they are able to play at
anything it is bull fighting. The little black head of the 2-weeks-old pup strikes
out for his neighbor's foreflipper, which involuntarily tucks itself under the body, and
the little yellow teeth close on the fur of the neck and pull and tug until their owner
has put to rout its antagonist or been routed. In each case, while it is plainly play,
it is such dreadfully earnest play that one can only distinguish it from the fighting
of the bulls by its results.
To appreciate fully this picture of the animated life of the fur-seal rookery one
must take into account the medley of sound that accompanies it. The bulls are giving
vent at intervals to their savage roars of defiance. In their more subdued efforts
to maintain discipline in the harem they are constantly whistling, chuckling, and
scolding in various notes. Mingled with all this is the shrill bleat of the female and
the answering call of the pup, which correspond to the voice of the sheep and the
lamb, though greater in volume. When it is understood that thousands of these
animals are calling and answering all the time, some idea of the uproar and confusion
incident to rookery life is possible. Nor is the din and noise peculiar to the day.
It can be heard at all hours of the night; in fact, the activity is, if anything, greater
at that time.
In the early days of the breeding season all the animals sleep much of the time.
The cows, as they come in from their long journey, spend most of the first ten days
they are constantly on land in sleeping. It is with the height of the season, when
the cows are landing in large numbers from their trips to the feeding grounds, that
the noise and confusion becomes so marked. But even then through it all a large
proportion of the animals are comfortably asleep. A harem may be seen in which,
for the time being, every animal from the old bull down to the pups is sound asleep.
Beside it may be a harem which is all confusion, every animal up and stirring, and
most of them calling. Still another harem has part of its occupants awake and
active, the rest asleep. On the hauling grounds, among the pups and among the idle
bulls, it is the same.
The seals sleep very soundly at certain times. In counting the live pups it
frequently happened that a pod of 50 or 100 pups would be driven over a space on
which a half dozen or more pups slept undisturbed by the shuffling feet of their
companions. To the seal's habit of sleeping soundly in the water the success of
pelagic sealing is largely due. The pelagic sealer, taking advantage of the habit,
is able to row close up to the sleeping animal and throw his spear into it or fill it
with buckshot.
The attitude of the seal thus sleeping in the water is interesting. It lies on its
back in a bowed position, the nose just peering above the surface, and, it is said,
always to the leeward. The hind flippers are raised aloft as a windbreak to keep the
animal in this definite position.   In this attitude the seal can apparently sleep with 64 THE  FUR   SEALS  OF  THE  PRIBILOF  ISLANDS.
the greatest comfort, rocked by the gentle swell. In such calm days as occur during
the months of September and October the water off the rookery fronts and sand
beaches is literally black with the swimming and sleeping pups. Occasionally older
seals at this time, and more frequently earlier in the season, are to be seen in the
same position.
An interesting feature about the fur seal in its naps on the rookery is the
variety of attitudes which it assumes. The sleeping animals assume every conceivable
shape and position. One animal is stretched out at full length on its back, another
on its side, still another on its stomach. Again, the hind flippers may be tucked
up under the body, the foreflippers outstretched. These conditions may be exactly
reversed. Or the hind flippers may be waving lazily in the air like a fan. On a
day when the sun shines for a few minutes the seal lies prone upon the ground with
its flippers in the air. The sight of thousands upon thousands of the animals thus
stretched out, almost gasping for breath and with every hind flipper waving in the
effort to keep cool, is a most interesting one.
The seals enjoy the rocks. They do not care for a smooth and even bed. The
body has a wonderful power of adaptation to its rocky bed of water-worn bowlders.
One cow finds a flat rock on which she curls up and lets her head hang over the side
at a most reckless angle. Another lies with her head elevated upon a rock, as though
on a pillow. A favorite position among the animals is to sleep sitting up with the
head thrown back and the body wavering with the respirations as if it would fall.
On rookeries where perpendicular cliffs form the back ground the animals are to be
found stowed away on little shelves and in little angles where it is a wonder they can
keep their positions at all.
There is more or less diversity in the coloration of the various animals, which
lends interest to the picture of rookery life. The little pups are at birth shiny black
with a white spot in the axil. Some of them show a brownish shade along the throat
and belly. In September they shed their black coats and don coats of gray, which,
under the action of the weather, soon change into the brownish or combination brown
and silvery color of the adults.
On her first landing the adult female is dark, slightly olivaceous, gray. Under
exposure to the weather, and especially the sunshine, she turns, to a rusty reddish
brown, somewhat darker on the back, lighter on the throat and belly. The great
uniformity of this coloration, as seen among the cows during June of 1897 before they
had begun to go to sea, confirms the belief that these darker colors, as a rule, go with
the older animals.
About the middle of July, the time at which the younger bachelors begin to
appear in greatest number, the rookeries also show large numbers of animals which
in their silvery throats and bellies contrast sharply with the animals already present.
Their backs present the same dark-brown shade, but the silvery gray underneath the
body is entirely different. Their small size, the black whiskers, and the lateness of
their arrival proclaim them to be younger animals. But not all the younger animals
are of this sort, as two virgin females killed side by side were each of a distiuct type THE FUR OF THE FUR SEAL. 65
of coloration. This makes it possible only to say that the older seals are more uniform
and darker in color, while among the younger seals there is more diversity. It seems
likely that the lighter colors in the young seals correspond to the brownish bellied
black pups. Among the bachelors the colors seem more uniform, though the younger
males show again a preponderance of the lighter shades.
The greatest diversity exists among the bulls. Among the harem masters there
are two general types, oue almost-black, the other reddish-brown. Both styles of
coloration are associated with the older animals, but which is the older of the two is
not apparent.   The younger bulls are, as a rule, gray.
But these three are only general types. There is the greatest individual variation among the bulls of all classes, and almost any combination of shades or mingling
of shades can be found. Much of the individual variation is due to the length of
time the animals have been out of the water; in other words, to the influence of
exposure. In the water and when wet there is but little difference in the coloration.
In rainy weather the animals are all of one shade.
The diversity of color in the fur seal is confined chiefly to the outer or water hairs,
which project beyond the fur. The fur itself is fairly uniform. In the pups the water
hair is glossy black at birth and is replaced in two to three months by hair of gray.
In the females the water hair is more or less uniform in length, and the same is true
of the males until after the third year. From this time on the hair on the neck of the
male becomes longer and coarser, developing with the growth of the bull into stiff
bristles, constituting the mane, or "wig," as it is called.
Beneath this water hair is the short, thick fur of the seal. In the preparation of
the seal skins these hairs are carefully removed, leaving ^only the short, thick fur. It
has been asserted that the pup is born without fur, having only the black hair, and
that it does not attain its full pelage until the second year. This is not the case. The
pup at birth has short fuzzy fur, which grows rapidly, and is of considerable length
when the animal begins to swim. By the time it is ready for the sea in the fall its
fur differs in length and thickness from that of the older seals only as the size of the
animal varies.
Between the middle of August and the middle of October the adult animals shed
their hair and get a new coat. During this season the skins of the seals are said to
be stagy, and they are not taken on land. The fact, however, that one of the most
important catches at sea is taken in August and September has led to some confusion.
It has been held by those interested that no stagy seals were found at sea, and from
this, by inference at least, it has been suggested that these animals are, for some
reason, a different class.
In his report for 1896, the Canadian commissioner, Mr. Andrew Halkett, quotes
the statements of a large number of sealers to the effect that they had never known a
stagy seal at sea and had seen very few in poor condition as to fur. Mr. Halkett
expresses his own opinion as follows:
I have simply to say that nothing resembling a seal in poor condition, either as to hair or fur, was
seen by me, although some 800 passed through my hands.
He adds the remark:
I have no difficulty to decide as to a bird in a molting condition or in full breeding plumage, or
a mammal when casting its hair, so that I cannot understand why it should be so difficult to tell a
stagy seal.
The trouble here arises from a misunderstanding of what is meant by "staginess."
It does not designate any marked difference in quantity of the fur. It has chiefly
to do with the condition of the water hair. During the months of August, September,
and October the water hairs are gradually replaced by a new growth. While this
new hair is growing and before it has attained its full length it sticks tightly, and is
very difficult to remove in unhairing the skin in the process of dressing.1 The practical
impossibility of removing all the short hairs depreciates the value of the skins. When
the seals are taken on the islands in June and July the skins are approaching the time
when these hairs are ready to fall out, and they are consequently more easily removed.
As a large part of the value of the skin is the result of the labor put upon it in
preparation, anything which tends to increase this labor decreases the value of the
pelt in the raw state.
To the eye of the casual or untrained observer the skin of the seal taken in
August or September does not show staginess. If the fur is parted, however, the
short hair can be seen among the fur and hidden by it.
Under these conditions it is not strange that sealers and others do not recognize
the seals as stagy. Staginess is a condition fully recognized and appreciated only
by the furrier. In deference to his wishes, the seals on the islands are not taken while
they are in this condition. As a result, for this reason among others, the island catch
is regarded as superior to the catch taken at sea. The pelagic sealer does not respect
the stagy season, and declares that he takes no stagy seals, but the price he obtains
for his skins clearly indicates that the furrier does not agree with him.
There remains yet to be recorded the arrival of the young 1 and 2 year old
females. Their brothers, we found, arrive at the islands about the middle of July
and spend their time on the hauling grounds. Whether the young females come with
them to the vicinity of the islands or are associated with them on the migrations is
not known.   But they do not associate with them to any great extent on the islands.
The 2-year-olds come to the rookeries about the first of August. They take
up their places in the old harems or in new and temporary ones in charge of young
bulls on the water front and in the rear of the regular breeding grounds. Here they
are served by the bulls and return to the water.
1 The difficulties in the way of treating stagy skins are well put in the following extract from
a letter by Mr. Isaac Liebes, of the firm of H. Liebes & Co., furriers, of San Francisco, Cal.:
"The short or water hair (in stagy skins) can never be entirely removed, and in attempting to
do so a great deal of the wool is pulled out with the hair, which of course deteriorates the qualitv.
Then again, the stumps of the hair being left in the leather (as they cannot be pulled out, but are cut
off), makes the pelt stiff and harsh, so that after it is prepared the stagy skin can be clearly indicated
by the color and texture of the leather. The water hairs can never be removed from the thin sides of
the animal, where the fur is shorter than in the back, and in the process of machining, which these
skins undergo, the wool is separated so as to expose the stiff hairs, which are then cut out, but the
sides, being so short in fur, the machine cannot successfully separate the hair from the wool." CLOSE  OF THE BREEDING SEASON. 67
The yearling females doubtless come to the islands in company with the 2-year
olds, but do not put in an appearance on the rookeries much before September, at the
time when the pups of the year are able to swim well and begin to make their first
excursions about the islands. For the rest of the season these young seals spend their
time playing among the pups and ranging like privileged characters over the rookeries.
That they do not, as has been supposed, frequent the hauling grounds with the
males is doubtless due to the fact that these would annoy them, for the instinct of
rounding up a harem and lording it over others is early developed in the young
male. A young yearling male may frequently be seen rounding up a pod of sleeping
or resting pups with all the gusto of an adult. The pups themselves not infrequently
attempt the same thing with their fellows.
As has already been said, about the 25th of July the old harem bulls, that have
fasted since the first of May, begin to leave and seek the feeding grounds. As they
withdraw, their places are taken by the idle bulls. This class of males does not locate
definitely on the breeding grounds much before the arrival of the cows. They have,
therefore, fasted a shorter period and are able to remain out the season.
By the 5th to the 10th of August all the able-bodied adult bulls have gone, and
the younger bulls, together with the bachelors, flock over the breeding grounds.
The bachelors have, during the breeding season, been strictly excluded from the rookeries, but with the departure of the bulls they take advantage of their new freedom,
and mingling with the cows and pups, they round up mimic harems and make themselves generally at home. In a few weeks, however, the novelty of the situation
wears off, and the bachelors return to their favorite lounging places on the sand
Much has been said of the wasted and broken condition of the harem masters as
they leave the islands after their long fast. It is true that they become reduced in
condition from their earlier state, but they are by no means so reduced or broken in
spirit as they are reported. During the season of 1897, in counting the pups on the
several rookeries it was necessary to enter them late in July or early in August and
turn off the adults into the water. These so-called weak and emaciated bulls were
found not only able but willing to fight us or one another to the last; In many cases
they could not be moved at all any more than in the height of theseason. This was at
a time when these animals must many of them have been without food or water for at
least two months. Our experience taught us that so long as an adult bull is on the
breeding ground there is fight and courage enough in him to make him master of the
situation; it is when the breeding season is over and he has removed to the sand
beaches that he becomes tame and tractable.
The harem bulls on their first departure seek the feeding grounds and by the first
of September return, some of them to their former places on the rookeries, where they
plainly show their rejuvenation by their renewed combativeness, and also by their
efforts to round up and monopolize such cows as still remain about. Most of them,
however, haul out on the great beaches along North Shore, English Bay, and Lukanin,
to sleep during the rest of the season, going to and coming from the feeding grounds
as they feel like it. 68 THE FUR SEALS OF THE PRIBILOF ISLANDS.
The feeding grounds of the fur seals in Bering Sea lie to the south and west of the
Pribilof Islands, just off the 100-fathom curve, at a distance of from 100 to 200 miles.
In the migrations the seals seem to follow in a general way this same curve
The food taken by the seals in Bering Sea consists mainly of squid, pollock, and a
small smelt-like fish known only through the bones found in the stomachs of the seals.
On the migrations along the coast squid is agaiu the chief diet, though occasional
salmon, herring, and rockfish are taken. This subject is more fully treated by Mr.
Lucas in Part III.
Of the age of the fur seals we know practically nothing, but one striking thing
about the fur-seal rookeries is the absence of any animals which seem to be aged or
decrepit. On certain sand beaches and out-of-the-way places animals in poor condition were seen, which at first glance seemed to correspond to the class of aged and
infirm among other animals, but on dissection they were found without exception to
show injuries which fully accounted for their condition. Some had dislocated joints,
broken bones, injuries to the spine, buckshot wounds, and like troubles. None were
suffering from old age.
Nor is this a thing to be wondered at. The severest strain which the fur seal
undergoes is the winter migration in Bering Sea and the North Pacific. An animal
weak or broken down from old age or injuries of one sort or another would succumb
first to the hardships of the sea and would not return. To the breeding rookeries and
hauling grounds are returned each spring only those animals which have possessed
the hardihood and strength to survive the adverse conditions of the winter. These
may be relied upon, unless overcome by accidents, to maintain themselves during the
summer, to be again sifted out in the struggle for existence which the ensuing winter
Of all the different classes of animals the pups are the most conspicuous and
interesting. For the first two months of their lives they are always present on the
rookeries where they are born. Their black coats contrast sharply with the gray
stones and with the brown fur of their mothers. For a.few days after the pup
is born it is watched over by the mother with a moderate show of interest, which
manifests itself chiefly in supplying it with nourishment and keeping it out of the
way of the clumsy bull. But before long the little fellow grows independent and
leaves the family circle, seeking the lee of a sheltering rock at a distance from the
harems. There it spends its time sleeping and playing with its companions.
Whether this "podding" of the pups is a matter of choice or the outgrowth of the
instinct of self-preservation, the result is good, for it keeps the little fellows out of
the way of the fighting and trampling bulls. From the time when the pup joins
the pod it receives no attention from the mother except on her return from the sea,
when she feeds it. Her absences are at first brief, but as the pup grows older they
lengthen out. The pup gorges itself with milk while the mother is on land and goes
hungry until her return. THE  SWIMMING  PUPS.     . 69
When it is about a month old the pup seeks the water's edge, and after paddling
about for a time in the tide pools gradually learns to swim. This art, in which it
becomes wonderfully expert, it finds evident difficulty in acquiring.
Many accounts have been given of the way in which various classes of animals are
supposed to assist the pups in learning to swim. If these have any foundation
whatever it arises from a misinterpretation of the fact that the young bachelors, and
probably the yearling cows as well, play with and tease the pups in their first
attempts to swim. Bachelors were thus often seen to shove the little pups off the
rocks into the water, or even to attempt to catch and duck them. But the purpose
was not to assist the pups.
What first starts the pup to the water is not clear, though why any other reason
than the mere fact that it must eventually learn to swim and that the water is at
hand, should be necessary, is not clear. It may be that the first pups seek the water
following the example of the departing cows. But, once a single pup has made the
experiment, every pup in its section of the rookery soon follows the example.
The pup seeks first the secluded and protected tide pools, of which numbers can
be found along the rookery fronts. Here it paddles about, gradually seeking the open
water, but keeping close to the shore. Its chief difficulty at the outset is to keep its
disproportionately large head above water. In a very short time it becomes perfectly
at home in the water and spends most of the daytime in it. As the pups are accustomed to play on shore, so they play in the water, rolling over and over each other,
diving for shells, shaking strips of kelp, pieces of sticks, feathers, or anything that
comes to hand, just as young dogs might.
By the middle of September, when the pups have learned to swim well, they suddenly develop a roving spirit and pass back and forth between neighboring rookeries,
and there is a continuous band of pups coming and going between them. Thus, such
a belt of pups was found in the early part of September to extend from Kitovi rookery
past East Landing to Reef rookery, nearly a mile distant. Another followed around
the cliffs back of the village connecting Gorbatch with Lagoon. Lagoon was in like
manner connected with Tolstoi head, and a band of pups stretched on along the water
front of English Bay, uniting Tolstoi and t!>e Zapadnis.
At certain points intermediate between these terminals, the pups hauled out in
groups of varying sizes and slept on the rocks, apparently remaining there for days
and days at a time. But after the pups were branded on Kitovi rookery, observations on a pod of these pups hauled out under Black Bluff showed that while the
number in these distant places remained nearly constant, the individuals came and
went regularly. The pups doubtless returned to the rookery to meet their mothers,
timing their visits with her return.
Toward the close of the month of September these excursions of the pups ceased
as suddenly as they began, and the pups remained about their respective rookeries
and in the waters adjacent to them, sleeping on shore when hungry, sleeping and
playing in the water when full of milk. 70
On the rookeries but. a slight mortality occurs among the adult seals. A few of
the cows are killed in various ways, chiefly in the struggles of the bulls for their
possession. A total of 131 of these dead cows was found on the rookeries of the
two islands last year. A score or more of bulls were found dead at the same time,
evidently as a result of contests with one another. But this loss in a herd of
nearly 160,000 adult animals is insignificant.
Among the pups the mortality is more striking. The average fur-seal pup after
it is a few weeks old is not an easy animal to kill or injure. In our experience we
have seen them stand hard knocks and even come from under the feet of the bulls
uninjured. We have seen them tumble off and go bounding down the cliffs like
rubber balls without apparent injury. But when the little pup is only a few days old
it is a very different matter. In the rushes of the clumsy bull in his efforts to defend
or discipline his harem a certain number of the little fellows are crushed to death
before they are old enough to get away and pod by themselves.
In our investigations of the subject of mortality among the pups in 1896, which
were begun late, we assumed that the chief cause of death among the 11,000 pups
counted before the middle of August was the trampling of the fighting bulls. The
more thorough investigations of 1897, however, prove this an error. The principal
cause of death was found to be a small parasitic worm of the genus Uncinaria, which
infests sandy areas where the seals are crowded and the ground has become filthy.
The embryos of the worm are taken in from the fur of the mother by the nursing
pup and develop in- the intestines, sucking the blood and causing the pup to die of
anaemia. It is an infantile disease, and those which do not die before the middle of
August outgrow it and survive. After that time these natural or accidental causes
of death have but little effect on the pups, though, as we shall see later on, another
and more serious cause of death presently begins, namely > the starvation of the young
due to the loss of the mother at sea.   For this man is solely responsible.
This early mortality among the pups was made the object of a careful enumeration in 1896. A full record of the count by rookeries will be found in the statistical
appendix to this report. The following counts of the "death traps" where the injury
of the worm was greatest will give some idea of its destructive effects:
Record of pups, 1896.
Pirns horn 1 Pups dead
i-itpsborn.   (Augnst).
11,775             1,495
17,648             3, 095
15,258                950
9,142                712
1 This subject is more fully treated in a special paper by Mr. Lucas in Part III.     ■**
On the island of St. George a complete census of the dead pups for both seasons
was made. This will illustrate the relative death rate on typical rookery ground from
more or less accidental causes. The worm is practically absent from the rookeries of
St. George, which are all located on bowlder beaches. On these rookeries there were
born in 1896 about 19,000 pups; in 1897,16,000. The following is the count of dead
pups by rookeries:
Comparative counts of dead pups, St. George.
At the first approach of winter, usually in November, the cows and pups go away
together. The pups are doubtless weaned at this time, as they nurse and subsist
solely on their mothers' milk until the time of their departure. Following the example
of their elders, they doubtless soon learn to subsist on fish. They have a hard time
of it the first season by reason of the difficulty of securing food and because of the
severity of the winter storms. It is pretty clearly ascertained that only about
one-half return the second spring, and that not more than one-third of those born
reach the age of 3 years.
What enemies the seals encounter on their migrations we do not know. Doubtless the greatest cause of destruction among them is the storms of winter, and these
affect most strongly the old or injured and the young and inexperienced, which
possibly fail to secure the requisite amount of food.
Much has been said about the ravages of certain species of sharks. It is not
known that any shark preys upon them, in the north at least. The Great Killer
(Orca orca) is a known source of loss about the islands. Whether the killers attack
them in the open ocean or not is not known, though it is probable that they do not
to any great extent.
Killers were seen in schools of from three to seven plying about the islands in
the latter part of September, undoubtedly destroying many pups. These big fish
swim into the bays, which fairly swarm with seals, old and young, at this time.
Their course, as they move along the rookery fronts, is marked by hovering gulls,
which alight to pick up the fragments. The seals seem absolutely stupid in presence
of the danger.
On one occasion after a raid by these killers the carcass of a mangled cow
was found washed up on Zoltoi Sands. On another occasion a killer in heavy surf
followed the seals into Village Cove and became stranded on the rocks, but another 72
heavy roller enabled it to get away before steps could be taken to kill it. One of its
mangled victims, a large gray pup, was washed ashore, and an opportunity was thus
given for its examination.
The killers are reported to visit the islands also in the spring at about the time
of the landing of the cows, and a few were seen early in June in the spring of 1897.
Whatever may be said of these animals, and the destruction they may cause, their
feeding on the fur seals can not be considered as more than incidental, else they would
remain about the islands all summer. They probably do not depend upon the seals in
any way for food.
The bachelors still linger about the islands after the departure of the cows. They
are taken for food by the natives all through the month of December and at times far
into January. On mild winters they are to be seen about the islands all winter.
Thus, in the season of 1896-97, a food drive was made on December 14, and seals were
reported on Sivutch Rock on December 30, January 7 and 29, February 6 and .16.
Nineteen seals were killed for food on the rock on March 2.
But as a rule November closes the stay of the seals on the islands, and, class by
class, they set .out on their winter migrations.
The fur seal is wonderfully adapted for its long winter residence in the water.
Its movements are as quick and graceful as those of a fish. In swimming it uses the
fore flippers only. The hind flippers are held flat together, projecting backward like
a rudder, and they may serve the animal in that capacity.
There are abrupt cliffs on St. Paul Island from which the motions of the swimming
seals can be watched. A stone thrown near a submerged seal causes it to turn about
and dart away with lightning speed. So rapid are its movements when thus disturbed
that it is impossible to distinguish the motion of the flippers, which are powerful
enough in the case of the bull to make the water boil in foam.
In traveling rapidly the seal alternately rises clear of the water and dives under
it in a series of compound curves. The dolphin-like leap, "breaching" as it is called,
enables the animal without loss of time to recover its breath.. How fast the seals can
travel is not known and can probably not be computed. They have, however, been
seen to follow and swim with apparent ease about vessels going at from 10 to 12 knots
per hour. Under force of circumstances they could doubtless reach a higher rate
of speed, but whether it could be continued through long distances can not be known.
Observations of the movements of a branded cow on Lukanin rookery in 1897
seemed to indicate that in her earliest absences she was gone from three to four days.
As the feeding grounds in Bering Sea are upward of 100 miles distant from the
islands some idea of the distance she must have traveled can be gained. She would
doubtless spend some time on the feeding banks eating and resting. This trip the
females make regularly throughout the summer at intervals of from five to ten or more
days.   Further evidence of the rapidity with which the seals travel can be seen in THE SOUTHERN FUR SEALS. 73
the fact that, though the females do not leave the islands much before the middle of
November, they are taken off the coast of Southern California in December. Their
trip down through the ocean must be rapid and more or less direct.
It may be worth our while to contrast with the foregoing account of the fur
seal of the north some account of the life history of the fur seal of the Southern
Hemisphere, the species of Arctocephalus, from the recorded observations of such
early explorers and sealers as Delano, Fanning, Wedell, and Morrell. Dr. J. A. Allen
has brought together in a paper, which appears in the Proceedings of the Paris
Tribunal the important notes bearing upon this subject.1 Without quoting in detail
we may here give a brief summary of these observations.
The adult males land first in November, taking up their places on the rookeries
and awaiting the arrival of the females, which come in December to bring forth their
young. They come and go, caring for their young, until about the 1st of February,
when the pups are left to shift for themselves.
In February the younger males or bachelors come on shore to shed their hair
which is accomplished by about the 1st of May. This period corresponds to our
stagy season. The bachelors then take to the water and do not return on shore much
before the 1st of July. For a month or six weeks they come and go regularly,
abandoning the shore at the end of this time until some time in August. For the rest
of the season mixed herds, young males and females, occupy the shores, coming and
going at intervals, until the old males begin to arrive in November. The young
then retire.
This seems to be the round of life for the various classes as recorded. There
is no lucid account of what becomes of the adult males and females after the offices
of reproduction are accomplished. The bulls are reported as fasting from the time of
their arrival until the breeding season is over, when they leave thin and lean, to return
the following season plump and fat.
It is asserted that the seals do not migrate, though the record of observations
seem to indicate that certain classes of the animals are absent from their breeding
places for longer or shorter periods. While some of the animals are about the shores
at all seasons, the evidence seems to show that they are of different classes and have
different periods of movement.
The offices of reproduction are accomplished on land. The female bears, as a
rule, a single pup, though suggestions of the possibility of twins and even triplets
are offered. The young are helpless at birth and learn to swim about a month
afterwards. It is freely suggested that the mothers teach them. The pup at birth is
covered with black hair. It gets its fur and changes its black hair for a coat of gray
in a month or six weeks.
1 Appendix U. S. Case, Fur Seal Arb., Vol. I, p. 3 74 THE   FUR   SEALS  OF   THE   PRIBILOF   ISLANDS.
The seals occupy for their breeding places narrow bowlder beaches at the foot
of high cliffs and extend their harems into the crevasses and channels in the cliffs
through which streams flow. In places their breeding grounds extend inland one or
two hundred yards. The animals clamber over the rocks, reaching places inaccessible
to man.   They have good powers of locomotion, and the young walk on all fours.
In climatic conditions the home of the southern fur seals resembles that of
the northern, though there is not the same marked difference between summer and
winter. Doubtless there is no migration because no necessity for it. An average
annual temperature of from 40° to 45° is recorded, which is about the summer
climate of the Pribilof Islands. The sky is almost constantly overcast. Rain falls
The fur seals of the south are gregarious and herd closely crowded on their
rookery grounds, class by class. The young males are forced to withdraw by themselves in the breeding season.
The bulls struggle with one another for possession of the cows as they land.
Each harem has from.fifteen to twenty cows. These are jealously guarded and are
not permitted to leave. The bulls fight valiantly against intrusion, whether by one
of their own number or by man.
There is the same disparity between the males and females. The former is
recorded as 6 to 7 feet long, the latter about 4, with a corresponding difference in
They are found sleeping and playing in the water, just as the fur seals of the
north are, and it is reported easy to approach and spear them.
It may be worthy to note in this connection that Capt. W. L. Noyes, who visited
the Galapagos Islands during the summer of 1897, found cows with pups already
born in July on Wenman Island, just north of the equator, whereas cows on other
islands of the same group to the south of the equator, killed in September, contained
pups still unborn and apparently not to be born until October or November. The
seals of these islands are reported by others to bring forth their young at all seasons.
There is, however, no essential difference in the habits of the seals of the two
hemispheres. The differences in date of the stagy season and of the breeding season
are matters dependent upon the climate. The absence of migration periods so marked
as in the case of the northern seals is due to the absence of such harsh conditions as
the winter of the north exhibits. CHAPTER   VI.
We have given in the preceding sketch a brief description of the more prominent
general features of the life history, of the fur seal. This is only a brief summary of
the record of daily observations made by the commission, and which is given in full ~
in a subsequent part of this report. Many of these topics also are discussed in
greater detail in special papers contained in Part III. We may now pass to a
discussion of the main questions involved in the fur-seal controversy and made the
principal object of this investigation. The first and chief of these relates to the
condition of the fur-seal herd, past and present.
Until the season of 1896 all estimates as to the number of seals have been based
upon acreage measurements of one sort or another. In the early days, when the
rookeries were teeming with seal life, it is probable that any other method of enumeration would have been exceedingly difficult, if not impossible. At any rate, no other
method was tried.
We may say at the outset that acreage measurements of rookery population are
exceedingly unsatisfactory. It is no easy task to find the area of a given rookery.
Its length or sea front is easily ascertained, but its average width is at best purely a
matter of conjecture. It spreads out over the level ground, shrinks away from a sand
beach, climbs up hills in gullies, extends over cliffs, breaks at a cove to permit bachelors
to land, thins out among rocks, and widens in great amphitheaters. Its lower boundary
fluctuates with the tides; its inland extension grows daily with the arrival of late-
coming cows, and the whole outline is changed in a few days as the bands of virgin
2-year-olds come into the ranks late in July.
To measure a rookery, it is necessary to determine its boundaries from a distance
in the breeding season, and after the departure of the seals to go on the ground and
make the necessary measurements. It is impossible to approach the breeding mass
in the height of the season near enough to locate landmarks by which the person
making the measurements is to determine what he is doing. The best that can be
done is to take the natural features available, a stone here or a break in the bank, or
a log of driftwood there, and trust to being able to relocate them later on. The occupancy of the seals themselves leaves no permanent trace. Behind the rookeries for a
considerable distance the ground has exactly the same appearance as that occupied
by the seals, and late in the season the rookery population, where possible, moves
back over its rear boundary, taking up a new position.   Only natural landmarks can ■^^
therefore be taken, and in a mile of rookery space the number of distinguishable
marks of this sort is exceedingly small. Where stones exist, there are thousands of
them practically indistinguishable. On bare slopes, as on Gorbatch, Vostochni, and
Polovina, there are no natural landmarks whatever.
If perfectly recognizable artificial landmarks could be placed at every angle, turn,
and projection of the belt of breeding seals, or if these points could be taken from a
distance by instruments and then reproduced with certainty in the same manner after
the animals have left the ground, accurate results might be obtained. Nothing of
this kind, however, was done, at least no landmarks remain to show for it.
But a determination of the rookery borders is not the only difficulty. The
character of the ground is extremely variable. It lies at every conceivable angle
and slant. There are narrow, rocky beaches hemmed in by perpendicular cliffs.
There are long slopes of jagged bowlders. There are sand flats and cinder slopes.
On the bare places the seals still mass together as closely as they can be crowded,
and on the rocky areas they lie about among the rocks as best they can. Their
distribution over the rookeries is as irregular as the nature of the ground.
It is in general true that the greater the number of females the more extended are
the boundaries of the rookeries; but it is also true that with the decrease of the
number of seals the population of the rookeries grows sparse without a corresponding
decrease of dimensions. It is probable that when the seals were more numerous
they were as evenly distributed over the ground as its nature would permit, and
the greater part of each rookery was closely massed; but at the present time their
distribution is very irregular, as unequal as the arrangement of the trees in the
forest. On some of the rookeries, as on Tolstoi sands, in the breeding season the
seals lie as thick as swarms of bees. On other rookeries, as the Lagoon, detached
harems sprawl over the rocks and individual seals are greatly scattered. Nor are
the mechanical imperfection of these estimates all. The counts of live pups made
during the seasons of 1896 and 1897 show that at the time when these past estimates
were made not more than half of the cows are present at any one time.
In a word, the acreage measurements of the rookeries in the past have been based
chiefly upon guesswork. More guessing has been done in determining the space to
be assigned to individual animals, and finally the rookery population sought to be
enumerated has at best represented only about half the actual number of animals
belonging to the herd. The last element of uncertainty was not known until 1896, it
having been assumed up to that time tnat during the period between the 10th and
20th of July all or practically all the animals belonging to the breeding herd were
present upon the rookeries.
It is easy to find in the magnitude of the problem an explanation for the adoption
of such a faulty method.   It is not so easy to find an excuse for implicit reliance ESTIMATES  OF  NUMBER  OF  FUR  SEALS. 77
put upon its results. The parts of rookeries which cau be counted to-day are so
circumscribed by cliffs and the narrowness of the beaches that to make a count of
them, even at the time of the greatest density of their population, would have been
but little more difficult than it is to-day. More seals were present on a given area,
but the area was no greater. The counting of these areas would of course not have
relieved the difficulty as to a complete census; but a definite and exact enumeration,
even of so small and accessible a breeding ground as Spilki, in 1874, could not have
failed to clear up many of the problems which have tended to increase the confusion
in past conditions.
In considering the -various estimates of earlier times, we purposely pass over that
of Bishop Veniaminof. It is too vague and unsatisfactory to be of any value. It
is, moreover, a prophecy of future results, based on assumed premises, rather than a
measure of actual conditions. Furthermore, it was made at a time (about 1834) when,
as we know, the herd had reached from some cause or other a state of approximate
After the islands came into the possession of the United States the first attempt
to reach an estimate of the number of seals was made by Capt. Charles Bryant, agent
of the Government, sent in 1869 to investigate the condition of the herd. Captain
Bryant sums up his method of enumeration as follows:1
There are at least 12 miles of shore line on the island of St. Paul occupied by the seals as
breeding grounds, with the average width of 15 rods. There being about twenty seals to the square
rod, gives 1,152,000 as the whole number of breeding males and females. Deducting one-tenth for
males leaves 1,037,800 breeding females.
He estimates the number of seals on St. George at one-half the number on St.
Paul. He further makes a rough estimate of the number of nonbreeding males, but
he does not work-it out or give a total. Ln comparing the estimate of Captain Bryant
with the subsequent estimate of Mr. Elliott it must be noted that the young are not
This estimate is crude both in its methods and in its results, but it certainly
contains the germ of all subsequent acreage estimates of the seals. It was made and
its results were published at least two years before the work of Mr. Elliott, which
was begun in 1872. Whatever credit, therefore, belongs to the invention and execution
of this method of arriving at the population of the rookeries must rest with Captain
Bryant. His enumeration, though but a rough approximation, and probably so
considered by him, brought for the first time the fur-seal herd within the range of a
numerical estimate.
The next attempt at enumeration was made in 1872-1874 by Henry W. Elliott,
special agent sent by the United States Treasury Department to investigate the condition of the herd.   He followed the same general method inaugurated by Captain
1 Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., 1870, Vol. II, p. 106. 78 THE  FUR  SEALS  OF  THE  PRIBILOF  ISLANDS.
Bryant, finding the shore extent and width of the rookeries and allotting a certain
space to each individual animal. He, however, worked out the plan in much greater
In Mr. Elliott's census two important assumptions are made at the outset. The
first is that the time when the rookery population has reached its " exact margin of
expansion, at the week of its greatest volume, or when the rookeries are as full as
they are to be during the season, is between the 10th and 20th of July every year; not
a day earlier and not many days later."x Mr. Elliott assumes as a result of this observation that at the period in question all, or practically all, of the animals were present
and would be included in an enumeration made at that time.
He then assumed2 "an imperative and instinctive law of distribution, recognized
by each and every seal," in obedience to which "the breeding grounds occupied by
them were invariably covered with seals in exact ratio, greater or less, as the area
upon which they rested was larger or smaller;" that the seals "always covered the
ground evenly, never crowding in at one place here to scatter out there;" that "on a
rod of ground under the face of bluffs, which hem it in from the sea, there are just as
many seals, no more nor less, as will be found on any other rod of rookery ground
throughout the whole list, great or small."
One who is familiar with the nature of the breeding grounds can not help feeling
that in the formulation of this law Mr. Elliott did not have the picture of the
rookeries before him. Had he traveled over the length and breadth of the rookeries,
as was done in 1896 and 1897, he never would have proposed such a law. That there
should be as many seals to the square rod on the jagged and broken lava blocks of
Kitovi, or on the broken slopes of Gorbatch, where the animals are now and must have
then been separated by bowlders weighing tons, should be the same as on the smooth
sand flat of Tolstoi or the level slope of Hutchinson Hill is on the face of it impossible.
The law of distribution which the fur seal obeys is very -simple. The gregarious
instinct of the animals leads them to crowd together as closely as possible. They are,
therefore, even now to be found in as close proximity as the nature of the ground will
permit. Where the ground is broken and interspersed with angular bowlders they
are necessarily farther apart than where the ground is free from obstructions. It is
probable that in Mr. Elliott's time the seals, because more numerous, were more evenly
distributed, but the nature of the ground would never permit the same distribution
For the first assumption Mr. Elliott has some justification. During the period in
question rookery conditions are to the eye of the observer apparently stable and fixed.
1 Elliott, Monograph Fur-Seal Islands, 1881, p. 50. 2 Ibid., p. 49. ESTIMATES  OF  MR.  ELLIOTT. 79
That they were so was held as a tradition from Elliott's time down to 1896. It was,
however, a great mistake to assume, as has been done, that at that time all the seals
were present. Counts of live pups1 made in the seasons of 1896 and 1897 show that at
the height of the season not over half of the cows are actually present at any one time.
The apparent stability of the rookeries is due to the fact that then the arrivals and
departures among the cows for a time practically balance each other at their maximum
point. But daily counts of the rookeries show that the stability is in no sense real,
there being from day to day even then a variation of from 10 to 30 per cent in the
rookery population.2
But of these things Mr. Elliott was not aware. He was content to assume that
all the cows were there and, moreover, though he could not locate the virgin 2-year-
olds, a class of animals numbering, in his estimate, 225,000, which were not present
until long after it was made, he did not hesitate to assume that they were included.
He was also content with his impossible law of distribution. It only remained for him,
therefore, to find the area of breeding ground occupied and to divide it by the unit of
space to be assigned to each individual animal, to arrive at the rookery population.
As a result he found, in his estimate of 6,386,840 square feet of rookery ground on the
two islands, "room," as he puts it, "for 3,193,420 breeding seals and young."3
Waiving, for a moment, the method of obtaining these figures, we may remark
that they are not easy to understand. Of this total of " breeding seals and young,"
Mr. Elliott, in the same connection, tells us that 1,000,000 are " young." There must
then be an equal number of mothers, or 2,000,000 adult breeding females and their
pups. To this must be added the young 2-year-old cows which are included, though
not present. Mr. Elliott has himself given us an estimate of these. Considering
that of the 1,000,000 pups born 500,000 are females, he says that "at least 225,000 of
them safely return in the second season after birth." This, therefore, gives us a total
of 2,225,000 females and young in the complete estimate of 3,193,420, leaving 868,420
animals which can only be accounted for as breeding bulls. This is impossible, and
yet no other explanation of the discrepancy is at hand. Mr. Elliott estimates, in a
separate category, all the nonbreeding males and the yearling females, finding
1,500,000 of them. Of the breeding bulls, as a class, Mr. Elliott does not give us a
separate estimate in 1872, but in 1890 he tells us they numbered 90,000 at that time.
But if these figures were in themselves reasonable, we must still take exception to
the method by which they were obtained. We have already spoken of the general
difficulties in the way of acreage measurements. On his method of surveying the
rookeries Mr. Elliott has given us practically no data. He dismisses the subject
with the remark "that there is no more difficulty in surveying these margins than
there is in drawing sight along the curbs of a stone fence surrounding a field," a
statement which is not by any means self-evident to anyone who has visited the
1 See page 109.       2 See page 54.      « Elliott, Monograph of Fur-Seal Islands, 1881, p. 61. 80
fur-seal rookeries. The surveys of the rookeries themselves can not be verified, for
the conditions have changed with the reduction of the herd, and no permanent landmarks were left. Not even of the survey of 1890 is there left a single recognizable
stake or stone to show that it ever existed. All that is left of either survey is
the unsatisfactory estimate of the seals based upon it. These surveys should
have formed the basis for subsequent comparisons of the condition of the rookeries.
As such they would have been extremely valuable, but all traces of them have
It is therefore not possible for us to verify Mr. Elliott's surveys of the rookeries,
but his maps giving the shore lme of the islands are available as a measure of his
work as a surveyor. Of these maps Captain Moser, in his hydrographic reportx on
the islands in 1896, made certain tests. Of Mr. Elliott's shore line he says: "It was
a bad misfit * * * and rarely stood the test of an instrumental angle." He
further says of the topography of the maps that " it is so vague and indefinite that
it is next thing to impossible to do auything with them; I should call them sketches."
If this is true of the fixed and permanent shore line, it is not to be supposed that
the changing rookery margins, which were necessarily noted from a distance in the
summer and measured in winter, after they had melted away, were more correctly
The correctness of the survey of the rookeries is of vital importance to the
accuracy of this enumeration. This importance does not lie in ascertaining the
mere length of a given rookery. This can be easily obtained, and in any event a
mistake of a few feet or of a hundred feet in the length is comparatively insignificant;
but the width of the rookery is another matter. To each one of seven of the ten
rookeries of St. Paul Island, Mr. Elliott ascribes an even average width of 150 feet.
Two of the remaining breeding grounds have a width of 100 feet each, and the third
40 feet. Therefore, for the 40,000 feet of rookery shore line on this island, 35,000 have
an average width of 150 feet.2 Suppose there is an error of but 1 foot in this average
width, it is multiplied throughout the entire distance. According to the method of
the computation involved this would mean the addition or subtraction of 17,500
animals, depending upon the side upon which the error falls. Again, suppose the
average width was 140 or 160 feet, this would mean a difference of 175,000 seals one
way or the other, as the case might be.
But aside from the question of accuracy in the surveys themselves, Mr. Elliott
has assigned an impossible space to each individual seal. His unit of space is 2
square feet to each animal, young or old, or 4 square feet for the cows, ignoring the
1 Hydrographic Notes, Captain Moser, Part III.
2 Whatever the average width of each rookery may have been, it is certain that it was not the
same for all. Neither now nor at any past time have Tolstoi, Polovina, Vostochni, the Reef, Kitovi,
Lukanin, and Zapadni had the same "average width."   The 150 feet is a guess, and that only. ESTIMATES OF NUMBERS. 81
pups. The average adult female is 4 feet long, and measures an equal distance from
tip to tip of her outstretched fore-flippers. In a standing position she would heed at
least 3 square feet, but as the cows are constantly moving about, and coming and
going to and from the sea, it is impossible to limit one to such a space.
During the past two seasons an effort was made to test the unit of space which
the average seal occupies. A count of 650 closely crowded dead bodies on Polovina
killing ground showed that each body occupied a space of 13£ square feet. The
arrangement and proximity of these bodies Corresponded very nearly to the condition
of the massed rookery where the animals are stretched out sleeping. On Ardiguen
rookery a harem containing thirty three sleeping cows and pups was observed on a
flat space circumscribed by stones in such a way that its boundaries could be definitely
located. Later in the season, when the seals had abandoned the spot, it was measured
and found to give 8 square feet to each animal, old and young. This may be regarded
as an example of extreme massing, as the animals could not have been packed closer
together. The great sand flat of Tolstoi, the most densely massed rookery ground on
the islands, was roughly measured late in the season of 1896 and found to contain
about 140,000 square feet. Each of the 11,000 animals estimated for this area
would therefore have a space of about 13 square feet. Messrs. True and Townsend,
in 1895, found the average space for each individual adult seal in un massed areas,
as on Lagoon or Tolstoi cliffs, to be 46 square feet. For the massed areas a space
one-half as great, or 23 square feet, was arbitrarily assumed.
It is true that Mr. Elliott justifies, in part, his small unit of space by certain
references to the coming and going of the animals. He asserts that after the pups
are born the individual cows are not on "their allotted space one-fourth of the time,"
and that the females "almost double their number on the rookery ground without
expanding its original limits." But Mr. Elliott failed to grasp what this really
meant. He sees in it only justification for the unit of space which he has assigned
to the individual animals. It should have called his attention to the fact that the
breeding seals which he saw before him, and which he was attempting to enumerate,
were but a part and not the whole of the rookery population.
When we leave the general features of this estimate and come to consider its
details we find still less reason to be satisfied with it. Of all the rookeries Kitovi and
Lukanin have been most minutely studied and counted during the seasons of 1896 and
1897. Their present conditions are absolutely known. They may be taken as typical
examples. To these two rookeries in 1874 Mr. Elliott ascribes a total population of
335,000 "breeding seals and young," or 158,000 breeding females, and, using his
estimate of 15 cows to an average harem, 10,000 active bulls. At present there are
318 bulls, or less than one-thirtieth the former number, and 9,000 breeding females,
less than one-seventeenth the former number.
To anyone who understands the situation of these rookeries this is simply absurd.
It would be impossible to plat 10,000 harems on the space they occupy at present or
which they occupied at any time past. Mr. Elliott's own maps show, when compared
with present conditions, that no such reduction has occurred. His average width of
150 feet for these rookeries proves the same thing. With such figures nothing can be
done. Mr. Elliott must have been wholly devoid of mathematical sense or else must
have failed to appreciate what his figures really meant. No other hypothesis will
account for them.
It happens that in the log of St. Paul are two references to these rookeries which
throw light on their early condition and help us to penetrate the haze of exaggeration
which Mr. Elliott has thrown about them.
Under date of May 24, 1880, Mr. J. W. Beamau, then agent on St. Paul, records
in the log1 of that island that he made "an inspection of Kitovi and Lukanin rookeries; 112 bulls were counted on Kitovi and 142 on Lukanin, with a possible error in
the count of 25 to 50."
On the 24th of May by no means all of the bulls were in place, but a reasonable
proportion of them may be supposed to have been. Mr. Elliott tells us himself that
• all the bulls were located by the 1st of June. This, however, the observations of the
season of 1897 disprove. A count of North rookery of St. George on June 7 gave 180
bulls, where about 200 harems existed in 1896 and where 196 were found a month later
in 1897. Even on the 12th of June a count of bulls on Kitovi rookery gave only 156,
where 182 harems had been in 1896 and where later, in 1897,179 harems were found.
These recent counts justify us in assuming that a large proportion at least of the
bulls were on the ground by the 24th of May, and although we can not say just what
proportion the bulls counted by Mr. Beaman bore to the whole number on this rookery
for the season of 1880, we may rest assured that had there been any such number as
10,000, or even 5,000, taking the average harem, which recent observations show to be
correct, there would have been at least between 1,000 and 2,000 of them in place on
that date.
Referring again to the log, we find that in 1879, the preceding season, bulls began
to arrive on Lukanin rookery on May 2, and on May 17 there were 60 of them. This
number is not greatly out of proportion to the 142 found a week later the following
season, and argues still more strongly against the supposition that bulls by the
thousand would occupy that rookery in June.
In this connection another note in the log of St. Paul Island has significance. In
the fall of the year 1876 difficulty was experienced in securing the normal quota of
pup seals for food. Captain Bryant, commenting on this, says: "Ordinarily Kitovi
rookery alone would have supplied the necessary pups"2—four or five thousand. As
only males were killed, and as a liberal allowance must be made on account of the
swimming of the pups for the impossibility of reaching all the males, the inference
1 Extracts from the log of St. Paul, Pt. II, date of May 24, 1
2 Ibid., date of November 23, 1876. ESTIMATES  OF  NUMBERS. ÖÖ
plainly to be drawn from this is that at the time in question Kitovi rookery by a most
liberal estimate had about 20,000 breeding cows. Mr. Elliott would have us believe it
had nearly 160,000.
Two more examples may be cited in this connection. Mr. Elliott ascribes to Spilki
rookery a population of 8,000 cows and pups in 1874 and something like 260 bulls.
This was a small rookery under the hill behind the village of St. Paul, afterwards
abandoned. It is recorded by Agent Beaman in the log for the year 1879 * that this
rookery on June 20 (a date at which all the harem bulls must have been in place) had
23 bulls.   This is less than one-tenth of Mr. Elliott's estimate.
In the same year Mr. Beaman records, under date of June 10, that there were " a
couple of thousand bulls" on Polo vina rookeries, where Mr. Elliott estimates fully
10,000 in 1874.
While these entries do not give us definite proof as to the early condition of these
rookeries, yet they clearly and conclusively show that Mr. Elliott's figures are grossly
To sum the whole matter up, we are unable to accept Mr. Elliott's estimate as
representing anything more than an individual opinion greatly overdrawn by a too-
vivid imagination. The value of individual opinions in matters of this kind is well
shown by a comparison of the estimate of Mr. Elliott with that of Lieut. Washburn
Maynard, who was on the islands in 1874, with him. Lieutenant Maynard estimates
the total population of the rookeries at 6,000,000, as against Mr. Elliott's figures of
4,700,000. A difference of a million one way or another seemed to be a matter of no
That Mr. Elliott himself did not originally attach close and definite meaning to
his own estimate is evident from the discrepancy already referred to, whereby he
assumes in his total of 3,193,420 " breeding seals and young " that only 1,000,000 are
pups. Further, on the basis of this birthrate, which is an understatement of his own
estimate, he finds that after making due allowance for an " extreme estimate of loss
sustained at sea " there will still be left "180,000 seals in good condition that can safely
be killed every year." The quota never exceeded 100,000, and the turning back
annually of 80,000 young males to grow up as bulls would by 1880 have given the
island a stock of approximately 800,000 bulls. This, of course, never occurred, for
the simple reason that no such number of males in excess of the quota ever existed
on the islands.
In making the above criticisms of Mr. Elliott's census, it has not been our purpose
simply to tear down and condemn work which in many respects under the circumstances deserves commendation; but a disposition has of late been manifested to insist
upon the absolute correctness of these figures, and in setting them aside it becomes
necessary for us to give reasons for such action.
1 Extracts from log of St. Paul, Pt. H, date of June 20,187J THE   FUR   SEALS   OF  THE   PRIBILOF   ISLANDS.
The next estimate of the seals was made in the year 1886 by Mr. George R.
Tingle, then Treasury agent on St. Paul Island. Mr. Tingle purported to measure the
breeding areas in the early spring when unoccupied, and then to compare them with
the ground occupied in the summer to make the necessary corrections. He found a
rookery space of 12,715,500 square feet, with a population of 6,357,750 breeding seals
and young. Mr. Elliott's rookery space had been 6,386,840 square feet, with a
population of 3,193,4'20 breeding seals and young. Mr. Tingle, however, took
exception to the estimate of space assigned to the individual animals, believing it
too small. He therefore reduced his estimate by one-fourth, or to 4,768,430, still
an increase of 1,574,900 over Mr. Elliott's figures.
The absurdity of this estimate makes it hardly worth considering. At the time
it was made the herd was well on the way of decline. One element in the estimate
may perhaps be cited as indicative of its value as a whole. The rocky beach at the
foot of the cliffs, between the termination of Gorbatch rookery and the angle of
Zortoi sands, was made a separate rookery, with a population of 11,000 seals. The
ground has never been occupied as breeding territory. Whatever may have been
the purpose of this enumeration, it certainly did not give the facts in the case.
In the year 1890 Mr. Elliott again visited the fur-seal islands and made another
estimate of their population. He employed the same methods used in 1872-1874.
He found the seals occupying breeding territory to the extent of 1,918,786 square
feet.1 In his former estimate the ground occupied contained 6,386,840 -square feet.
Applying his original space unit to the area of 1890, Mr. Elliott found a population .
of 959,393 "breeding seals and young."
For this second estimate we can only say that it is as bad, if not worse, than the
first. All that we have said regarding the census of 1872-1874 applies with equal
force to the census of 1890, for, as Mr. Elliott tells us, "it is made in precisely the
same time and method." We may call attention specially to the fact that notwithstanding Lagoon rookery is found to be reduced from 37,000 animals to 9,000, the
shore front of the rookery had been doubled in length, being 750 feet long in 1872-1874
and 1,500 in 1890. No explanation is offered or suggested for this extension. On the
island of St. George, which has at the best only a limited extent of breeding territory,
and this probably fully occupied in 1872-1874, Mr. Elliott in 1890 more than doubles
the length of all its rookeries. On East rookery alone he expands the water front
from 900 feet in 1872-1874 to 3,240 in 1890. As a result of this expansion he finds that
though the seals have become reduced to one-fourth on St. Paul Island, on St. George
the reduction has only been to one-half.
1 Elliott's estimate for 1890 is 500,000 square feet less in extent than that of Messrs. True and
Townsend for 1895. Dealing with the more accurate maps and when the herd was at least a half
smaller, they found 2,616,063 square feet of rookery space as against his 1,918,786. ■**
It is not possible for us to suggest any explanation or justification for the vagaries
which these estimates of Mr. Elliott show, and they need not be further discussed
here. In an appendix to the recent republication,1 by order of Congress, of reports
of agents and others connected with the fur-seal islands, they have been considered
at length in connection with the subject-matter of the reports of which they are
The most recent computation of the seals by acreage measurements is that made
by Messrs. True and Townsend in 1895. In this a decided improvement was made in
securing the space unit occupied by the individual seal. Instead of using an arbitrary
estimate, a count of the cows was made on Kitovi and Lagoon rookeries and on parts
of Lukanin and Tolstoi. The area of the counted districts was then taken from the
current maps, and the average space occupied by the individual seals found. For the
4,110 cows counted, this average was found to be 46 square feet, ranging from 65
square feet on Lagoon rookery to 29 on Tolstoi. As the spaces counted were all of
the scattered or "unmassed" sort, an arbitrary reduction to one-half of this space, or
23 square feet, was made for the crowded or "massed" breeding grounds.
Taking these averages and applying them to the acreage extent of the breeding
grounds as obtained from the current maps of the rookeries, an estimate of the population of all the rookeries was arrived at. The total number so obtained was about
75,000 adult breeding seals. To make it comparable with the former estimates of Mr.
Elliott we may add the 70,000 pups, making a total of 145,000 " breeding seals and
In this enumeration it was assumed that, at the time the census was made, all, or
practically all, the animals were present, including the yearling and 2-year-old females.
The effect of this assumption we have already alluded to in connection with Mr.
Elliott's estimate. The fact is that at no time during the season are more than half
the cows present. The estimate must therefore be doubled at least to make it
represent actual conditions.
But as a matter of fact, for the estimate of 1895 this will not be sufficient. The
counts on which the estimate is based were made before the real maximum of population on the rookeries was reached. The counting was done between the 8th and
10th of July, whereas the investigations of 1896 and 1897 show that the maximum of
population is probably not reached until about the 15th of the month. Mr. Townsend
himself, in referring to the estimate of 1895, remarks that "the rookeries may not
have (as yet) reached their breeding height."
Another weakness in this estimate lies in the arbitrary reduction to one-half in
obtaining the space for the massed rookeries.   Our investigations on this point seem
1" Seal and Salmon Fisheries, and General Resources* of Alaska," vol. 3. 86 THE  FUR  SEALS  OF  THE  PRIBILOF  ISLANDS.
to indicate that the space unit for massed breeding grounds should be smaller. But
for the underestimate which may therefore be involved on this account we can offer
no correction. For the underestimate due to the early date at which the count was
made we can make a rough estimate. The daily count on Lukanin rookery for the
season of 1897 shows that between the 8th and 15th of July there was an increase of 15
per cent in rookery population. This would increase the figures for 1895 as originally
given to about 80,000, and after doubling for absentees the corrected total would
be about 160,000 breeding females. The inclusion of the yearlings and 2-year-old
females does not affect the total, as they were not present, and no allowance need be
made for them.
This total of 160,000 females, or giving to each female a pup and adding the
estimated number of breeding bulls, making 325,000 "breeding seals and young," is
probably within 10,000 of the facts for the season of 1895. That it comes thus near
the truth, however, is the result of accident rather than good management. The
corrections which, in the light of subsequent experience, we have been able to make,
are vital to its truth and chauge the results radically. The original results could not
have been trusted alone, and were wholly misleading.
The really important feature in the estimate of 1895 is the count of cows in which
it originates. This was a distinct step in advance, in that it approached a rational
basis. In the application of the unit of space to the rookeries not counted the method
was unfortunate. The area of breeding ground was taken from maps in themselves
imperfect, oh which the rookery outlines were sketched by the aid of the eye. The
rookery boundaries, as we have shown, are constantly changing as the season
advances, and there being no definite landmarks to guide the observer, it is impossible that the outlines should be correctly located. The enumeration is therefore
carried into the region of pure speculation and has only the value of the individual
judgment of the person tracing the maps.
It is fair to say, however, that nothing definite and exact was claimed for the
census of 1895, as Mr. True's own words, in commenting upon it, will show. He says:
"I do not think that any estimate can be made which will approximate the truth
more than remotely," and he continues to say that the chief use of such calculations is
"the elimination of fanciful estimates of the number of seals."
In leaving the estimates of 1895 it is necessary to refer to two other calculations
of rookery population made for the same year on a different basis. One of these is
by Mr. J. B. Crowley, chief agent in charge of these islands. He finds, as he says,
by actual count, a total of 99,936 breeding cows and 5,552 breeding bulls. When we
make the necessary doubling of this estimate of cows and add the pups we have a
total of about 305,552 "breeding seals and young."   Of the methods or details of this ESTIMATES  OF  NUMBERS. 87
enumeration we know nothing beyond Mr. Crowley's statement1 that "the breeding
seal herd has been reduced to such proportions that it can now be counted with
comparative accuracy."
The other calculation is one given by Colonel Joseph Murray.2 He finds 5,000
bulls and 200,000 cows. Here again we have no details and only know that his
method of enumeration was to count the breeding bulls and then to apply to each an
average harem of 40 cows. This average size of harem is so large as to make it
unnecessary to double for the absentee cows. We have, therefore, simply to add the
necessary 200,000 pups and we have a total of 405,000 " breeding seals and young."
That Colonel Murray's count of bulls is more than a rough approximation its
author has never claimed. That in greater part it is incorrect is clear from the foct
that, while it was begun about July 18 it was not completed before August 21. Our
investigations show that a count of harems after July 25 can give no idea of actual
conditions. In examining the count, as given, moreover, our attention is attracted to
the fact that on Lagoon rookery he finds only 50 harems, whereas Mr. True and Mr.
Townsend, counting separately, found between 115 and 120 harems in the same season.
While having manifestly suffered additional decline, it still had in 1897 115 harems.
On the other hand, for a total of about 300 harems on Kitovi and Lukanin rookeries,
counted by Messrs. True and Townsend, Colonel Murray records 500. These differences tend to show that the latter^ count is made in round numbers, no account of
anything less than 50 being taken.
To give an idea of the nature of these various estimates for 1895, it is worth while
to contrast them in tabular form:
Estimates, season of 1895.
It is not a gracious task to call attention to these widely variant and conflicting
estimates put forward by authorized agents of the Government, and published simultaneously; but as they have been usedxby the British Commission to weaken the force
of the more accurate and conclusive statistics of 1896, they must be shown in their
true light as rough efforts at approximation, not corrected by other data.
In leaving the subject of acreage measurements it will serve our purpose, as
showing the unsatisfactory nature of the results thus obtained, to compare for a
1 Sen. Doc. 137, Pt. I, p. 35. 2 Sen. Doc. 137, Pt. I, p. 372. 88
moment the various estimates that have been made on this basis.   They are as
Acreage estimates of fur seals, Pribilof Islands.
By -whom made.
Square feet.
70,423 •
Breeding seals.
Breeding seals and young.
Cows only, including one
and two year olds.
Elliott (1872-1874)	
True  and   Townsend
To sum up this discussion of past conditions, we may conclude that the estimate
of 1869 by Captain Bryant is only a rough approximation, and gives but little idea of
the real condition of the herd. Mr. Elliott's estimate of 1872-1874 is scarcely less
unsatisfactory, being, as we now know, nearly twice too great. His 1890 estimate,
through the arbitrary curtailment of the breeding territory occupied, is nearer the
truth, but still far from it. The estimate of Mr. Tingle is wholly untrustworthy. The
estimate of Messrs. True and Townsend for 1895, when subjected to the obvious
corrections and additions, which later observations show to be necessary, is very
near the facts.
In view of what has just been said, it becomes evident that the early estimates,
made shortly after the herd, came into the possession of the United States, can not be
relied upon. There is abundant proof that the estimates are grossly exaggerated, but
data is wanting to enable us to determine the real facts. Some estimate of these early
conditions is, however, necessary, and no better method for obtaining it is available
than a theoretical reconstruction of the herd on the basis of the present known
condition of its breeding seals. To assist in this we have the record of the bachelor
herd, as indicated in the history of the quota for the first twenty years of American
From 1871 to 1889, inclusive, the hauling grounds of the Pribilof Islands yielded
100,000 skins annually. The seals for the greater part of this period were obtained
before the 20th of July. It is the testimony of those connected with the work that
there were always killable seals left at the close of the season, and we know that the
rookeries never lacked the necessary supply of male life.
During the present season a quota of slightly more than 20,000 seals was obtained
after continuing the driving until the 10th of August and killing closer than ever
before. In other words, at the present time the hauling grounds are not capable
under like conditions of supplying one-fifth the number of killable seals to day that
they were able without difficulty to furnish for 13 years prior to 1884.
The bachelor herd is directly dependent upon the breeding herd. It is nominally
taken from the surviving 3-year-old males and is directly related to the birthrate of
three years prior to its taking.   Three years ago, or in 1894, therefore, the birthrate ESTIMATES  OF  NUMBERS. 89
of pups was between one-fifth and one-sixth of what it was in the period from 1871
to 1880. The breeding herds of the same years bear the same relation to each other.
The present total of breeding females on the islands is about 130,000. We may infer,
therefore, that in the period 1871-1880 there were about five times as many, or in the
neighborhood of 600,000 breeding females.
Of the bachelors or nonbreeding seals no satisfactory estimate has been or can be
made, but it is evident from the data now available that about one half the seals are
lost iu the first migration at sea, while the number is still further reduced to one-
third, possibly to less, before the age of 3 years is reached. From this we can in a
rough way calculate that in connection with the quota of 20,000 bachelors we have a
total of approximately 400,000 animals, including breeding females, their young, and
all other classes. This is a ratio of 20 to 1 between the entire herd and the herd of
killable seals, and would, when applied to the herd of 1871-1880, give a total of
about 2,000,000 animals of all classes.
In putting forward this reconstruction of past conditions we are well aware that
it is still only an estimate.    We have, however, in making it the advantage of
definitely known premises to start from, and the results harmonize fully with the •
conditions of our problem.
Assuming the figures we have arrived at, we find that they work out in harmony
with the recorded facts of the quota for this period. Thus, with a birthrate of 600,000
pups, we may assume one-half, or 300,000, to survive to the age of 1 year, and 200,000
to the age of 3 years. One-half of these were males and were killed to fill the quota.
We know, of course, that not all the surviving males were killed, and therefore that
either the birthrate of pups was greater by 25,000 to 50,000 than the one assumed, or
that the ratio of loss was slightly less than one-half and one-third. The computation
is not intended to be exact, and can not be made so, but it is sufficient to show the
direction in which the truth lies, and is conclusive enough to show that during the
time of the herd's greatest expansion its breeding females numbered about 600,000, a
figure sufficiently exact for all practical purposes.
Adding an equal number of pups annually and 20,000 breeding bulls, we have a
total of 1,400,000 " breeding seals and young," for the period in which Mr. Elliott
estimates 3,193,42g.1
1 We must insist that the calculations in the preceding paragraphs are intended merely as rough
approximations to show the early