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at these islands have suffered great reduction in consequence of pelagic sealing in the North Pacific and Bering Sea,
Extermination from which if continued must result in their practical exter- pelagic sealing immimination—a fate that has overtaken nearly all of the vent. many formerly populous fur-seal rookeries in the southern hemisphere. For many years past the Pribilof and Commander Island rookeries have furnished nine-tenths of all the fur-seal skins obtained for commercial purposes.
VI.-Genus ARCTOCEPHALUS F. Cuv,
7. CALIFORNIA FUR-SEAL Arctocephalus sp. nov.
Distinct from Alasaka Seal.
Remains off the coast of California.
Habitat: Islands off the coast of Lower California, from Cerros Island northward.
Formerly large numbers of fur-seals were taken at the San Benito, Cerros (or Cedros), Guadalupe, Santa Barbara, and other islands off the coast of Lower California, and also on the coast of
Excessive hunting, the mainland. Though formerly abundant at all these points, they have become nearly exterminated by the indiscriminate and persistent attacks of the seal hunters.
Until recently the fur-seals off the Lower California coast were supposed to be the same as the Alaska species, but Dr. Merriam has recently obtained skulls from the old killing grounds on Guadalupe Island which show that it is not only a different, and as yet a probably undescribed species, but that it is referable to the genus Arctocephalus, not previously known to occur north of the equator. It is resident the whole year off the California coast, and resorts to the caves on the islands it frequents to bring forth its young. In these respects it resembles the fur-seals of the Galapagos Islands, to which it seems to be closely related.
The following historical notes may be of interest in the present connection:
In 1825 Capt. Benjamin Morrell cruised along the west coast of Mex ico and California in search of fur-seals. Under date of May 20, 1825, he writes that he arrived at Cape
Voyage of Captain Blanco, in latitude 42° 49' N. “Between this cape and that of Mendocino, which is in latitude 400 17' N.
there are many small islands and rocks, some of which lie 3 miles from the main. On these islands or keys I expected to find fur-seals, whereas I found them all manned with Russians, standing ready with their rities to shoot every seal or sea-otter that showed its head above water." (Morrell, Voyages and Discoveries, p. 212.) Continuing southward, "perceiving little prospect of taking fur-seals on any part of the coast which the Russians have monopolized," he reached Socorro Island, in latitude 180 53' N. “At 6 a. m. the boats were despatched to examine the island in search of fur-seals; but returned, after a faithful inspection, without seeing more than twenty animals of that species. They saw about 300 sea-leopards and 1,500 hair-seals." (Ibid., p. 213.)
He visited Guadalupe Island earlier in the season (March 27–31), and says: “We lay here three days, during which time
Guadalupe Island. we took a number of fur-seals.” A few days later he visited Cerros Island, and sent out boats to search the island, but neither seals nor sea-elephants were seen. He says: “ There are many fine fish to be caught around this
Morrell in 1825.
Coast of Mexico and California.
Islands of St. Clem.
islan:1, and it was formerly a great resort for sea-elephants and furseals; but it now appears to be entirely abandoned by these animals."
(Ibid., p. 196.) On April 8 he landed at Cenizas
Island, in about latitude 30°, in search of fur-seals, but found only sea-leopards and sea-elephants, about 400 of the
former and 800 of the latter. Later (April 23 to May 11, St. Barbara, St. 5) he “examined the islands of St. Clement, St. BarRosa, and St. Miguel
. bara, St. Rosa, and St. Miguel,” for fur-seals, but, he says “ without much success," although he saw a few sea-elephants
and many “sea-leopards.” On May 11 he arrived at
the Farallon Islands, of which he says: “Many years ago this place was the resort of numerous fur-seal, but the Russians have made such havoc among them that there is scarcely a breed left. On this barren rock we found a Russian family and twenty-three Codiarks, or Northwest Indians, with their bark canoes. They were employed in taking sea-leopards, sea-horses, and sea-elephants for their skins, oil, and flesh, the latter being jerked for the Russian inarket on the Northwest Coast.” (Ibid., pp. 108, 110.) Captain Scammon refers to the former occurrence of fur-seals at San
Benito Islands and on the 6 coast of California," where,
he says, “ many beaches were found fronting gullies, where [fur] seals in large numbers formerly gathered; and as they had plenty of ground to retreat upon, the sealers sometimes drove them far enough back to inake sure of the whole herd, or that portion of them the skins of which were desirable.” (Scammon, Marine Mammalia of the Northwest Coast, pp. 152, 154.) Unfortunately Captain Scammon's account gives no definite dates, but the period referred to must have been prior to the year 1850. le also refers, in Mr. J. Ross Browne's “ Resources of the Pacific Slope” (p. 128), to Guadalupe and Cerros Islands as having been formerly favorite resorts of fur-seals and seaelephants.
San Benito Islands.
8. JUAN FERNANDEZ FUR-SEAL Arctocephalus philippii (Peters).
Habitat: Islands of Juan Fernandez and Mas-á-Fuera, and probably the coast of Chili and adjacent islands. Probably, also, the St. Felix Group and the Galapagos Archipelago.
The above name was given in 1866 to the fur-seal of Juan Fernandez and Mas-á-Fuero. Whether distinct from the fur-seal of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego, the Falkland, and other islands to the southward has not as yet been satisfactorily determined, owing to lack of good series of specimens for comparison from these different localities.
While formerly abundant at all the localities above named, it has for many years been practically extinct, commercially considered.
9. SOUTHERN FUR-SEAL, Arctocephalus australis (Zimm.). Habitat: Southern coasts of South America, from the southern border of Brazil and Chili southward; also Falkland Islands and Tierra del Fuego, and probably also the South Shetland and South Georgian Islands and the Sandwich Group. Formerly immense rookeries of this species existed at many points
within the area above given as the habitat of the speExcessive hunting.
cies, but it was hunted by the sealers almost to extinc. tion during the half century ending about the year 1835. At the present time too few are found anywhere to render the pursuit of the animals profitable.
South Shetland Is.
The South Shetlands are noted for the superior quality of fur-seal skins obtained there, and it is not improbable that an examination of specimens from there and from the lands. South Georgian Islands would show them to be speci- South Georgian Isfically separable from the Falkland Island and Patagonian species.
10. South AFRICAN FUR-SEAL, Arctocephalus delalandi (Gray).
Habitat: Shores and adjacent islands of the west coast of South Africa, north to about latitude 280 S.; also Tristan d'Acunha and Gough Islands.
The slanghter of hundreds of thousands of these fur-seals for their skins during the early part of the present century
Excessive hunting. brought the species to the verge of extinction. Of late years the sinall remnant existing on the west coast of Cape Colony have been preserved from extermination Government protecthrough the protection of the Colonial Government of Cape Colony.
The fur-seal of the Tristan d'Acunha group and Gough Island, where formerly thousands were killed annually, is provisionally referred to this species.
and Gough Island.
11. KERGUELEN FUR-SEAL, Arctocephalus gazella (Peters).
Habitat: Kerguelen Island, St. Paul and Amsterdam Islands, and probably the Crozet and Prince Edward Islands.
This species has the same history as the preceding—once abundant at all the groups of islands above named, there have been for the last forty years not enough of them left to be of real commercial importance.
12. NEW ZEALAND FUR-SEAL, .lrctocephalus forsteri (Lesson).
Habitat: Coasts and adjacent islands of New Zealand, southwestern Australia, and Tasmania, and the Oceanic Islands to the southward and eastward (Chatham, Bounty, Antipodes, Auckland, Campbell, Macquarie, etc.).
This species has the same history in respect to former abundance and subsequent decrease to the verge of extinction as the
Recent government preceding species. Of late years the few remaining
protection. within the jurisdiction of the colony of New Zealand have received government protection.
HABITS OF SOUTHERN FUR-SEALS (Genus Arctocephalus).
The habits of no wild animal during the breeding season are perhaps better known than are those of the Northern or Alaskan Fur-Seal. The time of their arrival in spring at the Pribilof rookeries, their polygamous and gregarious habits, the manner of reproduction, and the character and behavior of the different classes of seals constituting the herds have again and again been recounted with the utmost detail. Much less has been written of the habits of the various Southern fur-seals, but enough has been recorded by the early explorers and by intelligent sealing masters to show that fur-seals everywhere have the same general habits. The very careful observations of Delano, Fanning, Wed. dell, and especially of Morrell, made during the early part of the present
Account of habits,
century, are here transcribed as of special interest in the present connection. Capt. Amasa Delano, who visited Mas-á-Fuero and the coast of Chile
for fur-seals about the beginning of the present cenby ('apt. Delano, tury (1798 and later), has left the following account of
their habits: “Seals in the southern latitudes go on shore in the months of Noveinber or December, for the purpose of bringing forth their young. They meet together at that time, male and female, and remain near the shore or on it from that time till August or September, when they go off to sea altogether. When they come on shore they creep up sometimes 100 or 200 rods from the water. They bring forth their young and nurse them in the same manner as the canine species do, and for several weeks after are as helpless and something similar to a young pup. The young ones are perfectly ignorant of swimming until five or six weeks old, when the dam drags them to the water by the neck and learns [sic] them to swim. • They copulate on shore. The females go eleven months with young, according to the best calculation we were able to make. They seldom have more than one and never more than two pups. Their young never come on shore during the first year after they are carried off to sea.” (Delano, Voyages, p. 307.) The following, from Capt. Edward Fanning, who had a long personal
experience as a sealer, gives some additional informaAccount of habits, tion relating to the fur-seals of the same region as the by Capt. Fanning.
preceding: “The clap-matches seldom have more than one young at a time, although sometimes two; it is at this season particularly that the wigs (old males) are very savage, never hesitating to fly at and attack with great spirit any person who ventures to approach them. They live upon fish and marine productions; stones also have been found in their maws.
They migrate, and with the season return to the shore and herd in rookeries on the rocks, and in the gullies, returning to the water again when the season is over; at this time the animal is very lean, so much so that the skin has become very loose about it; nothing more after this is seen of them until the fol. lowing season, when they are to be observed coming up again to the shore exceeding plump and well-filled; where they retire to to get so fat is something I never could understand; it is also true that they have been met at sea shortly before going on shore in large shoals swimming through the water towards their haunts, much like a shoal of herring-bogs, or porpoises. In calm weather and a smooth sea they have been seen floating along, hundreds together, and asleep, with but the nose and two of their flippers sticking up out of water, which at a distance appears like the trunk of a tree with its roots atloat; when caught thus asleep they can easily be taken by the harpoon or spear, by approaching them silently.” (Fanning, Voyages, PP. 356, 358.) Capt. Benjamin Morrell, in his "Narrative of Four Voyages to the
South Sea," etc., during the years 1821 to 1831, mainly Morrell, for the capture of seals, makes frequent reference to
their habits, from which the following, relating more especially to the fur-seals of Staten Land, is taken: "These amphibi. ous animals come on shore in the month of November to bring forth and muurse their young
where they remain until May. They often form their rookeries 100 to 200 yards from the water. They bring forth and nurse their young as the canine species do, and for two weeks after their birth the young ones are as helpless as canine pups of the same
Account of habits, by Capt. 1821-1881.
age. The art of swimming, it appears, is not theirs by instinct, as they know nothing about it until taught by their parents. When they are three or four weeks old the mothers drag them to the water by the neck and give them their first lesson in the science of aquatic locomotion. They copulate on shore, and the female goes about ten months with young. According to the best calculation I can make they seldom produce more than one pup at a birth, and never more than three; and the young ones never come on shore during the first year of their lives.” (Morrell, Voyages and Discoveries, pp. 63, 64.)
The same writer further says: “ The striking disparity of size between the male and female is also worthy of remark.
Distinctions of sex. The large male is about 7 feet in length, whereas the female never exceeds 4 feet. The large males are not the most numerous; but being the most powerful they are enabled to keep in their possessions all the females. At the time of parturition the number of males flege females attending one female [lege male; obviously there is hore a transposition of terms] is in the proportion of about one to a dozen; a proof that these animals are the greatest polygamists in the world, not even excepting the Turks. That they are gregarious and social is evident to the most superficial observer who surveys their rookeries, where they herd together in classes and at different periods.
“Warmed by the cheering influence of an antarctic spring, the males of the largest size go on shore about the 1st of November, corresponding to our May, and there await the arri. Migration of seals. val of the females, which happens about the 1st of December. This, of course, is an annual assignation and occurs, as regularly as the migration of our northern shad from the ocean to the fresh-water rivers, for purposes perfectly analogous. As soon as the female
Propagation of seals. seal makes her appearance at the edge of the beach, one of the most gallant of the males immediately takes her under his protection. It seldom happens, however, that he is not obliged to sustain his right by one or more combats with his rivals. While the males are fighting in the most desperate manner, the object of their bloody feud sits calmly looking on, contemplating the fray with apparent delight, and no little self-complacency.
The proud victor now conducts his lovely prize from the late scene of contention up to the rookery prepared for her accommodation.
When the female has selected lier lodgings and become settled in the rookery, her partner is unremitting in his cares to afford her protection, does she evince the slightest indications of jealousy while he is showing the same polite attentions to a dozen other wives.
By the last of December all of the females have accomplished the purpose for which they came on shore.
“ When these animals are for the first time visited by man they evince no more apprehension of danger from their new guests than did the natives of San Salvador when first visited by the Spaniards; and the contidence of the poor seals is requited in the same manner as theirs was—by robbery and murder. In fact, they will lie still while their companions are slaughtered and skimed. But they soon become acquainted with the barbarous character of their invaders, withdraw their ill-placed confidence, and avoid the fatal intimacy. They now acquire habits of distrust and caution, aid devise ways and means for counteracting human strategem and treachery. They select more solitary retreats, on the tops of rocks, beneath high projecting cliffs, from which they can precipitate them
Xot afraid of man at first.