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LARGE CATCH OF SEALS.
shooting them on the 'pans' of ice, sometimes falling in with a herd of them jammed in ice and unable to escape, and ‘batting' them in multitudes. This year will be memorable in the annals of seal killing by the wonderful success of second trips and the vast number of old seals brought in. Let us follow the fortunes of the steamer Neptune as an illustration of the romantic side of seal killing. She did but moderately well on her first trip, having brought in only 8,000 seals, value 24,000 dols. On her second trip she got caught in an ice pack in Green Bay, and vainly tried to escape. When there the men were sent out over the ice fields, and some of them wandered so far as ten miles from the steamer. At this spot a huge herd of old seals was discovered caught in the pack and unable to escape. The men returned to the ship with the welcome news, and the whole crew, 30 in number, formed themselves into line like soldiers charging, and rushed on their prey. The work of destruction by striking them on the nose with a long club called a 'gaff' was eagerly pursued, and at the end of four hours 18,000 great seals lay dead within a small area. But how were they to be got aboard, the vessel being ten miles distant? To drag them over the ice was impossible. Well, by one of those rare pieces of good fortune which sometimes befall the hunter, the grasp of the ice relaxed-the east wind ceased to press from the outside, and next morning the steamer was able to get alongside the slaughtered seals and all were easily put on board. The striking thing, too, was, that had they not been killed on that particular afternoon the whole would have escaped next morning through the openings in the ice. The average worth of an old harp seal is 6 dols.; so that the value of this cargo was 108,000 dols. This is the most valuable cargo of seals ever taken in Newfoundland. This single steamer thus earned 132,000 dols. in a little over two months. One third goes among the men; the captain will get 4,000 dols. for his share; the remainder belongs to the owners. Several other steamers have arrived with good trips of old seals. The Wolf has 8,400, Ranger
IMMENSE SLAUGHTER OF SEALS.
7,000, Walrus 3,800, Greenland 4,300. The Vanguard and Commodore are also said to have fair trips, but are not reported. When one remembers that every old seal is worth 6 dols., the value of these united cargoes is very considerable. The weight in fat of the Neptune's cargo is 850 tuns. All the captains unite in declaring that they never saw the seals more numerous, so that to all appearance our seal fishery presents as yet no signs of exhaustion. But I should like to hear what Professor Baird
would say to this terrible slaughter of old seals, coming after the destruction of the young ones.
It seems like killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. It is vain to enact restrictions when men are out in those ice solitudes and herds of seals around. Not till unmistakable signs of an exhaustion appear shall we get the killing of old seals prohibited.
“ The persistent east wind drove the great body of the young seals up the bays and in upon islands and headlands on our northern coast, thus bringing them within reach of the settlers ashore. The whole population of these places rushed out and
PROPORTION OF OIL FROM BLUBBER. 269
slaughtered and dragged the seals ashore. Young men and maidens, old men and children,' were eagerly engaged in the work. News arrived some time ago that in two localities, Twillingate and Fogo, 100,000 seals had been taken in this way-value, 300,000 dols. It is supposed that at least 50,000 seals additional must have been taken in other neighbouring localities from which no news has yet arrived. Where is the gold mine in the world that can compare with our seal fishery? How sad if by reckless destruction of these valuable creatures we should exhaust this important industry! That there is fear of such a result is evident when we look at so many other fisheries once as flourishing as ours and now non-productive.”
Seal-oil is also obtained in the Caspian and White Seas, and other parts of Russia. In the Caspian Sea about 149,000 to 160,000 pouds of 36 lbs. are obtained annually; in the White Sea half that quantity. The Capuchin or hooded seal (Cystophora cristata) is found to yield there 360 lbs. of blubber, the Phoca Groenlandica 160 to 240 lbs., the Phoca annellata 120 lbs., and the young white seal about 60 lbs.
Repeated and careful experiments in rendering out seal fat or blubber in Newfoundland, show the relative produce of pure oil obtained from the different varieties of seal to be as follows, per barrel, when in prime condition
The average quantity of oil from 1,000 seals may be roughly estimated at 10 tuns. Seal-oil has ranged in price from £ 30 to £32 ios. per tun. Seal skins according to size, from 8s.
SEAL'S FLESH AS FOOD.
At the Cape of Good Hope the technical names for seals are wigs, pups, and black pups, the middling and small skins are considered the best.
Seal skins in crust are sold according to weight, those of 25 lbs. to 45 lbs. will fetch 78s. to 100s. per dozen, those weighing 50 lbs. to 80 lbs., 12os. to 2005. When split for binders they sell at 78s. to gos. per dozen, or at from 5d. to rod. per lb. The common terms for the different kinds of skins are, blue backs, white coats, and hair seals.
While the products of these animals have become regular articles of commerce, and contribute to the requirements of civilised life, it should also be remembered that they are even more essential to the well-being of the tribes of men inhabiting the Arctic regions. “Seals (observes Crantz) are more needful to them than sheep are to us. The seals flesh supplies them with palatable and substantial food; the fat is sauce to their other aliment, and furnishes them with oil for light and fire, while at the same time it contributes to their wealth in every form, seeing that they barter it for all kinds of necessaries. They sew better with the fibres of seal's sinews than with thread or silk; of the fine internal membranes they make their body raiment and their windows; of the skins they make their buoys, so much used in fishing, and many domestic utensils, and of the coarser kinds their tents and their boats of all sizes, in which they voyage and seek provisions.”
It has been recently stated, “Whales and walruses the Esquimaux capture when they come in the way, but the seal is their daily bread; his flesh and blubber support them and feed their lamps; his skin clothes them and forms their kayaks, with which they brave the stormiest seas; the seal's bone, where iron is not to be had, barbs their harpoons, and seal's bladder forms the float with which, when the prey is speared, it is so hampered that it is unable to escape."
There is no food more delicious to the taste of the Esquimaux than the flesh of the seal, and especially that of the common seal
MODE OF COOKING SEAL'S FLESH.
(Phoca vitulina). But it is not only the human inhabitants who find it has such excellent qualities, all the larger carnivora prey on seals. Seal's meat is so unlike the flesh to which Europeans. are accustomed, that it is not surprising that we should have some difficulty at first in making up our minds to taste it; but when once that difficulty is overcome, everyone praises its flavour, tenderness, digestibility, juiciness, and its decidedly warming after effects. Its colour is almost black, from the large amount of venous blood it contains, except in very young seals, and is,
therefore, very singular-looking, and not inviting, while its flavour is unlike anything else, and cannot be described except by saying “delicious!” To suit European palates, there are certain precautions to be taken before it iscooked. It has to be cut in thin slices, carefully removing any fat or blubber, and is then soaked in salt water for from 12 to 24 hours to remove the blood, which gives it a slightly fishy flavour. The blubber has such a strong taste that it requires an arctic winter's appetite to find out how good it is. The daintiest morsel is the liver, which requires no soaking, but may be eaten as soon as the animal is killed. The