John Muir


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islands during the breeding season is estimated at between 3 and 4 millions. There seems to be no falling off in numbers. Only young males are taken by the Co., but many of them are killed at points far from here, at the Aleutian islands and about the straights of Juan de Fuca and the outer islands of the Alexander Arch. No one knows certainly whence they come or whither they go, but inasmuch as they make their appearance every year about the shores of the Aleutian chain of islands shortly after their disappearance from St. Paul and St. George, and then later southwards towards the Oregon coast it is supposed that they are the same and that they thus scatter off 10,000 of miles, returning every year to their birthplaces like shoals of salmon. They begin to appear on the breeding grounds about the first of June, a few earlier, and take up their stations back from the shore on the bluff, the old bulls first, each keeping possession against all comers of his own ground, there to await the arrival of the pregnant females, accompanied by the younger ones, male and female. These arrive a month or so later, one male taking possession of from ten to forty females. At height of the season the ground is covered with them for miles. They never return to the seal until about ready to leave unless the heat should be oppressive, which it seldom is because of the almost constant rain and fog. The fog that covers these breeding grounds seems to be the cause of their selection by the seals. They are fat when they come, but as they abstain from food for nearly 3 months they are very lean when they go. In addition to the 100,000 taken here, the Co. obtains by purchase from the Russ[ians] at the Behring and Copper islands and southward as far as Oregon, some 40,000 more. [Drawings – 5 small bits in one block] They are all sent to the London market. (The fur seal is also found at the Falkland Islands. Formerly immense numbers were killed there, now only about 5,000 per season. Not being protected by law they seem in danger of being exterminated as they were here while in possession of the

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Original journal dimensions: 11 x 18.5 cm.

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Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist