John Muir


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sparkling with delight in hope of good meat after enduring what they thought poor fare aboard the ship. After floating for 8 or 10 minutes she sank to the bottom and was lost – a sad fate and luckless deed. It was pitiful to see the young one swimming around its dying mother, heeding neither the ship nor the boat. They are said to be very affectionate and bold in the defense of one another against every enemy whatever. We have seen but few as yet though in some places they are found in countless thousands. Many vessels are employed in killing them exclusively on the eastern Greenland coast, and along some portions of the coast of Asia. The whalers, here also, when they have poor success in whaling, devote themselves to walrus hunting, both for the oil they yield and for the valuable ivory. The latter is worth from 40 to 70 cents per lb. in S.F., and a pair of large tusks weigh from 8 to 10 lbs. Along all the northern coasts, both of Asia and of America, the natives hunt and kill this animal, which to them is hardly less important for food and other uses than the seals. Its tough hide is used to cover canoes for cordage and the flesh is excellent, while the ivory formerly was employed for spear heads and other uses, and is now an important article of trade for guns, ammunition, calico, bread, flour, molasses, etc. The natives now kill a good many whales, having obtained lances and harpoons from the whites. Whale bone

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Original journal dimensions: 11.5 x 21 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