Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/349

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

The pups begin to take to the water when they are about a month old, clumsily at first, but soon becoming accustomed to the element. The rookery at the Pribylov Islands is broken up during the last days of July and the first week in August, The young have then become able to take care of themselves, and are abandoned by their mothers, who give themselves up to lounging in the waves. The "married seals," who have been constantly at their posts and restlessly active for three months without taking food or water, go down to the sea to feed and wash. Notwithstanding their long fast and hard work, they are not emaciated, but come out in good condition, having sustained life all the time by absorption of the thick stores of fat hidden under their skins. The mothers continue to idle, and the pups and "bachelors" to sport and frolic, till the storms of autumn begin to come on, when they all depart for warmer latitudes, after which they give no account of themselves till the next spring.

Dr. Gray, of the British Museum, made out nine genera and seventeen species of eared seals. He based his distinctions too often on insignificant differences, and erred to excess. Mr. Clark recognizes but nine species, and includes them all in the single genus Otaria. While the true seals confine themselves to cool latitudes, the Otariæ bear warmth and appear to be sensitive to changes of temperature, avoiding extreme cold. In the Atlantic Ocean they are found only in the extreme southern part, beginning at the mouth of the PSM V34 D349 The northern sea bear otavia ursina.jpgFig. 4.—The Northern Sea-Bear (Otaria ursina). Rio de la Plata, and extending thence all around the coasts of South America. They are common on the coast of California, along the Aleutian Islands to the coast of Japan, and in the Pribylov Islands, in Bering Sea, their best-known resort. They are found around the coast of New Zealand, the Auckland Islands, Tasmania, and the south and east coasts of Australia, at Kerguelen's Land and the Crozets, and near the Cape of Good Hope. Most of the skins found in the market are credited to the Falkland Islands, the Cape of Good Hope, and the Pribylov Islands.

The best-known species is the northern sea-bear (Otaria ursina, Fig. 4), which inhabits the Pribylov Islands. It frequents those islands in enormous numbers, their whole seal population being