Seal, a carnivorous animal fitted for a life in the water. The animal famous for yielding the valuable fur, called seal-skin, is not a true seals but a kind of sea-lion with ears and more flexible limbs. The true seals have no external ears and their hind limbs are closely united together, being useless on land but very effective in water. The hind limbs of the sea-lions are separated, and are used by the animal when on land. All kinds of seals come on the land or on ice in great numbers during the breeding-season. The true seals vary from four to eight feet in length. Their fur is stiff, and they lack the woolly under fur of the fur-seals. They occur on both sides of the Atlantic. The common harbor-seal is found on British coasts and on those of Europe and North America. It is four or five feet long, usually yellowish gray, with darker spots. The Greenland seals are larger; they congregate on shore in immense numbers for breeding. All true seals are awkward on land, and move by means of the muscles of the trunk, assisted a little by the fore limbs. The hind limbs are entirely passive. A large number (390,174 in 1892) are killed annually for their hides and oil. Seals feed mainly on fish, but also eat crustacea and mollusks. The harbor-seals are sometimes destructive to salmon. The eared-seals, sea-lions, or sea-bears vary greatly in size. The larger ones reach a length of about ten feet. Their hind limbs are flexible and they make considerable journeys inland, but return to the water for food. To this group belong the fur-seals of the northern Pacific. They are of moderate size, a full-grown male being about six feet and a female about four feet in length. These animals breed on the Pribilov, Commander and Robben Islands of the North Pacific and of Bering Sea. Since 1835 they have in a measure been protected by law. The males three years old—at which age their fur is finest—are taken for their skins, with unusually large ones two years old and small ones four years old. From 1871 to 1889, inclusive, about 100,000 animals were taken annually, but they began to show a decline in 1885, and in 1890 only 21,000 skins were secured. In 1895 and 1896 the number was reduced to 16,000 and 15,000 respectively. Controversies in reference to these seal-fisheries arose between the United States, England and Russia. The questions were referred to arbitrators who met in Paris in 1893. In 1896 the United States and Great Britain each appointed a commission to study the life of the seals and the causes for their decline in numbers. The members of the American commission reached the conclusion that the decline in the herds is due to killing females in the open sea, where the sex cannot be readily distinguished. This form of capture should be abandoned, and the hunt for skins should be confined to killing on the land and restricted to three-year-old males. See Allen's Fur-Seal and Other Fisheries of Alaska (Washington, 1889), and Jordan's Report of the Fur Seal Investigations (Washington, 1898).