SEAL FISHERIES. The animals taken by sealers are mem bers of several genera, but are alike in being gregarious in habit, and in producing their young on shore, at well defined seasons, at places which are revisited year after year. Their meat, hides, fur and blubber are of the greatest value to primitive peoples for food, for canoe making, light and heat—even the sinews are utilized as thread—and except in the Antarctic, have made them a quarry from time immemorial; but when sealing on a large scale became important as a commercial undertaking, their habits both dictated the chief methods employed and rendered them in the highest degree vulnerable. One species, the sea cow (Rhytina stelleri), in deed became extinct only some 20 years after its discovery, and in some regions the depletion of others led to a cessation of seal ing. The first and usual method employed by sealers was to attack the herds both on the ice or, particularly, on the breeding grounds or "rookeries." In the pursuit of the fur seals of the Pacific (Otaridae) hunting in the open sea, or "pelagic" sealing was de veloped, and proved most wastefully destructive, owing to the fre quency with which the dead seals sank before they could be taken into the boats; pelagic sealing, however, was first restricted by various regulations and ultimately prohibited.
mon seal (Phoca vitulina), are not at present the subject of com mercial exploitation, though the latter is killed by fishermen under the conviction, not at present too well founded, that it causes great depredations among the food species.
Atlantic sealing occurs in the spring, from Novaya Zemlya to Newfoundland and Labrador. For the eastern grounds sealers sail chiefly from Norwegian ports, for the western from those of New foundland and Canada. They are not usually large vessels. The western sealers have been aided materially by the location of the herds by air craft. The young Greenland seals are born along the eastern grounds about the first half of March, and on the western grounds in the latter half of the same month. Some other seals keep somewhat the same season. The regulations made by most nations engaged in Atlantic-Arctic sealing are based on these facts. Newfoundland allows sealing between March 13 and April 15, and all grounds as far east as Jan Mayen (and a little farther) are closed to European sealing nations until early April; further east the industry is the subject of Russo-Norwegian agreements. Atlantic-Arctic sealing accounts annually for 600,000 or 700,000 seals. The take by vessels from Newfoundland and Canada now averages about 220,000 seals annually.