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The Sea-Otter2

Nature volume 85, pages 408409 (26 January 1911) | Download Citation



SOME twenty years ago, in the days of the Bering Sea question, Captain Snow was well known as an authority on certain of the fur-seal fisheries of the North Pacific, and he was, and still is, known as one of the few authorities on the geography of the Kurile Islands. He has now written a pleasant book telling some of his manifold adventures in this region of the world, and, above all, relating his experiences in pursuit of sea-otter. There is an interest which amounts to fascination in this singular animal. Fifty years ago it was comparatively plentiful all round the coast of the North Pacific, from California and Oregon to Kamtschatka and the Kuriles, though doubtless already much less abundant than in Steller's time, more than a hundred years before. But nowadays it has dwindled to very small numbers, here and there among the Aleutian and Kurile Islands, and these small numbers dwindle more and more every year. I know of no living naturalist who has seen the creature in its haunts, nor has any zoological garden ever possessed it. Once upon a time, by the way, I spent a fortnight on Copper Island, at the north end of which, five or six miles from my hut, was a large rookery of sea-otters; but while I was provided with passports giving me perfect freedom of access to the seal-rookeries, there was no word said about sea-otters; and day after day a polite functionary made excuses and apologies, a Cossack guard made neither the one nor the other, and I came away without ever seeing the sea-otter.


  1. 1.

    "British Birds' Eggs". By . Pp. 62 + 20 plates. (London: S.P.C K., 1910.) Price 5s.

  2. 2.

    "In Forbidden Seas". Recollections of Sea-Otter Hunting in the Kurils. By Pp. xiv + 303. (London: Edward Arnold, 1910.) Price 12S. 6d. net.

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