First person accounts of experiencing wildlife allow us to imagine what scientific papers never convey: the sight, smell, touch, sound of the animals which most of us never encounter. Libby: The Sketches, Letters & Journal of Libby Beaman, Recorded in the Pribilof Islands 1879-1880 is an astounding experience of a year in one of the most remote places on earth by a woman of unusual sensibilities and observational abilities.
While I look for her diary on seals themselves, I recommend that you consider taking an armchair trip to a unique environment in a unique time, just after the purchase of Alaska.
Among the many observations made by Ms. Beaman is that “pelagic pirating” created a threat to the herds reestablished after the Russian “depredation” of the seals in the region.
the bachelors–and the matkas live on the abundant sea life in these waters. They have no defenses. Twice we’ve seen Orcas chase them right up against rocks in the surf and swallow them….After the mating season, which will last until the end of July, the harems will break up…and…there will be even greater motion on the rookeries. Finally, when the freezing boorga blows out of Siberia about the end of August, all the seals will swim away…until the following spring, when again they will come back in the same order–the bulls first, then the bachelors, then the cows, and finally the pups.
So fascinating is Beaman’s account that I’ve begun a search for “The Seal Book,” which is a separate diary with observations about the seals’ behavior.