National Geographic : 1939 Feb
Photograph byWilliam L.Morgan THE SEA OTTERS' STRANGE RETURN RECALLS FUR-RUSH DAYS When Monterey was Spanish California's capital and San Francisco still was Yerba Buena, Russians caught, and New England skippers sold, otter furs in Europe and China for as much as $500 apiece, until the animals became almost extinct. A herd suddenly appeared south ofCarmel last summer and alert young men mounted telescopes and others rented field glasses to hundreds of visitors who motored out to the sequestered mouth ofBixby Creek towatch their queer antics. The awkward creatures, with heavy heads and short forefeet, carry their young on their backs, slap the water with their paddlelike hind legs, and even grasp their tails in their mouths and roll around like hoops. Here some float lazily upside down in the kelp, a habit that made them easy prey for the early hunters (page 166).