National Geographic : 1948 Jan
Seal Hunting Off Jan Mayen have increased their sealing. Last year they refused to give the Norwegians letters of safe conduct, offering as the reason danger from mines. Headlong Race over Slippery Ice Long before dawn on the first day of our hunt all hands were up and eager to go. The ice crew climbed overside and sprinted after the startled seals. Men jumped from slip pery floe to floe, con stantly risking a fall into the frigid water. Across black, treacher ous leads they made long leaps (Plate VI). When one of the men fell in, his comrades quickly helped him out. Such mishaps occurred many times a day, but in the clear, clean Arc tic air no one caught cold. Dispatching the baby seals as quickly and mercifully as possible, the men brought them to the ship for skinning (Plate IV). It seemed a crime to kill those lovely cream white pups. They Smiles and S looked so sweet and Capt. Johan Vartdal innocent, staring up at scanning vast fields of us out of big, dark eyes one of Norway's leadin set in their soft spot less pelts (Plate V). It did not make the work any easier when the mother seals lifted heads above the ice to look for their youngsters (Plate VI). The baby harp seal must be taken while it is only a few days old. Then the pelt is soft and white, yielding a luxurious fur known as "whitecoat," which is also the name given to the young of this species. At birth the pup weighs seven to nine pounds, but when it is two weeks old it has put on a two-inch layer of fat and weighs between 40 and 50 pounds. The fat provides a food reserve, needed because after about two weeks the mother leaves the young seal for long intervals while Ole Iriele Backer torms Have Seamed the Skipper's Face of the Polhavet looks through eyes narrowed from glaring ice. Although only 44 years old, he has been g Arctic pilots for 23 years (page 57). she returns to the sea to feed. The newborn whitecoat is not able to fend for itself until about a month after birth. Between the ages of 14 and 20 days the infant seal loses its woolly baby suit and be gins to grow a coat of stiff gray hair. Then he ventures into the sea for food. Seal Liver Delicious Seal meat is dark and dry. It tastes fairly good, but I would not call it a delicacy. It is used a lot on sealing vessels to supplement fresh meat brought from home. The liver is delicious, better to my taste than any calf's liver and very rich in vitamins.