A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 11 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 783 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 11.

We killed many of these animals for food, particularly for their hearts and tongues, which we esteemed exceeding good eating, and preferable even to those of bullocks.  In general there was no difficulty in killing them, as they are incapable either of flight or resistance, their motion being the most unwieldy that can be imagined, and all the time they are in motion, their blubber is agitated in large waves under the skin.  One day, a sailor being carelessly employed in skinning a young sea-lion, the female from whom he had taken it, came upon him unperceived, and getting his head into her mouth, scored his skull in notches with her teeth in many places, and wounded him so desperately that he died in a few days, though all possible care was taken of him.[3]

[Footnote 3:  There are two species of the seal tribe which have received the name of sea-lion; the phoca leonina, or bottle-nosed seal, which is that of the text; and the phoca jubata, or maned seal, which is the sea-lion of some other writers.  These two species are remarkably distinguishable from each other, especially the moles:  The bottle-nosed seal having a trunk, snout, or long projection, on the upper jaw; while the male of the maned seal has his neck covered with a long flowing mane.  The latter is also much larger, the males sometimes reaching twenty-five feet in length, and weighing fifteen or sixteen hundred weight.  Their colour is reddish, and their voice resembles the bellowing of bulls.  The former are chiefly found in the Southern Pacific; while the latter frequent the northern parts of the same ocean.—­E.]

These are the principal animals which we found upon the island of Juan Fernandez.  We saw very few birds, and these were chiefly hawks, blackbirds, owls, and hummingbirds.  We saw not the paradela,[4] which burrows in the ground, and which former writers mention to be found here; but as we often met with their holes, we supposed that the wild dogs had destroyed them, as they have almost done the cats; for these were very numerous when Selkirk was here, though we did not see above two or three during our whole stay.  The rats, however, still keep their ground, and continue here in great numbers, and were very troublesome to us, by infesting our tents in the night.

[Footnote 4:  This name is inexplicable; but, from the context, appears to refer to some animal of the cavia genus, resembling the rabbit:  Besides, a small islet, a short way S.W. of Juan Fernandez, is named Isla de Conejos, or Rabbit Island.—­E.]

That which furnished us with the most delicious of our repasts, while at this island, still remains to be described.  This was the fish, with which the whole bay was most abundantly stored, and in the greatest variety.  We found here cod of prodigious size; and by the report of some of our crew, who had been formerly employed in the Newfoundland fishery, not less plentiful than on the banks of that island.  We had also cavallies, gropers, large breams, maids,

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