SEALS AND FISHERIES (Alaska Historic Information)
Fur Seals. The Commissioner of the Fisheries has stated the take of seal and fox skins from the Pribilof Islands for 1917 and 1918 netted the Government $6,400,000. Under careful governmental supervision the herd, at one time on the verge of annihilation, has increased to about 525,000 animals, which inhabit the waters, of Alaska during the summer season.
It is estimated that each seal kills at least two tons of fish each year. Consequently, of a total of 1,050,000 tons of fish killed each year by the herd, 450,000 tons may be called Alaska fish. If this is so, it would seem a wise policy on the part of the Government to make a thorough investigation, and perhaps not to allow the herd to increase to a number in excess of half a million.
Top—Potatoes, Near Dawson, Yukon Territory Bottom—Oats, Hunker Creek, Yukon Territory
Fish. The fishing industry of Alaska, measured by the value of its products, stands first among its industries. It is represented chiefly by five specific branches, the most important of which is the salmon fishery, with halibut in second place; herring, third; cod, fourth; and whaling, last.
Salmon. There are five species of Pacific salmon, all of which are taken in Alaska waters. Fishing operations are carried on along practically the entire coast of Alaska from Dixon entrance northward to Kotzbue Sound, an arm of the Arctic Ocean. The most important species commercially is the red salmon. The salmon are widely distributed and ascend most all the larger rivers of Alaska. Two-thirds of the catch, however, is made in Southeastern Alaska, the greater proportion being taken in fish traps.
Top—Five Finger Rapids, Yukon River in Yukon Bottom-—Victoria Rock, Yukon River
Four salmon hatcheries were operated in Alaska in 1919, the annual capacity of which was approximately 280,000,000 red salmon eggs. The total take of red salmon eggs in 1919 was 119,060,000, in addition to which 3,660,000 humpback salmon eggs were also taken.
Typical Road Houses of Alaska
It is said salmon return to the place where they were spawned. After thirty months at sea, during which time nothing is known of them, they are drawn there by some mysterious instinct. From 300 to 400 eggs to each pound of parent fish is the average spawn. Spending most of their time in salt water, the salmon in summer run up the fresh-water streams as far as they can, and there deposit their eggs.
It is the common belief of local fishermen that after a salmon has deposited its spawn, the question of its death is one of a very short time.
"The spawning ground sought by the salmon is usually sandy or gravelly bottom in a pool or eddy, but sometimes beds are swept out and spawn is deposited where the bottom is coveredwith small stones.
"During the winter the eggs of the salmon hatch out, and in the spring after the ice passes out of the lakes the young salmon move down the streams and can often be seen at the mouths in large numbers.It is an astonishing sight to witness the ascent of a small salmon stream by the fish, urged on by the reproductive desire.
They work their way slowly over riffles where there is not nearly enough water to float them, but they seem to have the power of keeping themselves right side up, and so long as it does not fall over, on its side, a fish six inches deep can wriggle over shoals where the water is not an inch deep, nearly as fast as a man can run."—George Bird Grunnell.
Halibut. The halibut fishery is given second place-among the fishing industries of Alaska in 1918. The important fishing grounds extend from the southern end of the territory westward to Portlock and Albatross banks near Kodiak Island.
Harriman Glacier. Prince William Sound, Alaska
Mt. Cook from Yakutat Bay
Herring is the most abundant food fish in Alaska now being utilized, and it is obtainable in almost all localities. In 1918 the government aided the production of herring by introducing the Scotch cure into Alaska.
Cod. The cod industry of Alaska experiences but slight changes from year to year. The catch of 1919 was 11,000,000 pounds.
Two-thirds of the catch is made by vessels fishing in Bering Sea and on Davidson Bank south of Unimak Island. The remaining one-third comes from the shore stations located in the Sannak and Shumagin Islands. Some cod are also taken in the vicinity of Kodiak and along the southeast coast.
Whales. Despite the tremendous decadence of whaling in Alaska waters during recent years, the industry is still a highly productive one under the modernized method known as short whaling.
The picturesque whaling argosies no longer scour the seas; the old romance has departed along with the rakish, dingy craft and their motley crews, but that the whaling business is still a highly valuable industry is indicated by the recent announcement that the three shore whaling stations operated .at various points on the Alaska coast during 1917 and 1918 yielded collectively products valued at $834,127 in the latter year.
Clams. The clam beds are found in the vicinity of the Egg Islands and off the northwest point of Hinchinbrook Islands near Sitka and in other localities. They are reported to be ofconsiderable extent and yield razor clams of wonderful size and quality. Cordova is the principal clam canning center.
Minor Fisheries. Among the minor fisheries of Alaska may be mentioned the trout, sablefish, red rockcod, shrimps, and crabs. Others of lesser importance are the smelt, ling cod, eulachon, tomcod, flat-fish and atkafish.
Hot and Mineral Springs are numerous and occur in widely scattered regions, viz.: Nome region, Tanana Valley, and the southeastern districts.