Status: Indexed

- 31 -

been around 70° or 75° in the shade.

After nearly a month’s failure in sealing, Knight
writes on May 30th: "At last!!! Crawford got a seal while out taking a
few soundings through cracks and seal holes. A nice shot of 80 yards.
A medium sized male, not very fat.” After this success became more constant
and during the spring and early summer something over forty seals were
secured. By now the party seem to have been impressed with the importance
of making use of every opportunity and saving everything they secured. They
were very careful about the seals. The first that were caught they skinned
by the "casing" method. These animals have a small head and the skin is
elastic while the body is warm. The skinning is begun at the mouth and no
opening is made with the knife but the skin is stripped back over the head
somewhat as one may pull off a long glove. You have now a bag which may
be filled with any liquid. Even in mid-winter seal blubber, which looks
much like very fat bacon, will gradually try out and the oil will be lost
unless it is put into a container. According to good Eskimo custom, the
Wrangell party now cut up their seal immediately, removed the blubber from
the outside of the body, cut it into strips and put it into the sealskin
bag. In this way they saved all the fat. It may be estimated that forty
seals would give them at least two thousand pounds of oil, equivalent in
food value to that many pounds of butter or bacon. The meat was also saved,
some of it probably by drying, although Knight does not tell us so, the rest
by being packed with ice. It did not seem necessary to make any special
effort to keep it fresh, for it would be needed for dog feed and other animals
could be relied upon to supply fresh meat in the fall.

Knight’s account of the weather the summer 1922 reads
strangely. Either it must have been a very exceptional summer in Wrangell
or else Wrangell Island had is a very exceptional kind of arctic climate.

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