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The history of the elephant seal industry at Macquarie Island and an estimate of the pre-sealing numbers


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Hindell, MA and Burton, HR (1988) The history of the elephant seal industry at Macquarie Island and an estimate of the pre-sealing numbers. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania, 122 (1). pp. 159-176. ISSN 0080-4703

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A comprehensive list was compiled of all sealing ships that visited Macquarie Island (54°30'S, 158°57'E)
between 1810 and 1919 and, where possible, their cargoes. Approximately 207 sealing visits were made to Macquarie
Island in 109 years and an estimated 8380 tuns of elephant seal oil removed. The major sealing effort seems to have been in
the first 20 years, between 1810 and 1829, when almost half of the voyages occurred and over half of the oil was collected.
For the present study, a mathematical model was devised to examine the responses of the population to the estimated
annual harvest of seals from 1810-29. Given the often incomplete nature of the sealing records, accurate estimates of the
pre-sealing elephant seal popUlation were impossible to obtain, but the model suggests that it may have been in the region
of93 000 to 110000 animals. The major impact of sealing activity was between 1820 and 1830, when the population was
reduced by approximately 70%. Numbers are thought to have recovered to near pre-sealing levels by the 1900's, when the
level of sealing was within the sustainable yield of the population.
Key Words: elephant seal, sealing industry, sealing ships, Macquarie Island

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Royal Society of Tasmania, RST, Van Diemens Land, natural history, science, ecology, taxonomy, botany, zoology, geology, geography, papers & proceedings, Australia, UTAS Library
Journal or Publication Title: Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Page Range: pp. 159-176
ISSN: 0080-4703
Collections: Royal Society Collection > Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Additional Information:

Copyright Royal Society of Tasmania

Date Deposited: 24 May 2012 02:06
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2017 01:06
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