Page:The cruise of the Corwin.djvu/63

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THE ISLANDS OF BERING SEA

fifteen white men to marry Indians for the privilege of taking sea-otter. They have settled at Unga Island, one of the Shumagin group, where there is a village of some hundred and eighty-five Indians.

Seen from the sea, all the Pribilof Islands-St. Paul, St. George, and Otter Island appear as mere rocks, naked and desolate fragments of lava, wasted into bluffs where they touch the sea, and shorn off on top by the ice-sheet. The gray surfaces are roughened here and there by what, at a distance, seem to be degraded volcanic cones. Nevertheless, they are exceedingly interesting, not only because of the marvelous abundance of life about them seals, water birds, and fishes but because they tell so grand a story concerning the ice-sheet that swept over them all from the north.


Steamer Corwin,

Tapkan, Siberia, May 31, 1881.

On the twenty-fourth of this month, a bleak, snowy day, we enjoyed our first view of the northern ocean ice at a distance of only a few hours from the Pribilof Islands in latitude 58°. This is not far from its southern limit, though strong north winds no doubt carry wasting fragments somewhat farther. It always reaches lower on the American side. Norton Sound is