The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Clark, February 23, 1806
Clark, February 23, 1806
Sunday February 23rd 1806. Not any thing transpired desering particular notice. our Sick are all on the recovery. the men have provided themselves verry amply with mockersons & leather clothing, much more So indeed than they have ever been Since they have been on the voyage.
The Sea Otter is found only on the Sea Coast and in the Salt water. Those animals which I took to be the Sea Otter from the Great Falls of the Columbia to the mouth, proves to be the Phosia or Seal which at a little distance has every appearance of the Sea Otters. The Sea otter when fully grown is as large as the common mastif dog, the eail and Eyes are remarkably Small, particularly the former which is not an inch in length thick fleshey and pointed, Covered with short hair. the tail is about 10 inches in length thick where it joins the body and tapering to a very Sharp point; in common with the body it is covered with a deep fur particularly on the upper Side, on the under part the fur is not So long. the legs are remarkably Short and the feat which have five toes each are broad large and webbed. the legs are covered with fur and the feet with Short hair. the body of this Animal is long and nearly of the Same thickness throughout. from the extremity of the tail to that of the nose they will measure 5 feet or upwards. the colour is of a uniform dark brown, and when in good order and Season perfectly Black and Glossey. it is the richest and I think the most delightfull fur in the world at least I cannot form an idea of any more so. it is deep thick silky in the extream and Strong. the inner part of the fur when open is lighter than the surface in its natural position. there are Some fine black Shineing hairs intermixed with the fur which are reather longer and add much to its beauty. the nose, about the eyes, ears and forehead in Some of those otter is of a light Colour, Sometimes a light brown. those parts in the young Suckling otters of this Species is Sometimes of a creem colour'd white, but always much lighter than the other parts. the fur of the infant otter is much inferior in point of colour, and texture, to that of the full grown otter, or even after it has been weened-. there is so great a difference that I have for Some time Supposed it a different animal; the Indians Call the infant otter Spuck, and the full grown or such as had obtained a Coat of good fur, E luck'ko. this Still further confirmed the opinion of their being distinct Species; but I have Since lerned that the Spuck is the young otter. the Colour of the neck, body, legs and tail is a dark lead brown. The Mink is found in the woody Country on this Coast and does not differ in any particular from those of the Atlantic Coasts.
The Seal or Phoca are found here in great numbers, and as far up the Columbia as the great Falls, above which there are none. I have reasons to believe from the information of the men that there are Several Species of the Phoca on this Coast and in the river, but what the difference is I am unable to State not haveing Seen them myself Sufficiently near for manute inspection nor obtain the different kinds to make a comparison. the Skins of Such as I have Seen are covered with a Short thick Coarse Glossy hair of a redish bey brown Colour. tho the animal while in the water, or as we saw them frequently in the river appear to be black and Spoted with white sometimes. I am not much acquainted with the Seal, but Suppose that they are the Same common also to the atlantic Ocian in the Same parrelal of Latitude. the Skins, or those which I have Seen are presisely Such as trunks are frequently Covered with. the flesh of this animal is highly prised by the nativs who Swinge the hair off and then roste the flesh on Sticks before the fire.