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Дело о Стеллеровой коровеFifteen years ago began to come in the magazine " Around the world" amazing message from the Far East. If seen people in different places of the coast of Kamchatka, commander Islands, and in other districts, the Steller cow. Yes, those most unfortunate sea giants that have fallen victim to the insatiable appetites of the fishermen in the second half of the XVIII century. Actually this topic in the official Zoological science is considered "closed" and causes irritation among scientists. Negative attitude to such observations expressed zoologists V.E. Sokolov, V.G. Geptner, S. Kaliev Klumov, and others. The author of one of the related messages in 1966 and published in the newspaper "Kamchatka Komsomolets", he just laughed. It was about a mysterious dark-skinned animals, observed in shallow water with the ship at the Cape of Navarin, North-East of Kamchatka.

And here again received a letter... Meteorologist V.Y. the Koev reported that he had accumulated a lot of interesting and, I must say, accurate information about the nature of Kamchatka, about various unknown phenomena. But we are now interested in these lines:

"I can say that in August 1976 in the area of Cape Lopatka saw Steller cow. That allows me to make such a statement? Of whales, seals, sea lions, fur seals, sea otters and walruses have seen repeatedly. This animal is not similar to any of the above. Length of about five meters. Swam in shallow water very slowly. How would rippling like waves. First appeared the head with a characteristic growth, then a massive body and then the tail. Yes, and that attracted my attention (by the way, there are witnesses). Because when the so-floating seal or walrus, the hind legs they pressed each other, and you can see it flippers, and this one had a tail like a whale. The impression is that surfaced it every time abdomen up, slowly presently his body. And the tail is set like a whale "butterflies", when the whale sinks to the depths..."

I foresee the angry exclamations of scientists: "How many it is possible to reanimate a long time and strongly disappeared from the face of the Earth a beast!", "You never know what will prevratitsya man!" But let's wait categorical conclusions, but instead will return in the very memorable 1741, which launched this amazing and tragic history[1].

Tuesday, June 4, 1741, the ships " Saint Peter" sail in Petropavlovsk Harbor on the Kamchatka Peninsula. The ship, which was sailing under the Russian flag, was the commander Vitus Bering, and the purpose of the voyage was an investigation of the Northern edge of the Pacific ocean. First of all, it was necessary to find out whether there was a land bridge between Siberia and America. Force commander and almost half of his crew never returned to the Russian land.

On Board the "Saint Peter" and among his crew, consisting of seventy-eight people, was a German physician and naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller. Bering asked him to join the expedition in the last moment, when suddenly fell ill ship's surgeon Caspar Feige.

The first part of the trip was successful. Behring has successfully landed on the West coast of Alaska. Steller was the first scientist who stepped on this unknown land.

But then the tragedy occurred. When the ship had already turned back again, among the crew broke scurvy, this is the worst enemy of the first polar researchers. 4 November away in the fog loomed a tall, inhospitable coast, and sailors first rejoiced, believing it to the mainland. But after observing the position of the sun all realized that they were still at a distance of hundreds of miles from Kamchatka, and the joy of the crew immediately gave way to despair. Was convened by the entire team, and as it was only six jars bad water, it was made the unanimous decision to come ashore of the island, which now bears the name of Vitus Bering. But by this time there was not in the crew strong enough people who could stay on Board. Decided to everyone to abandon ship. Patients were placed in a hastily constructed huts and holes dug in the sand, and a week later "Saint Peter" tore off the anchor, was thrown northeast storm ashore and almost collapsed.

In these dramatic circumstances Steller and opened animal that will become the main character in this story.

In the water, at high tide, he noticed several huge humpback carcasses that were similar to the upside-down boat. A few days later, when he managed to get to see these creatures, he realized that they belong to first described mind; animal, now known under the name of a sea cow Steller.

"If I asked as I saw them on the Bering island, I would not hesitate to answer - it is impossible to count them, they are countless..." wrote Steller.

North sea cow was a relative of the manatee and dugong. But compared to them it was a real giant and weighed about three and a half tons. Massive torso and the head was surprisingly small, with very moving lips, and the top was covered with a clearly visible layer of white bristle that on density can be compared with the plumage of chickens. She moved along the coast with two stump-like paws, located in the front part of the body; but in the ocean of this animal is pushed himself forward vertical impacts on water large forked tail. Her skin was not smooth, as the manatee or dugong, and it appeared numerous furrows and wrinkles; hence the name "Rythina stellerii", which literally means "wrinkled Steller".

"Steller was the only naturalist, worldly this is the living creature that had the opportunity to observe him in nature and to examine its structure," writes Leongard Steineger.

Habitat was limited to the Islands, which are now known to us as a group commander Islands, the island of Brass, and the larger (Bering island, located to the West of it. A special surprise is the fact that these animals were found in those cold waters, although, as we know, their only relatives live only in warm tropical seas. But hard as bark, cow skin, undoubtedly, helped her to keep warm, cold it was protected by a thick layer of fat. Probably, they never went far from the shore, as I couldn deep dive in search of food, also in the open sea they become easy prey for killer whales. They were absolute vegetarians, eating algae that grow in the Northern part of the Pacific ocean in great abundance.

Despite helpless, innocent animals at first did not attacked by sailors from the "St. Peter". It is hardly possible to explain some sentimentality. Most likely, the fact that for such a long time miners spared these animals, to explain their physical weakness caused by scurvy; in addition, more convenient and more accessible power source was a sea otters and sea otters, which can be extracted in any quantity, for which one had only to go down to the shore and hit them with a truncheon on the head. But as people's health has improved, and the sea otter began to be very careful in dealing with them were made successful attempts to diversify the menu juicy steaks from the sea cows and marine calf.

"We caught them, " recalled Steller, using a large metal hook, the tip of which resembled a paw anchors; the other end we were fastened with iron rings for very long and strong rope, which was pulled from the shore thirty people. Stronger sailor took this hook together with four or five assistants, shipped him into the boat, one of them sat behind the wheel, and the rest on the oars, and, keeping silence, went to the herd. The harpooner was standing at the stern of the boat, raising the hook above his head, and immediately hit it as soon as the boat came closer to the flock. After that the people left on the shore, were taken to tighten the rope and insistently pull to the shore desperately resisted the animal. People in the boat customized animal with another rope and exhausted his constant attacks, as long as it is, exhausted and absolutely motionless, and did not want to come out on the shore, where he is attacked by bayonets, knives and other implements. Huge pieces were otrazilis from live "cows", and she resisted, with such force struck the earth tail and fins that from the body even fall off pieces of the skin. In addition, she was breathing heavily, as if he sighed. From wounds inflicted in the rear part of the body, the blood flowed in streams. When a wounded animal was under water, the blood gush, but he had to stick out his hand to grab a breath of air, as the blood stream returned in full force..."

Despite the feeling of pity that causes this story, we cannot blame these unfortunate people that this way they prepared themselves juicy steaks that were the reward for their superhuman efforts. They used sea cows for food only a few weeks before went to the newly rebuilt "Saint Peter" to the Motherland. It is doubtful that they played a big role in their destruction. But then began events that are unlikely to be justified by something...

When victims failure sailors returned to Kamchatka, brought about eight hundred skins of sea otters. It was a very expensive item, and soon began to spread rumors that the commander Islands in abundance leadingtsya fur-bearing animals. The island of Copper and Bering became the headquarters of the fur traders, and for lovers of statistics it is possible to tell, that for several years the mass slaughter in the area, held, by the way, only three hunters killed 11 thousand thousand foxes and sea otters. Hides of sea cows is not very appreciated. But the hunters and sailors who appeared in these places, it was required fresh meat. And to extract it was easy. It is not surprising that the ensuing mass slaughter led to the complete disappearance of these slow, tight intellectually, but absolutely harmless animals.

Last sea cow, as is commonly believed, was killed on the island of Bering in 1786, just 27 years after the discovery of this species. However, in 1879, the Swedish Professor A. Nordenskiold gathered evidence showing that the animal probably survived until much later period than is usually believed. According to some data, for a long time people continued to destroy sea cows when they are about anything without thinking, peacefully grazing in the meadows of marine algae. Their skins were used for the construction of light boats of the type "Scythians". And two Russian-Aleutian of Creole claimed that on the coast of Bering island in 1834 saw a skinny animal-shaped torso, small forelimbs, which breathed mouth and had no rear fins. All these observers were familiar with sea otters, seals and walruses, as well as with other local animals with whom they could not confused. It is likely that "cow" existed in the area and a hundred years later. Maybe it was the female narwhal? Who knows...

Is there any hope? According to zoologists, repeat, not the slightest. And cryptozoology believe there. The opening of unknown animals on the planet are still ongoing, and the old, "buried" already species happens to be open again. For example, cahow - Bermuda Petrel, or flightless bird, takahe from New Zealand... But Steller cow yet not a needle in a haystack. What if to imagine this: several pairs of skits managed to escape from the insatiable hunters in the distant quiet bays and survive the carnage?.. The persecution has declined. About the cows have forgotten. Flock grew, settled along the coast, choosing the most deaf, abandoned corners...

Gosh, if it was really so!
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