The Demise of Steller’s Sea Cow

by Daniel Hudon

Strange to come upon them quietly gathered in the bay, their massive black backs humped above the water as they fed on the seaweed below, the silence broken only when one raised its head and deeply drew in a breath of air. As large as elephants, submerged, with gulls perched on their backs, the sea cows ate their fill of kelp and rolled over to take a nap, careful to move away from the shore so as not to be left on dry land by the outgoing tide. None were heard to snore, which, given their enormous size, would have been a formidable sound. The only other sound that was heard were the moans of the wounded, who thrashed about trying to free themselves from the harpoon, breathing heavily, as if sighing.

 

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