It was for their oil rather than skins that the elephant seals of the subantarctic islands were killed. Despite the fact that after 1875 sealing was effectively outlawed in New Zealand waters, Joseph Hatch, former MP and mayor of Invercargill, began hunting elephant seals for their oil on Macquarie Island. His activities were aided by the discovery in 1890 that Macquarie Island was a Tasmanian dependency, and was therefore not subject to New Zealand law. For the next 20 years Hatch’s men continued to hunt for oil, killing and boiling up not only elephant seals but also king penguins.
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