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Credit: New Bedford Whaling Museum

Maritime Image of the Day: “Whale Hunting in America”

PortandTerminal.com, December 4, 2019

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA – Today’s Maritime Image of the Day, “Whale Hunting in America” was taken at the whale-bone processing yard of the Pacific Steam Whaling Company in San Francisco in the late 19th century. It shows harvested whale-bone drying on their docks.

Whale-bone was a valuable commodity in its day. The thicker parts of the whale-bone plates were used for knife handles, carriage springs, bed-springs, fishing rods and carriage whips. The harvesting of it was just one part of the commercial whale hunting industry.

Whale oil was another valuable commodity harvested from the marine mammals

Commercial whaling in the United States got its start in the 1650s and ended in 1927, although to this day some Native Americans are still allowed to hunt whales for subsistence or cultural reasons.

New England whaling c. 1860

While commercial whaling began in the Atlantic, as whale populations declined due to over-hunting, it spread quickly to the Pacific and Arctic oceans. And boy did people hunt a lot of whales. In the 19th century alone, it is estimated that 236,000 were slaughtered.

The Orca show at SeaWorld in Florida is still a thing

Today in the United States, all of the great whales are listed as endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. As a result, it is illegal to kill, hunt, collect, injure or harass them, or to destruct their habitat in any way. That is unless you operate SeaWorld in Florida. In that case, you’re allowed to harass the hell out of them for money.

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