All About Whaling and Conservation Issues by Irena Theriot

By Irena Theriot

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Breach-loaded cannons were introduced in 1925; pistons were introduced in 1947 to reduce recoil. These highly efficient devices were too successful, for they reduced whale populations to the point where large-scale commercial whaling became unsustainable. The shore stations on the island of South Georgia were at the center of the Antarctic whaling industry, from its beginnings in 1904 until the late 1920s when pelagic whaling increased. The activity on the island remained substantial until around 1960, when Norwegian-British Antarctic whaling came to an end.

In 1715 Nantucket had six sloops engaged in the whale fishery, and by 1730 it had twenty-five vessels of 38 to 50 tons employed in the trade. Each vessel employed twelve to thirteen men, half of them being Native Americans. At times the whole crew, with the exception of the captain, might be natives. They had two whaleboats, one held in reserve should the other be damaged by an angry whale. By 1732 the first Yankee whalers had reached the Davis Strait fishery, between Greenland and Baffin Island.

The harpoon broke free, and the whale escaped. He was defeated once more by the Dawson and Douglass Whaling Company, who took fourteen whales by midSeptember 1869 to produce 20,000 gallons of oil. Dawson and Douglass then joined forces with a man named Lipsett, forming the Union Whaling Company. They only took four whales during two cruises in the winter of 186970, forcing the company to suspend operations as of 3 February 1870. Lipsett reorganized and formed the Howe Sound Company, while Dawson found new partners had formed the new Dawson & Douglass Whaling Company on 27 June 1870.

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