WHALE HUNTING with GUN and CAMERA
A NATURALIST’S ACCOUNT OF THE MODERN SHORE WHALING
INDUSTRY, OF WHALES AND THEIR HABITS, AND OF HUNTING
EXPERIENCES IN VARIOUS PARTS OF THE WORLD
BY ROY CHAPMAN ANDREW
WHALE HUNTING with GUN and CAMERA – In this book I have endeavored to tell of modern shore whaling as I have seen it during the past eight years while collecting and studying cetaceans for the American Museum of Natural History. This work carried me twice around the world, as well as northward on two expeditions to Alaska, and southward to the tropic waters of Borneo and the Dutch East Indies.
I have also tried to give, in a readable way, some of the most interesting facts about whales and their habits, confining myself, however, to those species which form the basis of the shore whaling industry, or are commercially important, and which have come under my personal observation.
In all of this work the camera has necessarily played a large part, for it is only by means of photographs that whales can be seen in future study as they appear alive or when freshly killed. It is hardly necessary to say that the photographing
has been intensely interesting, and to anyone who is in search of real excitement I can heartily recommend camera hunting for whales.
It should be understood that this book is in no sense a manual of the large Cetacea. I hope, however, at some future time to write a volume which will treat of this wonderful mammalian order in a less casual way, and thus satisfy a desire which has been ever present in my mind since I began the study of whales.
Some portions of this book have been published as separate articles in the American Museum Journal, World’s Work, Metropolitan, Outing, National Geographic, and other magazines, but by far the greater part of it is new.
There have been many pleasurable sides to the work, but one of the most delightful has been the friends that I have made, and my cordial reception by the Officials of the whaling companies in whatever corner of the world I have chanced to be.
Space will not permit me to mention all those to whom I am indebted and who have contributed to the success of the various expeditions, but I wish first to express my gratitude to the Trustees of the American Museum of Natural History, under whose auspices all my work upon cetaceans has been conducted, and especially to President Henry Fairfield Osborn for his encouragement and wise counsel.
Captains I. N. Hibberd and John Barneson have never failed in kindness and the President and Directors of the Toyo Hogei Kabushiki Kaisha of Osaka, and Mr. D. Ogiwara of Shimonoseki, Japan, are in a large measure responsible for the success of the work conducted in the Orient. Not only did these gentlemen freely extend the courtesies of their ships and stations, but also presented to the American Museum of Natural History skeletons of all the large Japanese cetaceans, which are the only specimens of Asiatic whales in America.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF SHORE
Although the commercial products of whales have contributed largely to the comfort and welfare of the civilized world for over a thousand years, never have the animals been of greater economic importance than they are today.
It is true that the magnificent fleet of ships which had its birth in the New England States has passed away, and that the smoke of cotton-mills now drifts over the famous old city of New Bedford where once the harbor was filled with the towering masts of scores of whaling vessels.
But as one chapter of whaling history closed another opened and the scene shifted to Norway where Tønsberg, a little city in Christiania Bay, has become the Alpha and Omega of the modern whaling alphabet. It was there, in 1864, that Svend Foyn invented the harpoon-gun and brought into existence the sturdy little steamships which were destined to take the place of New England’s fleet, destroyed by the Confederate raiders during the Civil War.
Although despised by the “deep-water” whalers of New Bedford, nevertheless shore whaling has rapidly grown into a world industry which today, in the height of its prosperity, yields a revenue of nearly $70,000,000 a year.
In the old days only three species, the sperm, bowhead and right whale, were hunted and until Svend Foyn invented the harpoon-gun the fin whales, of less commercial value, were seldom captured. Their yield of oil was so small, and the whalebone so short and coarse, that if these products alone were utilized, they were not worth the trouble of killing. Moreover, the great speed of the animals in the water and their tendency to sink when dead made them unacceptable to the men who hunted in a small boat with a hand harpoon and lance.
With the development of steam whalers the situation was changed, for they made possible the capture of “finners” in sufficient numbers to warrant the erection of stations at certain points on the shore, near the feeding grounds of the animals, where the huge carcasses could be brought in and converted into commercial products.
The perfection of the harpoon-gun and steam whale ships came only after long discouragement and persistent effort upon the part of Svend Foyn. Foyn was born in Tønsberg in 1809 and died there in 1894. He went to sea at fourteen in the merchant service and later entered the sealing fleet where he eventually made considerable money. It was while sealing that he conceived the idea of capturing the fin whales with a bomb harpoon, and 360,000 Kronen were spent in experimenting before he succeeded in building a suitable gun and vessel.
In 1864 he went to Finmark for the first time in the small ship Spes et Fides but caught nothing and was equally unsuccessful in the two following years. In 1867 he secured the first whales at Vardö, in Varangerfjord, and the next season killed 30. In 1869 he went north with two ships but got only 17 whales, and in 1870 only 36. It was in this year that at Kirkeö the first factory for converting whale flesh into guano, or fertilizer, was built and successfully operated. Foyn’s best years were between 1871 and 1880, when 506 whales were killed, having a value of about 2,000,000 Kronen.
In 1877 a competitive company began work in Jarfjord, and in 1881 two others started at Vardö and two in West Finmark near the North Cape. In 1882 Norway had 8 companies and 12 ships, and five years later 20 companies and 35 ships. In 1890 the whales began to show the effect of continual persecution, decreasing rapidly in numbers, and five companies shifted their operations to Iceland. In 1896 the 18 ships hunting there killed 792 whales, yielding 49,500 barrels of oil; in the same season 29 ships off the Finmark coast caught 1,212 whales.
From the very beginning the Norwegian fishermen were hostile to the shore whalers, for they believed that the whales drove the fish toward the land and into their nets and that their industry was being greatly injured by the slaughter of the animals. Although it has been clearly demonstrated that whales have no direct influence upon the movements of fish, nevertheless in 1903 the Störthing prohibited shore whaling altogether.
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