A Brief History of Whaling Essay

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While you could argue that practically everyone who has gone through the American education system has at least heard of Moby Dick, the whaling industry, a main element of the epic, is not so well known. In order to fully understand and appreciate this great work, it is in my opinion, important to have somewhat of an understanding of the industry which it is centered around. This is especially true because whaling was such a prominent, and important aspect of 19th century culture and although far less popular, still exists today. Throughout this essay I will give a brief history of whaling, discuss why it was such an important industry in the 19th century, talk about whaling in modern times, and lastly, tie it in to the novel. Although …show more content…
They primarily hunted Right Whales. Because these whales were slow, submissive, and tended to sleep on the surface they were easy prey for the Basques, who caught the creatures on their journey into the bay to breed. They would chase the whales in rowboats and hurl harpoons at them. Because these particular whales’ bodies floated when they died, they effortlessly dragged them to shore to strip and boil the blubber and harvest the bone, also known as baleen. As far back as the 14th century, the Basques set off on a journey to find other good whaling bays and succeeded in finding some on the coast of southern Labrador.
While the Basques grew more and more experienced at the trade of Whaling, people in the North of Europe began to earn more and develop a more profitable market for the whaling industry. In 1610, the Muscovy Company from England began to recruit experienced Basque whale hunters and set off to exploit many of the prominent whaling areas on the island of Spitsbergen. After realizing how profitable the industry really could be, the Dutch followed in the footsteps of the English. The Dutch however, were far more violent than the English and organized their business far more efficiently, resulting in the end of the English monopoly. About 9 years later, a new whaling town, called Smeerenburg was built on the island, and quickly became one of the most prominent whaling locations. In the mid-17th century however, a miniature ice age lasting 50 years

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