Humpback and Fin Whaling in the Gulf of Maine from 1800 to 1918

Reeves, Randall R. and Smith, Ted D. and Webb, Robert L. and Robbins, Jooke and Clapham, Phillip J. (2002) Humpback and Fin Whaling in the Gulf of Maine from 1800 to 1918. Marine Fisheries Review, 64(1), pp. 1-12.

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The history of whaling in the Gulf of Maine was reviewed primarily to estimate removals of humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, especially during the 19th century. In the decades from 1800 to 1860, whaling effort consisted of a few localized, small-scale, shore-based enterprises on the coast of Maine and Cape Cod, Mass. Provincetown and Nantucket schooners occasionally conducted short cruises for humpback whales in New England waters. With the development of bomb-lance technology at mid century, the ease of killing humpback whales and fin whales, Balaenoptera physalus, increased. As a result, by the 1870’s there was considerable local interest in hunting rorquals (baleen whales in the family Balaenopteridae, which include the humpback and fin whales) in the Gulf of Maine. A few schooners were specially outfitted to take rorquals in the late 1870’s and 1880’s although their combined annual take was probably no more than a few tens of whales. Also in about 1880, fishing steamers began to be used to hunt whales in the Gulf of Maine. This steamer fishery grew to include about five vessels regularly engaged in whaling by the mid 1880’s but dwindled to only one vessel by the end of the decade. Fin whales constituted at least half of the catch, which exceeded 100 animals in some years. In the late 1880’s and thereafter, few whales were taken by whaling vessels in the Gulf of Maine.

Item Type: Article
Title: Humpback and Fin Whaling in the Gulf of Maine from 1800 to 1918
Personal Creator/Author:
Reeves, Randall R.
Smith, Ted D.
Webb, Robert L.
Robbins, Jooke
Clapham, Phillip J.
Refereed: Yes
Journal or Publication Title: Marine Fisheries Review
Volume: 64
Number: 1
Page Range: pp. 1-12
Date: 2002
ISSN: 0090-1830
Issuing Agency: United States National Marine Fisheries Service
Subjects: Biology
Item ID: 9745
Depositing User: Patti M. Marraro
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2012 13:22
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2012 13:22

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