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Throwback Thursday: Whaling in the North Pacific

It’s hard to imagine a story on the art of whaling appearing in Canadian Geographic today, but 1968 was a different story

  • Mar 18, 2015
  • 231 words
  • 1 minutes
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“The practise of steam whaling, using the explosive grenade harpoon, was adapted by Japan in 1899 and later by the United States and Canada with the opening of several shore stations along the west coast of North America in 1905-06.”

So reported Gordon C. Pike in his article “Whaling in the North Pacific – the end of an era,” published in April of 1968 in the Canadian Geographical Journal. Pike’s 10-page story — complete with black-and-white photos of whale corpses, sturdy ships and rugged whalers brandishing harpoons — neatly encapsulates the century of whaling leading up to the year the issue was published, and examines an industry that was on the cusp of change. New regulations and concerted conservation efforts designed to protect whales, many species of which had been hunted nearly to the point of no return, were emerging, meaning whalers’ lives would never be the same again.

It’s hard to imagine a story on the art of whaling appearing in Canadian Geographic today, but in 1968 it wouldn’t have been unusual. The plight of whale populations was only just beginning to hit the wider public’s consciousness, and the now familiar images of members of conservation groups such as Greenpeace confronting whaling boats on the high seas had yet to flash across our screens or appear in the pages of national magazines.


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