13 July 2012

"Thar She Blows!"

14 July 2012--Took a short trip yesterday, to see the New Bedford Whaling Museum, pictured here on the left with the giant squid on the wall...why a squid on the building of a whaling museum escapes me! But there is a whale on the building that houses the gift shop, so maybe they want you to go in there 1st. haha Couldn't quite figure out what the sculpture was holding...looks like a fork, but on a plaque it said "I am the walrus, I am the hunter".

These pictures are a little askew, but I noticed that this museum is in honor of Jonathan Bourne...I figure the town and bridge of the same name must also be named after him.

Again outside the gift shop...on the right is a harpoon that replaced the spears .

In the early 1800s New Bedford was the whaling capital of the world; to the right is a mock-up of a typical whaling ship. This one was actually built in 1842, and was about 100 ft long and 20 ft wide.

Whaling was done all over the world...this 1st pic shows the spots these ships travelled to for the actual whaling. I didn't know till we saw it here that these whaling ships went out for 3-5 years at a time and didn't come home again until they had killed about 25 whales. They even went to the arctic circle! Once the whalers left the main ship they travelled, rowing or with sails, in these little dinghies and harpooned the whales with the hand-thrown spears in the last pic. I am just thinking there is no way I ever want to be that close to a whale!

The 1st picture here shows the average Captain's quarters, while the 2nd pic shows where most of the crew was housed...crammed into the front of the boat, called the fo'c'sle. I am standing and sitting in front of the bunks they slept on...reminded me of pictures I have seen of concentration camps. I read that by the 1800s the overwhelming majority of the crews on these ships were either Eskimos or African Americans.

There are about 80 whale species, but they all break down into 2 types: one has teeth and eats other fish, while the others are called "baleen" whales and have this hairy stuff that hangs from their jawbones and helps them eat plankton. If you blow up the 2nd pic you can see the black stuff is almost like wiry hair.

When you blow up these pics they show you the numbers of whales pre and post whaling...they Right whale is down to only 300-400!

This is downright sad, or even criminal!!! If you blowup the picture of the seal, you can see that there is a noose of some kind around its neck that I assume must have been there since it was a baby...it looks like its head is about to fall off. And how long is that bird in the 2nd row in the middle going to live with all that stuff wrapped around its head?

It's hard to make out in the picture, but the fetus skeleton is right below the big one on top. The bottom left pic is of the tail that has been severed, while on the right a huge cut in the neck...so sad.

A few fun facts...I really wanted the answer to the "can they swallow humans?" question! haha

The lower jaw of one of the whales.

This chapel is right down the street from the museum..."Bethel" is Hebrew for house of God, and this particular house of God was built specifically for the whalers to visit before they went out to sea. As noted in the 2nd pic, Melville prayed here before he went to sea for a couple years, and also before he wrote Moby Dick.

We were told that although there was quite a bit that was authentic in his book, the one that most people remembered and asked about was "where was the pulpit shaped like the bow of a ship?" That part was made up by Melville, but they finally had a builder put one in the chapel to satisfy all the tourists.

The tablets on the walls look a bit like gravestones, and are called "centographs", which in Greek means "empty graves". When someone was lost at sea, because there was no body to bury, family members could pay to have a centograph placed in the chapel in their honor. One of these men was pulled overboard and drowned after he speared a whale, while the other was bitten by a shark and died hours later.

Lots of scrimshaw on display.

And incredible amounts of stuff that were once made from different whale parts or oils. The discovery of oil in the ground is what pretty much put the whalers out of business. Behind the brush in the 3rd pic is tennis racket strings...who'd have thunk it?!

A corset and parasol, a chair from the vertebrae in the spine, and lots of carved canes.

These lamp-looking things are called "swifts", and are yarn winders...the cage expands depending on what size ball of yarn you wanted to end up with.

Me and the pirate...up to no good!!!


  1. Every kid should see those pics of the hurt animals. I, on the other hand, could have done without seeing them. :(

    Glad we don't do that anymore. We leave it up to the Japanese and Russians etc... Even the Eskimo's up in Alaska, have a limit on how many they can kill.

  2. Yeah, said to say we are the superior of all living creatures, and this is what we do to the others!
    Very sad pictures