[MARMAM] Historical sources

Michael Dyer mdyer at whalingmuseum.org
Thu Nov 16 07:04:27 PST 2006

Dear colleagues:


Please keep in mind the tremendous resource for environmental studies
that exists in maritime archives, specifically whaling logbooks and
journals. I noticed a paper on MARMAM a few weeks back that analyzed
through a mathematical formula the size of sperm whales in the Gulf of
Mexico. It so happens that I had reason to answer that very question for
colleagues working with the National Marine Fisheries Service and was
able after about two hours work to ascertain that sperm whales in the
Gulf of Mexico were generally smaller that their counterparts in other
oceans and substantially smaller than those taken in, say, the Tasman
Sea, where very large bull sperm whales were hunted. Yankee whalemen
recorded the size of animals in barrels of oil made. One very large
sperm whale (80 feet) for which we have an illustration and description
taken in the North Atlantic made 120 barrels. The bulk of sperm whales
taken in the Gulf consistently yielded up to 30 barrels most made less.
Because these whalemen were earning a living from this extractive hunt
these barrel figures are very accurate. They kept good records. These
archives are simply one more tool in our collective box and a shortcut
in many cases to forming a foundation for further research. Please feel
free to contact me with any inquires as to access, resources, etc.



Michael P. Dyer

Librarian and Maritime Historian

New Bedford Whaling Museum

18 Johnny Cake Hill

New Bedford, MA 02740

(508) 717-6837

FAX (508) 717-6924


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