Monday, December 31, 2007

Electrocuting Whales & Machine Gunning Seals

The above jaw-dropping article is from a 1931 edition of Modern Mechanics magazine.

Click on the picture to enlarge it, and be sure to read the whole thing

It seems some Norwegian fellow figured out a way to electrocute whales with a generator and a harpoon.

What could possibly go wrong with this idea?

One hundred thousand pounds of angry whale, a gasoline-powered generator putting out enough amps to kill five circus elephants, a lot of wire coiled in the bow, foaming swells breaking over the gunwales, straining oars, and a fellow standing up?

Sounds perfect!

Check out the last few sentences in the above article too, as well as the drawing at the bottom.

It seems a couple of intrepid Americans decided machine-gunning sea lions was a perfect solution to declining salmon fisheries on the West Coast. Never mind all those brand-new mile-long gill nets. The declining salmon population must be due to those pesky sea lions!

But, of course, nothing much changes, does it?

The last buffalo hunt is going on right now in our oceans and seas. Cod has been nearly wiped out in the North Atlantic, Swordfish has been pushed to the edge, Sharks have been decimated by long liners, and Tuna prices are shooting through the roof as catch numbers are plummeting into the basement.

Meanwhile, whales are still paying the price for human stupidity more than 100 years ago.

This summer, Inupiat whale hunters in Alaska found the business-end of a 115-year old harpoon buried in the body of a 50-ton Bowhead Whale caught off Alaska.

The harpoon was part of an exploding lance made between 1885 and 1895 on the Southeast Coast of Massachusetts, where supplies were quickly used up. The lance company went out of business, as whaling populations crashed.

And they have not recovered quickly, have they?

Today, there are only about 9,000 Bowhead Whales left in the world -- less than 20 percent of their former numbers.

Crosby, Stills & Nash: "To the Last Whale"

1 comment:

Camera Trap Codger said...

A coincidence to read this post. Just finished Alan Moorehead's "The Fatal Impact" about Captain Cook's voyages and the discovery of the antarctic whale and seal "fishery" -- a tragic story. You are right, the end of the story is all that remains.