Whaling in the Falkland Island Dependencies 1904-1931
A History of shore and bay-based whaling in the Antarctic
Ian B. Hart
Pequena, 2006. ISBN: 0-9552924-0-9
365 pages. Hardcover.
I am impressed by this book. Despite the density of the information, I could hardly stop reading it. If you wish to learn about whaling in Antarctica, this seems to be the book for you. Ian Hart narrates how the British and Norwegians have greatly influenced an important industry. He also demonstrates how humans, blinded by a quick gain, have failed to regulate this industry and so created long-lasting effects that today, nearly a century later, leaves us with only a fraction of the total number of whales that once inhabited the oceans.
Pages 1-274 tell the main story of whaling from the late 1890's until the early 1930's - when the whaling stations were abandonned in favour of unlicensed pelagic whaling. In various chapters Hart describes the economical and political background of the whaling era, the development of technological interventions, the companies and the most important people representing governments, whalers, nature conservationsists. There is so much information that the author sometimes repeats the facts. But the story he tells is an intersting one; I even found the 20-odd pages with footnotes interesting reading!
Pages 275-316 contain numerous tables of ships, companies, whale catch and production that, in a way, sum up the main story in a tabular way. The photographs, all B/W are abundant and very well reproduced and have detailed text accompanying them, including all the boat's names. There are historical documents reproduced too.
Pesca - A History Of The Pioneer Modern Whaling Company In The Antarctic
Ian B. Hart
Revised edition 2004 (originally publised 2001). Aidan Ellis Publishing, ISBN 0.85628.299.5
564 pages. Hardcover. With black and white photographs and illustrations.
If you think you know most of the facts about the whaling industry after you've finished reading Ian Hart's first book (Whaling in the Falkland Island Dependencies 1904-1931), then you are wrong. 'Pesca' is the name of the whaling company which established a station on South Georgia and this book describes its history from the early days until the very end. Sure there is some overlap between the two publications, but 'Pesca' offers a lot of new information and continues until after 1931: in December 1964 the station was closed down for good. South Georgia hit the news once more in 1982 during the Falklands conflict, which is also covered in this book. 'Pesca' is a superbly richly documented book and recommended reading for anyone interested in modern whaling, in South Georgia and in Antarctica.
Antarctic Magistrate - A Life Through The Lens Of A Camera
Ian B. Hart
Pequena, 2009. ISBN 978-0-9552924-1-5
303 pages. Hardcover. With black and white photographs.
This book is a collection of photographs that were taken by Edward Beveridge Binnie (1884-1956). As the first ever magistrate of the subantarctic island of South Georgia he was to become a key figure with regards to the British claim on Antarctic sovereignty. Binnie was born on the Falkland Islands a year after his Scottish family had moved there. At the age of 20 Binnie witnessed the start of whaling in the Antarctic when the first whaling station on South Georgia was built, at the end of 1904. This whaling company, Pesca, was soon followed by other pioneers and in 1907 Binnie was appointed by the British government to overlook the activities of the whaling companies on South Georgia. In that year he travelled to Deception Island (where another whaling station had just been built) and started his work as magistrate. He took numerous photographs in the course of his career of whaling stations and sites that he visited. Today, his collection of photographs form a unique archive of this part of Antarctic history. Binnie often founded strong friendships with Norwegian whalers, and in 1923 he married the Norwegian Margrethe Olaug Larsen and ends up becoming a Norwegian citizen. His engagement with the whaling business lasted up to 1947.
Ian Hart has taken up the task to comment on Binnie's photographs and has put them in historical context. Unfortunately many photographs have been poorly reproduced. A lot of them, some taken on glass negative, are old and worn, but with the aid of modern image editing software their quality possibly could have been much better. The layout is quite rudimentary, but in the end it is all about these magnificent photographs along with Ian Hart's comments, and they make this book all worthwhile. It also contains many historical photographs of the Falkland Islands (Port Stanley) and pays much attention to Binnie's other passion, stamp collecting. Indeed, some of Binnie's photographs ended up forming the base of officially released stamps.
In his other two books about whaling, Ian Hart shows that there are quite a few historic photographs from the era of Antarctic whaling, but they are often very small and not well reproduced in his books. So the one thing that is still on my wish list is one volume of good-quality photographs from the different whaling ships and stations, and from other private collections that are scattered in various books, websites and in other corners of the world.
The History Of Modern Whaling
J.N. Tønnessen & A.O. Johnsen (Translation from Norwegian by R.I. Christophersen)
Uitgeverij: C. Hurst & Company, Londen / Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1982. ISBN 0-905838-23-8
798 pages. Hardcover. With black and white photographs
A Whaling Enterprise - Salvesen In The Antarctic
Michael Russell Publishing Ltd., 1998. ISBN: 0.85955.241.1
190 pages. Hardcover. With some black and white photographs
Storms, Ice, And Whales - The Antarctic Adventures of a Dutch Artist on a Norwegian Whaler
Willem van der Does
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge, UK). English translation 2003. ISBN 0-8028-2125-1
391 pages. Hardcover. With line art drawings by the author
In 1923 the Dutch painter from Schiedam, Willem van der Does, visited the ports of Belgium and Holland that were offloading their cargo of whale oil in an attempt to be taken aboard on the next voyage south so as to be able to produce paintings of Antarctic whaling. After he had been turned down numerous times he decided to try his luck in the town of Sandefjord, sourthern Norway, at that time home to most Norwegian whalers. He bumped into nobody less than C.A. Larsen, who was about to launch the first whaling expedition in the Ross Sea. Van der Does was allowed to join. His story, acompanied by many sketches, was published in Dutch upon his return home. In his book he describes the hard life aboard a factory ship: the comradery, the fights, the hunting and processsing of whales. He briefly joins one of the five catcher boats, describes the ice barrier and storms of the Ross Sea and sometimes has the opportunity to land. Through Van der Does' eyes one gets an impression of how the whalers thought about C.A. Larsen, about the filthy work and shooting whales. Van der Does isn't a really good author, but his report provides nonetheless a very good picture of whaling, Antarctica, and the animals that live there.
I cannot help thinking that the English translation, by mrs Ruth van Baak Griffioen (a distant family member of the author) has often translated from Dutch too literally, through the English text one reads the original Dutch text. So Dutch readers may be better off with a copy of the orginal Dutch book (first edition 1934, second 1947).
Antartida - Asentamientos Ballenoeros Historicos / Antarctica - Historic Whaling Settlements
Lic. Carlos Vairo, Lic. Guillermo May, CN Horacio Molina Pico
Zagier & Urruty Publications 2007. ISBN: 978-987-23025-4-2
192 pages. A4 Softcover.
Argentine research focusing on materials left by whalers on a couple of sites on the Antarctic pensinula.
Ambassador to the Penguins: A Naturalist's Year Aboard a Yankee Whaleship
Boston: David R. Godine, 2003 ISBN 1-56792-246-5
353 pages. Hardcover.
The author of this book is Robert ('Bob') Cushman Murphy's granddaughter, mrs. Eleanor Matthews. Encouraged by his newly-married wife Grace Emeline Barstow Murphy, Robert undertakes a trip on board of the old whaling brig 'Daisy' across the South Atlantic, from 31 July 1912 to 8 May 1913. Murphy's goal of the trip is to study and collect penguins, albatrosses and seals and other animals for the American Museum of Natural History. The captain, Benjamin Cleveland ('The Old Man') clearly has other goals: adult Sperm Whale bulls, which bring in most blubber and spermaceti. Whaling accounts for a big portion of the book, and so I find the title 'ambassador to the penguins' quite misleading. Encounters with penguins only occur once the men arrive at South Georgia. But even there, whaling and the slaughtering of Elephant Seals are the main topics. Modern, shipfactory-based whaling has reached this subantarctic island where one Humpback Whale is shot after the other and where many carcasses Blue Whales litter the shorelines. The Daisy is an old whaling ship, using traditional techniques to hunt whales. Their stay on South Georgia from mid-November to mid-March is characterized by sealing: on January 26th, Murphy reports that 1094 Elephant Seals have been killed for their blubber since the previous month. By that time, the English and Norwegians forbid the take of female seals and pups, something which is completely disregarded by captain Cleveland. Life aboard this ship is very hard and dangerous, and whilst returning home from South Georgia two crew members die as a result of the harsh conditions. In constrast to all these accounts are the romantic letters that Murphy's wife has given him, and the ones he sends back home to her. These letters as well as his own notes formed the basis for this book, which is not exactly a diary.
In 1936 Murphy published two volumes on the Oceanic Birds Of South America, which is considered the first serious study on petrels and other seabirds. In summary, Ambassador to the Penguins does not tell so much about penguins, but it does provide an interesting account of a traditional whaling ship which even in 1912 was outdated. The book contains many useful illustrations and photographs.