Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Half Title, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. vii-viii

read more

Preface

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-xvi

A good case might be made for recognizing the oral history and rock art passed down through the generations of early cultures as the forerunners of all science. For untold millennia, primitive societies entrusted elders with responsibility for making major tribal decisions and serving as custodians of community legends, lore, traditions, and myths. ...

read more

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xvii-xviii

While with the Marine Mammal Commission, I have had the great fortune to meet and work with many of the world’s foremost experts on North Atlantic right whales. When I began working on these whales in the early 1980s, there were perhaps a few dozen scientists knowledgeable about the species and even fewer who had ever seen one. ...

read more

1. Rescuing Nantucket

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-15

The call arrived at the old cedar-shake house around noon on a warm June day in 1997. Other than a small sign tucked in the corner of a front window, there was little to suggest that its weather-beaten frame and a similar structure directly behind it had been appropriated for use as a small marine biological laboratory. ...

read more

2. What’s in a Name?

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 16-32

Today, the biology and ecology of North Atlantic right whales is among the best known of any large whale. But to early whalers and naturalists, the species was as much a mystery as an economic bounty. As with any species, unraveling the mysteries of its existence begins with the deceptively difficult task of assigning a universally accepted name ...

read more

3. Foraging with a Smile

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 33-54

One of the most amazing facts about right whales is that for all their great size, they subsist on some of the sea’s smallest creatures. There are 14 species of baleen whales divided into 4 taxonomic families that make up the cetacean suborder Mysticeti. Although all of them filter prey from their watery world, right whales and bowhead whales consume the smallest organisms ...

read more

4. Evolution

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 55-71

If the evolution of features on the right whale’s head as proposed in the previous chapter seems intriguing, it surely pales in comparison to the astonishing transformation of right whales and other large whales from small terrestrial mammals into the marine giants of today. ...

read more

5. The Origin of Whaling

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 72-82

The frigid waters of the Bering Sea are one of the most biologically productive habitats on earth. Opening like a fan between Alaska and Russia, the sea’s vast expanse covers 880,000 square miles—roughly the size of Alaska and Texas combined (figure 5.1). At its northern point, just below the Arctic Circle, lies the Bering Strait, ...

read more

6. Medieval Whaling in Northern Europe

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 83-100

In 650 AD northern Europe was on the cusp of major change. Its human population—a scant 2 million people in what are now Scandinavia and Germany, and perhaps 500,000 more in the British Isles—was scattered among small coastal villages and farms wherever tracks of arable land could be found.1 As descendants of fierce Germanic tribes, these people were no strangers to armed conflict. ...

read more

7. Ghost Whalers

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 101-119

In the ninth century, if not earlier, a new whaling force emerged along the southwestern coast of Europe. This one was carried out by an industrious yet enigmatic people straddling the border between France and Spain. They were the last descendants of Paleolithic tribes that had occupied Europe for thousands of years, ...

read more

8. Basque Whaling in Terranova

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 120-148

If the Basques were not already whaling on a commercial scale in the 1400s or earlier, they certainly were in the 1500s. During that century their whaling abilities surely reached a zenith when they caught thousands and likely tens of thousands of whales. Whereas medieval Basque whaling is buried in a fog of obscurity, recent studies have revealed amazingly rich detail on their sixteenth-century activities. ...

read more

9. The Dawn of International Whaling

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 149-164

When other nations finally broke the Basque whaling monopoly in the early 1600s, they did so in what must be one of the most unlikely places on earth—a remote archipelago in the high Arctic originally called Spitsbergen, a Dutch name meaning “pointed mountains” (figure 9.1). Today the archipelago is part of Norway and known as Svalbard, meaning “cold coast.” ...

read more

10. A Fitful Start for Colonial Whalers

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 165-178

By the mid- to late 1600s, the only significant number of right whales left in the North Atlantic were along the eastern seaboard of what would become the United States. This was the last part of the species’ range to be scoured by whalers. This is not to say that right whales inhabiting the region had not yet been hunted. ...

read more

11. Long Island Whaling

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 179-195

It was some 50 to 60 years after the founding of Jamestown and 20 to 30 years after the Mayflower dropped anchor in Cape Cod Bay that the first signs of successful whaling appeared in the budding colonies along the eastern edge of North America. Surprisingly, it occurred not in the colonies surrounding Cape Cod Bay, where the Pilgrims first marveled at right whales cavorting around their ship ...

read more

12. Cape Cod Whaling

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 196-213

While Long Island settlers labored to perfect their whaling enterprise, colonists 100 miles (160 kilometers) to the northeast on Cape Cod Bay harbored similar ambitions; however, their skills lagged a decade behind. As already mentioned (chapter 10), when the Pilgrims dropped anchor in what is now Provincetown Harbor in 1620, the right whales cavorting about their ship instilled an immediate interest in whaling. ...

read more

13. Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and Cape May

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 214-227

Perhaps no place on earth is more closely associated with whaling than Nantucket. Ask a random stranger to name a whaling port, and odds are it will be Nantucket. At first blush, the island’s stature as the world’s preeminent whaling center seems totally out of proportion to its diminutive size. It is only 14 miles long and 5 miles wide. ...

read more

14. Whaling from the Carolinas to Florida

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 228-250

The first harpoon to kill a large whale south of the Chesapeake Bay was probably thrown in the late 1600s off what is now known as the Outer Banks of North Carolina. With its sandy capes elbowing their way 50 miles out to sea, this was a good place to find migrating whales, but a perilous place to catch them. A witch’s brew of powerful storms, tricky currents, ...

read more

15. Estimating Pre-exploitation Population Size

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 251-265

Historical whaling records are important for many reasons. Among other things, they offer valuable clues to former habitat, how habitat preferences might have changed over time, and where unrecognized habitat might still exist today. The pattern of right whale landings by colonial whalers is somewhat at odds with their distribution and movements today. ...

read more

16. A Second Chance

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 266-275

By the 1920s, as the last embers of commercial interest in North Atlantic right whales were finally dying, the species’ plight could hardly have been worse. Centuries of whaling as relentless as it was remorseless had whittled their ranks to no more than 100,1 and possibly not even half of that. Most, and perhaps all, survivors were part of the western population calving along the shores of North America. ...

read more

17. A Dedicated Recovery Program

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 276-299

The roots of environmental consciousness in the United States are often traced back to the first decade of the 1900s when President Theodore Roosevelt began setting aside vast tracts of federal land as national parks and monuments to preserve the nation’s dwindling wildlife and natural areas. It was not until the late 1960s and early 1970s, however, that the movement truly came of age. ...

read more

18. Nobody Wants to Hit a Whale

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 300-316

It was a languid November day in 1820, in an empty spot in the middle of the tropical South Pacific. Neither George Pollard nor his crew of 21 men could have possibly known they were about to become part of maritime lore. The drama that was to unfold would be one of the most remarkable tales any mariner would experience and live to tell about.1 ...

read more

19. Slow Speed Ahead

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 317-346

If one year stands out as marking a shift in prospects for reducing ship collisions with right whales, it might be 1997. Margaret Mead once offered a bit of wisdom: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”1 In late 1997 such a group began laying the foundation for regulatory measures to reduce ship strikes. ...

read more

20. Entanglement

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 347-366

Few, if any, issues so critical to the survival of an endangered species have received so much attention yet proven to be so intractable for resource managers, so infuriating for industry groups, and so frustrating for conservation advocates as the entanglement of North Atlantic right whales. The problem is deceptively simple. In the course of their migrations and while feeding, right whales, ...

read more

21. Oh, What a Tangled Web

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 367-405

As the 1990s came to a close, survival prospects for North Atlantic right whales were turning from bad to worse. Birth rates were plummeting, mysterious white lesions on the skin of adults signified that much of the population was in poor health, and carcass discovery rates, including those attributed to both entanglement and ship strikes, were on the rise. ...

read more

22. Ten Thousand Right Whales

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 406-418

Few marine species have influenced the course of human history and our relationship with the sea as much as North Atlantic right whales. For more than a thousand years, their pursuit provided a livelihood for many and riches for a few. Their past abuse and current plight is as much a reminder of the risk of species extinctions, even in vast oceans, ...

Appendix

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 419-422

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 423-432

Image Plates

pdf iconDownload PDF