Tim Blue – an ex Busselton boy from the 1950’s and 60’s has just published a book Whale Hunters of the West – a history of Whaling off the West Coast of WA in the 19th Century. It is a fascinating read (at least I think so!). I was surprised at the extent of American whaling off our coast, and the degree of interaction local settlers had with these ships. Tim is currently putting up a website and you will be able to buy it online soon. I will post the link and more details when it is available.
There are some interesting facts that come out. The Southern Right Whales were hunted early on, but even in the 1840’s Captains were complaining about the decrease in numbers whereas humpbacks and sperm whales were hunted through to the 1870’s (the advent of petroleum and the changing fashions – meaning baleen was no longer necessary for corsets – led to the decline in whaling rather than a shortage of whales). This would indicate that SRW’s were never anywhere near as plentiful as these other species. Blue whales were hardly ever hunted as they couldn’t catch them in rowing boats! Sperm whales were preferred as their oil was much more valuable.
www.whalehuntersbook.com. For those of you in the Southwest copies are available at the Naturaliste lighthouse (you save $11 on postage if you pick it up there).