Most of us think about Moby Dick if we hear the words "whale hunting." In this story, whale hunting is an adventure for brave men. Moby Dick is the worst beast that attacks ships and should be killed. But in real life, whales are harmless to us. We should respect them, just like any other animal on earth. Still, nowadays we kill thousands of whales and most of us donít know that whales are endangered.
Thousands of years ago people only knew whales if they were stranded on the coast. They thought these whales were gifts of gods and they began to use the whales for their own lives. They ate the meat, used the blubber as fuel, and used the bones as building material. People recognized that whales were useful and after awhile they tried to hunt them. Very brave men in little boats caught whales with harpoons. The earliest whale hunters were probably the Vikings. Then, people from other countries like Spain, France, England, and the Netherlands also began to catch whales. The hunters couldnít separate and use the whale in their ships and they had to transport them to land. This was difficult, so they could only catch whales near land.
After awhile the whales that lived near the coast became scarce and the whale hunters had to go farther out on the sea to catch the whales. Therefore, whale hunters built better weapons and ships. Now they discovered new whale families. They took many ships out on the sea and searched for whales. If they found one, they surrounded the whale and chased it to land. With this new hunting method the hunt area spread out from the European Atlantic coast to the Arctic. From the east and west coasts of America people also began hunt whales. At the coastline people began to build villages and began to earn their living by making materials out of whale parts. Whale hunting and working became an industry for many countries.
In the middle of the 19th century many whale families were getting smaller and smaller. Many whale hunters hunted hundreds of whales each week. Which let to that all the whale families, they hunted, were getting smaller and smaller. The whale hunters and the workers of the whale industry didnít like the small whale families because they couldnít earn that much money anymore. They developed new tools once again. With the new technology of the steamboats, they had better ships. These ships were much more powerful, faster, and safer ships. The hunters also built new weapons. They developed harpoons that were shot out of cannons and had special tips with an explosive charge. These little bombs explode inside the whale, kill it, and then blow it up to the surface. With their new tools, the whale hunters had the opportunity to catch almost every whale family everywhere. At that time the whale hunting got to a new height. In one year more than 10,000 whales were killed. Today no whale can hide from hunters. The new technology of helicopters and radar doesnít give them a chance
Which Products do Whales Give?
Almost every part of a whale was once used. The meat was used as food. Today, in some countries the meat is a delicacy, in others it is only used as animal food. The blubber was used as fuel, as grease (used to oil engines and machines), and as material for make-up. The bones and teeth were used as building material. Today people cook the bones to make glue or they grind them for fertilizer. The teeth are used for tools or souvenirs. People also discovered ambergris. This material comes from the digestive system of the sperm whale and is used for very expensive perfumes.
The whale was a valuable prey because of the variety of products, but other or artificial products can today replace all these products. One important product that replaced whale oil was mineral oil. Also, mineral oil was invented. Mineral oil is a fuel that is made out of a special process. Plants and other organisms donít rot but a bacteria under water decomposes them. Over thousands of years mineral oil is made from the decomposing plants and other organisms.
Instead of using blubber, people now use mineral oil as fuel because it is cheaper to collect. Finally, because of mineral oil, whale hunting was getting harder and harder. They shouldnít hunt whales anymore if they could buy the mineral oil cheaper.
The meat isnít any longer a basic food. The blubber as fuel is replaced by mineral oil. As the material for make-up, people use grease and the oil of plants. Industry can use artificial grease as grease for their machines and engines. Also nobody uses whalebones as building material. Therefore, no whale needs to be killed for food or materials today.
In the middle of the 20th century people were worried about whales. The number of whales killed worldwide came up to 66,000 per year. The people werenít worried about the whale as an endangered animal, but they were worried about the whale industry, which would disappear if there were no whales anymore. In 1946 the International Whaling Commission was established. It limited the whale hunting for every country and controlled the whale industry. After awhile, the commission recognized that the limitation wasnít enough. They set a worldwide law against hunting whales with only two exceptions, the hunt for scientific research or "aboriginal whaling." Aboriginal whaling allows some countries to hunt a limited number of whales because it is a part of their culture. Some countries like Japan and Norway donít care about the law and make excuses to still hunt whales and sell the products. They only care about the money they want to have, but not about the whales they kill for the money.
Many fishermen complain about dolphins, also another kind of whale, because they steal the fish. Therefore, they kill thousands of them. In reality there are so many fishermen, they steal the fish from each other. Some whale hunters say that they catch the animals for scientists. They have to research what whales are eating. For that, they kill them and look into their stomachs. The truth is that they only want to sell the meat. Today scientists want to watch whales alive for their research.
Another trap not only for whales and dolphins but also for many other sea animals are modern fishing nets. They cannot see them so they get tangled up and drown in them. Remember, whales and dolphins are not fish but mammals which need air to breathe.
Many whale families are not protected and thousands of them still get killed. If you ended all whale hunting today, nobody knows if all whale families would survive. The pollution of the oceans increases fast and the poison gets into the bodies of the animals. Many of them get sick and die. The human being has killed 90-95% of many whale families. Others are already extinct.
Today some international organizations try to protect the whales. They make reports to explain how important and endangered the whales are. Now people get more interested in whales and a complete new industry has developed, whale watching. Tourists are very exited to watch whales on the open sea and this industry protects whales. The organization also tries to stop ships that hunt whales to give the whales a chance to escape. Even if many people try to protect the whales, there is still a lot of work to reach their goal.
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