Thar She Blows: The History of Whales and America

Jul 31, 04:00 PM

On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Nathan and Joanne explore the history of America’s relationship to the largest marine mammals.

Whale deaths are reaching record numbers in 2019. According to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Association, gray whale deaths are “notably greater than the average” and have led the NOAA to declare the occurrence an Unusual Mortality Event (UME). In addition, NOAA considers the death rates of North Atlantic right whales an urgent conservation crisis leading the U.S. to begin working with Canada this month to help protect the species.
 
This week, BackStory revisits our two episodes on the history of whales and America. We’re re-releasing part one, “Thar She Blows” on July 31. In this episode, Brian, Nathan and Joanne explore how Native American whalers faced stereotypes within the industry, how whaling went from boom to bust, and learn how a real white whale named Mocha Dick became the inspiration for Herman Melville’s novel.
 
In part two, “Thar She Blows Again” (releasing on Aug. 2), Ed joins the rest of the team to uncover the story of Cabin Boys who were women in disguise, find out why a traveling whale was turned away from a Midwestern Town, and learn all about the Black whaler and entrepreneur who became one of the wealthiest men in America.

Images: Ep 1 - Jonathan Fisher woodcut, published in the 1833 book "Scripture Animals," courtesy of the Jonathan Fisher Memorial, Blue Hill, Maine.

Ep 2 - "Whalers Heading Towards A Whale" Source: The New York Public Library Digital Collections

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