Thomas Welcome Roys (c. 1816 - d. 1877) was an American whaleman. He discovered the Western Arctic bowhead whale population and patented and developed whaling rockets in order to hunt the faster, more powerful species of whale that had until then eluded European whalers.
On 23 July 1848, in the Sag Harbor bark Superior, he sailed through the Bering Strait and discovered an abundance of "new fangled monsters" (bowhead whales).The following season fifty whalers (forty-six Yankee, two German, and two French vessels) sailed to the Bering Strait region on Roys's success alone.
Roys, in the Cold Spring Harbor vessel Sheffield, spent the summers of 1851-1853 cruising in the Sea of Okhotsk, obtaining in all over 4,500 barrels of oil.
In 1855, while cruising south of Iceland in the 441-ton Hannibal, he was able to kill a "sulphurbottom" (blue whale) with a Brown's bomb gun.He realized that if he had a better way to dispatch such large rorquals as the sulphurbottom that he could easily fill his ship's hold with whale oil. Due to his ship having taken a beating in a heavy gale in these waters, he was forced to put into Lorient, France. While there, he ordered for "two rifles in pairs for killing [rorqual] whales," staying long enough in France to see them nearly completed, then leaving for home in a steamer, and, when finished, having the guns sent by way of England to the US.
The following spring, he went out in the 175-ton brig William F. Safford to test his experimental whaling guns.The guns Roys had ordered from France were lost on the voyage out, so he had to persuade C. C. Brand of Norwich, Conn., to let him use his bomb lance, but to increase his bomb missiles to three pounds in order to ensure greater success. Roys sailed to Bjørnøya, where he encountered vast numbers of blue, fin, and humpbacks. He fired at around sixty, with only a single blue whale being saved. He then sailed to Novaya Zemlya, capturing two humpbacks there. After cruising off Russia and Norway, he came to anchor at Queenstown, Ireland, and thence went to England to reconstruct his lost French-made guns. He had Sir Joseph Whitworth manufacture him some rifled whaling guns and shells. Roys returned to his ship, sailing from Queenstown on 26 November for the Bay of Biscay. Here, when testing one of the guns, he blew off his left hand, having to amputate it "as well as we could with razors." They sailed to Oporto, Portugal, where Roys's lower arm had to be amputated.
Having failed in securing whales on another cruise in 1857, Roys redesigned his gun. This time, the rocket-powered harpoons proved too weak to penetrate the whales correctly. Undaunted, he made another cruise, this time to South Georgia, but he wasn't able to take any whales.He cruised north to put into Lisbon, sailed to Africa, then west to the West Indies in early 1859, where he was able to capture several humpbacks.
In 1861 Roys joined forces with the wealthy New York pyrotechnic manufacturer Gustavus Adolphus Lilliendahl in order to perfect his "whaling rocket".In mid-May 1862 Lilliendahl purchased the 158-ton bark Reindeer, appointing Roys as her master. Unfortunately, she was seized on suspicion of being a slaver, and when everything was finally cleared up, she sailed to Iceland, but arrived too late for the summer whaling season, and had to return home and wait until next year.
In 1863 Roys refitted the Reindeer and once again sailed to Iceland, but he damaged his rudder while off the coast of the island, and was only able to save one of the many whales he shot that season.Roys was much more successful the following season of 1864, saving eleven of the twenty whales that were shot, in part because he was using stronger harpoons and better lines. In November 1864 Roys obtained the rights to establish a shore station on the coast of Iceland from the Danish government. He acquired the twelve-ton, sixty-two-foot iron steamer Visionary in Scotland, and returned to Iceland in the spring of 1865. He arrived at Seydisfjordur on 14 May, finding his bark Reindeer had already arrived there in April, loaded with whaling equipment, boilers, steam engines, timber, bricks, and everything necessary for the construction of his shore station. Lilliendahl supplied them with defective rockets, and before the station was built, they were forced to tow the dead whales to the Reindeer, where they were flensed and processed the old fashioned way.
After his rockets were rebuilt, Roys and his crew set out in the Visionary, with whaleboats in tow astern, to search for rorquals. Once a whale was sighted, the crews went to their respective boats, and if a whale was successfully captured, they'd heave the carcass to the surface with a steam winch, fasten it to the side of the ship, and tow it back to Seydisfjordur. For the 1865 season they took twenty or more whales, but also lost another twenty.The next season, 1866, he used the Sileno and the iron steamers Staperaider and Vigilant- identical ship, bark-rigged, 116-feet long, each carrying two whaleboats and equipped with steam tryworks and powerful winches to bring aboard large strips of blubber when flensing whales. They killed ninety whales this season, with forty-three or forty-four being saved to produce 3,000 barrels of oil. Roys and Lilliendahl parted company at the end of the season, with Lilliendahl continuing on in Iceland for another year. Using the Vigilant and Staperaider, he only caught thirty-six whales. After this season, he departed as well.
In 1868 Roys chartered the 83-three-foot, 25-ton steamer Emma to catch whales in British Columbian waters. His first cruise was a disaster, while the second cruise from early September to October he reportedly struck four whales, killing three, but lost all three in dense fogs.Persistent as ever, Roys formed the Victoria Whaling Adventurers Company on 22 October, and in January 1869 he sent the Emma to erect a shore station in Barkley Sound, Vancouver Island. Again, Roys was met with by failure, having made fast to only one whale. The harpoon broke free, and the whale escaped.
The next season, seemingly undeterred, Roys returned to British Columbia in the 179-ton brig Byzantium on 10 May 1871. He constructed a station at Cumshewa Inlet in the Queen Charlotte Islands, and fitted out the Byzantium with proper onboard tryworks. As usual, Roys fared poorly. The Byzantium struck the rocks in Weynton Passage, Johnstone Strait, forcing the men to abandon her and row ashore, to spend a frigid night huddled on the beach. Roys never operated a whaling company again.
Roys shipped aboard a vessel in San Diego and contracted yellow fever. He was put ashore in Mazatlan, where he died in abject poverty on 29 January 1877 of a stroke.
Baleen whales, also known as whalebone whales, form a parvorder of the infraorder Cetacea. They are a widely distributed and diverse parvorder of carnivorous marine mammals. Mysticeti comprise the families Balaenidae, Balaenopteridae (rorquals), Cetotheriidae, and Eschrichtiidae. There are currently 15 species of baleen whales. While cetaceans were historically thought to have descended from mesonychids,, molecular evidence supports them as a clade of even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla). Baleen whales split from toothed whales (Odontoceti) around 34 million years ago.
The humpback whale is a species of baleen whale. It is one of the larger rorqual species, with adults ranging in length from 12–16 m (39–52 ft) and weighing around 25–30 metric tons. The humpback has a distinctive body shape, with long pectoral fins and a knobbly head. It is known for breaching and other distinctive surface behaviors, making it popular with whale watchers. Males produce a complex song lasting 10 to 20 minutes, which they repeat for hours at a time. All the males in a group will produce the same song, which is different each season. Its purpose is not clear, though it may help induce estrus in females.
A harpoon is a long spear-like instrument used in fishing, whaling, sealing, and other marine hunting to catch large fish or marine mammals such as whales. It accomplishes this task by impaling the target animal and securing it with barb or toggling claws, allowing the fishermen to use a rope or chain attached to the projectile to catch the animal. A harpoon can also be used as a weapon.
The sei whale is a baleen whale, the third-largest rorqual after the blue whale and the fin whale. It inhabits most oceans and adjoining seas, and prefers deep offshore waters. It avoids polar and tropical waters and semienclosed bodies of water. The sei whale migrates annually from cool, subpolar waters in summer to temperate, subtropical waters in winter with a lifespan of 70 years.
This article discusses the history of whaling from prehistoric times up to the commencement of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986. Whaling has been an important subsistence and economic activity in multiple regions throughout human history. Commercial whaling dramatically reduced in importance during the 19th century due to the development of alternatives to whale oil for lighting, and the collapse in whale populations. Nevertheless, some nations continue to hunt whales even today.
Svend Foyn was a Norwegian whaling, shipping magnate and philanthropist. He pioneered revolutionary methods for hunting and processing whales. Svend Foyn introduced the modern harpoon cannon and brought whaling into a modern age. He is also recognized as a pioneer who introduced sealing to Vestfold County.
A whaler or whaling ship is a specialized ship, designed, or adapted, for whaling: the catching or processing of whales. The former includes the whale catcher – a steam or diesel-driven vessel with a harpoon gun mounted at its bow. The latter includes such vessels as the sail or steam-driven whaleship of the 16th to early 20th centuries and the floating factory or factory ship of the modern era. There have also been vessels which combined the two activities, such as the bottlenose whalers of the late 19th and early 20th century, and catcher/factory ships of the modern era.
Whaling in Australian waters began in 1791 when five of the 11 ships in the Third Fleet after landing their passengers and freight at Sydney Cove then left Port Jackson to engage in whaling and seal hunting off the coast of Australia and New Zealand. The two main species hunted by such vessels in the early years were right and sperm whales. Later, humpback, bowhead and other whale species would be taken.
Whaling in Iceland began with spear-drift hunting as early as the 12th century, and continued in a vestigial form until the late 19th century, when other countries introduced modern commercial practices. Today, Iceland is one of a handful of countries that formally object to an ongoing moratorium established by the International Whaling Commission in 1986, and that still maintain a whaling fleet. One company concentrates on hunting fin whales, largely for export to Japan, while the only other one hunts minke whales for domestic consumption, as the meat is popular with tourists. In 2018, Icelandic whalers were accused of slaughtering a blue whale.
Whaling in Norway involves subsidized hunting of minke whales for use as animal and human food in Norway and for export to Japan. Whale hunting has been a part of Norwegian coastal culture for centuries, and commercial operations targeting the minke whale have occurred since the early 20th century. Some still continue the practice in the modern day.
Jonas Poole was an early 17th-century English explorer and sealer, and was significant in the history of whaling.
A Nantucket sleighride is the dragging of a whaleboat by a harpooned whale while whaling. It is an archaic term from the early days of industrial whaling, when the animals were harpooned from small open boats. Once harpooned, the whale, in pain from its wound, attempts to flee, but the rope attached to the harpoon drags the whalers' longboat along with it. The term refers to Nantucket, Massachusetts, the center of the American whaling industry; as well as the speed associated with riding in a horse-drawn sleigh.
Commercial whaling in the United States dates to the 17th century in New England. The industry peaked in 1846–1852, and New Bedford, Massachusetts, sent out its last whaler, the John R. Mantra, in 1927. The Whaling industry was engaged with the production of three different raw materials: whale oil, spermaceti oil, and whalebone. Whale oil was the result of "trying-out" whale blubber by heating in water. It was a primary lubricant for machinery, whose expansion through the Industrial Revolution depended upon before the development of petroleum-based lubricants in the second half of the 19th century.
Sperm whaling is the hunting of these marine mammals for the oil, meat and bone that can be extracted from their bodies. Sperm whales, a large and deep-diving species, produce a waxy substance that was especially useful during the Industrial Revolution, and so they were targeted in 19th-century whaling, as exemplified in Moby Dick. Sperm oil is no longer needed, but another unusual product, ambergris, is still valued as a perfume fixative. Although the animal is classified as a vulnerable species, aboriginal whaling in limited numbers is still permitted, notably from two villages in Indonesia, for subsistence.
Anti-whaling refers to actions taken by those who seek to end whaling in various forms, whether locally or globally in the pursuit of marine conservation. Such activism is often a response to specific conflicts with pro-whaling countries and organizations that practice commercial whaling and/or research whaling, as well as with indigenous groups engaged in subsistence whaling. Some anti-whaling factions have received criticism and legal action for extreme methods including violent direct action. The term anti-whaling may also be used to describe beliefs and activities related to these actions.
The Basques were among the first to catch whales commercially, as opposed to aboriginal whaling, and dominated the trade for five centuries, spreading to the far corners of the North Atlantic and even reaching the South Atlantic. The French explorer Samuel de Champlain, when writing about Basque whaling in Terranova, described them as "the cleverest men at this fishing". By the early 17th century, other nations entered the trade in earnest, seeking the Basques as tutors, "for [they] were then the only people who understand whaling", lamented the English explorer Jonas Poole.
A harpoon cannon is a whaling implement developed in the late 19th century and most used in the 20th century. It would be mounted on the bow of a whale catcher, where it could be easily aimed with a wide field of view at the target. Powered by black powder and later, smokeless powder, it would generally fire a large steel harpoon, either solid steel or fitted with an exploding black powder, or later, penthrite (PETN) grenade.
Commercial whaling in Britain began late in the 16th century and continued after the 1801 formation of the United Kingdom and intermittently until the middle of the 20th century.
Petrel was a whaler, built in Oslo, in 1928, in operation in the waters around Antarctica for over three decades.
Russian whaling has been conducted by native peoples in the Chukotka region of Russia since at least 4,000 years ago by native Yupik and Chukchi people, but commercial whaling did not begin until the mid-19th century, when companies based in Finland sent out vessels to the Pacific. It was not until 1932 that modern pelagic whaling began to take off with the purchase of an American cargo ship which was renamed the Aleut, which was the only Soviet factory ship until World War II. After the war, with the need for a stronger Soviet economy and rapid industrialization of the country during the 1940s and 1950s, Soviet whaling took off and became a truly global industry. The first Soviet whalers reached the Antarctic during the 1946–47 season with the factory ship Slava and then underwent a rapid expansion during the late 1950s in which 5 new fleets were added within a 4-year span: Sovetskaya Ukraina in 1959, Yuriy Dolgorukiy in 1960, and Sovetskaya Rossiya in 1961 for the Antarctic, and finally two large fleets in 1963 for the North Pacific. Thus, by the early 1960s Soviet whaling had truly become a global industry, operating in every ocean except the North Atlantic and undertaking voyages that could last as long as seven months each. From 1964 to 1973, the Soviet Union was considered by some the biggest whaling nation in the world.