Subject: Whaling

n.patenaude@auckland.ac.nz
Thu, 20 Mar 1997 9:08:04 GMT+1200

We are a First Grade class in Pawling, New York.  We would like to ask
why whales are being hunted?  What are they using them
for?  Thank you for answering our question.


Good question, many people wonder why whaling exists! Actually, whaling has been around for 
a really long time.  In North America the Alaska Inupiat (Eskimo) were whaling thousands of 
years ago.  Back then, they whaled to survive.  This is called 'subsistence' whaling.  
Eskimos across the Arctic still hunt whales today.  They eat the blubber (that's called 
muktuk) and the meat.  The bones used to be for tool making but now they are mostly used in 
carvings.

The Vikings also used to whale more than a thousand years ago.  Then many countries started 
whaling and soon whales weren't really hunted for 'subsistence' anymore.  People hunted 
whales because they could make a lot of money.  The baleen of whales (the plates than hang 
from their mouth and helps them feed) was used to make umbrellas and stiffeners for women's 
dresses, and the whale oil was used in lamps, margarine and soap.  When whaling becomes an 
industry and people do it because it brings in lots of money that's called 'commercial' 
whaling. 

The problem with commercial whaling is that they don't go around and kill one or two whale, 
they kill thousands of whales, and then whale populations become endangered. 

One of the countries that keeps on taking a lot of whales is Japan.  Japanese love to eat 
whale meat and the Japanese have the biggest whaling industry in the world. The argument the 
Japanese use to continue whaling is that they need to kill whales to study them.  And if 
they have killed them , they may as well eat them.  They call it 'scientific' whaling.  Most 
scientists disagree with this.  Nowadays you can easily study whales without killing them.  
But the Japanese continue to whale.  They are supposed to hunt only the Minke whale but 
scientists discovered that the Japanese also illegally hunt other whales that are protected. 




Nathalie Patenaude