History of whaling in Trinidad and Tobago

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Randall R. Reeves
Jalaludin A. Khan
Randi R. Olsen
Steven L. Swartz
Tim D. Smith


Shore whaling for humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Trinidad represents a largely overlooked aspect of North Atlantic whaling history. Literature and archival sources were searched for information on the chronology, nature and extent of this whaling. The first shore station began operations in about 1826 on one of the islands in the Dragon’s Mouth, the strait connecting the southern Caribbean Sea with the Gulf of Paria. At least four stations were active in this area at one time or another and the maximum documented one-year catch was about 35 humpbacks. Whaling effort had begun to decline by the 1850s and was largely ended by the 1880s. Oil for domestic consumption as well as export was the main product. Removals by the shore whalers were in addition to those by American pelagic whalers who occasionally called at Port-of-Spain and whaled in the vicinity of Trinidad and along the Spanish Main. No evidence was found of organised shore whaling in Tobago.

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