Whale oil powered the lamps that allowed cities and factories to operate after dark. Whalebone gave structure to women’s undergarments and eyeglass frames. And whale by-products lubricated modern machinery. Whale products were as important as plastic is today, and the urban centers that specialized in producing them were flush with cash.
By day, whale blubber and bones were processed into popular household products. But at night, the transformative value of the whale was realized as whale oil for streetlights, lighthouses and house lamps.
New Bedford, MA, the center of whaling was therichest city
per capita in the U.S. — if not the world.
Whale oil was the primary fuel source forlighting
the industrializing world.
At the height of whaling, the U.S. annually sold10 million
gallons of whale oil ($1 billion in today's dollars).
Whaling was the5th Largest
sector of the U.S. economy.
Japan has kept its whaling operations running for hundreds of years, from early coastal whaling efforts in the 16th century to the industrial whaling operation that developed after World War II, all the way through to today. For the Japanese, whaling is more than a business. It’s a birthright and a necessity – a practice that reaps valuable rewards and honors the country’s heritage.
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