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Fell in with several whales: June 11-12th, 1811

June 11, 2011

By  11 PM, 106 casks had been filled with blubber and the making off was finished for the time being. This made a total of 154 casks, which would yield between 80 and 90 tons of oil. But there was no rest for the crew, as around midnight more whales appeared. Three boats were sent off in pursuit, and Scoresby notes 19 ships in sight, including the Aimwell, which had taken a whale, and was “flinching”. There were a lot of whales nearby, and by noon the Resolution had struck three more, one of which made its escape. Another “got into [the ice] but not before two Harpoons were fast”. The relentlessness with which the Resolution and the rest of the fleet went after whales is shocking to modern sensibilities, but in 1811 the general view was that the exploitation of nature was a God-given right. In any case, this was the oil industry of its day, a lucrative business around which Georgian society had built itself, and no less rapacious in its pursuit of new ‘reserves’ than Esso or BP are today.

On Wednesday, Scoresby heard news of his father:

Yesterday from Mr Johnstone heard by the Neptune of Aberdeen news of my Father in the John had 2 large fish 29th May. To Day were informed by the Effort who heard it of the Reliance that he had 7 large whales the 1st Inst. Good news. Yesterday was the first acct we have had. … 17 sail in sight Enterprize 15 Fish Henrietta 29 Egginton 10 …


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